Category Archives: State/Local

For 18 September: Marijuana

As a warm-up to this evening’s “Community Conversation” and the Town of Surry’s public hearing on the subject, we’ll be discussing marijuana, legalization in Maine, and Peninsula town’s reactions to the opportunity to decide whether to regulate certain commercial marijuana activities.

Here’s a link to a recent Denver Post article, provided by Richard Jacoby (who spends a lot of time in Colorado–resident?), that should help to get us started. Richard notes that the Denver Post has generally been sympathetic to marijuana legalization. He also adds:

Note it is only a correlation but does underestimate the impaired problem because the samples have usually been taken several hours after the fact and in many cases once a legal limit of alcohol has been detected the coroner doesn’t bother with testing for other drugs.  It points out the difficulties of addressing the effect of drug impaired driving.

See you later today!

For July 17: Voting in the US (and Maine?)

Next Monday, we plan to discuss a variety of topics and current events having to do with the US voting system. Possible sub-topics include:

  • OK, so the Russians tried to “hack” our election. What happened, and what can be done to safeguard the integrity of the system?
  • Every ten years, there’s a scramble to gerrymander congressional districts. While some of the most egregious cases are being resisted by the courts, there must be a better way. What is it and how could it be implemented (assuming the Dems and Reps wouldn’t be big fans of a more neutral system)?
  • Maine’s voters have approved a ranked choice voting system, which will presumably be implemented over time as constitutional issues are resolved. Is this a “better way” to tally votes, and should it be adopted by other states?
  • What other safeguards are appropriate or necessary to ensure that our elections are free and fair?

See you next week!

For July 10: Federal vs. State vs. Local

There’s been a lot of discussion in Maine (and Blue Hill) about “local sovereignty.” The proponents have argued that local residents are better positioned than Washington (or Augusta) legislators and bureaucrats to form sensible judgments about, for example, the safety of locally produced food. (Keeping in mind that there are also Federal and Maine regulations governing the same.)

So, the question for next week’s discussion is: Which activities should be provided by (or regulated by):

  • The Federal government
  • The State governments
  • Local governments

Rather than enumerating the myriad services and activities to be regulated, of course, it may be more fruitful to think more abstractly about what common characteristics might cause a given activity to fall into one of the three (or four, if we want to consider County government as well) buckets.

Among the core issues to consider are:

  • Which entity(ies) should provide/regulate education?
  • Health care?
  • Social programs (for the needy, for the elderly)?
  • National defense?
  • Food safety?
  • Criminal law enforcement?

So, brush up on your Federalist Papers and be ready to go on Monday. If you need help getting started, here’s a link to Wikipedia on Federalism in the United States.