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Democratic Party Platform 1958

We, the Democratic Party of Maine, have undertaker exhaustive survey and analysis of the goals which the people of Maine seek to achieve and of the problems they confront in their strivings towards these ideals.

We are proud of our record which demonstrates that the major portion of our last platform has already been realized. This has been accomplished through the vigorous and inspiring leadership of Governor Edmund S. Muskie, the wholehearted support of the Democratic legislative delegation and the competitive spur of a strengthened two-party system.

We dedicate ourselves to the basic ideal of progress as measured by the betterment of the lives of all our people in every facet by which living becomes satisfying and ennobled.

In this spirit, the Democratic Party in State Convention assembled this 22nd day of March, 1958, does hereby adopt the following platform:

THE GOVERNMENT OF MAINE

THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW

We believe that the objective of good government will be more speedily and effectively realized from the point of view of more efficient organization and better service to our people if the operations of government, its policies and the decisions which are made in all branches are fully exposed to public view and openly and frankly discussed by public officials, the people, and the newspaper, radio and television media.

EXECUTIVE RESPONSIBILITY

The Democratic party is dedicated to the principle that the executive branch of our government would he a more effective instrument of service to our people if the Governor were in fact the center of executive authority and responsibility. We acknowledge the adoption of the four-year term for governor, long recommended by the Democratic Party as an important step toward the implementation of this principle. We believe that the full realization of this goal will he achieved by the enactment of the following proposals:

1. Abolition of the Executive Council.

2. Annual sessions of the Legislature.

3. Ratification of gubernatorial appointments by the Senate.

4. Provision for an adequate administrative staff for the Governor.

5. Appointment of the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and State Auditor by the Governor; abolition of the office of State Treasurer and transfer of its functions to the Department of finance which is fully equipped to perform them.

6. Legislation to provide that terms of department heads coincide with that of the Governor.

7. A Consistent effort toward greater consolidation of state departments and toward the creation of an advisory cabinet of department heads.

JUDICIAL REFORM

To ensure that respect for law upon which our society ultimately rests, the Democratic Party reaffirms its belief that our judicial system must be ever responsive to the expanding knowledge of human behavior and must be geared, continually, to dispense justice, amidst the increasing complexities of modern living, with promptness and efficiency.

To this end, the Democratic Party has urged a State Probation and Parole System which has been established under the leadership of Governor Muskie, and the Party now favors:

1. Enlargement of the powers of the Judicial Council, as a permanent body, continually to study and survey the operation of our judicial system, as well as to evaluate, criticize, recommend and sponsor proposed legislation affecting the judicial system; and revision of the structure of the Judicial Council, with necessary financial resources, to enable it more effectively to exercise such enhanced powers.

2. Replacement of trial justices and Municipal Courts by a system of district courts, with civil and criminal jurisdiction enlarged over that presently conferred upon Municipal Courts, including jurisdiction over all matters relating to domestic relations; the judges of the district courts to serve full time, with compensation equivalent to Superior Court justices and to he appointed by the Governor in the same manner as are Superior Court justices.

3. Complete revision of the laws pertaining to juvenile offenders to eliminate the inconsistencies, overlappings and deficiencies which have resulted from patchwork legislation and to achieve the greatest benefit from presently established corrective and treatment institutions in relation to juvenile offenders.

4. Providing adequate facilities by which delinquent children, who must be confined pending ultimate disposition of their cases, shall not be kept in jails but shall be given secure custody appropriate for children and for the commencement of an immediate treatment program.

THE PEOPLE OF MAINE

EDUCATION

We believe that the development of a first rate educational system, extending from the elementary school to the university and adult community, is indispensable to the future of our State.

The Democratic Party salutes Governor Muskie’s leadership of the successful effort to enact school legislation making feasible larger school administrative units; we acknowledge this legislation to be a major advance toward the attainment of high quality education in the public schools of Maine. We believe that the other educational improvements made during Governor Muskie’s administration, in raising teachers’ salaries and in the physical facilities and faculty salaries at the teachers’ colleges and the University of Maine, are also indispensable to the achievement of our educational goals.

