The legislature has convened for the second regular session. It is good to get back to work with my colleagues on the transportation committee, state and local government committee and my fellow legislators from around the state.
Lawmakers come to Augusta from every corner of Maine, from rural communities, coastal towns and cities, but we usually find that our communities are grappling with similar challenges. Those challenges drive the work we do, and our commitment to solving them requires us to overcome our political differences.
The legislative agenda that my colleagues and I have put forward for the year ahead will address many of the issues Windham is facing.
The drug crisis has continued to ravage our community, ruin lives and cause heartache for families. Combating the opioid epidemic is a top priority in Augusta. We are working hard on a bipartisan bill that addresses the crisis from every angle. The bill incorporates recommendations from law enforcement, treatment providers and public health leaders.
During the public hearing, there was overwhelming support from each of these groups, as well as from individuals who have struggled with addiction themselves, so I am confident we are moving in the right direction. Among other steps, the measure would add 10 additional investigator positions to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and open a new treatment center to help more individuals get clean and recover.
Another priority is to grow jobs with livable wages. The economy is in transition. Gone are the days of steady jobs in mills and manufacturing that supported so many of our parents and grandparents. It is not enough to create jobs – we need to create good jobs that will allow people to provide for their families. We are working on bills to invest in broadband infrastructure and affordable renewable energy, industries that will help Maine people while also building the backbone for our changing economy.
Another key to strengthening our economy is fighting for the Land for Maine’s Future program and the release of voter-approved conservation bonds, which are critical to the preservation of hundreds of thousands of acres all over the state. Our land is a source of livelihood for many Mainers, in addition to being a big part of what makes Maine such an incredible place to live.
Although Governor LePage refused to release these bonds for months, he has finally decided to allow some of them to move forward. However, there remain $6.5 million in funds that were approved by voters in 2010 that the Governor has allowed to expire. One of the first things the Legislature did when it returned was to vote to reauthorize these bonds. I hope the Governor will allow these crucial conservation projects to move forward for the good of our tourist industry, resource-economy and quality of life.
These are just a few examples of the work we are doing for Windham and all of Maine. I’m committed to working on behalf of my friends and neighbors. It continues to be an honor to serve you and I look forward to a positive and productive year in Augusta.
Please do not hesitate to be in touch with comments, questions or concerns. You can call me at 892-6591 or email me at email@example.com.
Rep. Mark Bryant is serving his fifth non-consecutive term in the Maine House and represents part of Windham. He serves on the Committee on State and Local Government and the Committee on Transportation.