By Rep. Anne Graham
May 30, 2012
The legislature is finally expected to adjourn sine die (without day) on Thursday, May 31, after coming back one last time this session to vote on whether to sustain or override the governor's most recent vetoes.
I am committed to do my duty as one of Gray, North Yarmouth and Pownal's elected Representative to come back to Augusta seven weeks after the statutory adjournment date, however, the cost of these extra days of legislative work to all of us, as taxpayers, is troubling.
I am pleased that as a freshman legislator in the minority party I batted a thousand when it came to near unanimous bipartisan support for the four bills I sponsored over my first two year term.
While all four of my bills were passed easily in both the Republican controlled House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, the governor chose to sign only three of the four bills into law, vetoing the fourth.
All three of the bills I sponsored in 2011 passed unanimously in the House and Senate. One of the two bills that the governor signed into law made it a crime for a person with methadone in their system to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Given the tragic accident that caused the death of my Gray constituent Shannon Ronan, a loving dad and husband, it was very important to me to advocate for this change in the law. I greatly appreciate the bipartisan support I received from the governor and my colleagues in the House and the Senate for this important public safety measure.
The second bill that became law last year implemented the recommendations on insurance payment reform to lower the cost of health care in Maine. This bill received unanimous support after work to improve the bill with the Republican chairman of the Insurance and Financial Affairs Committee.
The bill the governor vetoed was an effort to require training in CPR and automated external defibrillators (AED) for all high school students. This idea was brought to me by a student from North Yarmouth who helped save his grandfather's life when he used his training with an AED at a school event.
The Education Committee agreed that this training is valuable, but they were concerned about the potential cost to school districts in order to fulfill this requirement. The committee moved forward by amending the bill and directing the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Health and Human Services(DHHS) to gather information on the availability of AED's and training in their use and to report back to the legislature next year with recommendations about how to work towards fulfilling this goal. Even after unanimous support before the veto, and a bipartisan effort to override the veto, the bill came 14 votes short of the two thirds needed so the bill did not become law.
I am very happy that the only bill I sponsored this year, which provides property tax relief for families whose homes were destroyed in a fire, passed easily in both the House and Senate and has been signed into law by the governor.
I attribute some of my success to my active role in the Moderate Caucus and the relationships I fostered there with my Republican colleagues.
As always, please feel free to let me know if you have any issues or concerns about state government that you would like to discuss.
I welcome your comments, questions, thoughts and ideas.
Also, please join me at my “Coffee Connection” at Stone's Cafe in North Yarmouth the first Friday of each month from 7 to 9 a.m. and the second Saturday of each month, June 9, at Cole Farms in Gray from 8 to 10 a.m. It is very important that I hear your thoughts and opinions.
Rep. Anne Graham represents parts of Gray, North Yarmouth and Pownal and can be reached at Rep. Anne Graham or 846-0049.