During the three years that I have spent in the Maine Legislature, one of the most frustrating things is witnessing first-hand the inefficiencies in government.

In the past, I have outlined some of the problems that we face as a state as well as some of the common-sense solutions to fix those problems. Many of the problems we face in Maine and in the nation as a whole are caused by a government that, for want of a better expression, can’t get out of its own way.

Too often in state and federal government there is too much partisanship and way too little statesmanship. That attitude in both parties does nothing to advance the lives of the hardworking people of Maine or the nation. That’s why the Founding Fathers warned against the rise of political parties. They feared that people would place loyalty to their party above loyalty to their country. Once again, our nation’s founders were right.

Having spent the last three years in Augusta, I have come to believe that the single biggest obstacle to a better quality of life for all our residents is not necessarily the individual Republicans or Democrats serving their communities, but the growth of government and the inefficient bureaucracy that it breeds.

As an observer of government in Washington D.C., I believe that this is true there, as well. For a good example of public distrust in government bureaucracy today all one needs to do is look at the approval rating for the U.S. Congress. Currently at 14 percent these approval ratings are the lowest in history. Clearly, the system has become broken.

Earlier this year, I spent a considerable amount of time on the Transportation Committee in Augusta working on a piece of legislation called LD 1790. This bill will completely redefine the way the state plans and executes a long-term strategy for our road and bridge maintenance, repair and replacement. It establishes goals and objectives, sets a timetable for their completion and puts a framework for the long-term funding of those projects into place. I co-sponsored this legislation.

The way that this bill was amended, debated and discussed in committee is a great example of what we should be working toward in government. We put partisan politics aside completely and focused on a common goal of fixing the way the state does business in regards to our highway infrastructure. We worked together to craft legislation that accomplished our goals and could pass in both houses of the Legislature as well as get the governor’ signature to make it law.

In the Transportation Committee, when it came to LD 1790, we all compromised on certain parts of the bill, but no one compromised their core beliefs. We all worked together for the common good and for the future of Maine’s infrastructure. It was a privilege to stand before the House Republican caucus and then on the floor of the House to persuade and debate the merits of the bill.

The experience of LD 1790 should serve as a shining example to all the members of the Legislature, as well as the people of Maine, to show that good government can happen if we rise above the partisan bickering, territorialism, and a pattern of doing things in government for the sole reason that “it’s the way things are done.” We need to break out of the box and start looking for 21st Century solutions to our 21st Century problems. It’s time to stop doing things in government over and over and getting the same failed results.

That is why I have joined a unique non-partisan organization designed to rise above traditional gridlocked partisanship, to provide real, significant solutions to the most important issues facing our country. The organization is called American Solutions.

It is clear that Maine, and for that matter America, is faced with enormous challenges both at home and abroad. It is equally clear that the current political-governmental system is stuck in a pathology of attack ads, short attention spans, gridlocked partisanship and lack of effective solutions. This is a big problem. Solving it will require a big solution as well as people who are not afraid of taking up the challenge of fighting for the future of our state and our nation.

If you agree with the simple idea that “real change requires real change,” then you will find American Solutions a useful project for improving our state’s and nation’s chance to be successful in the next generation. I am planning to host a Solutions Day event in Naples on Sept. 27. On that day, concerned citizens in over 1,500 events across the country will reach out to activists, volunteers; all elected office holders in America, their staffs, and the citizens who are seeking to serve in those offices.

Our goal is to help create a new wave of transformational change which will move government into the 21st century, strengthen and revitalize our core values, and help protect America against enemies.

I will be announcing the time and location as September approaches. You can learn more about American Solutions at www.americansolutions.com or call my district office in Naples at 693-4951.

State Rep. Rich Cebra, R-Naples, is a second-term legislator. He serves on the Transportation Committee and is the Minority lead on the Committee on Engrossed Bills.

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