Doctor Nirav Shah and Governor Janet Mills are to be commended for their leadership throughout the COVID pandemic. Compared to other States, Maine has weathered this crisis with relatively low rates of infection, hospitalization and fatalities.
As for the requirement that healthcare workers be vaccinated, anyone who would not put the health of others before their own misguided self-interest has no place in the healthcare field. To refuse vaccination not only reflects an obtuse interpretation of personal rights, it is a rejection of the foundation of public healthcare policy - basic science. As the Governor put it in her 2022 State of the State address, “the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, and the American Academy of Pediatricians; along with the Maine Medical Association, Maine Hospital Association, and Maine Health Care Association…can’t all be wrong.”
One of Governor Mills’ first actions was to promote the expansion of Mainecare [a measure her predecessor vetoed five times]. More than 90,000 Mainers have coverage who beforehand had none. To those who complain that Mainecare covers services not covered by private insurers, the issue is not that Mainecare is too extensive in its coverage, its that many private healthcare polices are far too limited. The private healthcare insurance industry is in need of stronger oversight. Tests and procedures that physicians prescribe should not be subject to bureaucratic obstruction. The health of policy holders must supersede the financial interests of shareholders.
I commend Governor Mills and the current Legislature for providing the 55% State share of elementary, middle and secondary education costs, a level that voters approved by referendum more than fifteen years ago. Also commendable is the Free College Initiative which offers tuition assistance to the State’s community colleges for those graduating from high school from 2020 to 2023. As a former adjunct at SMCC and CMCC I have seen firsthand the value of our community college system. I would like to see eligibility for tuition assistance be extended to more “non-traditional” community college students, those who are working jobs and who are taking classes to enhance and expand their skills to meet the needs of the modern job market.
When I was in the Maine State House previously, I served on the Utilities and Energy Committee. I would again seek a seat on this committee and work toward increasing Maine’s reliance on renewable sources of energy [off shore wind, residential solar and solar farm arrays]. Presently I find that incentives to install such fossil fuel use reducing devices such as heat pumps are insufficient for some households. I would work to expand eligibility for rebates from Efficiency Maine so more low to middle income families may participate in this program. I would also encourage that new home construction follow energy efficient guidelines such as those of LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design].
Equality was a noble aspiration propounded in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment in 1868, transformed this goal into a legal and moral commitment. I feel there is no portion of the Constitution that is of greater importance to our country. It was on the basis of the Equal Protection clause that I voted in favor of marriage equality when I served in the State House of Representatives in 2009 and as a citizen in the 2012 referendum.
Presently the Maine Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and identification. I would support any legislative measure that may be necessary to further secure LGBTQ+ rights.
I have been teaching American Government and United States History for nearly 40 years. I cannot identify any previous instance when a right was first recognized and then revoked. My understanding is that current Maine law protects reproductive rights [Title 22, Subtitle 2, Part 3, Chapter 263B, Section 1598]. I will support measures that strengthen those legal protections. If reproductive rights are not presently explicitly tied to our State constitution's equal protection clause [Article I, Section 6-A], then consideration should be given to do so.
I find Samuel Alito’s likening Roe to Plessy and Dobbs to Brown to be not only historically inaccurate, but obscenely perverse. Plessy permitted segregation and subjugation. Roe was a declaration of liberation. Brown set the country on the course of social equality. Dobbs has reversed this course.
I also find Clarence Thomas's concurrence hauntingly disturbing. Thomas essentially declares open season on the rights of privacy and marriage equality.
I am the father of three adult daughters. Their personal healthcare decisions are their personal decisions.
As affirmed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. I hope I am wrong about the future, but it may well take a generation to reverse the Court’s revocation of reproductive rights. Regardless of how long it may take, let us begin that work.