The 127th Maine State Legislature is about to begin its second session. Each Legislature is divided into two separate sessions. Each first session runs from January to the third Wednesday of June. That session deals with the bi-annual budget and all bills introduced by each legislator and the governor. While the session is supposed to end on that third June Wednesday, it rarely does. This past session we were still dealing with the budget and vetoes well into July .

The second session, which will begin in early January, deals with bills that were carried over from the last session and any new bills allowed to be heard by the Legislative Council. These bills are reserved for emergency and budgetary items. Very few get past the Council, which is made up of legislative leaders from both parties. There are 10 members, five from each party. Of the 400-plus new bills submitted, only a handful, about 65, made it through. This session is scheduled to end in early April.

Many have asked what we can anticipate with the upcoming session, having finished last session with a less-than-congenial ending. My hope, as a freshman legislator, is that we will put the issues of the past behind us and focus on the business at hand, in particular dealing with the very serious crisis of the drug epidemic that is devastating this state, as well as many others throughout this country. It is absolutely necessary that we deal with this issue on many fronts: treatment, enforcement and education. Failure to address this crisis will mean that we, the legislators, have failed the Maine people and that is unacceptable to me.

Some members are focusing on the disagreements with the governor and his relationship, or lack there-of, with the Legislature. My hope is that we can renew a bipartisan approach to dealing with the people’s business. The issues of the Good-Will Hinckley saga are properly before the courts where those who feel they have been aggrieved can get their issues addressed.

Some have asked the state’s attorney general to investigate potential criminal issues regard- ing this and other matters raised by those seeking this redress of the governor. These issues will play themselves out over time. For the Legislature to involve itself further in these matters will serve no useful purpose other than to further alienate the members along party lines and create a toxic political environment heading into next year’s elections. This will not provide the atmosphere needed to address the concerns most important to Maine citizens: jobs, economic growth, welfare reform, drug abuse, improving education, the list goes on.

As we enter the final days of 2015 and welcome a new year, let’s embrace the challenges facing Maine together, with the executive branch (the governor) in full partnership with the Legislature. Only this approach will serve the best interests of Maine, which is the job we were all elected to do.

filed under: