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Maine Legislature to stop accepting citizen testimony by email

The Burton M. Cross building sits adjacent to the Maine State House. More than half of the Legislature’s Committees hold public hearings and accept citizen testimony in this building.

AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature will stop accepting citizen testimony via email as of April 22, 2019 according to a notice posted on the Legislature’s website on April 16th.

Instead, the Legislative Information Office says all testimony will have to be submitted through a form provided on the legislative website, but the office did not provide links to the forms.

No explanation was given for the change, but the 129th Maine Legislature has seen what some officials say is unprecedented levels of testimony in opposition to a host of bills.

Some bills have spurred hundreds of pieces of written testimony from Maine citizens, who until now have enjoyed what is arguably the most accessible state legislature in the nation.

A bill that would eliminate exemptions for vaccines and essentially force parents to vaccinate their children to put them in school reportedly received over 1,600 pieces of written testimony.

A bill to provide taxpayer funded abortions received 266 pieces of written testimony. A host of other bills have received waves of written testimony from Mainers wanting to make sure their voices are heard.

Mainers wanting to share their opinions on legislation can still email the members of the legislature’s committees directly, that does not change, but the emails will no longer be considered official testimony and be included in the public record for the bill.

Some who have been active in urging Mainers to submit their thoughts on proposed legislation were alarmed at the change.

“Alarms went off when I learned of the Legislative Information Office’s surprise decision to roll out a new, untested, automated distribution system involving the submission of public testimony. The timing is alarming; April 22nd just happens to be the date scheduled for the controversial and highly-charged “Red Flag Bill,” LD 1312. Large crowds are anticipated on both sides of this issue, which is largely viewed as an attack on the 2nd Amendment, Due Process, and America’s long-standing presumption of innocence,” said Hon. Heather Sirocki of the Maine First Project.

Watch Maine Examiner for an update on the new forms to submit testimony when they become available.

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