Pass the Pine Tree Amendment

The Maine Energy and Natural Resources Committee is considering a proposed constitutional amendment, LD 489. The amendment establishes our unequivocal right to clean water, and I urge people to express strong support to their representatives and senators.

Nothing can be more compelling — with this amendment, we have the ability to enshrine the desire we share as Mainers for a healthy environment, in the form of an inalienable right, one that Montana and Pennsylvania have already affirmed. Maine can help lead the way to make this the law of the land, and we should.

We have seen time and time again how narrow business interests can succeed in circumventing, diluting, or outright demolishing the regulations designed to protect our environmental rights. Human health and the resilience of ecosystems inevitably deteriorate in the wake of such actions. We should not have to spend valuable time and energy re-litigating the same battles over our right “to a clean and healthy environment, including pure water, clean air and healthy ecosystems.”

The bill articulates my expectation that the state, including each branch, agency and political subdivision, shall serve as trustee of the natural resources of Maine. To declare — in this unambiguous way, that we take our obligation seriously — is the least we can do for our children and future generations.

Diane Oltarzewski


Moderates should reassess on relief bill

In criticizing Democrats’ choice to secure passage of the stimulus bill without Republican votes, Sen. Susan Collins has said that we Americans do best when we work together. In a similar spirit, Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, known for his desire to “reach across the aisle,” explains his one of two first round Democratic votes in the House against the bill by saying that much of President Joe Biden’s proposal involves excessive and unnecessary spending.

We can only agree that it would be nice if we could all get along. However, according to estimates reported in the New York Times, the stimulus bill’s supposed excessive spending has the potential to redistribute wealth for the benefit of the least well off in our society and in particular to cut child poverty in half in the foreseeable future. These are and should be overriding goals in our very unequal society and economy.

Wedded as they are to a doctrinaire ideology opposed to government activism and largely reliant on “trickle-down economics” meant to benefit the well-off and mollify the largely White middle class, it is hard to imagine congressional Republicans agreeing to Biden’s and the Democrats’ laudable aims. Collins, Golden and other so-called “moderates” need to reassess their positions. Anything less is obstruction of social justice and a singular historic opportunity.

Ed McCarthy


Why Maine should adopt online voter registration

Our elected officials need to pass online voter registration in Maine. While I go to college in California, I’m from Maine and I vote in Maine. This past election illustrated that we must increase accessibility and ease when it comes to participating in our democracy.

Leading up to the 2020 election, the process of registering to vote in Maine while enrolled in classes on the other side of the country was particularly challenging — and I’m not alone. OVR makes registering to vote accessible to younger voters, while maintaining the safety and security of the process. OVR would allow eligible Mainers to register to vote through a secure website designed by the Secretary of State’s office. Our information would be encrypted and then uploaded directly to the state voter file.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows was recently called to testify before a U.S. House of Representatives committee to share Maine’s experience with same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting. I’m proud of her election modernization work and it’s clear that OVR is a logical next step for our state. This system is a great way to reach the next generation of Maine’s voters while maintaining election security and integrity.

Forty-one states have already adopted OVR in the U.S. Online voter registration makes sense for students like me and many other young Maine voters. Maine should adopt this kind of system to securely and conveniently register eligible Mainers to vote.

Lindley Saffeir