Loss of rights

To the Editor:

Several legislative documents (LDs) under the general title of “Right to Hunt” bills will be heard in Augusta next week. But this title is misleading. No one is denying anyone’s right to hunt or fish, and you certainly can’t give Mainers the right to hunt because they already have it. What is threatened instead is the right to vote.

For more than 100 years, Mainers have enjoyed the constitutional right to create and support a citizens’ initiative to remedy legislative inaction or obstruction. It’s democracy in its most direct form; without it, the citizens of our state have no recourse if special interests prevent the voice of the people from being heard.

The sponsors of LD 703, 753 and 1084, would take away that vital alternative.

In particular, the bills would amend the state constitution to exclude wildlife issues from the citizen initiative process, in effect declaring that the animals of the state are a private preserve instead of a public resource. Such a restriction would not necessarily stop there. If wildlife, why not an amendment to exclude snowmobiles, ATVs, bodies of water, public parks and so on. It’s the classic ‘slippery slope’ with no end in sight to the topics that could be raised and the instances of voters’ rights that would be suppressed.

Fundamentally, these bills are fraught with consequences and the distinct possibility of legal challenges; they really have no place in a democratic society where all the issues should be decided by all the people.

Sherry Treworgy


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