BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Lawmakers passed a lot of bills this session, but one that did not pass may be back again if supporters have their way. The military recruiter bill would have prevented schools from banning military recruiters from wearing their uniforms when going into schools. Governor LePage backed the bill and it appeared likely to pass until 20 democrats switched their vote stating there was no evidence this was an issue.
Representative Ryan Tipping-Spitz of Orono said, "We have heard no issues of this happening at all. There has been absolutely no evidence presented to the education committee or presented on the house floor."
Members of the state's National Guard, however, said there are about half a dozen schools in Southern Maine that do try to limit access to military recruiters.
Governor Paul LePage took to the airwaves holding those alleged schools accountable stating, "Military recruiters told our Administration several schools in southern Maine only allow minimal access of recruiters. Those high schools brought to our attention were Oak Hill, Noble, Wells, York, Kennebunk, Gorham and Yarmouth. We also were informed that two additional high schools, Portland and Yarmouth, refused uniformed recruiters from stepping on campus."
Spokesperson Peter Rogers with the National Guard said, "We do again have a very good relationship with the schools, but there have been instances where we were having the access that was limited or in some cases denied."
Those who voted against the bill argued there is already a federal law in place to allow military recruiters access to schools, but the law does not state anything about uniforms.
Rogers said, "It's a symbol of what we do as an organization. it would be the same as asking a police officer to go in civilian clothes. or a firefighter to go in civilian clothes. It's an identity that we have and we think it's important that these students see these folks as soldiers."
Members of the National Guard do see a positive even though the bill failed. The result has sparked conversations they hope will shed light on an issue and give recruiters equal access.
"If this issue that has come out helps anybody to take a look at this and it helps our recruiters have the same opportunity to get into the schools..has the same opportunity to help these students explore the career options then it's good and it was a win for us," said Rogers.