Sigh. This picture sums up how I felt yesterday.
This legislative session, which started out with much promise, may very well end with the swipe of the Governor’s veto pen. The Governor has vetoed a bill that would have allowed Maine youth, our next generation of heroes, to learn Hands Only CPR. Despite a valiant effort from AHA volunteers and our allies in the state house, we were unable to override his veto in the Senate. We lost by 2 votes. We were told that it was not due to the merits of the bill, which unanimously passed both chambers, but because of “external politics.”
This defeat is added to the Governor’s veto of a bill that would have accepted Federal funds to give 70,000 Maine residents a chance to afford health care. Also, at 5:00 AM today I learned that instead of listening to smart public health policy and trying to reduce youth smoking, the Appropriations Committee has not included a cigarette tax or a tax on non-cigarette tobacco to the biennial budget. Instead they are seeking to raise the sales tax by 1/2 a cent, increasing meals and lodging taxes by 1% and making deep cuts to services that benefit all Maine residents.
Once again, politics trumps smart policy.
I want to stress that we had some real champions in the Legislature who work really hard to do the right thing. They will be featured in future blog posts. Unfortunately, they are just outnumbered.
I know that some of you are paying attention to the pulse oximetry bill. The good news is that the bill is still in play, although the rumor is that the Governor has his cap off the veto pen for this lifesaving bill as well. We will just have to see and not give up.
We are also not giving up on the idea that 70,000 hardworking, lower income Mainers deserve health care. After the Governor vetoed the first bill, we supported another. We are working very hard to pass that one by 2/3rds, so that this time, the veto pen won't be enough to stop good policy.
We will not give up until the adjournment bell rings (supposedly in a few weeks). That is the thing about the legislative process. You suffer defeats, lick your wounds, thank your allies and head right back into the fray.
Monday is the beginning of a new week. Let’s sharpen our claws and get back to work.