AUGUSTA, Maine — Republican leaders in the Maine Legislature are asking top Democrats to call lawmakers into a special session to end the emergency powers given to Governor Janet Mills because of the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic. The GOP leaders released a letter Saturday night that they sent to Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon.
The letter comes five days after the Governor released her plan for a phased-in reopening of Maine’s economy — a plan that has come under sharp criticism from some Republicans, and some business owners, who complain it is still too restrictive and will harm the state economically.
Republicans say the Governor has not adequately consulted with lawmakers as she has managed the COVID-19 crisis, or in developing the reopening plan. The letter also says a Mills has not provided the information they have asked for to evaluate her policies.
“Unfortunately in recent weeks concerns raised by the Legislature to the Governor have been met with disregard and even contempt,” reads the letter from Senate GOP leader Dana Dow and House GOP leader Kathleen Dillingham.
They ask the Democratic leaders, who control the majority in both Senate and House, to bring the Legislature into session to deal with the concerns by removing the emergency power it granted the Governor in early March.
Senate President Troy Jackson had this to say in a statement in response:
“In response to Maine’s first case of COVID-19, the Legislature moved quickly to provide the governor with the emergency powers necessary to respond to the public health crisis and save lives. These powers allow the state to secure critical testing supplies, procure personal protective equipment, and access emergency funding for our hospitals when we need it most. Removing these powers would have devastating consequences for the people of Maine. It would jeopardize our ability to use federal COVID-19 funding, put our front-line workers at risk, and make it more difficult for the state to get personal protective equipment, testing supplies, and other vital resources. At the end of the day, the call to reconvene for the sole purpose of stripping the governor of her emergency powers is a shortsighted attempt to score political points that would only further spread the virus, allow our economy to worsen and leave Maine people paying the ultimate price."
Jackson and Gideon would need to agree to the GOP request before legislators could be asked to come back into session.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus