Viewpoint: Form a commission to reopen Maine



By Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham
From the very beginning of this pandemic reaching our shores, myself and millions of Americans have voluntarily participated in government recommendations from both the state and federal government. Since that time, my position hasn’t changed. My actions have been voluntary. We have used hygiene, social distancing and avoiding public spaces to combat the spread of COVID-19. Our country has always valued its civil liberties above all else. That is what makes us great. We have always come together in times of crisis, and we do so without compromising our values. 

These have been extraordinary times, and extraordinary measures have been taken by hundreds of millions of Americans across this great country to flatten the curve and save countless lives. The federal government has taken many steps that were necessary. First, travel to China was restricted, then Europe. These weren’t easy decisions, but they were important. 

Since that time, the federal government has used its emergency medical supply to aid states with respirators, PPE’s and medical supplies. It has given crucial recommendations for states to consider and implement. 

However, in the past weeks, I have seen a disturbing trend. Across the states, I have seen these recommendations turn into mandates. The orders have stopped businesses from operating.  

These declarations have deemed certain jobs “nonessential.” All jobs are essential! Every life has meaning and value! 

Across the country, I have seen a lone man on a paddle board, in the ocean, forced ashore by police boats and arrested in California. 

I have seen a father in Colorado arrested in a park for playing catch with his daughter. 

I have seen a man in Philadelphia forcefully removed from a public bus by multiple police officers because he wasn’t wearing a face mask. 

I have seen police in Kentucky writing down the license plate numbers of people attending church on Easter. 

I have seen Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reveal that the federal government is considering issuing Americans with certificates of immunity from coronavirus. Can you imagine a United States where you had to show your papers to participate in society and exercise your God-given constitutional rights? 

A study done by Oxford Economics showed Maine is the most vulnerable state in the country to economic shock due to the coronavirus reaction. Another study done by Moody Analytics showed that the state of Maine is looking at losing $1 billion in tax revenue because of COVID-19. The federal government can’t bail Mainers out. The federal government passed a $2 trillion spending package; the largest spending package in the history of mankind. 

Even after the most massive spending the world has ever seen, most Mainers will only see a one-time check for $1,200. That amount is equivalent to about one month’s rent. We need the free market to open up for business, or else the money, and the food, will run out. 

Since this emergency arrived in Maine, we have only seen more restrictions. We have seen our schools go from weeks of closure to shutting their doors for the remainder of the year. We have seen our elections get pushed from early June to mid-July. We have seen social distancing advisories become “stay at home” executive orders. In this time, when terms like ‘quarantine’ and “shelter in place’ have become common, we cannot let this become the new normal. We have to think about returning to our way of life while that possibility still exists.  

That is why I sent a letter to Governor Mills urging her to act now to form a commission to reopen Maine for business. It is my hope that a committee of dedicated individuals can brainstorm ways that Maine can move forward safely, before the economic and psychological toll becomes worse than the health impacts of COVID-19. Let’s make May 1, “May Day,” a special day in Maine by declaring Maine will be advancing, no longer retreating, against this invisible enemy! 

To all of Maine, I hope the warm spring sun greets you at your doorstep. Better days are ahead. 

 

Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) is a state representative.  

 

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