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A range of measures before lawmakers this session

By Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town

March 6, 2015

The 127th Legislature is now in full swing. The governor released his proposed biennial budget in January, and members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee are hard at work examining the proposed budget and gathering public input.

My committee, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, recently joined Appropriations and Financial Affairs for public hearings on aspects of the budget relevant to our committee’s work. We heard from dozens of citizens who spoke out against the governor’s proposals to fire 20 of our forest rangers, cut the state’s animal welfare program and change the way we manage forests on public lands.

Aside from our work on the budget, legislators have submitted bills on a wide range of issues. I am sponsoring several measures this session, including bills to prevent wildlife management issues from being politicized by outside groups, bring passenger rail service to the Bangor area and protect victims of domestic violence.

Twice in recent years, special interest groups have launched statewide campaigns to change our state wildlife regulations. Now those same organizations are threatening to return next year to try the same tactics to which the people of Maine have already said no – twice.

Decisions on issues as important to Maine as our wildlife and outdoor heritage should be made by Mainers – not by outside interest groups – and based on what is best for our state. My bill would prevent costly, prolonged repeat attempts that divert resources from other issues while ensuring that these decisions are made by our wildlife biologists and by Maine voters through the legislative process.

I am also sponsoring a measure to explore bringing passenger trains back to our area. As legislators, our top priority must be boosting the economy, and expanding rail service to Bangor would be a unique opportunity for our regional economy. Passenger rail is a fuel efficient way to relieve pressure on other infrastructure and provide an affordable alternative means of transportation to commuters and visitors alike.

Another bill I’ve submitted will help protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking by strengthening the Address Confidentiality Program. This program provides services to victims that help to prevent their abuser from finding their new address. My bill will ensure state and local government agencies and courts keep this information safe and confidential.

I will share more information about these bills and others, as well as the Legislature’s work on the budget, as the session goes on. If you would like to receive periodic e-mail updates, please let me know by emailing me at Rep. Dunphy. You can also “like” my Facebook page at Rep. Dunphy.

In the meantime, as always, please feel welcome to contact me by email or at 745-3088 with questions or concerns. It is an honor to serve as your representative.

Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, is serving her first term in the Maine House of Representatives. She represents Old Town and Indian Island and is a member of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.