- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A mayor’s idea of creating an online registry for welfare recipients is fading fast, only a few days after it generated a splash of headlines. That’s because no lawmaker has been willing to sponsor the legislation.

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald approached Sen. Eric Brakey about the idea, but the GOP lawmaker declined to introduce a bill by Friday’s deadline for proposed bill titles for legislation to be considered in January.

No one else in the Republican caucuses in the House or Senate submitted the bill, officials said Monday. And Gov. Paul LePage’s office reiterated that he doesn’t intend to submit a bill.

Macdonald acknowledged that his proposal faced long odds but he said he’s glad he started a conversation.

“Even the governor shied away from this. But we have a discussion going now with all the goody two-shoes who know all about poverty because they saw a poor person once,” he told the Sun Journal.

Macdonald, who said his city is overburdened by welfare costs, said the idea wasn’t to publicly embarrass welfare recipients, but to make the information available to the public to fight welfare fraud and abuse.

On Monday, Macdonald described himself to conservative talk show host Howie Carr as the “embattled mayor of Lewiston” because he’d been criticized so much for the proposal. Macdonald originally floated the idea a week ago in a column in the Twin City Times, and word quickly spread across the country.

He said a big part of the welfare problem is people receiving benefits who aren’t living in the country legally.

He pointed out that the problem isn’t the influx of Somali immigrants in recent years. A previous mayor blamed Somali immigrants for taxing city resources, but Macdonald said Somalis account for only 3 percent of welfare costs.

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