Maine laws protect people from discrimination based on factors such as race, disabilities and sexual orientation, and a Republican lawmaker wants to add a person’s beliefs about climate change to that list.
Rep. Larry Lockman has introduced a bill that would limit the attorney general’s ability to investigate or prosecute people based on their political speech, including their views on climate change. It would also prohibit the state from discriminating in buying goods or services or awarding grants or contracts based on a person’s “climate change policy preferences.”
Lockman, an independent business consultant, told the Associated Press that he believes it’s an open question whether human activity is the primary cause of climate change.
“We need to have a vigorous public debate on that question,” he said.
Lockman wants to prohibit the state attorney general from investigating, joining an investigation or prosecuting any person based on that person’s protected political speech.
But he said his bill would also reaffirm free speech by protecting climate change supporters as well.
“I don’t want to see a Republican state attorney general issuing subpoenas for the records of progressive or liberal think tanks or public policy groups to chill their free speech,” he said.
Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills declined to comment.
In his bill, Lockman says that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United “continued the protection of protected political speech, no matter the source or message.” That case allowed corporations and unions to make unlimited independent expenditures in U.S. elections.
Lockman has a history of causing controversy. He dressed as a vampire outside a federal building in Bangor to protest the Internal Revenue Service. He also once accused liberals of assisting the AIDS epidemic, saying they assured “the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.”
He said he couldn’t predict the outcome of his latest bill but expected a lot of interest at a public hearing scheduled April 6.
Calls to members of the committee that would hold the hearing weren’t immediately returned.