I hope that everyone had a happy New Year. I wish you and your families peace and love in the coming months. On Jan. 4, the 131st Legislature met for its first session day. Reflecting on that opening day, I feel hopeful because we started this year with the passage of the heating and housing relief bill, LD 3, which included essentially the same relief programs as LD 1, the bill that did not get the required two-thirds vote on swearing-in day.

Anne Carney

Emergency heating and housing relief is now on the way to Mainers across the district and the state. In addition to this one-time emergency measure, we have created a Special Joint Committee on Housing to do specialized and focused work to address the housing crisis.

I am proud to share that I will continue to serve as Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee during my second term in the Maine Senate. The Judiciary Committee covers a wide range of subjects including civil rights, criminal procedure, family law, human rights, privacy law, judicial appointment confirmations and more. In this role, I will strive to improve access to justice and ensure equal protection under the law for all Mainers.

I will also return as a member of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, which addresses air and water quality, recycling and waste disposal, provides oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection and plays an important role in implementing our climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait. I am eager for this committee to start meeting, knowing that protecting the environment is a top priority for Senate District 29.

Drafting and sponsoring bills is a significant part of a lawmaker’s work. I will sponsor about 20 bills suggested by constituents and directed at addressing issues you raised in emails or conversations we’ve had. Several have already been printed and sent to committees for public hearings.

Suggested by Maine Veterans For Peace, LD 21 is a resolution that will rename the Maine Turnpike Approach Road as Samantha Smith Way. This effort will help the city of South Portland – and the whole community – commemorate what would have been Samantha’s 50th birthday.

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After the 2020 elections, constituents raised concerns about postage for absentee ballots. LD 26 would provide pre-paid postage on absentee mail-in ballots. This bill will strengthen our democracy by removing a barrier that prevents some voters from using this easy, convenient method for voting.

Through LD 29, I will continue to work with advocates from South Portland and statewide environmental groups to clean up emissions from the oil tanks in South Portland.

Finally, LD 45 would protect tenants from retaliation when they report illegal rental practices. It’s critical that tenants have strong protection during the housing crisis.

Now that I’ve described some of what I’ll be doing this year, you might be wondering if you can help. You can. If you are interested in these or any other bills, you can participate in the public hearing. For bills that have been scheduled for public hearings on the Legislative Calendar, visit https://legislature.maine.gov/.

People can give their testimony in person at the State House – please let me know if you plan to be in the State House, I’d enjoy greeting you and showing you around, if time permits. You can also participate via Zoom. To sign up, visit mainelegislature.org/testimony/. Once there, you’ll select “Public Hearing,” pick the committee, choose the date, select the bill, and then complete the rest of the form. You can also use the link to submit written testimony.

As you start to think about testifying for a public hearing, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to answer your questions and help you sign up.

If you haven’t testified before, I encourage you to try. It’s an important part of the lawmaking process – nothing is more impactful than testimony Legislators hear from our communities and Mainers throughout the state.

Anne Carney represents Maine Senate District 29, which consists of Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough. She can be reached at 207-287-1515 or [email protected]