State Rep. Jeffery Hanley, R-Pittston, is running for a third term representing House District 87: Alna, Pittston, Randolph, and Wiscasset.
Hanley was born and raised in Gardiner and attended Gardiner schools. After high school, he entered an apprenticeship program at Central Maine Vocational Technical Institute, now Central Maine Community College, in Auburn. He worked as an electrician, pipe fitter, and welder.
Hanley has lived in Pittston for 24 years. He is semi-retired, but owns and operates Blue Ice Self Storage on Route 27 in Pittston.
Hanley is a veteran, having served six years in the Maine National Guard. He is a grand knight with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization. He volunteers with the Chrysalis Place/Gardiner Food Bank and formerly volunteered as a Catholic counselor at the Maine State Prison in Warren.
He and his wife of 47 years, Sally Hanley, have four children and nine grandchildren.
In the Legislature, Hanley sits on the Energy, Utilities, and Technology committee.
Hanley said he is running again because he likes the work and because he “thinks the state of Maine is on the edge of doing everything right.”
His campaign has been endorsed by the Maine Realtors Association and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
Hanley said one of his biggest accomplishments in the Legislature has been to help pass an emergency bill in 2017 to enable the operation of the Warden’s Report Fire Permit System. The private website allows fire chiefs to issue burn permits online.
Warden’s Report and another website, Burning Permits, were operating prior to the bill’s passage, but Maine Forest Service officials sent letters to towns in June 2017 saying permits from the sites were invalid under state law.
The emergency bill was drafted to allow the websites to function within certain parameters. Hanley was a proponent of the bill, saying it has allowed for more local control over burn permits.
If re-elected, Hanley wants to continue the state’s current “financial behavior” and keep “spending under control,” he said.
“I would like to see, eventually, the elimination of the income tax altogether,” Hanley said. He said a bill will soon be introduced to do that.
Hanley said the Legislature needs to “create a business-friendly climate” to help with the labor shortage. He thinks the elimination of the income tax would bring more business owners to the state.
In addition, he thinks there should be more communication between community colleges and high schools, so students enter college better prepared and enter the workforce with skills that are in demand.
Hanley does not support the ongoing hikes in the minimum wage, which has risen from $7.50 to $10 since January 2017 and will go up to $11 in 2019 and $12 in 2020. He views it as “detrimental to business.”
He would support a “student wage” that gives students a lower wage than older, more experienced workers.
Hanley believes people confuse the terms “living wage” and “minimum wage.” He said the minimum wage “was never designed” to be a living wage. “It’s a starting wage.”
As for the citizen’s initiative process, Hanley said he is a proponent of changing the process because he thinks it is being abused by out-of-state interests.
“I think the most equitable thing you can do with the referendum process is have each county meet a certain percentage of voters that have to sign the petition,” Hanley said. “That way you get a truly representative cross-section of society to support a referendum.”
He said the current process “circumvents a lot of very good steps,” such as committee hearings.
He thinks one of the biggest failures of the 128th Legislature was the defeat of a bill to criminalize female genital mutilation. If re-elected, he said he would either sponsor or co-sponsor another bill to ban the practice.
If the bill had become law, anyone performing female genital mutilation on girls under the age of 18 would be guilty of a class A felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Those who did not report someone performing the act would face a misdemeanor.
The bill’s opponents said the practice is already a federal crime and the bill’s passage would only serve to demonize immigrant populations and create barriers to health care.
Hanley also supported part of a bill from the 127th Legislature that would have enforced mandatory treatment for someone convicted of a felony for opioid possession.
Maine had its most fatal drug overdoses ever in 2017. “I think you have to insist people get treatment, not just offer it,” Hanley said.
The bill passed; however, the final version excluded mandatory treatment.