Today we have an overwhelming amount of information that hits us every day from all sorts of media. Television, internet, radio to name a few, all available 24 hours a day. It is easy to not pay attention anymore, and it is even easier to take just a few seconds to check out a headline and move on to another headline after we have convinced ourselves we have spent sufficient time digesting it. Like YouTube or TikTok, hours of material with no real substance or understanding of the underlying issue.

But to not lose ourselves, and more importantly, lose our voice in our participation in this great experiment we call a republic, we all need to make the effort to know what our state Legislature is discussing and what they support. And call them out when they are not putting the citizens of this grand state first.

I took a few moments the other day to review several initiatives the Legislature has taken up over the past couple of years.

Our Legislature has evaded their responsibility by allowing the Natural Resources Council of Maine, an unelected body, to decide that auto sales companies must have almost half of their auto inventory be zero emissions vehicles, which is electric to you and me. That number would rise to over 80% in eight years. I support anyone who wants to buy an electric car, but to put in place barriers to force a product that the public does not want tells me some of our elected members are, well, full of themselves. Instead of taking this issue on themselves, they have allowed a group to draft and attempt to make law with no accountability. This is not the Legislature I want representing me. Do you?

Our Legislature was recently deliberating a bill to change Maine’s voting law that would take a “popular vote” format and move to a nationwide popular vote. What this would do is tie Maine results to several other states results regardless of who won our state vote. That means if a national vote count resulted in Candidate A, if Candidate B won Maine, it would not matter. The electors in Maine would be required to give their electoral vote to Candidate A. This bill did not advance out of committee. but to think that our Legislators would even entertain removing a citizen’s voice and vote is unbelievable. Is this the best we can put in Augusta?

Our Legislature has continued to tax our citizens with no relief or fair compensation. The state budget has grown by over 40% in the past several years. Federal COVID relief funds have been a part of this, but those are only temporary. Soon they will be gone and there will be a gap to fill. Taxpaying citizens will have to bear the brunt of those shortfalls. The Legislature could easily provide tax relief by reducing or removing the income tax or the sales tax. However, every time the subject is discussed, a certain group in the Legislature dismisses it as a tax break for the rich. I never considered myself financially rich, but I am according to our elected officials. I find this comical when every day I hear from our esteemed members of the Legislature that they are looking out for us.

I recommend everyone take a few minutes to find out what’s being discussed in Augusta. Do not wait for the information to come to you, go and find it.  Ask questions, demand answers and assess for yourself, are these the leaders we deserve?

Michael Buhelt is a resident of Gray.

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