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BIG FISH - Maine College Repubs to hear Colorado guv

Colorado Governor Bill Owens will address the annual convention of the Maine College Republicans, to be held Saturday at the Portland Club in Portland.

Owens, who is considered by some to be a possible nominee for President or Vice President in 2008 or 2012, helped pass the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) as a constitutional amendment in Colorado. A version of that state's law has been proposed for the November ballot, though a Maine Superior Court justice ruled Monday that the petition signatures for the citizen initiative were not submitted in accordance with state law.

TABOR was recently suspended for five years by a slim majority of Colorado voters. TABOR opponents say it was because the law hurts citizens by cutting public services (November 7, 2005, entry) below acceptable levels, while TABOR supporters, like Owens (who advocated for the suspension, years after being a pioneering backer of the idea), say it's because the state needed some minor changes - you know, like avoiding a fiscal crisis due to a shortage of money, even with drastic cuts to higher education, roads, and social services. Even businesses, usually strong backers of tax reduction, objected to the steep cuts in education and infrastructure.

The connection with Owens that led to him speaking in Maine was from Maine College Republicans chairman Nate Walton, who spoke at "Restoration Weekend," activist David Horowitz's event about the Academic Bill of Rights in Phoenix, Arizona, in late February. Owens, also noted for his intolerant social policies, also attended, and the invitation was made, according to Oliver Wolf, the Maine College Republicans' communications director.

Also speaking at Saturday's conference will be US Senator Olympia Snowe, who is up for reelection this year, and is noted by constituents and members of the media alike for her inaccessibility.

(And the security at her Portland office is far heavier than at Senator Susan Collins's office a block away. Not only is Snowe's office in an office building and up several flights, but a Snowe staffer says it's because of "homeland security" that the office of Maine's senior senator is equipped with a camera and buzzer in the hallway, a plexiglas window like a bank teller's, a locked door to the inner sanctum, and a sign-in book before any of the staff will actually talk to a visitor. Collins's office, by contrast, is on the ground floor of a busy building, near a public eating and gathering space, and is open to anyone without any physical barriers. What does the Department of Homeland Security know that we don't? Or is Collins expendable?)

"We have a good relationship with Senator Snowe," says Wolf, who sees the meeting as "a great opportunity" to involve young people in politics.

Other speakers will be prominent adult Republicans from around the state, including those who are running for governor, US House, and state legislators.

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