By Rep. Genevieve McDonald
When I haven’t been hauling traps, corralling my twin girls, or making plans for the holidays, I’ve been hard at work getting ready for when the Legislature goes back into session in early January.
In Maine, a Legislature lasts for two years, and then everyone in our House and Senate either has to face re-election or term limits. Back in June, we finished our first year of work, which included voting on almost two thousand bills, the two-year state budget, the highway budget and a major transportation bond package that voters approved in November.
Since I’m a lobsterman, I had the privilege of serving on the Marine Resources Committee. We worked on ways to make sure young people can join our profession and keep it going, as well as ways to improve our growing scallop fishery. We also spent a good deal of time on pollution issues, bait shortages, elvers, aquaculture and making sure we get a balanced, fact-based approach to protecting right whales so that all of us can continue to make a living from the ocean.
Outside of my committee work, I fought successfully to bring home more funding for our schools, better pay for our teachers, help for cash-strapped town budgets and property tax relief. We also passed bills to get more people health insurance, make it easier for people to afford their prescriptions and expand access to addiction treatment. There’s still so much more to do when it comes to health care, but I’m glad we’ve got the ball rolling.
We also had a major victory when it comes to public health, passing an important new law that strongly encourages parents to get their kids vaccinated. Today that law is facing possible repeal, and I am dedicating energy to educating everyone I can about why we need to protect the Legislature’s good work when it comes up for a people’s vote on March 3.
Right now my colleagues and I are busy drafting our next round of bills, getting co-sponsors, doing research and meeting with the people our bills will affect.
My major bill for the coming year is about ferry service. We want to make sure we have safe, affordable and reliable service for everyone in my district who lives or works on an island. The bill is the first step in Maine getting electric or hybrid ferries built. Electrifying our ferries would lower operating costs, burn fewer fossil fuels and keep our waters cleaner at a time when things are uncertain for both Maine’s marine economy and the health of the entire Gulf of Maine.
I’m honored to continue serving you in the Maine House of Representatives, and I hope you will feel free to reach out to me with your questions and feedback. You can contact me at [email protected] or 266-5113.
Rep. Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington, is serving her first term in the Maine House and represents the Cranberry Isles, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Isle au Haut, North Haven, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Swan’s Island, Tremont, Vinalhaven and Marshall Island Township.