Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with both my district senator and representative. It was interesting to hear about how our government works from two politicians from different parties.
When talking with the senator, I got the point of view from a seasoned politician who tries hard to work with everybody and quell opposing partisan views to achieve results. He worked hard this session to avoid a government shutdown on the state level while we struggled with the federal government shutdown. He mentioned going out to dinner in small groups to try to strengthen relationships across party lines and promote a healthy discussion of politics. Ultimately, it was difficult to pass bills and achieve results with the extremely polarized views, both left and right, in the capital.
My representative shared similar views about the progress of the last session. He worked hard to sponsor and pass a record number of bills, especially for someone serving their first term. Because his focus is on providing basic needs to the people of Maine, he was able to get votes from both parties.
Bot the senator and representative said the most interesting session to view would be the session this month. This is the “lightning round” for bills that still need to be voted on. The sponsors of the bills have 1 minute to talk to the committee about why their bills should pass. A small group of about a dozen selected state politicians will vote on all of these bills.
As we move in to the emergency session in January, a smaller number of bills (only a few hundred as opposed to 1400 last session) will be decided on. The important items on the agenda will be revisiting the possible expansion of MaineCare, the management of correctional facilities, the teacher retirement cliff, and an act to end hunger.
All of these upcoming topics are important due to their relevance to supplying basic needs for Mainers. I feel the expansion of MaineCare would be beneficial to provide medical assistance to the working poor and the growing elderly population in our state. As Maine’s population continues to age, there will need to be more consideration of benefits for our elderly population. The bill regarding the teacher retirement cliff will also help with this as it will promote a younger retirement age for Maine teachers and open education positions for college graduates.
Another idea that hits close to home is the “Act to End Hunger” which will protect small farms and create self-sufficiency among the agriculture community in our state. I have seen a very strong farming community in the Winthrop/Readfield area and would like to see continued expansion of this community as opposed to the influence of large commercial farms. When so much produce is available locally, it doesn’t make sense to promote corporate farming interests over our own.
I hope to see my elected officials continue to do their best, putting aside partisan issues and working together for the good of the people of Maine.