Contemplating a new year and reflecting on an old one
New Year’s brings a host of traditions, from resolutions that we don’t keep, to staying up until midnight to watch a bedazzled ball descend on Times Square.
I have my own tradition of using the impending New Year to reflect on the previous year and contemplate what’s to come. Although it’s 2019 as I write this, it will likely be 2020 by the time you read it, so I hope you’ll indulge me.
In the Legislature, this has been a mostly good year: We finally funded MaineCare expansion approved by the voters in 2017, and the most recent reporting indicates that more than 40,000 people have signed up for expanded coverage. We also passed a series of prescription drug reforms that will help Mainers access lower cost drugs and will hold corporate middlemen and pharmaceutical companies accountable.
We increased the state’s commitment to fund schools, and passed $130 million in property tax relief, including a $100 rebate for homeowners who qualify for the Homestead Exemption. Look for that check in your mailbox in the coming months.
It was also a banner year for cooperation and bipartisanship. This year Democrats and Republicans in the Senate sat next to one another, instead of being separated by a partisan aisle. We had many bipartisan or even unanimous votes in the Maine Senate, including on all of the items I just mentioned. Despite what the headlines may say sometimes, there is still plenty of room for agreement between Democrats, Republicans and Independents in the Legislature.
There were some low points too. I was disappointed that we couldn’t send to the voters a bond package that would have funded more career and technical education, broadband and National Guard facilities this year.
We also lost some great people this year. Among them, three of my colleagues in the Maine House, Rep. Archie Verow of Brewer, Rep. Ann Peoples of Westbrook and Rep. Dale Denno of Cumberland, and Maine State Police Detective Benjamin Campbell of Millinocket. They are all dearly missed by those who knew them.
So what does the coming year hold? No doubt, like any other year, a mixture of excitement, disappointment, accomplishment, failure, joy, sorrow, good, bad, ugly and everything else in between. I think the New Year will also bring some opportunities to move forward good legislation that helps Maine people and builds on the success of this year’s session.
Lowering the cost of health care, prescription drugs and property taxes will continue to be strong priorities of mine, as will finding ways to help Maine’s economy grow and protecting our natural resources for future generations.
It won’t always be easy, and I know my colleagues and I will not always agree on every issue. I can’t promise that we’ll make everyone happy all the time, but I can promise that I will always listen to your concerns and stand up for our community and for what is right. I am looking forward to 2020. It should be a good one.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach my office at 207-287-1515 or send me an email at James.Dill@legislature.maine.gov. I work for you, and you have a right to hold me accountable.