Letter to the Editor: LD 1744

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Democrats in the Maine Legislature recently passed LD 1744, “An Act To Increase Funding for the Animal Welfare Fund by Increasing Certain Fees,” which raises the fee for a manufacturer to register a brand of animal feed from $80 to $100 per year. The Maine Republican Party immediately began posting claims that Democrats have created a tax on dog food, with several elected Republicans indicating that they believe this will raise the price of pet food, as well as eggs and milk, since the cost of all animal feed is impacted. Their claim is hogwash.

If manufacturers choose to pass that $20-per-year, per-brand increase on to consumers, it amounts to less than one cent per bag. It funds an important and underfunded program that helps low-income people get their pets neutered and pays for the care of animals that have been abused or are in state custody due to legal proceedings. FMI on that program: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/ or Google “Maine Animal Welfare Program.”

The Maine Republicans are making an art of lying about the impact of certain pieces of legislation, to the point that I am certain that some of them are voting not on the merits of a bill, but on its usefulness as political propaganda. Take their work on the Frankie the Dog legislation. Frankie, a little pug, was stolen from his home on the coast of Maine and tortured to death. His body washed up on shore wrapped in plastic bags; newspapers declined to publish the details of what had been done to him, saying it was just too gruesome.

A state representative, seeing how difficult prosecution can be in animal abuse cases (in spite of the connection between animal abuse and violence towards people), sponsored a bill that allows Maine’s Volunteer Lawyers Project to keep a list of lawyers and law students who want to volunteer on animal abuse cases. It gives courts the manpower to help bring animal abusers to justice and it gives law students an opportunity for real-world experience, at no cost to taxpayers. Testimony on the bill was overwhelmingly supportive, explaining the positive impact of a similar bill in Connecticut and underscoring the connection between animal abuse and violence towards people. You can read it all here: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?ld=1442&PID=1456&snum=129&sec3#. Again, there is no cost to taxpayers for this service.

One Republican in the whole legislature voted in favor of this helpful legislation. The rest voted against it. Why? So the Maine Republican Party could tell their hapless followers that Democrats voted to provide lawyers for dogs. They ran ads against Democrats who were up for re-election, implying that they had voted to make taxpayers pay for this folly. As is their art, they lied by omission, by making an issue seem like a thing it really isn’t. What will it take for Republican voters to demand that their party tell them the truth?

I was the first registered Democrat in my family of proud Republicans. My family members were conservative, caring, patriotic, and committed to serving their communities. Although I am slightly less conservative, I was raised with those values and I feel certain that our democracy needs people across the political spectrum in order to balance our democracy. But what Republicans are doing now is not ‘conservative;’ it is lying. They are manipulating their followers with lies in order to stay in power – right here in Maine. The true patriots in the Republican Party are the ones who will stand up and insist that their party live up to the standards it used to espouse, especially personal responsibility and honesty. Right now, there’s a huge vacuum as Republican standards continue swirling down into the sewer. Our democracy is under assault and if people don’t stand up for truth, regardless of their politics, it is going to die.

Tina Riley

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