The first regular session of the 126th Maine Legislature, and my first session as your state senator, is now complete. Looking back, I believe that period of time stands as one of the busiest and most fulfilling experiences of my life.

Every day, as I drove down Capitol Street and saw the green dome of the State House approaching, I was reminded of the importance of the work the voters had entrusted me to do. And I was also reminded every day of the importance of service to my family when I walked past the photo of my cousin, Dennis “Duke” Dutremble, our former Senate president.

I believe that our constituents sent us to Augusta to get work done for them, regardless of the challenges we faced with Republicans controlling the executive branch and Democrats controlling the legislative branch. To most people, divided government is no excuse for inaction. They want results. I am proud that we fought hard for those results this session. My previous column discussed the success of our bi-partisan budget. This month, I want to share a few more highlights of the session with you.

We focused on putting Mainers back to work. We created a special legislative committee, of which my colleague from Saco, Sen. Linda Valentino, was a member, and passed a historic workforce development bill. This measure is focused on closing Maine’s skills gap, and better preparing our workers for the jobs of the future. I see enormous potential in York County for jobs growth in the manufacturing sector, and the measure we passed will better enable workers from York County to fill these jobs.

We passed an important bill designed to lower Maine’s energy costs. While Maine has lower energy costs than other New England states, we still depend too much on oil for home heating. We need to increase our use of renewable energy in addition to using energy more efficiently. The measure we passed provides consumers and municipalities with resources to use energy more efficiently, which will save people money. Another important feature is that it continues our existing partnership with other New England states to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

One thing we fought hard for, which was ultimately defeated by the governor, was the need to accept federal dollars to give 70,000 Mainers access to quality affordable health care. As an EMT, I see people living in terrible poverty every day, and because they lack health insurance, they frequently go to the emergency room for care when what they really need is a primary care physician. We passed this measure with support from all Democrats and some Republicans, but unfortunately the governor vetoed this bill. It is a shame, because it would have saved lives and money. We will continue to fight to bring these federal dollars home.

One final measure I would like to highlight is a bill that I sponsored to reform our system for guardians ad litem in the state. I had concerns about the system from my personal experience and complaints I heard from several people in our district. The comprehensive measure we passed into law will provide greater oversight and accountability in costs and professional standards for guardians ad litem, and will better-enable our system to focus on what is most important: The needs of the child.

In short, I am proud of the work we did. We focused on the real concerns and needs of working Mainers, and did everything we could to deliver real results. I am proud to be your senator, and excited to continue working on your behalf.

— Sen. David E. Dutremble is a Democrat who represents the communities of Arundel, Biddeford, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. He lives in Biddeford with his wife and children. His column appears on the first Monday of each month.

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