It is a Christmas miracle. For the first time in years — if ever — Gov. LePage attended a meeting of the Senate Democrats. Why? Simple: he was invited.
Much was made of Paul Richard LePage’s frosty relationship with the former legislative Democratic leadership of Mark Eves and Justin Alfond. But with new front people leading the House and Senate caucuses, it seems like Democrats have learned how to have productive, constructive conversations.
The kicker? It has happened before, and I was fortunate enough to see it firsthand. A few years back, there were requests made to Maine law enforcement agencies for a list of all concealed carry permit holders. A bill from Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, that would make that information confidential had been filed, but was stuck in the committee process.
So what happened? Gov. LePage and now-Senate President Mike Thibodeau agreed the information should be withheld, but Democrats held majorities and a Freedom of Access Act request was pending. It seemed like there was nothing to be done…or was there?
In homage to so many Christmas poems, I’ll offer the tale in verse. Hopefully this shining example of bipartisanship — even if it irked the press — can serve as a Star of Bethlehem for the 128th Maine Legislature, guiding the way to a productive, cooperative session.
A February day in Two Thousand-One-Three,
The Bangor Daily News (who else would it be?)
Sent in a request for the permits in places
Where Mainers owned guns, but they wouldn’t share faces.
Instead, they proclaimed, it was to help spread the news,
And inform the debate on gun control views.
They would not map the homes where gun owners lived
Like sketchy reporters in New York State did.
But Mainers got mad they would make such requests,
And lodged with officials their official protest.
“My home is my own, and a permit’s no crime
So you go to hell; my gun is mine.”
So what did we see and what did they do?
Augusta moved quickly, yes it’s quite true.
Michael from Waldo and The County’s own Troy
Sought a solution they could posthaste employ.
And your author, dear friends, briskly did write
A bill which would shield the permits from sight.
Paul Richard was called from out on the road
That word from Augusta soon could be told.
A deal in the house where state laws are made
Fast came together as part of a trade
LePage, with his power, would directly submit
A bill, if Jackson could be the sponsor of it.
Some on the left did not want to act
Not caring if gun owners were tracked.
But Troy would work hard to get the law passed
Leaving a few of his allies downcast
No reference, no hearing would cause a delay.
When the gavel brought close to the lawmaking day
The bill was engrossed and enacted forthwith
And signed by the Governor, quickly and swift.
The permits were private, public no more
And police across Maine showed reporters the door.
Because LePage and Mike T. and Troy Jackson, too
All found agreement on the right thing to do.
So as we wait to start Twenty-One-Seven
And welcome the Word Incarnate from Heaven
There is hope the future will bring back the past
With Augusta at work, at long and at last.
Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year, too.