In order to stimulate continued improvement of our schools, we propose that the legislation facilitating school consolidation be utilized to the fullest extent and that the following supplementary steps be taken:

1. So that our schools will he equipped to meet the challenge offered by recent scientific and technological advances and so that each student may progress as far and as fast as his abilities will allow, local school boards and the State Department of Education should re-examine elementary and high school curricula, with the expectation that curricula of top flight quality will be devised, emphasizing not only mathematics and science but also English, foreign languages, history and government.

2. In order to increase the number of Maine high school graduates attending college, a long-range program should be adopted to provide strengthened guidance departments in school systems throughout the state; state scholarships for able students; reduction of tuition at the University of Maine for Maine students; and continued expansion of the facilities of the University of Maine, including the use of the State’s credit to encourage low interest financing of university buildings.

3. The improvement of Maine Vocational Technical Institute should he continued and additional vocational institutes should be established as soon as funds are available.

4. In order to secure high calibre teachers for Maine’s elementary and secondary schools, progress must be continued in two areas: the upgrading of teachers’ salaries and the improvement of academic standards, physical facilities and faculty salaries at the teachers’ colleges.

5. The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Education should be continued and properly financed so that it can promote with maximum effectiveness citizen interest and support of improved education at every level in Maine and so that it can determine the possibilities of improving adult education programs and programs for gifted and retarded children.

HEALTH AND WELFARE

Although the Democratic Party prizes initiative and self-reliance, we recognize that it is often necessary for our government to protect and provide for those people who are incapacitated by circumstances beyond their control. We commend the advances made in this field under Governor Muskie’s leadership: the inauguration of the nursing home program; elimination of the citizenship requirement for Old Age Assistance; increased public assistance grants; continued expansion of the treatment program for alcoholics; and the recent improvements made in the facilities of state hospitals and correctional institutions.

We recommend that the following measures be considered essential to the development of a plan designed to provide for the needs of the people of Maine:

1. Increase payments for Old Age Assistance, Aid to Dependent Children, Aid to the Blind and Aid to the Disabled to such amount as is necessary to approach the increase in the cost of living.

2. Establishment of the Committee on Aging as a permanent part of state government so that it can continue to stimulate and coordinate local efforts to formulate programs for elderly people.

3. A two-fold effort to provide an effective program designed to aid the prevention of juvenile delinquency.

a. A study of the need and practicality of established child guidance clinics on a county, regional or district basis.

b. Expansion of the services of the Division of Child Welfare of the Department of Health and Welfare to make possible the early detection and. treatment of children with problems.

4. The development of a comprehensive and integrated mental health program of prevention, cure and care, centered about a separate Department of Mental Hygiene.

5. Provision of psychiatric services for the correctional institutions and the Department of Probation and Parole.

6. Enlargement of the program for direct services for counseling, education and some clinic care for alcoholic rehabilitation.

7. Direction of special attention to raising living standards on the Indian reservations and to providing educational and vocational opportunities that will encourage greater participation in community life.

8. Continuation and improvement of the nursing home program.

STATE EMPLOYEES

1. Provision of additional classifications and pay analysis experts to the Personnel Department so that the efficiency and competency of the personnel system may be increased.

2. Development of a carefully planned program designed to readjust the salary scale of state employees so that Maine will be in a better position to compete with the other New England states for professional employees.

3. Systematic continuance of the merit increase program for all state employees.

LABOR

To strengthen the employment opportunities and to improve the living standards of the working men and women of Maine and to promote that respect and understanding between working people and their employers essential to the welfare of our state, the Democratic party favors:

1. Continuance of the present state policy which permits employers and employees, by mutual agreement, to condition employment on membership in a union.

2. Legislation to provide for immediate review by the highest court of the state of the granting or denial of any temporary injunction in a labor dispute.

3. A state minimum wage law prescribing a minimum wage of one dollar per hour.

4. Legislation to protect elderly persons against discrimination in employment because of their age.

5. Legislation to provide time off from work for voting.

6. Legislation authorizing the Industrial Accident Commission, in disputed cases, to award reasonable counsel fees on behalf of an injured employee.

7. Legislation to furnish additional unemployment compensation based upon family dependents; to revise inequities in the present disqualifications for benefits; and to extend the benefit period.

