PORTLAND, Maine — Speaker of the House Sara Gideon has introduced a bill to create automatic voter registration. Anyone who gets or renews a driver's license would also be registered to vote,
Our NEWS CENTER Maine political analysts wonder whether the bill is a solution in search of a problem, given the relative ease of registering to vote here.
Former state Senator Phil Harriman thinks politicians may feel the bill will boost voter turnout. "I don't subscribe to that. I think people vote because they have a passion or because it's their civic duty."
John Richardson, a former Speaker of the House, says it's worth reminding people that it is a right and a duty to vote. "So if you have this automatic opportunity to be registered, then I think it's just another way of reminding people of that responsibility."
Last week the Maine House gave initial approval to a hotly debated measure eliminating non-medical exemptions for vaccinations required to attend public schools. Maine and the nation have seen a spike in measles cases, attributed to more parents refusing to vaccinate their children.
Richardson thinks the bill will be enacted in order to boost the so-called herd immunity that has kept diseases such as measles at bay for so long.
But Harriman says it could "disenfranchise some people who on their principles don't want their children vaccinated, and don't have the money to send them to private schools."
Former Vice President Joe Biden finally entered the Democratic presidential primary last week. Out analysts believe Biden has unique strengths and liabilities.
Says Harriman, "The distance between Joe Biden's first campaign for president and this one is like 34 years. That's a long stretch of time to be asking the public to vote for you for president. If he wants to build on the legacy of Barack Obama I think that will separate him from the pack."
Richardson thinks Biden's age and the stumbles of past campaigns can hurt him. But he feels that as the front runner, Biden is smart to immediately take the fight to President Donald Trump instead of the other Democratic candidates.
Our analysts also discuss the proposal for a statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. There are some communities that have already enacted bans, and even some retailers believe it would be better for them to have one statewide standard.
John Richardson thinks statewide is the way to go, but the law has to be strong. He believes some retailed are hoping "they can get to the legislature and water down any of the regulatory issues that come with banning plastic."
Phil Harriman says "I think no one's going to dispute that having plastic in our environment is not healthy to the planet.
For the economy? Let's decide. If it's not welcome in certain municipalities around the state, then perhaps it should be banned statewide."
Political Brew airs Sundays on The Morning Report.