Just another day
wading through the swamp
By Beth O'Connor
On Thursday, Jan. 11 the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology met for a public hearing on yet another solar bill – one that was nearly identical to a bill we just killed a few months ago in the first session.
Now I suspected this public hearing could get contentious, however, never in my wildest imagination did I think it could rise above the level of the D.C. swamp.
It started off suspiciously when we learned that the Senate President and House Speaker granted permission for this hearing to take place even though there would be no Senator available to chair the meeting. Instead, this gathering in room 206 was run (and I use that word loosely) by Representative Seth Berry, the democrat house chair who has been a champion for anything solar.
This particular solar bill is one that I and many others ascertain is improperly before our body. It passed out of legislative council with the help of all 5 Democrat members (who all supported the same bill that was killed in the first session) and Senate President Mike Thibodeau. These six members of the Legislative Council voted to allow this bill into what is constitutionally defined as an “emergency” session.
Maine State Constitution, Article IV, Part Third, Section 1 states:
” the business of the second regular session of the Legislature shall be limited to budgetary matters; legislation in the Governor’s call; legislation of an emergency nature admitted by the Legislature”
Maine State Constitution Article IV, Part Third, Section 16:
“AN EMERGENCY BILL SHALL INCLUDE ONLY SUCH MEASURES AS ARE IMMEDIATELY NECESSARY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE PUBLIC PEACE, HEALTH OR SAFETY;
Section 1 clearly states that the legislature shall limit bills of an “emergency nature” in the second regular session, and section 16 unambiguously defines an emergency bill as “only such measures as are immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety”.
The legislation, LD 1686 “An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Distributed Energy Generation and To Eliminate Gross Metering,” submitted by Senator Saviello, is very similar and looks for the same outcomes that LD 1504 “An Act Regarding Solar Power for Farms and Businesses,” sought in the first session. Sen. Saviello also sponsored that legislation. To the layman, this may not seem as egregious as it does to me, however, the bill is also in violation of another one our rules.
Measures Rejected at a Prior Session. Rule 217
A bill, resolve, constitutional resolution, resolution, memorial or order that has been introduced and finally rejected in a regular or special session may not be introduced in a subsequent regular or special session of the same Legislature except by vote of 2/3 of both chambers. .... [MORE]