The Star-Herald

Republicans held to Maine values in Augusta this session

As the most unusual session of the Legislature in many years ends, Republicans in the Maine State Senate have a lot to reflect on. 

For all of its unusual traits, our Republican team was able to secure some important victories. Together, we held to Maine values on core issues, despite being vastly outnumbered by the opposition party. 

For example, we resisted the push to decriminalize both prostitution and the possession of illegal drugs, specifically heroin and fentanyl. We supported wholeheartedly the men and women of law enforcement, defeating an attempt by the extreme left to remove their “qualified immunity” and efforts to defund the police.  We also supported the ongoing battle of resources to address our state’s opioid crisis- I personally sponsored legislation to ensure more prevention resources would be available to providers in Maine.

We fought against several bills that would raise the cost of health insurance and prescription drugs on Maine people, while we pushed back against plans to provide free health care to non-citizens.   

At the same time, we opposed several bills that would raise rates on electricity customers, and were ever mindful of the struggles of small businesses and their employees.  Democrats in the Legislature resorted to name-calling when I outed their plans to increase electricity costs on Maine people on the floor of the Senate.  I stood steadfast in my protection of ratepayers because I understand that what you pay each month to keep the lights on shouldn’t increase so Democrats can line the pockets of their special interest allies who benefit at your expense.

In support of the Second Amendment, Senate Republicans voted unanimously in defeating four bills designed to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms.  I’m particularly proud of one measure I sponsored that was passed and signed into law to eliminate a fee on suppressor applications through the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which will help protect the hearing of Maine hunters and promote humane harvesting of wildlife.

Importantly, as I travel around my district and Maine, I hear constantly about the need to end the $300 weekly benefit from the federal government given the availability of vaccines and the critical workforce shortage we’re facing.  Instead of advocating for even more government spending, we should end the now unnecessary additional benefit and ensure Maine jobs aren’t going unfilled unnecessarily as we head into a tourism season that’s projected to be busier than we have seen in recent years.  

A recent analysis [by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity] said that Maine people can make an average of $29 an hour while staying on the couch. How are Maine businesses supposed to compete with an offer like that? With our “friends from away” traveling to Maine by the thousands each week, we need to move away from handouts and create the expectation that Mainers return to our 200 year tradition of hard work to support our families. 

I thank my colleagues for their hard work this session, and look forward to finishing up our work soon and returning to The County in time for the Potato Blossom Festival Parade.

Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, represents Maine Senate District 2, which consists of central and southern Aroostook County and part of Penobscot County.

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