You can always tell as the legislature begins the process of “gearing up.” The hallways get louder, the Chamber gets louder, and the politicians speak more passionately.
This week was a very busy week with two legislative sessions, three committee meetings, and the State of the State Address by the Governor.
There’s lots to write.
First, and foremost, I was a “first witness” to real grace and courage this week. When the Governor closed the Downeast Correctional Facility over the weekend, one would expect some reaction.
But it was the comments and the remarks by Representative Will Tuell of East Machias which will stick with me for a very long time.
It was on Tuesday at the conclusion of the legislative session that Representative Tuell asked to speak on the record. He was interrupted by his own legislative leadership in anticipation that Representative Tuell’s remarks would be a condemnation of the Governor’s weekend actions.
Instead, Representative Tuell acknowledged the difficulties of the weekend, but also enjoined us all to be patient, to be respectful, to trust the system to do the best work when it comes before the legislature. In Representative Tuell’s own folksy way, he pointed us toward better thoughts and loftier considerations. This was truly “grace under pressure.”
On Other Issues
LD1440 - An Act To Create the Bar Harbor Port Authority
On this bill, I parted company with other members of the house. The state of Maine does not have port authorities in other areas of the state, and the mandate for the creation of this port authority left too many open doors for me to feel the bill would best represent the voters of the whole region. On this issue, I voted negatively. The measure carried anyway.
This issue, the creation of a port authority, is important for some interesting reasons. I do believe that there are limits to growth, and that Bar Harbor is the place it is because of its pristine wilderness. Second, I do firmly believe that Bar Harbor is much more than a single town - Bar Harbor includes all of Frenchman’s Bay, and those voters need to be included in the decision making process. Those considerations should have been written into the bill from its inception, not added as an afterthought. My vote was in the minority - but that’s OK. This was a vote of environmental conscience for me.
LD 692 - Funding Meals on Wheels. -
There was considerable floor debate on this issue. It seems so important to fund a relatively small program with such big impact. Meals on Wheels not only delivers meals to qualified persons who are often shut-ins, but it is also a way for others to “check in” on those who may need help and are in fact “shut ins.” If all people are important, we need to find ways to protect them.
LD 584 - An Act To Create the Fund for Municipalities To Improve Pedestrian Safety
While the Department of Transportation does a good job in maintaining roads and walkways in the state, recent pedestrian deaths really should cause us to focus more specifically on those pedestrian based issues. Given the recent pedestrian deaths, we need to take the time to focus on what it means to be a pedestrian. And we need to have a special focus until these issues are resolved.
LD 1666 - An Act To Ensure the Successful Implementation of Proficiency-based Diplomas by Extending the Timeline for Phasing in Their Implementation
We are looking at a bill to extend the deadline for Proficiency Based Diplomas for a year. At first, based on the remarks made in Lewiston, I was not in favor of extending the deadline. Now, however, I’m changing my mind based on the testimony of MEPRI, the research group, and more importantly the remarks of a whole variety of people in the field. Fundamentally, school systems seemed to have “switched” traditional grading practices for this “1-4” grading system. That “1-4” system is no place in the legislation, and it causes such great confusion.
Weekly Calendar of Legislative Events/Meetings
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