Welcome to my website. I hope that you find it to be a useful tool now and as we move thorough the workings of the 126th Maine Legislature beginning in January should I be honored with re-election in November. It has been a privilege indeed to have been your state representative the last six years and I hope I have lived up to your expectations. Soon after the last election the Speaker of the House appointed me to Chair the powerful joint committee on Taxation. The responsibilities of that office, while also serving my constituency back home, has kept me extremely busy. Hopefully, you have found that in my representation of you and work as Taxation Chair I have fostered an environment of collaboration with both sides of the political aisle. I believe that it is my duty to represent all Mainers to the best of my ability and accordingly remained an active member of the moderate caucus while closely monitoring the positions of the “common sense” or conservative caucus as well. Informed votes come from listening to all perspectives!
Much has been accomplished during the 125th Maine Legislature and I believe that we have positioned our state and its citizens for a brighter future.
- We have voted the largest tax cut in Maine’s history which will put more money into the pockets of our citizens rather than into the coffers of government. Our progressive system removes over 70,000 current tax filers from the tax rolls altogether! We have eliminated the marriage penalty and saved Maine taxpayers over $60 million a year by conforming personal exemptions to federal standards. We have eliminated the alternative minimum tax (AMT) which has been clobbering the middle income tax filers. We helped the farmers and small businesses by cutting the death tax. We have also eliminated the taxes on meals at senior’s retirement facilities.
- We have made transformational changes to the health insurance market, bringing more choices and lower costs. Under laws we passed, businesses can offer quality plans for their employees and more Mainers can afford private health coverage. The reform package provides for guaranteed affordable coverage regardless of health status or chronic illness. It permit’s the banding together of small businesses to obtain better rates for the employees. And, finally in 2014 Mainers will be permitted to cross state lines in shopping for health coverage!
- Pension reform was addressed that will bring the state retirement system into long-term solvency to protect the benefits of current and future workers. The new budget reforms the public pension system saving $3 billion through 2028. This previously unfunded liability was putting immense pressure on our bonding ability. Although not without current pain, the changes advance the security of state workers.
- LD 1, An Act to Ensure Regulatory Fairness and Reform was signed into law. This effort to remove government roadblocks to new jobs was passed after many, many meetings with business owners, workers, community leaders, farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs. The legislation streamlines government regulations eliminating “red tape” while maintaining Maine’s quality of life.
- Welfare reform was initiated through the governor’s budgetary process that focuses attention on the truly needy and lifts people off government dependence. The details of the reform are numerous and I would invite those seeking further information to let me know.
- Education, perhaps the most important topic for Maine’s future, was given huge attention with millions of new revenue for K-12 authorized. Opportunity Maine was enhanced to further assist students with debt incurred while obtaining post-high school education. New standards for high school graduation were approved to ensure graduates obtain certain levels of proficiency before being awarded a diploma. At the end of the session a $11 million bond package for higher education was okayed by the Legislature for public voting.
Besides the major initiatives noted above many other bills were signed into law as the result of work from the 15 standing committees. I would refer you to the section of my website entitled "Articles" for a description of many of those bills and my comments relating thereto.
You will also find weekly updates on what is being voted on as well as my weekly columns on the significant issues of the day. I pledge my continuing best efforts to be a strong voice for you as I represent House District #81. Please do not hesitate to contact me at home or at the capitol with your thoughts, ideas or questions. I will do my very best to be a voice of reason as I speak for you in the committee rooms and on the floor of the House chamber.