As a new legislator, I am excited and honored to represent a portion of Biddeford in the Maine House of Representatives and work alongside so many diligent and thoughtful colleagues to help the people of our state.

This is the first of my new monthly column, where I intend to share the work I am doing in my committees, provide updates on the progress of the bills I introduce and offer helpful information and resources.

Two major principles will guide my work in the Legislature: state government needs to work effectively for people, and we need to work to build strong communities both locally and across our state.

These concepts might seem overly simple, but their importance cannot be overstated. For all of the political debate about the size of government, most people just want the services they rely on — from roads and bridges to health care programs — to function effectively. When we consider legislative action, the question of “Will this make things better for Mainers, even if just a bit?” will always be at the forefront of my mind.

I am also focused on building community. Clearly, there are many divisions in our state around politics, culture and public health, for example. In recent years, we have seen an uptick in political violence, the harassment of public officials and behavior designed to intimidate citizens who otherwise want to have a voice in how they are governed. Community is the antidote to division, and I will work to support measures that strengthen the ties which bind us together.

For the upcoming term, I have been appointed to serve as a member of the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee and Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. Much of the most important work of the Legislature happens in committees, and these two play a crucial role in making sure that state government delivers for Mainers – from protecting workers and making sure they have the opportunities needed to support their families to continuing to ensure the security of our elections, protecting the right to vote and making sure regulations for gaming, alcohol and cannabis are putting Mainers first.

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We’ve already gotten to work. Earlier this month, the Legislature passed LD 3, the Emergency Winter Energy Relief Plan, providing support for low- and middle-income Maine families to stay safe and secure in their homes this winter.

Some key provisions include direct relief payments of $450 to an estimated 880,000 eligible Mainers, $40 million to supplement the Home Energy Assistance Program to help HEAP recipients receive a financial benefit equal to last year’s, $10 million to Maine Community Action Partnerships to help them deliver emergency fuel assistance and $21 million to bolster the Emergency Housing Relief Fund, which supports emergency housing and shelters to prevent people from experiencing homelessness this winter.

This legislation was the result of a bipartisan compromise, which was needed so that the bill could take effect immediately and provide relief to Mainers quickly. Many of our community members are struggling right now, and this bill will help them. It does not address long-term concerns about energy and housing needs, issues I intend to work hard on in the coming months. But despite some of its flaws, the bill also does not worsen the long-term challenges we face. Any day you can help people is a good one, and when you can do that in a way that doesn’t exacerbate problems down the road, you have to take advantage of that opportunity.

Going forward, I also want you to know that you should feel free to reach out to me any time with concerns, questions or ideas. It could be your opinion on issues that the Maine House is working on or concerns about government services not working for you. I cannot promise we will agree on every issue, but I can promise that I will listen to you and respect your perspective. I cannot guarantee a particular outcome on a constituent service matter, but I can ensure that your voice will be heard.

Please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected]

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