Voters to Decide Fate of Proposal to Help Elderly and Disabled Mainers With Daily Activities

Apr 13, 2018

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.