The State House glows in an evening fog in Augusta on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

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‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the State House, not a creature was stirring, except… the Maine Senate Republicans, caucusing to shoot down the home heat relief aid package! I think this was a mean-spirited, uncaring “action” to take towards the states’ citizens during a year of high inflation and obscenely high oil and gas prices.These senators said that it was ” not a simple bill” (and what piece of legislation is?), and more “transparency” and “accountability” was needed. What, exactly, does that mean to Maine citizens shivering and worrying this very day about paying for this winters’ heating?

The senators also want to have a “public hearing” about this bill. Well, I think by the time that would happen, those who survive the winter will be swatting away next spring’s black flies. Help for Maine people is needed right now, today, not after delay-creating hearings.

A Republican friend of mine once said that it was not a function of government to give handouts. I don’t disagree, in principle. Yet isn’t a function of government also to look after the welfare and benefit of its’ citizens? In these times, home heating assistance is not a handout, but a gesture of beneficence to the people. Is this latest Republican denial a sign of traditional Republican fiscal conservatism, or is it a sign of ill will to legislation not of their own making? Whatever the reasons, Maine people are going to pay dearly for it.

David Mahoney