Senator David Burns (R-Washington) responds to a recent Bangor Daily News article which suggests the religious liberty bill he is sponsoring is an attempt to undermine gay marriage. It's nothing of the sort, and Senator Burns explains.
Religious Liberty Bill Will Protect Rights of All Mainers
By Senator David Burns
A recent BDN article regarding the religious liberty bill I am sponsoring is full of misperceptions, paranoia and inaccuracies. The article suggests that this bill is somehow designed to undermine gay marriage.
This is not about gay marriage. The bill, LD 1428, is about assuring the religious liberties spelled out in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution are protected for all Maine citizens. The goal is to prohibit Maine from burdening Mainers’ free exercise of religion without strong justification.
Those quoted in the article imply that this legislation is unnecessary because the First Amendment already guarantees religious freedom. A U.S. Supreme Court decision and recent actions by other states, however, suggest otherwise.
In 1993, the U.S. Congress passed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which stated the government cannot place burdens on the free exercise of religion unless doing so serves a compelling state interest or is accomplished by the least restrictive means possible.
That law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, however, in 1997. The court ruled that while the law’s application to the federal government was constitutional, its extension to individual states was not.
New Ferry Service from Maine to Nova Scotia
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage welcomed Nova Star Cruises to Maine on Tuesday as the company officially announced the new ferry service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland, Maine will begin in May 2014.
“Nova Scotia and Maine have a unique opportunity to connect its citizens and economies. With this critical link restored, we can build on the ferry service as an economic driver and continue to build partnerships between the two regions,” said Governor Paul LePage.
The Province of Nova Scotia has signed an agreement with Quest Navigation, Inc. – a Maine-based company – and ST Marine Ltd. to restore the Yarmouth-Portland ferry service. The Cat, which operated from 2006 to 2009, was the last ferry service between the two regions.
Bonds Approved, Portland Legalizes Marijuana, South Portland Rejects Waterfront Ordinance
Maine voters last night approved $150 million in bonds that will be used for improvements to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects. They also approved funding for repairs to state armories and education projects at Maine Maritime and the University of Maine System.
In Portland, voters approved an ordinance that allows adults to posses a small amount of marijuana.
Across the bridge, in South Portland, residents rejected a ordinance that would have banned so-called "tar sands" to flow through the city.
The Bangor Daily News has a complete wrap up of election results.
AUGUSTA – State Senator David Burns (R-Washington) is hoping a stalking prevention bill he submitted for the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature still has a chance, despite being rejected last week by the Legislative Council.
On October 30, the Legislative Council met to determine which bills will be allowed during the second session. Among those rejected was “An Act to Enhance Maine’s Stalking Laws to Include Illegal Stalking of Groups or Members of an Organization.”
Senator Burns said, “Currently, Maine’s anti-stalking laws are designed to protect individuals from being harassed or stalked. But we have many situations where groups of people such as families, school organizations, and others have been stalked by members of the community. My bill would extend the current stalking statute from individuals to groups as well.”