Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, is introducing a bill to address concerns about the use of the secretive Maine Information and Analysis Center in the state’s battle against drug abuse and trafficking.
At Gov. Paul LePage’s closed-door drug summit in August, his administration announced that MIAC, one of some 80 so-called “fusion centers” in the country, will be used to counter the state’s drug problems by analyzing drug activity and trends and sharing the information with other law enforcement agencies.
Fusion centers were created to combat terrorism after 9/11. Maine’s fusion center, which is overseen by Maine State Police, appears to have no legislative oversight and details about its staffing and budget are not available.
“We all want to stop drug addiction and at the same time, be mindful of privacy rights of the Maine people,” said Warren. “I had never heard of MIAC, or the ‘fusion center’ as it’s called. In doing some research, I found little or no information on the group’s authority and oversight.”
In response, Warren submitted legislation for the upcoming session to empower the governing board to balance the enforcement goals with the rights of people they are investigating.
“The board charged with overseeing the center hasn’t met in years because when they have, there is little information given to them,” said Warren. “The people of the State of Maine have the right to know how their government is working for them.”
Nationally, fusion centers have come under fire for the misuse of funding, privacy violations and targeting groups critical of their mission.
“My hope is that the oversight board can simply do its job and that find all to be in working order,” said Warren.
The 10-member Legislative Council must approve any new bills for the second session of the legislature, which is typically reserved for top priority or emergency measures.
Warren is serving her first term in the Maine House and is a member of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety and the Judiciary Committees.