Friday, December 8, 2017

Legislative update: Ready to build on 2017’s successes by Senator Bill Diamond

During the holiday season, I like to reflect on the previous year and think about how I can best serve my communities in the Maine Senate. I start by looking back on the previous year, measuring our successes and considering what more could be done.

While working on my annual newsletter, it occurred to me that 2017 saw some great strides made by the Legislature. For instance, while the budget process was more difficult than in the past, we came away with real property tax relief. The Homestead Property Tax Exemption was increased by 33 percent, bringing the total exemption up to $20,000.

Property taxes have been too high for too long and can be crippling for many of our neighbors,
particularly those on fixed incomes. I will keep working toward providing more relief at the state level. In the meantime, if you have owned your permanent residence in Maine for at least a year, print the application from the following website and drop it off at your town office:

This year, I was fortunate to have bipartisan support for bills that will protect some of Maine’s most vulnerable residents. I worked with Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to keeping children safe from sexual exploitation, on a bill that strengthens punishments for those predators who would sexually abuse children.

I am grateful that the bill passed and was signed into law by the governor, and I am equally thankful that my initiative to hire more staff in the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit to prosecute offenses related to child exploitation was included in the budget. These are significant steps toward defending our kids from the very worst people among us, and I am proud to have taken the lead on seeing them through.

Likewise, my bill to keep insurance companies from preying on seniors by charging higher premiums for auto coverage based solely on age won support from a broad range of legislators and became law. I will seize every opportunity to defend elderly Mainers from exploitation. Our seniors have contributed so much and deserve respect, not corporate schemes and swindles., Mainers can breathe easy about accessing federal buildings, military bases and airplanes using their drivers’ licenses. My bill to bring the state into compliance with federal Real ID guidelines, which require strengthened security features on state and federally issued ID cards, was passed and is now law. The Department of Homeland Security repeatedly issued extensions in hopes that Maine would reverse course, and these reprieves were set to run out if the Legislature failed to act, resulting in confusion and chaos for many of us. I am glad that my colleagues and I were able to work together and stop this problem before it started.

Regrettably, the governor chose not to sign my bill making it easier to catch and punish those who
make our roads more dangerous by texting and driving.  Next year, I’ll keep working to make our roads safe so that fewer Mainers will be injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents. Distracted driving is a serious problem that must be addressed in an effort to protect innocent people from being injured and killed unnecessarily.

Common ground exists here in Augusta, and I am fortunate to serve with people all across the political spectrum who are willing to find it. I look forward to continuing our work in January.

I’m curious to know what you think. Please feel free to contact me at or (207) 287-1515 if you have questions or comments.

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