On December 5, my colleagues and I were sworn in to the 129th Maine Legislature. On January 3, Janet T. Mills was sworn in as Maine’s next governor. Over the past few years, many good bills were passed by committees and the Legislature, but were vetoed by Gov. LePage. We overrode many of the governor’s vetoes, but failed to override a number of good bills by only a few votes. Today, with Gov. Mills in the Blaine House and a new Legislature at the State House, opportunity is in the air. There is a fresh atmosphere at the Capitol, one of civility, teamwork and forward momentum. While progress is never easy, I’m hopeful that this new day will bring meaningful change to the people of Maine.

This legislative session is shaping up to be a very busy one, with roughly 2,200 bills for us to consider. I’ve sponsored a number of bills that don’t require funding — including proposals that did not survive Gov. LePage’s notorious veto pen. One of my bills, “An Act To Ensure Transparency in College Costs,” requires colleges and universities to reveal the true costs of college to prospective students. Currently, when colleges offer financial aid packages to admitted students, they can conceal some costs, making their aid packages look better than they really are. My bill requires schools to put all their cards on the table.

Another bill, “An Act to Amend the State’s Hemp Laws,” would align Maine’s hemp laws with the new farm bill. Hemp is a great fiber replacement for a range of products and a powerful supplement for strengthening our bodies, but Maine law forbids large-scale production. My bill brings Maine in line with a number of other states, allowing hemp to be grown at a commercial scale. Other bills I’ve sponsored allow small newspapers to publish public notices, allow ethanol-free gasoline to be sold across Maine, and eliminate car inspections.

Senate President Troy Jackson appointed me as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources for the 129th Legislative session. The Marine Resources Committee is responsible for managing commercial marine fisheries, fish species and aquaculture. I’m honored to be chosen as chair, and will work to protect our marine resources so they are sustainable for future generations. Our fisheries contribute millions to our economy each year, and the hardworking men and women of our coastal economy deserve the strongest support we can provide.

In addition to chairing the Marine Resources Committee, I have been chosen to serve on the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, which is responsible for energy policy, the telecommunications industry, and water and sewer utilities. On this committee, I will continue my work to make Maine a leader in new energy technologies. We have not yet taken the bold steps necessary to seriously pursue a renewable energy economy, but we have a real chance to make substantial progress toward that goal. It’s time to move forward on smart solar energy policies, creating good-paying jobs and clean energy right here in Maine.

If you have questions or concerns for me, never hesitate to reach out. I’m always available at 287-1515 or David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov. We have hard work ahead of us, but working together with my fellow lawmakers and the new administration, I’m more optimistic than ever that we can improve the lives of people across the state.