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Robert Fisk, Jr. is the founder and president of Maine Buddies of Animals in Falmouth.
Earlier than the ink has barely dried, an ill-conceived piece of laws and referendum is being used to try to overturn Maine’s ban on Sunday looking. The current lawsuit to permit Sunday looking relies on the brand new right-to-food constitutional modification that voters handed final November. It’s outstanding how this even got here to move.
Though teams just like the Maine Farm Bureau, the Maine Municipal Affiliation and Maine Veterinary Medical Affiliation spoke towards the referendum, just one nationwide and three Maine-based animal-protection organizations (together with the one I lead) sounded the alarms that the referendum was too broad and even deceptively imprecise, and what that would imply. How would “the unalienable constitutional proper to reap meals” have an effect on and prohibit native ordinances, animal welfare legal guidelines, surroundings and meals security, and enforcement of wildlife limits? Was any severe thought given to the unintended penalties? The latter performed out loads quicker and with extra affect than anticipated. The supposed innocuous referendum may now be the automobile to Sunday looking with funding from out-of-state hunters like a gaggle with ties to Ted Nugent. How did this occur?
The modification was very poorly crafted laws. The conundrum with Query 3 was its imprecise language, which raised extra questions than it answered. Usually, poorly written laws can kill a invoice earlier than it will get began. Even so, if left to the Legislature it may have been higher outlined and maybe made workable, however our Legislature dropped the ball. Now, sadly, it appears solely legal professionals will profit because the right-to-food modification is outlined because it makes its method by way of the courtroom system.
An identical invoice failed twice earlier than within the legislature, so why did over two-thirds of the legislature — Democrats and Republicans alike — really feel the necessity to move it alongside to the general public this time? Why the drastic measure? A constitutional modification is severe legislative enterprise, meant to handle an vital public difficulty. The place is the compelling difficulty? And it even begets “a answer in search of an issue.” The suitable to meals modification, well-meaning as it might be, is clearly not about starvation; and it is very important observe that no different state within the nation has felt a necessity for such an modification. Our elected officers failed of their job by placing it on the November poll as an alternative of working it extra by way of committee, the place its weaknesses may have been corrected. Few anticipated the Legislature to vote the best way they did. With only some months earlier than Election Day, it was unimaginable to construct a marketing campaign essential to defeat it, particularly in an off-year election when the voters are usually much less engaged.
The opposition merely didn’t have the time to amass the sources wanted to conduct a marketing campaign to coach the general public and deconstruct the modification arguments. It was a really feel good measure, completely written as akin to a referendum query. It was an ideal storm for an ill-conceived concept that can possible grow to be a contentious Maine regulation for years to return.
The suitable-to-food modification was not solely pointless, it was faulty, imprecise, deceptive even in its title, failed to think about the unintended penalties, and supplied no sense of actual want, particularly to amend our state structure. The Legislature, as an alternative of executing their duty to move considerate laws, supplied their constituents little time or recourse to correctly perceive and defeat an especially flawed referendum query.