House Republican Legislative Update
Weekly Republican Radio Address – October 1, 2021
This is Representative Kathy Downes with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.
I want to first begin by taking a moment to reflect on the memory and legacy of Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Gross, who was struck by an oncoming vehicle, and killed, while responding to a call in the early morning a week ago. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his fellow deputies.
Earlier this week, the legislature convened to vote on the newly drawn state house, state senate, county commissioner, and congressional districts. This process is based off the census, and conducted every ten years, as outlined in the Maine Constitution.
Members of the Apportionment Commission are from both parties and in equal numbers. Representative Morris, Rep. Kryzak, and Rep. Parry, served the House Republicans in this process.
I am proud that we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement on the 151 house districts, 35 senate districts, county commissioner and congressional districts. Starting in the June primaries in 2022, you will be voting in your new district. To find out how your district changed, and what your new district number is, you can call your local municipality or visit: legislature.maine.gov/apportionment.
At the beginning of next year, the legislature will start the second regular session. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some of the successes Republicans had in the first session:
To help address known shortages, Republicans advocated MaineCare wage rates for home and community-based services be increased to 125 percent of the minimum wage, and emergency rate increases for nursing and senior living facilities continue. Additionally, Republicans and Democrats expanded the use of telehealth services to provide better healthcare access for Mainers.
We are particularly proud of the direct tax relief Mainers will receive after we successfully negotiated more than $300 million dollars to go back to Maine tax filers. Our priorities provided over $150 million in direct relief payments, up to $300, for over half a million Maine tax filers. It was the end result of a Republican attempt to provide the same $10,200 state income tax exemption, provided to unemployed Mainers, to those who worked during the pandemic.
Republicans restored revenue sharing to 5% in the second year, which corrected Governor Mills’ 33% reduction (LD 715- Part F) in distributions to municipalities and provided them the funds to help stabilize or reduce property taxes.
Increased reimbursement to municipalities for tax property tax revenue lost as a result of the Homestead Exemption. This State program exempts the first $25,000 from property taxes, but only 70% of the lost revenue for the municipality is only reimbursed by the state. That reimbursement will now increase over the next ten years until it reaches 100%. This is a win-win for property owners and municipalities.
Proposed biennial budget spending was reduced by close to $300 million, along with reductions in unnecessary new state government positions. Maine has seen an influx of more than $14 billion in federal money since the start of the pandemic, and it is vital that we plan for when that federal money can no longer be relied upon.
Additionally, Republicans voted against several bills to decriminalize various type of drug procession, including fentanyl. These bills passed along party lines but ultimately were vetoed by the Governor.
Republican sponsored LD 467 ensured that dispatchers and correction officers were included as first responders to ensure proper mental health treatments are available following traumatic work related events.
The last several months have certainly been an extraordinary time in our state. I hope everyone in your family has been able to stay safe and healthy, and continues to do so as we head into autumn.
This has been Representative Kathy Downes with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.
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