Republican MaryAnne Kinney is running for her fourth term in Maine House of Representatives District 99, which includes Brooks, Burnham, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Monroe, Thorndike, Troy and Unity. Her opponent is Democrat April Turner of Freedom.

A 1990 graduate of Edward Little High School, Kinney is a maple syrup producer on her family's farm in Knox and has held a wide variety of jobs in the past, including truck driver, pharmacy technician and credit analyst.

The top Republican on the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, she also serves on the State and Local Government Committee. She is a member of the Maine Farm Bureau, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, NRA and the Maple Producers Association.

We recorded a Zoom interview with Kinney Aug. 13, in which she said she initially got involved as a way to fix some of the problems she observed firsthand across the state.

Kinney said she is proud of the work she has done on legislation allowing farmers to haul bedding for animals on posted roads during mud season. She is also proud of a 2019 bill which helps farmers streamline the method of receiving tax exemptions for large equipment.

Pandemic

Kinney was concerned about people who have yet to receive unemployment benefits after five months of the pandemic. "I have neighbors who are still waiting on unemployment who are losing their homes and vehicles — they are losing everything," she said.

The state should stop "harassing" businesses that are open and generating income for Maine. "The state faces a $500 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2021, and over the course of the next three years, a $1.4 billion shortfall," she said, "yet we are taking away restaurants' licenses, which can total up to $30,000 monthly in sales tax revenue."

"We'd rather shut down that revenue stream and hope the federal government will bail us out," she said. "That's a very poor economic plan."

Police

The killing of George Floyd, she said, "happened in Minnesota, it did not happen in Maine, and (excessive use of force by the police) doesn't regularly happen in Maine."

She said there are some police officers, who do not represent an entire department, who may use excessive force. Knowing many law enforcement officers, Kinney said, "The first thing they will do is talk somebody down." If presented with force, she said, they will fight back with force. "They are there to protect the public." 

Economy

"We need to get people back to work," she said, and added the state should also allow more people from other states in. She was not sure why New York and New Jersey visitors were allowed to visit Maine, while tourists from Massachusetts were not. "They have done a wonderful job flattening that curve. They are some of the biggest economic boosters to the state," she said.

This year because of COVID-19, sales have been down, she said. The state's budget was developed according to "what comes in the summer months," she said. "We shut it down but haven't put the proper cuts in the budget," she added, and warned that the amount in the rainy day fund would not cover the first shortfall in the state.

Taxes

Kinney does not believe allowing local sales taxes is a good idea. "It pits community against community," she said. Imagine the town of Knox puts in a sales tax, but neighboring Freedom does not, she said. The Freedom General store will get more business, being a mile down the road, while the Hilltop Store will see a decline in sales. "You're pitting neighbor against neighbor," she said.

Climate change

Kinney said people living in Maine are fortunate to live where we do, because there are not the types of impacts seen in other parts of the world. The state has an abundance of plant and tree life that "eats" carbon, she said.

While Maine is a carbon-neutral state, she said it would not "fix" the global environmental impact.

Abortion

Kinney said she is a Catholic and is pro-life. She also acknowledges the right to religious freedom. While abortion is a legal procedure, she said, taxpayer-funded abortions violate the Constitution. "It violates my religious freedoms under the Constitution," she said. "It is wrong to force me to pay for someone else's, in my opinion, sins," Kinney said.

"But that is my religious freedom, which is protected. Their freedom to not practice that religion is also protected," she said. "Therefore, if they want that (an abortion)," they can pay for it.

Guns

People in Maine know how to handle firearms, Kinney said, and that is the reason the crime rate is so low in the state. From an early age, she said, her children were taught to respect firearms. Maine does not have the mass shootings seen in other states, which she said were in "very high gun-controlled states, where freedom to carry a firearm is limited."

"If you don't like guns, I encourage you not to get one," she said, and added that when police are more than a half-hour away, "I need to be able to protect myself and my family."

Education

Politics has no part in education, she said, and added that it is unfortunate that "our kids have become political pawns."

"We need to get back to reading, writing and arithmetic," she said. "We need to teach the kids how to succeed. A lot of kids cannot even balance a checkbook," she said.

Broadband internet

Kinney said she has supported the expansion of broadband from the start. In her district, where some residents who do not have internet, so remote learning is difficult. Nowadays, she said, much farm equipment involves internet access. While she supports expanded broadband, she has had concerns with some of the competitive grant bond initiatives, saying, "…they are competitive grants which hurt rural areas, and help Portland."

"I haven't always approved the bond issue because of that," she said.