Maine voters will decide on an initiative that would provide elderly and disabled people help with daily activities, like bathing and medication management. The Maine Senate Friday voted to hold a public hearing on the measure first, but the House chose to send the issue directly to the public.
Most Senators argued that a public hearing would help to educate the public about the issue they will vote on, but others argued that a campaign before the election would serve that same purpose, and that voters will be educated by the campaign in the fall.
Sen. Justin Chenette, a Democrat from Saco, opposed a public hearing.
“We are told if we don’t send this to committee, we are somehow stifling discussion and debate. Last time I checked, it’s called a campaign,” Chenette says.
The initiative would create a new 3.8 percent tax on income above the social security tax threshold of $128,400 a year. The tax would fall equally on employers and workers.
That big an increase in taxes deserves a hearing, says Democratic Sen. Bill Diamond of Windham.
“I think we should always give the voters the benefit of a public hearing, to ask questions to make sure that everything is out in the open,” Diamond says.
Because the House and Senate split, there will be no public hearing.