Lawmakers conceal public records

The Legislature has passed a bill to shield personal information on concealed-handgun permits from Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.
The MPA and other advocates of open government opposed L.D. 345, which was submitted by Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, arguing that the information is in the public interest and that the current debate over gun rights does not justify another exemption to the right-to-know law.
The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee had endorsed the amended version of the bill that the House and Senate passed in late April. The law, which took effect when Gov. Paul LePage signed it on April 26, makes only aggregate data on gun permits public. Information including each permit holder’s name, address and date of birth is now confidential, for the first time since 1981.
The Judiciary Committee’s House chair, Democrat Charles Priest of Brunswick, proposed an amendment to keep the identifying information public while allowing certain permit holders, such as victims of domestic violence, to seek exemptions.
Priest said, “There is no proven need for this. … “The policy of this bill will soon be extended to hunting licenses, I can tell you that, because they too indicate that you have possession of a gun. Passage of this will do untold harm to the right-to-know law.”
In two committee votes, only Priest, Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig, D-Cape Elizabeth, and Rep. Matthew Moonen, D-Portland, voted to keep the records open to the public. All three spoke against concealing the public records during debate in the House. The MPA thanks them for taking a stand for the public’s right to know.
See how each representative and senator voted on the bill.