HIGHWAY SAFETY

We favor:

1. Legislation requiring that all persons between the ages of 15 and 17 complete an accredited driver-education course before they can be issued a license to operate motor vehicles, with appropriate exceptions allowing limited licenses in special cases such as farm work or need incident to employment.

2. Further promotion by the state of driver-education courses.

ATOMIC SAFETY

To protect the people of Maine from the dangers of atomic radiation which may result from the increased use of atomic energy in medical research, industry or military operations within the state, we urge immediate enactment of a Safety Code governing the use of radioactive materials in the State of Maine.

THE RESOURCES OF MAINE

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Democratic Party believes that it is a proper function of state government, in partnership with private initiative and enterprise to stimulate economic activity within the State and that upon such stimulation rests our State’s future. We commend the advances made by the Department of Economic Development, established under Governor Muskie’s leadership, in stimulating a more effective program for economic development in Maine, and we hail the creation of the Industrial Building Authority as vital to our industrial progress.

In order to secure continued expansion of our efforts in this direction, we recommend:

1. Continued improvement of the engineering, scientific and business schools of the University of Maine with emphasis on research facilities.

2. Establishment of a marketing research engineering division within the department of Economic Development to protect and improve marketing of our products of land and sea.

3. Provision of necessary facilities to the Department of Economic Development to enable it to undertake a more vigorous program by which communities will be induced to utilize to the fullest extent the Industrial Loan Act and to join forces with neighboring communities for the development of industrial parks.

4. Vastly increased advertising of Maine’s year-round vacation and travel facilities and expansion of research into Maine’s recreational opportunities with emphasis on winter sports.

5. Strengthening of economic ties with Canada by such means as maintaining tourist and industrial information bureaus in Canada.

6. Broader authority for the Maine Port Authority in its efforts to modernize and expand facilities at the major ports of Maine.

AGRICULTURE

1. Adjustment of unfair freight rates for Maine and New England.

2. Revision of milk price control at the retail level to make possible cash and carry and volume discounts, resulting in lower consumer prices, with the ultimate aim of easing the transition to a free, uncontrolled milk market.

3. Legislation to provide that the Milk Commission he composed of three consumers, a milk producer, a milk dealer, and a milk producer-dealer.

4. Encouragement of farm cooperatives by assigning qualified state agents to cooperatives as consultants in management and marketing techniques.

5. Rigid enforcement of the Maine potato branding law and encouragement of private group action in the production and marketing of quality potato products.

WATER RESOURCES

Noting the advances to date in stream classification and in furtherance of the program to abate water pollution, the Democratic Party favors:

1. Annual improvement of classification in every watershed in the state to assure progress in a continuing undertaking of long-range activity. Such improvement is to be consistent with the pollution problems confronted, the state of the technology bearing upon the solution of the problems, the cost of corrective measures and the resources available to meet that cost.

2. Continuation of the Federal-State matching funds program for the construction of sewage-disposal plants.

3. Stronger action than ever before in support of authorization and appropriations for the construction of an economically feasible Passamaquoddy project.

4. A program to attain the full development of the hydro-electrical potential of our great river systems, with particular attention to the development of multi-purpose projects, having due regard to the conservation of recreational resources.

SEA AND SHORE FISHERIES

To further the growth of the commercial fishing industry as a significant segment of our state’s economy, the Democratic Party recommends:

1. Continuation of the present vigorous program of preservation and restoration of clam flats.

2. Expansion of the marketing program for lobsters by the Sea and Shore Fisheries Department.

3. More effective promotion of sea foods in state and out-of-state markets.

4. Increased federal appropriations for more adequate Coast Guard protection and for the improvement of harbors and navigation facilities.

STATE PARKS

We believe that the continued development of our parks and recreation areas is essential if we are to meet the great demand from Maine residents and visitors for opportunities to enjoy Maine’s unequalled scenic splendors and outdoor recreational opportunities. This program should he implemented as rapidly as available funds permit and should focus on the following two objectives:

1. Progressive expansion of state parks and camp sites to provide attractive facilities in various parts of the state, so that opportunities for outdoor recreation will be available to all.

