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Political Brew: Power by the people, money for nursing homes, and an insurrection investigation

This week our analysts are attorney and longtime WGAN Morning Show co-host Ken Altshuler, and Ray Richardson of WLOB Radio.

MAINE, USA — A bipartisan bill to buy out Central Maine Power and Versant Power and create a consumer-owned electric company drew much public comment this week. Our analysts are skeptical about whether the measure will be enacted.

Ray Richardson calls it a "horrible idea," saying "The people that run our roads and bridges, those same folks would be running the state-run utility."
He adds that studies have shown government or consumer-owned utilities have a terrible record for reliability.

Ken Altshuler says "It's easy to hate the electric company." And he says while there are small consumer-owned electric companies in Maine, they're not CMP with hundreds of thousands of customers.

Some Republicans are critical of Gov. Janet Mills for not earmarking more state surplus and federal COVID relief dollars for nursing homes and long-term care facilities, which took the brunt of the pandemic last year. The Mills administration argues there is more money in the pipeline in the fiscal year 2022 and 2023 state budgets, and more direct funding from the federal government.

Altshuler says he's surprised the governor is not providing more immediate relief, even if only for political reasons.
"Target the largest voting bloc, which is the elderly, not just the ones in nursing homes, but the people who have families in nursing homes."

For Richardson, it's a matter of supporting people who do some of the most important, but too often under-appreciated work in Maine.
"The state needs to do better," says Richardson. "Mainers need to demand better from the governor, especially  when she has this amount of money available."

This week 35 House Republicans joined Democrats in voting for a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But Republicans in the Senate may be poised to block the investigation.

Sen. Angus King told NEWS CENTER Maine on Thursday "The proposals of the Republicans were met, but they still said no. And I believe we ought to have the investigation. And when people start moving heaven and earth to block an investigation, that suggests there is something they don't want found out."

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Richardson rejects that notion and says many Republicans simply feel this would be a partisan investigation to benefit Democrats in next year's elections.
He says "It feels partisan. I would love for an independent organization to investigate this. I just want the truth."

But Altshuler strongly disagrees with the need for an outside probe. "The 9/11 commission was an investigation made up of the same configuration as this is proposed to be. You can have a bipartisan panel within Congress. Congress was attacked. Defend your house, do your investigation yourself."

Altshuler and Richardson also discuss several bills in Augusta to restrict access to abortion and a proposal to decriminalize prostitution and treat people caught up in human trafficking and sexual exploitation as victims, not criminals.

Political Brew airs Sundays on the Weekend Morning Report.