Now that the snow has melted and spring has finally arrived, we are beginning to enter the final stretch of work here in Augusta. Legislative committees are hard at work sifting through more than 2,000 bills with a deadline of May 10 to vote on all bills. To accommodate this deadline, the presiding officers have waived the two-week public advertising requirement, which allows committees to hold public hearings on any bills in their possession at any time.
If you are interested in following the work of a particular committee, the best way to follow along is through the calendar function of the legislative website. If you are interested in weighing in on a particular piece of legislation, there is now an online form that may be used to submit testimony. The submission form may only be used on the day of the public hearing. If that doesn’t work for you, you may still email your testimony to the committee clerk or contact my office for assistance at 287-1505.
This session, in addition to serving as Republican leader in the Maine Senate, I also serve as the sole Republican senator on the Marine Resources Committee. Considering how crucial the subject matter brought before this committee is to our region, I am very happy to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
While the volume of bills before the Marine Resources Committee tends to be lighter than some other committees, the proposals have a major impact on Maine’s fisheries, which play a vital role in the success of our economy as a state.
Topics up for discussion this session include lobster licensing requirements, the creation of an apprentice license for commercial scallop fishing, commercial elver fishing quotas, and the impacts of climate change on Maine’s marine species.
Outside of the Marine Resources Committee, I have been hard at work defending Maine’s economy against nearly 50 bills that I think have the potential to do some serious harm.
Among them are a number of unnecessary tax increases on a whole host of goods, including heating fuel (1% tax), gasoline (6.5-cent increase), wine (66.6% increase), and beer (21% increase).
Considering that we began the session with more than $120 million in the checking account and nearly $300 million in the savings account, we should be looking for ways to decrease our tax burden and become more competitive with other New England states.
Maine people already pay more than their fair share of taxes; we have the dubious reputation of having the third-highest tax burden in the country. Because of this, it’s difficult to attract young families, professionals, and businesses that we so desperately need to locate in our great state.
In addition to unnecessary tax increases, the $8 billion budget fails to set priorities and spends nearly every penny to our name. In spite of Gov. Mills’ promise not to increase taxes, her budget relies on one-time funding sources that will result in tax increases down the line.
It’s true that Maine is a very special place, but as long as we embrace the tax-and-spend mentality, our working-age population will continue to decline, especially in northern and rural areas.
This is only a small sampling of subject matter that will be considered this year by the 129th Maine Legislature. I take great pleasure in having the opportunity to serve the people of Senate District 13 in Augusta once more, so thank you for entrusting me with your support.
If you have any questions about a specific bill before the Legislature, or you just want to chat, please feel free to call my office at 287-1505.
(Sen. Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, represents all of Lincoln County except Dresden, plus Washington and Windsor. He serves as Senate minority leader and sits on the Marine Resources Committee.)