This year, lawmakers in Augusta will consider over 2,000 bills. It’s not the all-time high, but it’s up there. I am the primary sponsor for 43 of those 2,000 bills, so I will spend a lot of my time in Augusta making the case for my proposals. My bills cover a range of issues because it’s important for the Legislature to not only make progress on the greatest challenges facing our state, but also pass laws that fix simple problems. I’d like to tell you about two of my bills: helping address climate change and making the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MEPERS) more fair.

Climate change is the greatest threat of our time. As we burn fossil fuels, we emit high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide prevents heat from escaping into space, and that trapped heat is changing our climate on earth. Perhaps most concerning, climate change is warming our oceans. Warmer oceans mean more destructive natural disasters, higher sea levels, and threatened fisheries around the world, including right here in Maine. Climate change is already impacting Maine people and communities, but it’s not too late to mitigate the worst climate change and adapt to changes that have already occurred.

One of my bills, LD 273, “An Act To Require Transmission and Distribution Utilities To Purchase Electricity from Renewable Resources at Certain Prices,” helps us address climate change. Currently, if you have a solar array or wind turbine at your home, you can’t sell excess energy you produce. My bill changes that. I believe people should be able to sell excess renewable energy for half the price of energy from fossil fuels, creating an incentive for people to produce more renewable energy. As we produce more of our electricity from renewable sources, we’ll use less fossil fuels, decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide we emit and reducing the greenhouse effect.

While we have not yet taken the aggressive action needed to address climate change, we have a unique opportunity to make progress on the greatest challenge we face. I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate pass my bill and Gov. Janet Mills signs it into law.

The second bill I’d like to discuss is LD 276, “An Act To Provide Equity in the State Income Tax Deduction for Maine Public Employees Retirement System Pensions.” This bill solves a problem that folks have told me about ever since I first ran for office.

When folks have jobs covered by Social Security, they pay into the system. The amount withheld from their paychecks is based on earnings. When they retire, the amount they receive each month from Social Security is based on how much they contributed over the years. This money is held by the federal government, but it’s the workers’ money. The government offers workers a moderate rate of return along with a guarantee that they’ll be able to count on their Social Security when they retire. But Maine workers who retire from jobs in MEPERS have their Social Security checks slashed by as much as two thirds.

These workers paid into the system. The money deducted from their pay over the years is their money, temporarily removed from their control to assure an income in case of a disability or when they retire. It’s unjust that folks in MEPERS don’t receive their full Social Security checks, and the Legislature must correct that injustice. My bill does just that, creating a tax deduction for workers who see their Social Security checks reduced under MEPERS.

If you’re interested in either of these bills, or have questions or concerns about another issue, never hesitate to get in touch with me. My email is David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov and my office number is 287-1515. It’s an honor to serve as your state senator.