AUGUSTA – All four Republican members of Maine’s Legislative leadership today officially requested the Maine Legislature reconvene for the “express and limited purpose” of ending the emergency powers granted to Governor Janet Mills under legislation passed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The official request is for the Maine Legislature to reconvene under Article IV of the Maine Constitution and through a joint resolution, end Governor Mills’ emergency powers pursuant to MRSA Title 37B chapter 13, subchapter 2, section 743 part 2.
In the request, they say in recent weeks, the concerns they have shared with the Governor about her actions during the civil emergency and stay at home order have been met “with disregard and even contempt.”
“The Governor’s apparent disregard for the people of Maine leave us no choice but to reconvene the Legislature for the purpose of removing her Civil Emergency powers before the state we love is damaged beyond repair,” said House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham in a written statement.
Hundreds of Mainers protested today at the Blaine House and Maine State House against Governor Mills’ use of emergency powers to prolong the state shutdown, which they say is destroying the Maine economy. This was the third protest since Governor Mills’ stay at home order went into effect.
The letter, addressed to Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson demands the Maine Legislature reconvene to remove Mills’ emergency powers ticks off a list of other problems the legislature faces with Governor Mills’ actions.
“We have repeatedly asked for accommodation from the Governor to allow her Commissioners to directly answer questions from members of the Maine Legislature and have been refused,” say Republican leaders in the letter.
“We have asked for additional data to be released from the CDC, data that is regularly provided in other states, and is essential in determining the state of the disease in Maine. This data is necessary for setting public policy, and to date it has not been provided to us.”
“We have asked for a set of guiding principles that are being used to determine which businesses can open. To date, we have not received any such information. What we have been given is a phased-in plan that seemingly picks winners and losers. It imposes an arbitrary set of rules for our businesses with no information on the scientific data used to create them.”
“We have asked what is being done to increase and improve testing while we learn of private testing companies in Maine closing testing sites for a lack of business. We have received no answers.”
At the end of the week, Senate President Troy Jackson told WABI that he did not agree with some of the actions Governor Mills has taken and felt the legislature should be part of the process, but he stopped short of agreeing to come back and revoke Mills’ emergency powers.
Speaker Sara Gideon has been largely silent on the issue, instead focusing on fundraising and attacking Senator Susan Collins as Gideon ramps up her campaign for higher office.
“It is for these reasons and others not listed here, that it has become necessary for the Legislature to return and end the emergency proclamation. If the Governor refuses to share the information necessary to keep us informed of how she is making decisions of her own accord, we are left with no choice but to convene and demand she answer our questions with the full force of Legislative authority,” concludes the letter from Republican Leadership.