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Legislative session ramping up quickly

By Rep. Teresa S. Pierce, D-Falmouth

February 6, 2019

Rep. Teresa Pierce

The legislative session is fully underway, and our work is ramping up quickly. I am truly honored to serve as House District 44's state representative. Thank you for the opportunity. The beginning of a new term is an exciting time at the State House, and I think that is especially true this year. My colleagues from across the state seem eager to move past the gridlock we have experienced over the past few years and foster a more bipartisan process.

I'm proud to share that I have been appointed to the Legislature's budget-writing panel by House Speaker Sara Gideon. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is responsible for crafting a two-year, balanced state budget. It works with each of the 16 other policy committees to ensure we are making the right decisions for the state, making it one of the busiest committees in the Legislature.

By the time you read this, Gov. Janet Mills will have delivered her first biennial budget proposal to the Legislature. Our committee will then hold a series of public hearings on each section of the proposed budget in order to carefully consider the impact on Mainers. From there, we will work closely with our colleagues on other committees to create a recommendation that will then be voted on by the full Legislature. The process is likely to take several weeks.

As we get to work on the budget, my top priorities include adequately funding our schools and local services, easing the burden on property taxpayers and investing in a robust economic future for our community and our state. I hope you will share your priorities with me as well.

The Appropriations Committee also considers bond measures. The language of many bond proposals is still being finalized, but I expect we will have a number of bond measures before us on topics ranging from transportation infrastructure to combatting the effects of climate change on our coastal communities to student loan debt forgiveness efforts. If any of these bonds receive support in the Legislature, they will then be sent to Maine voters for final approval.

Beyond my work in committee, I have introduced several bills. As a former member of the Education Committee, I am especially concerned with ensuring Maine students have the best possible start. One of my bills would increase access to computer science education for grade-school students, an increasingly important field for workers to be familiar with in today's economy. Among my other proposals are measures to help Maine students, especially those training to be teachers, pay for college and to help schools find innovative ways to make up for instruction time lost to snow days.

Overall, the Legislature will consider roughly 2,000 bill proposals over the coming months. We have a lot of work to do, but I'm optimistic that we will make real progress on issues that matter to you. You can find information about the measures before us, hearings scheduled and more at Legislative Calendar. I am always glad to hear from you about specific bills and field your questions, concerns and ideas. Please feel welcome to contact me anytime at Rep. Teresa Pierce.

Rep. Teresa S. Pierce represents Falmouth in the Maine House. Currently in her third term, she serves on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and is a member of the Marijuana Advisory Commission.