Politics & Other Mistakes: Legislative laughers

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Back in the simpler days of the 1990s, Maine legislators with nothing better to do took delight in pretending to introduce ridiculous measures.

Thus, we were treated to phony bills titled “Resolve: to Designate Duct Tape as the Maine State Tool” (today, Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson holds that distinction) and “An Act to Protect Motor Vehicles from Dangerous Pedestrians” (like, maybe, “Mad” Max Linn and his anti-mask protesters).

In these grim times, such frivolity has no place in the serious business of pretending to govern. So, we can only conclude that the sponsors of the following bills aren’t kidding. Although, it’s also possible they’re just stupid.

Of the nearly 1,700 pieces of legislation introduced thus far this session, Augusta Republican state Rep. Justin Fecteau’s “An Act to Prohibit Legislators from Legislating While Intoxicated” might have the biggest unintended consequences. If it passes, it could become impossible to seat a sober quorum during long, dull, after-lunch sessions.

Libertarian Rep. John Andrews of Paris wants the tune “My Sweet Maine” by Terry Swett (sample lyric: “And from Portland up to Bangor, you can drive right through L-A”) to be recognized as “Maine’s Song of the 21st Century.” Given how this century has begun, it’s unlikely any self-respecting song would want that honor.

Just because a bill has an odd title doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea. If I were still in school, I’d be backing Portland Democratic Rep. Ben Collings’ “An Act to Limit Homework in Public Schools.” Unfortunately, GOP Rep. Richard Cebra of Naples seems to want to pile on the outside reading with “An Act to Require a Course Regarding the Dangers of Progressive Socialism to be Taught in High School.”

Speaking of education, Democratic state Sen. Joe Baldacci of Bangor is sponsoring “An Act to Legalize Sports Betting and Strengthen Public Education.” I assume gambling pays for classes in calculating the odds.

There are lots of bills that don’t seem to accomplish anything:

“An Act to Affirm that Food Seeds are a Necessity in Maine” (Republican Sen. Lisa Keim of Dixfield). Well, duh.

“An Act to Require the State to Meet the Mandatory 55 Percent Contribution to Schools” (Sen. Dave Miramant, Democrat of Camden). That’s already the law, although the Legislature routinely ignores it.

And I’m not sure what anti-abortion intention lurks behind Knox Republican Rep. MaryAnne Kinney’s “An Act to Protect Infants Who Are Born Alive Immediately Following Birth,” but if being born alive wasn’t already protected, very few of us would be here.

There are also bills that seek to accomplish the impossible: Falmouth Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen’s “An Act to Promote Efficiency in Municipal Government,” and Falmouth Democratic Rep. Teresa Pierce’s “An Act to Strengthen Maine’s Economy.”

There are bills with titles no one could disagree with: “An Act to Base Election Results on Vote Totals” (Senate President Jackson), “An Act to Reduce Pollution” and “An Act to Ensure Fair Judicial Outcomes” (both from Saco Democratic Rep. Maggie O’Neil), and “An Act to Save Maine Businesses” (GOP Rep. Dwayne Prescott of Waterboro).

What sort of autocratic monster would shut down a kid’s lemonade stand? It’ll never happen again if Rep. Fecteau’s “An Act to Allow Lemonade Stands and Other Food and Nonalcoholic Drink Sales by Minors” passes.

What sort of bureaucratic incompetent couldn’t keep the rules governing culverts free of red tape? Beats me, but Democratic Rep. Thom Harnett of Gardiner aims to protect us with “An Act to Provide Consistency in the Laws Governing Culvert Replacement.”

Why does Maine even have a law controlling when somebody can sell baby bunnies? I can’t imagine, but GOP Sen. Trey Stewart of Presque Isle seeks to loosen the heavy grip of regulation with “An Act to Reduce from 8 Weeks to 6 Weeks the Age at Which a Rabbit May be Sold.”

Finally, the legislation I most hope wins approval: Norridgewock Republican Sen. Brad Farrin’s “An Act to Provide More Choice for Maine Consumers in the Purchase of Spirits.”

I’d just amend it to add the words “and cut the friggin’ price.”

Move we adjourn. All in favor email [email protected].

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