This is what democracy looks like
Last week, I was among the thousands of women who traveled to Washington to be part of the Women’s March. Like many others, I marched not in protest. I marched in support of my values and the agenda for the march, including the right to health care for all, reproductive rights, workers’ rights and immigrants’ rights.
My trip began in a crowded and cramped bus. The spirit was strong as we traveled 12 hours to Washington. Upon arrival, we left the bus and walked to the site for the march. Thousands of people started arriving. Churches were open, serving coffee and snacks.
When the speakers began, we were part of a wave of people. It was almost impossible to move. Getting to a restroom or buying food was almost impossible. After nearly five hours of standing and listening, the rerouted march began and we marched for several hours.
During the march, I was surrounded by people of all ages. I looked into eyes of strangers and found kindness, compassion and unity. I heard laughter and song. I felt love, commitment and energy. I never heard a word of profanity.
For the first time in my life, I heard these comments from the police and the national guard: “I am honored to be here. Thank you for letting us serve you.”
Marching is a magical, grueling experience. I am still recovering. And I am ready to do it again in a heartbeat. This is what democracy looks like.
Most important political office
Generally, I believe President Barack Obama was right when he said the most important political office is citizen. But right now it’s our senators who should claim that title. They are making some tough decisions on Cabinet nominees that could affect the health and well-being of Mainers. In the case of Scott Pruitt’s nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s the well-being of every human on this planet and the fate of the planet itself.
Kudos to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for their history of scrutinizing the data, performing careful review and voting with their conscience in the best interest of us, their constituents. We are grateful for their efforts to protect the health of all Maine residents. Let’s do our part in this government process and call or otherwise let them hear our voices.
March in support of rights
I take issue with the BDN’s headline about Saturday’s marches. The march in Augusta was not a demonstration against President Donald Trump.
Granted, that is what it was for some attendees, but here is the intent of the gathering: “This is a rally in support of women’s rights, civil liberties and protection of the planet. This is an inclusive march, and everyone who supports women’s rights is welcome.”
It ended up being a gathering of many different people looking for rights and respect for all beings and for our Mother Earth.
Support RSU 13 bond
On Feb. 28, the towns of Regional School Unit 13 vote to move forward with facilities projects. After years of underfunding, the RSU can finally create safe, comfortable, attractive and efficient learning environments for our students.
I support the bond referendum vote on Feb. 28. As someone who no longer has children or grandchildren in the schools, why do I care? Because I want the midcoast to prosper, I want my property taxes low, and I want my benefits high.
Here is what one member of Rockland said: “If a community wants to attract prosperity, it must have world-class schools. Great schools attract business. Families buy homes in communities with great schools. The tax burden shifts to commercial, retail, professional, and industrial businesses in communities where superior school systems exist. As schools thrive, communities thrive. Housing stock improves and expands where good schools are located. The heart and soul of a community arise from expanded opportunities in a school system. Without a good school system, people who can leave, do leave. They find ways to move away. When youth are inspired, they remain through to graduation. They want to stay in a community that promises jobs created by a quality school system. They are proud to remain in a community where they are welcomed and where they know their children can get a good education.”
Vote yes with me on Feb. 28 to continue improvement of RSU 13.
RSU 13 Finance and Facilities Committee
Wildlife balancing act
Maine is blessed with abundant wildlife. That doesn’t happen by accident. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has a daunting task: to sustain and enhance our wildlife resources while providing the widest possible opportunities to hunt, fish and observe. I am fortunate to serve as House chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. We are tasked with acting on 81 bills submitted this year for consideration in the Legislature. And while the bill titles and stakeholders may change, the issues they seek to address remain eerily similar from year to year.
For instance, when good stewardship requires limits on the number of game animals that may be taken — such as moose and antlerless deer — there is always legislation submitted to give priority to certain hunters, such as youth, seniors, landowners, veterans and the disabled. While the principle behind the idea is worthy, the more permits that are set aside for special groups, the fewer remain for everybody else.
Sunday hunting in Maine was prohibited in 1883. Every year since, we’ve seen numerous bills designed to chip away at the ban. Sponsors propose to limit Sunday hunting to certain people or lands or game or firearms. Despite the failure of such bills, lawmakers are asked to reconsider them every year.
There also are annual bills to require improved safety for off-road recreation and watercraft, but there are limits to how much safety can be mandated. All of our work requires a balancing act.
We’ll wrestle with the same issues again this year and welcome Mainers to call, write and testify to help us figure it out.
Rep. Bob Duchesne