The Star-Herald

Welcome to second session

I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve seen governors come and go and know what it feels like to make tough decisions. Even though I’m used to the lively debates, the marbled floors and the hallowed halls, the start of session never gets old. Most of us haven’t seen each other in six months. Representatives and senators alike greet each other, and I can feel the excitement and energy among my colleagues for the promise of what we all want to accomplish this session.

Time and time again, I have heard from constituents about needing accessible, affordable health care. I’m proud to say my colleagues and I have made a lot of progress on this issue last session, but we know that there is still more work to be done. This session, I submitted a bill, LR 3134, “An Act To Establish the Central Aroostook County Emergency Medical Services Authority,” that will create a new ambulance service in Mars Hill, Bridgewater and Blaine. I know many people have been frustrated by the lack of adequate emergency medical services in The County. That’s why I’ve made supporting rural health care such a large priority. I’ve worked directly with these towns to ensure we created a bill we can proudly support.

Another bill that will directly work toward improving our health care system is LD 2007, “The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act,” which is co-sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. Even though people agree that having access to health care is critical, we know that it is expensive, especially for the many mom-and-pop shops in our area. To encourage small businesses to provide coverage to their employees, this bill would reduce the premiums small businesses would have to pay and streamline the process small businesses use to enter the health care marketplace, so they can keep track of competing insurance programs more easily and choose the option that works best for them and their workers.

Investing in our rural economy and way of life doesn’t stop there. I also support a bill sponsored by Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Waldo, to invest in our career and technical education centers. LD 2022, “An Act To Provide Funding for Capital Improvements and Equipment for Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions,” will make necessary updates to our career and technical education centers, so we can provide the best quality education to the next generation of nurses, welders, electricians and more. If we want to provide good jobs to qualified applicants in The County, we need to make sure our students have the resources they need to enter the workforce. This bill will help do that.

As you can see, there are several exciting initiatives that we are working on this year. I also have submitted bills this session related to veterans’ rights and supporting small businesses. 

If you’d like to learn more about these, I’d recommend clicking around my page on the Legislature’s website, or subscribing to my newsletter, where I send regular updates about what’s happening in Augusta, at mainesenate.org.

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