2. Acquisition of land for additional park and camp site purposes so that desirable sites in appropriate locations are obtained soon at reasonable prices for current and future developments.

FORESTS

In order to continue and strengthen our programs designed to make the best possible use of our forests, probably our greatest natural resource, we recommend:

1. A comprehensive survey of the forest resources of the State of Maine, to provide needed facts and figures concerning forest lands, an appraisal of the tax potentialities of wildlands, and information concerning the possibility of the development of forest recreational areas.

2. Continued expansion of the farm forestry service program to provide guidance to woodland owners concerning good forestry practices.

PUBLIC UTILITIES

The Democratic Party notes with satisfaction the revision of the rate-making law to prevent inflated values entering into the base for utility rates.

In support of a further program to permit the public utilities of Maine to perform their duty to the public successfully, consistent with the household budget of every citizen and the competitive position of industries in the State, we propose:

1. Legislation to promote and encourage the organization of nonprofit Power Districts qualified to obtain low-interest, long-range loans from the Federal Rural Electrification Administration in areas where power is now unavailable.

2. Appropriate action to urge the retention of low-interest rate loans to Rural Electrification Cooperatives and Power Districts by the Rural Electrification Administration.

HIGHWAYS

The Democratic Party:

1. Endorses the Proposition that a modernized and expanded highway system, capable of serving all areas of the State however remote, consistent with the magnitude of the highway program as currently envisioned, is essential to the progress and prosperity of Maine.

2. Recognizes that implementation of the foregoing objective demands realistic and prompt attention to the problems of additional highway financing.

3. Acknowledges that the results of the study authorized and required by the 98th Legislature are essential to intelligent planning for this program.

4. Recommends that additional revenue measures be such as will equitably distribute the burden among highway user groups in accordance with the benefits which they derive from use of our highways and that the results of such study be considered before definite conclusions in this respect are reached.

IMPACT OF NATIONAL ISSUES

The Democratic Party specifically endorses the following positions which result directly from the impact of national issues upon the people of Maine:

1. Continuance, without diminution and indeed with expansion, of Federal programs of proven value such as urban renewal, school-lunch, vocational training, public assistance, anti-pollution, hospital construction, agricultural conservation tree planting, rural electrification, and general aids to small business.

2. Legislation to remove the burden of artificially high cotton prices from the textile industry.

3. Strengthening and making permanent the Small Business Administration and enabling the SBA to provide additional technical and consulting personnel to community development organizations.

4. An effective wage-producing program for areas hard hit by changing technology, markets and foreign trade patterns.

5. Expansion of conservation reserve under the Soil Bank to include land which nay not have been regularly used for crop production, thus stimulating needed reforestation.

6. Increased experiments in forest management and wood products utilization.

7. A fair and workable national farm policy which does not discriminate against non-support farm and poultry products or small Maine farms.

8. A more realistic Rural Development Program to develop more fully the total resources of rural communities.

9. A greater effort to spread federal contracts among small businesses and in depressed areas.

10. A Federal program of education assistance to meet the long-standing need for aid for school construction under a formula that recognizes average per capita income as an important factor in determining need, and to provide for supplementary aid for the liberal arts as well as for scientific education.

11. Extension of programs to provide adequate federal schooling in areas where Government installations have overburdened local facilities.

12. Establishment of adequate federal standards for the amount and duration of unemployment compensation benefits.

13. An expanded public works program geared to local needs, such as public housing, rivers and harbors projects, schools and public buildings.

The Democratic Party is profoundly mindful of the national economic recession and of its impact upon the government, the people and the resources of Maine. Most immediately the effect is to create an uncertainty regarding the revenues to be anticipated from existing sources. It likewise is clear that the people of Maine cannot be asked, in the near future, to bear burdens of increased taxation.

Under these circumstances, the Democratic Party points to its record of progress and commits itself to a continuation of progressive government for the benefit of all the people.

In the light of our record, we believe that the citizens of Maine will have confidence that the Democratic Party will fulfill the pledge it now renews; to achieve, as quickly as possible and as effectively as the resurgence of our economy will allow, the programs presented in this platform.

Source: Copy of typewritten platform. Maine State Law Library.

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