by Chris Dixon, Maine Tenth Amendment Center
Back in 2007, Maine generated national headlines when it took a step that then was not known to our mainstream political world: nullification. The Legislature took steps to ensure an unconstitutional bill that would drop a serious financial burden on the State would not be enforced within its territory. Although Governor John Baldacci refused to take the stand for Maine when he ultimately vetoed the nullification legislation, Maine still sent a message to Washington D.C. But next to D.C., Maine also sent a message to the entire country: the Federal Government is out of control.
Fast forward to 2010, when the midterm elections came and the political landscape in Maine underwent a major shift, which would change at least the immediate future greatly. Republicans control the Legislature and the Blaine House for the first time in decades, but not all are your typical Republicans. Some are Tea Party Republicans, others are more independently-minded libertarian Republicans, and both seem to have their share of Tenth Amendment supporters. With this new landscape, Maine has taken quite the step forward.
Now we look at 2011, January 7th, the cloture deadline, has come and gone. Almost sixty pages worth of submitted bills are on record, most waiting for L.D. numbers and committee assignments. Among these are not one, not even just a few, but several Tenth Amendment-related bills.
Only one has an L.D. number at this point and that one is L.D. 58, the bill that would nullify the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, introduced by Republican Representative Rich Cebra of Naples. For those who do not recall, or never were aware, Rep. Cebra has previously introduced a State Sovereignty Resolution which was put to rest fast back when the Democrats controlled the Legislature. In this session, he has done a lot to get the Tenth Amendment agenda advanced in the Legislature. He has also introduced legislation that would nullify federal firearm laws that affect guns manufactured and sold within State lines.
Republican Representative Mel Newendyke of Litchfield has introduced a bill similar to Rep. Cebra’s firearms bill, but this would also include ammunition in addition to firearms. In addition to this, he has also introduced a bill that would nullify federal laws in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Republican Representative Aaron Libby of Waterboro has introduced the Intrastate Commerce Act, which would nullify Federal laws that illegally affect anything manufactured and sold in Maine. He has also introduced his own Federal Healthcare nullification bill, as well as a Defend The Guard Act, which would return control of the National Guard to the Governor, as provided for by the Constitution.
Democrat Representative Walter Kumiega of Deer Isle has introduced a Food Freedom Act, similar to the one that was introduced in Wyoming.
Independent Representative Ben Chipman of Portland has also brought Maine’s original nullification issue back to the table. As the Maine Legislature was the first among many to push through nullification of Real ID, it fell in Maine as then-Governor John Baldacci vetoed the legislation. Rep. Chipman’s new bill would repeal the Real ID law in Maine. The political climate has changed since 2007, the Legislature has shifted control from the Democrats to the Republicans, as well as the current Governor now being Republican as opposed to Democratic. But if what has been submitted is any indication, then the 125th Maine Legislature is very receptive to the idea of States’ Rights under the Tenth Amendment. Governor LePage has indicated previously, while still a candidate, that he is supportive of the idea and has been supportive of Attorney General Bill Schneider’s stand for the Tenth Amendment, by becoming involved with the lawsuit against the Federal Government over the Federal Healthcare laws. The Real ID repeal now stands a better chance at going through fully.
Also, a few names that shouldn’t be forgotten are those willing to take on supporting the Tenth Amendment as cosponsors. L.D. 58, the bill that would nullify the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, has several cosponsors. Among these cosponsors are Senator Ron Collins (R-York), Representatives Bruce Bickford (R-Auburn), Kathleen Chase (R-Wells), Phillip Curtis (R-Madison), Stacey Fitts (R-Pittsfield), Lance Harvell (R-Farmington), Beth O’Connor (R-Berwick), Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough), and Tom Winsor (R-Norway).
As noted before however, the concept of States’ Rights is not a partisan issue. The mainstream media and elements of both parties have attempted to pass off nullification as a fringe idea, one that is now being used by bitter conservatives bent on crippling President Barack Obama in a political war. But with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents embracing the idea of States’ Rights, this claim is nullified, just like the Federal Government’s unconstitutional overreaching soon will be.
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