Issues raised at our recent town hall
By Sen. Mike Tipping
I recently held a town hall call, inviting folks from across the district to call or Zoom in to discuss the issues before the Legislature this session, what matters most to them and what I should focus on as your senator.
We had more than 30 attendees, hailing from Veazie to Springfield, and I’d like to share some of the major issues they brought up:
There were concerns over support for seniors, including Social Security and food stamp cuts and the details of the senior property tax freeze program – both the timing of the initiative (which goes into effect for the upcoming 2023 tax year) and the potential costs to towns and the state. There is legislation to improve that program being considered this session and I’ll be keeping an eye on how it shakes out.
Several people, including municipal officials and an EMS worker, spoke about the need to support fire and EMS services in rural areas, with some systems (including in Howland and Burlington) being stretched to their limit and stress being placed on every town in our district, especially those that have relied on volunteers in the past.
Several constituents spoke against LD 123, a bill to prosecute librarians and teachers for “obscene” materials on library shelves.
There was support voiced for tribal sovereignty, a measure that passed with bipartisan support last session but was vetoed by Governor Janet Mills.
Several constituents spoke about the need to support students and educators at the University of Maine, which has seen decades of lack of investment and high student debt loads. I have a bill before the Education Committee this week to increase UMaine funding for tuition support and I’ll be working on every opportunity to support higher education.
Housing was a big issue, including price increases, rent hikes and a lack of tenants’ rights.
Several participants brought up public transportation needs in our region and spoke in support of extending passenger rail north to Old Town.
There were many concerns expressed about PFAS and other contamination issues affecting our land and water and the possibility of new and expanded landfills in the district.
Other issues included everything from child care to support for immigrants to preventing light pollution so Mainers can see the stars.
We also fielded some specific questions about public services and how folks can make sure they’re getting the new heating relief checks.
I’m deeply grateful to everyone who attended and shared their thoughts. Your insight and perspectives are incredibly helpful as the legislature considers these issues and with more than 2,000 proposed bills this session, it’s important for me to know what matters most to the people I’m elected to serve.
I’ll be holding more town hall meetings in the coming months.
If you have thoughts on these or any issues or if you’d like to know how to testify before a committee on a bill that matters to you, please feel free to email me at Mike.Tipping@legislature.maine.gov or call my legislative office at 207-287-1515.