|Dear friends, neighbors and constituents,
On Monday, I was back at the State House with legislative colleagues. As you know, we voted on four important bond issues, all of which I supported. Endorsing all of these bonds would have allowed us to send a package of critical investments to voters this November: $20 million for Land for Maine’s Future (LMF); $105 million for road and bridge maintenance; $23 million for broadband, technical education and upgrading National Guard facilities; and $15 million for environmental infrastructure and energy efficiency. Unfortunately, we approved only one — the transportation bond.
In advance of the special session, I made calls to Senate colleagues who appeared to be “on the fence” about whether to vote for the LMF bond. I reminded them that voters have strongly endorsed every one of the six LMF bonds that have appeared on ballots since 1987. There is absolutely no question about both the value of, and popular support for, protecting farmland, working forests, wildlife habitat, high-value recreational land, access to working waterfronts, and more. I spoke in favor of this bond on the senate floor. To approve this bond, we needed one Republican vote to meet the two-thirds requirement; we did not get a single one. Putting it mildly, I was very disappointed at the end of the day.
We must re-start the LMF program, and funds from this bond would have done that. I also believe that we must invest in maintenance and upgrades to our state parks. There was significant controversy at the end of session in June about any borrowing (except the transportation bond). As a compromise, the governor reduced the overall size of this bond package and spit it into four separate bonds. When the legislature reconvenes in January, we will revisit the bonds that failed on Monday. Our rural residents need reliable high-speed internet; our technical schools deserve our support; all of Maine’s infrastructure, including water and sewer as well as roads and bridges, needs to be kept up.
In addition, we took up the question of whether to use ranked-choice voting for the 2020 presidential primary in Maine. This was a “hold-over” bill. Thanks to so many who wrote emails in the past week — most in support, some in opposition. I have carefully considered this issue since it first surfaced several years ago. I believe that RCV strengthens our electoral system, making every vote count when there is a particularly close election. Having voters engaged and evaluating all candidates, not just our top choice in a crowded field, is a very good thing. So, I voted “yes” on LD 1083, and it was enacted in the Senate. It’s now in the hands of Governor Mills, for her to approve, veto or hold.
One final thought: As we spend time with family and friends on Labor Day, it’s important to remember that before Labor Day was a national holiday, before the labor movement took root, workers across our country faced unbearably long hours, often in unsafe conditions. Many factories used child labor. Now, our laws protect workers, and we expanded those protections this year. More workers will have access to paid family leave and loggers now have the same right to organize that farmers and lobstermen already had. I will always support policies that value hardworking people throughout Maine.
I hope you’re enjoying these final days of summer. It has been wonderful to spend so much time outdoors in Harpswell!
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me at Brownie.Carson@legislature.maine.gov or (207) 287-1515. You can also follow me on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/BrownieForMaine/. Thank you for the honor of serving you in the Maine Senate.