As the 130th Session of the Maine State Legislature kicks off, PenBayPilot.com has reached out to each area state legislator to see what is at the forefront of the minds for each of them.
While Senator Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, is not a new member of the Maine State Legislature, she is a new member of the Maine State Senate.
Sen. Maxmin spent the 129th Session of the Maine State Legislature as a member of the Maine House of Representatives representing District 88 (Chelsea, Jefferson, Whitefield and part of Nobleboro) before being elected to represent all of Lincoln County, except Dresden, plus Washington from Knox County and Windsor in Kennebec County, in the State Senate, ousting Senate Minority Leader Dana Dow.
After being elected to serve in the state’s House of Representatives in 2018, then-Rep. Maxmin had two bills signed by Governor Janet Mills: an act establishing a Green New Deal for Maine and an act supporting justice for victims of sexual assault by increasing the time sexual assault forensic examination kits must be stored.
Coming into her new role as a state senator, Sen. Maxmin identified in a Jan. 5 email three priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
First, she wants to be transparent, accountable and accessible with her constituents.
“By far, the biggest issue that I heard from constituents during the 2020 campaign is a deep disappointment with our political system,” she said. “So, my biggest priority for this session to is to be as transparent, accountable, and accessible as I can be to fight hard for my community. I really mean it when I say: reach out anytime.”
Second, she intends on ensuring the state’s budget shortfall due to the pandemic does not detrimentally impact rural communities.
“We all know that the state is facing an unprecedented moment, and we know that the state budget will be hit hard,” she stated. “I want to make sure that the budget shortfall does not fall back onto our rural communities and our property taxes.”
Third, she sees great potential for COVID-19 recovery in Maine’s rural communities.
“We have an opportunity to rebuild after COVID in a way that make us stronger: investing in local businesses, ensuring transportation access, and expanding broadband are vital now more than ever,” she said. “With my bills and my votes, I will fight hard for rural Maine to have access to these services.”
Ahead of the December submission deadline to request bills be considered in the new legislative session, Sen. Maxmin requested 13 bills be considered including recovery centers introduced in each of Maine’s 16 counties, increasing rural transportation access, creating green jobs, and advocating for open political primaries.
With President-Elect Joe Biden poised to place more emphasis on combatting climate change at the national level, Sen. Maxmin noted it’s imperative for climate change to be addressed at every level of government, including by the Maine State Legislature.
“For me, the way that we address climate change is just as important as the fact that we confront it,” she stated. “We need to transition to renewable energy in a way that is equitable and does not unfairly impact communities, especially rural communities. This is why one of my bills focuses on trying to make sure that jobs in the clean energy sector are good for Mainers and our economy.”
Sen. Maxmin will serve on the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee and the Marine Resource committee, both a reflection, she said, of the realities of her constituents in District 13.
“I am very excited for the bills and work coming through these committees,” she commented. “There are going to be a lot of important conversations and decisions this year, and I’m ready to fight for District 13.”
With a politically divided nation, Sen. Maxmin sees her role as a legislator as a representative of all individuals regardless of political party affiliation, which requires her to work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle.
“My job is to represent everyone in my community, regardless of political party,” she said. “I bring the same view to Augusta. My job is to work with everyone. I already have bi-partisan co-sponsorship on my bills. In my mind, part of the solution to the division that we see is to take the time to listen to each other and find common ground.”
As a veteran legislator, Sen. Maxmin shared some general advice for incoming group of legislators, which includes the Midcoast’s Valli Geiger (House District 93; Owls Head and Rockland) and Glenn “Chip” Curry (Senate District 11; Waldo County).
“It is easy to get sucked into the games of Augusta,” she said. “To me, the work is about staying rooted in your community.”