It often feels that headlines only highlight the division in Augusta, but I’m sure that one thing Democrats and Republicans can all agree on is that summer is flying by faster than any of us would like it to.  

It’s been almost two months since the first legislative session of the 129th Legislature officially adjourned. After working through the night, the early morning of June 20th was a momentous moment that concluded six months of continuous hard work that, more often than not, was bi-partisan.  

I feel it’s important to make that point again: the work that is being done in Augusta is largely bipartisan. One of the biggest successes of the session was passing an overwhelmingly bipartisan budget that increases funding for education, expands healthcare access and improves broadband access.   

I was particularly proud that we were able to provide $130 million in property tax relief for homeowners, families, seniors and small businesses. We did this partly by increasing the Homestead Exemption by $5,000 up to $25,000. This program provides a measure of property tax relief for certain individuals who have owned property for at least 12 months in Maine and who have that property as their permanent residence 

We also expanded eligibility for the Property Tax Fairness Credit to include an additional 13,000 Mainers. Eligible taxpayers may receive a portion of the property tax or rent paid during the tax year back in their income tax return. You can learn more about how to qualify and apply for these two programs on the Maine Revenue Services website.  

I also had the pleasure of experiencing first hand strong bipartisan work as a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. While there were differences that arose, tough discussions that took place and some debate, each committee member, whether Republican or Democrat, worked hard towards a common goal of creating positive change in our criminal justice system 

So far, my time in the legislature has taught me something that many of us, me included, think we know but rarely put into practice: it is so important to listen to those you assume you will disagree with. You will likely learn something from them, or at the very least, gain a new perspective.  

So, as summer nears its end, and Republicans and Democrats alike are asking themselves “how is it already August?,” let’s also ask ourselves what we can do to learn from others, embrace different opinions and move our community forward.  

Braden Sharpe, a Democrat, represents Durham, North Yarmouth and part of Pownal as House District 46’s representative in the Legislature. 

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