Bill would bar discrimination toward climate change doubters

AUGUSTA — 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, said there is a “faith-based ideology of climate change hysteria and anybody who is a skeptic is immediately labeled a heretic who must be silenced,” the Portland Press Herald reported.

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 wants to prohibit the state attorney general from investigating, joining an investigation or prosecuting any person based on that person’s protected political speech.

Peer-reviewed studies, science organizations and climate scientists say that the world is warming from man-made forces.

Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills in 2016 joined a coalition of states interested in working on initiatives including investigations into whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses.

The attorney general’s office declined a request for comment on Lockman’s bill.

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.”

Lockman’s bill is scheduled for an April 6 hearing.

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