2016-01-26 / Opinion

Legislature Off To A Good Start, A Lot More To Do


The second session of the 127th Maine Legislature is just a few weeks old and we have already crossed two top priorities off of our to-do list.

I was proud to support a bill to reauthorize $6.5 million worth of bonds to benefit the Land For Maine’s Future Program, which will help pay for Maine conservation projects and also protect our state’s natural habitats which helps to bolster the Maine’s industry.

We also recently passed a bill to begin to address the drug epidemic plaguing Maine in recent years. The comprehensive bill adds 10 new agents to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency that will help to hunt down those responsible for trafficking heroin and other drugs into our state and put them in prison where they belong. The bill also adds nearly $3 million to help treat those Mainers who are sadly addicted to these illegal drugs and put them on a path to a life without drugs.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem, nearly twice as many people in Maine are dying from drug overdoses than ever before and more than 1,000 babies were born drug addicted last year alone. Law enforcement has been overwhelmed trying to deal with this crisis. A record 51 meth labs have been broken up in Maine this year alone.

While this bill is a good first step, we still have a lot more work to do. We currently spend roughly $80 million on drug treatment in Maine. Before we decide to spend even more, I believe we need to know exactly how this money is being spent. Currently, we spend twice as much money transporting addicts to and from methadone clinics than we do on the entire budget for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. Let’s get a handle on how we’re using our resources and make sure those resources are being utilized in the best way to address this current crisis.

In addition to the drug issue, we also have a variety of other serious fiscal issues we are facing that are not getting much attention in the media, with tax conformity being perhaps the biggest issue. Whether or not Maine chooses to conform to the changes in the federal tax code that were recently passed in Washington is a decision that we need to make as soon as possible. Maine typically conforms to the federal tax code, but if we don’t this year, it could result in a $21 million tax increase on Maine’s small businesses. I can assure you that I, and the other House Republicans, will not let this happen without a fight.

In addition to tax conformity, we also have other financial challenges that demand our attention. We still have not agreed on a longterm solution to funding our county jails; Indigent Legal Services, which is constitutionally mandated, is still not fully funded; and the drastic increase to the Maine Clean Elections Program will cost the state millions of dollars.

These are some big issues and I believe we need to get a handle on them before we agree to spend any more money. As your State Representative, I am committed to doing everything I can to keep state spending under control.

Feel free to contact my office at any time at 207-287-1440 with any questions or concerns you may have. I’m always interested in hearing ways that I can better serve you.


Rep. Jeff Pierce is serving his first term in the Maine House of Representatives and represents House District 53, which includes Arrowsic, Dresden, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Woolwich and part of Richmond.

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