The crew working the pre-dawn shift at my neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts hated changing the clocks every fall. They said, “You’re a legislator, would you help us and remove Maine from Daylight Savings Time?”
That was 1998 and I was just elected to my first term in the Maine House. I wrote a bill and put it in the hopper. You already know the outcome; we still fall back and spring ahead — the bill died. The Bangor Daily News included my proposal on its list of “most foolish ideas introduced” that session.
But my constituents wanted their government to change existing law and at least debate current policy. It is my job to make sure they can petition their government.
I take the work seriously, study the issues and do my homework.
Every bill I have introduced has been in response to issues and concerns raised by Maine people, written by me with their input. Homegrown, local, citizen participation.
Some of those bills dealt with Research & Development funding, the Holtrachem site, creating Maine’s statewide digital library, establishing statewide public health districts, jury service, funding for drug courts, air monitors in Bradley, guardianship laws for grandfamilies and freedom of information laws.
Last week the Bangor Daily News wrote extensively about ALEC, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators. ALEC is one of several national organizations providing legislators from every state the opportunity to meet and learn from each other and from policy experts on a variety of issues. This year I serve voluntarily as Maine’s public sector chair.
In addition to ALEC, I participate in the Fiscal Leaders meetings hosted by the National Conference of State Legislators, the regional events with the Council of State Governments, the pension and budget conferences hosted by the The Pew Center on the States and policy meetings hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The information gained from interacting with legislators from different states is incredibly helpful. Because of the knowledge I gain from these organizations, including ALEC, I believe I am a more informed and effective legislator.
Each organization has a different focus. NCSL serves legislators and staff; CSG focuses on regional issues; The Pew Center and the Federal Reserve deliver in depth research; while ALEC concentrates on individual responsibility, free markets and state’s rights.
Because of my participation in ALEC, the BDN coverage includes quotes from Maine Democrats questioning just who is it I really work for.
I respect healthy debate. The votes I cast on the tough issues please some and anger others. This is expected in a representative government, and I welcome the discourse this process promotes.
However, the Democrat Party Chairman crosses the line when he spins from the issues to questioning my motives and integrity.
This year Democrats, Republicans and independents united and accomplished a great deal. We collaborated to pass tax cuts, reform welfare, reduce our public pension debt, streamline regulations and pass student-focused education reforms.
Together, both parties also developed compromises to protect significant wildlife habitats, shore lands and water quality. We reduced the size of government while funding key priorities like education and our courts. It is foolish and false to charge that Republicans follow some mysterious imported agenda when my Democrat colleagues helped craft and support this session’s greatest achievements.
Like most legislators, I study each bill and issue. I gather the facts, see if a reform works elsewhere, and ask for input. My decisions are based on available information, my core principles, and what is best for the people and future of Maine.
I try my best to work in a manner that honors the memory of my parents, respects my wife, offers an example to my children, and guarantees my constituents the person they elected acts on their behalf.
I work for you.
Sen. Richard Rosen represents Senate District 31. He lives in Bucksport.