The 131st Legislature is underway, with over 2,100 bills being introduced and referred to the legislative committees that will schedule public hearings and issue recommendations to the full legislature. I have been appointed to serve on the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business. Commonly referred to as the “IDEA” committee, it is responsible for looking at a wide range of issues, including supporting Maine’s workforce, supporting small businesses and encouraging economic development.
Over the course of the next several months, the legislature will be developing a biennial (two-year) budget. The process recently began when Governor Mills submitted her proposed budget for legislative consideration. The Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on her proposed budget and ultimately make recommendations. That process has traditionally involved both political parties in order to win broad-based approval.
I am hopeful that we can work together to find common ground on pressing state issues. When we disagree, I hope that we can do so without being disagreeable. The growing split between rural and urban areas is of concern to me. Hopefully, state policies can factor in the unique differences of our diverse state and allow local control on matters that are best decided at the community level.
Last month, I expressed optimism that the legislature would be able to pass emergency energy legislation. Ultimately, a bill passed both houses and was signed by the governor. While it is far from perfect, it will result in $450 energy relief checks going out to 880,000 people, ninety-two percent of all taxpayers. Those who were eligible for last year’s $850 checks will receive one in the coming months.
I believe that Maine needs to stop over collected and taxing its citizens and then mailing part of the money back to people via check. In the last year alone, $1.5 billion was collected over budget. We need to rectify the problem before the federal covid money ends.
Please let me know if there are bills or issues of concern to you. I appreciate the opportunity to serve you in the Maine House. If there is anything I can do to assist you, or if you have questions or concerns involving state agencies, please contact me at Caleb.Ness@legislature.maine.gov.
Rep. Caleb Ness (R-Fryeburg)