Your Legislative Wins
Covering Your State Capitol
October 01, 2006
The 122nd Legislature: Accomplishments and Statistics
Every August, ninety days after the Legislature adjourns, the new laws passed the previous session legally take effect. See below for the rundown on where Maine stands on the big issues and what major bills and initiatives were part of the 122nd Legislature. Clearly, on so many of the major issues from our economy to our tax system to health coverage to more affordable higher education, we have work to do. But, it is good to see progress is being made.
Investing in the Maine Economy and Business
We are continuing to grow Maine's economy and create good-paying jobs. Some good signs and accomplishments:
- More people are working in Maine than four years ago.
- Net in-migration from 2000 to 2004, while New England was losing people as a whole.
- Created 3,000 new jobs in Pine Tree Zones.
- Eliminated the business equipment tax that will result in increased business investment in Maine and the creation of more jobs.
- Drafted, and voters approved, the first economic development bond bill in three years, resulting in over 4,000 jobs.
- New companies are being created because of our investments in R&D, like the money spent at the Advanced Engineering Wood Composites Center at UMaine.
- Investing in rural broadband internet and wireless for business success.
Most Comprehensive Small Business Agenda in 25 Years
In order to assist small businesses and encourage entrepreberial growth, we:
- Created a consumer and commercial court to expedite business cases;
- Established a new Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship;
- Formed the Maine Regulatory Fairness Board to hear testimony on unfair regulations;
- Made resale certificates available again to some of the state's smallest entrepreneurs.
Creating Opportunity through Education
The building block for good-paying jobs and for economic growth. We:
- Increased K-12 school funding to municipalities by $500 million for 2006-07 and 2008-09, bringing the state's contribution to local education to 50 percent, and on target for 55 percent by 2009.
- Increased minimum teacher salaries statewide to $30,000.
- Enabled at least 44% more Mainers to enroll in higher education through the creation of the Community College System.
- Invested an additional $6 million in higher education to help keep tuition increases down.
Increasing Access to Health Care:
Reflecting our continuing efforts to imporve the quality of all Maine residents' health care, we're proud to report:
- Maine is one of only 7 states that has more people insured, not fewer, over the past four years.
- We've stepped up where the Bush administration has skipped out on drug coverage— recently passed legislation to make sure no senior suffers as a result of Medicare Part D. (Maine's Drugs for the Elderly program provided more coverage for lower price.)
- Significantly improved access to quality health care through Dirigo Health— the fastest growing insurance product in Maine.
- Working to address a short-term funding issue and create a blue-ribbon commission to develop a permanent funding solution for Dirigo— we have a good product, and we are making it better.
- Supported our small rural nursing homes with fuel funding and cost of living increases for direct care workers.
- Maine's health ranking improved from 10th to 8th best in the nation in just one year.
Strong Fiscal Management
The Legislature took a business-like approach to government. We:
- Passed spending caps— state, local, school— to limit growth in government spending.
- Reduced a $1.2 billion structural gap by two-thirds, down to $450 million.
- Brought state savings accounts from $0 to $150 million in less than four years.
- Established an Ethics Advisory Council to review the ethics laws and make recommendations for any necessary changes to insure we have the right tools to ensure clean and open government.
- Smart energy policy for Maine's energy independence, reducing energy prices, and addressing global warming.
- Provided $5 million to heat the homes of Maine people through LIHEAP in the face of federal budget cuts.
- Provided substantial property tax reductions to Maine citizens through enhanced Circuit Breaker and Homestead property tax relief programs, known as LD 1.
- Enacted a Supplemental Budget with strong bipartisan support.
- Enacted Highway Budget— more funding helps compensate for loss of federal funds and increased construction costs.
Preserving quality of life and access to clean woods and waters, we:
- Preserved land by passing the Land for Maine's Future Bond.
- Led the nation in recycling dangerous electronic waste, including mercury thermostats in older homes and other mercury products.
- Passed a comprehensive bill to help better educate workers, parents and consumers on the dangers of lead paint, holding the paint companies who historically sold led paint accountable for the cost.
- Passed the Governor's comprehensive energy bill to reduce and stabilize energy costs and encourage use of bio-diesel to reduce pollution and global warming, and reduce reliance on foreign oil.
- Added Katahdin Lake to Baxter State Park, completing Baxter's vision for wilderness preservation; the land swap sets aside land, but also preserves traditional recreation uses on another 2,000 acres of adjacent land.
Support for Maine Families, Workers and Consumers
We went to work on behalf of Maine families on consumer and worker protections, and public safety:
- Increased the Minimum wage to $7 per hour beginning in October 2007.
- Protected workers' rights by preserving overtime pay.
- Enacted a Civil Rights law to protect Maine people from discrimination.
- Protected Maine children from sexual predators through the passage of "Jessica's Law" and passage of a law requiring the courts to ensure that children are not placed in non-birth parents' homes in which there are sexual predators.
- Protected highway users from dangerous drivers by passing "Tina's Law."
- Protected victims of domestic violence by requiring they be notified when their convicted abuser attempts to buy a gun.
- Protected cell phone users from having their private records sold; required out-of-state debt collectors to register in Maine.
- Gave National Guard members more time to return to work after active duty; offered better life insurance policies to military service personnel and their families.
- Expanded access to health insurance plans for current and retired county and municipal fire and police employees.
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is the House Representative of Maine District 36 covering Brooklin, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Isle au Haut, part of Mount Desert, North Haven, Stonington, Swans Island and Tremont and Vinalhaven. Paid for by the Committee to Re-Elect Hannah Pingree, Foy W. Brown, Treasurer. Logo by Amy Fischer Designs of Camden, Maine.