Opinion

Legislature inherits growth

When the new 129th Legislature reconvened, it inherited an economy and state government that is in the best shape in decades. Sound fiscal policies pursued by Governor Paul R. LePage and like-minded legislators have moved Maine away from chronic annual budget shortfall to a healthy surplus, while lowering taxes and strengthening the economy. Wages are rising faster than any other state in New England, more than 4 percent in three of the past four years. People have more of their own money that can be used to help offset the rising costs of living.

If we continue the progress we have made over the last eight years and pursue strategies to encourage young people to move or return to Maine, the future can be brighter for everyone.

Ideally, we will recognize what has worked, put aside party labels and work together in a respectful fashion. Before voting, I will always ask: Is it good for Maine; does government need to do it; and can we afford it, compared to other core priorities?

There is a limit to how much you and I can and should pay for government. These past eight years have shown that when we lower taxes, restrain the growth of government and prioritize only the truly needy, we get lower unemployment, better paying jobs and more money in the pockets of hard-working Maine families. It also means increased revenues for education, roads, adults and children with disabilities and Maine’s elderly living on a fixed income.

One area of interest to Aroostook County farmers this session is the potential to grow industrial hemp, possibly as a rotation crop. This session, we will consider at least eight bills on the subject. The U.S. is the number one importer of industrial hemp, so in theory, there is considerable potential for Aroostook farmers. The crop creates minimal topsoil erosion, grows quickly, and requires little or no pesticides or herbicides. Hemp is used to make a number of products, including: paper, textiles biodegradable plastics, fuel and health food.

Passage of the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed by President Donald Trump, has transformed hemp policy. The new law has legalized hemp, but with significant restrictions. There is shared state-federal regulatory authority over hemp. More information is available at: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/hemp/index.shtml

Being the State Representative for the towns of Caribou, New Sweden and Westmanland is both an honor and a tremendous responsibility. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, suggestions or opportunities to better serve you.  

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