It was an historic day as the 125th Legislature began under new leadership with the 100th Speaker of the House Robert Nutting presiding. The atmosphere was charged as both parties settled into their new roles facing the need for a supplemental budget to deal with new projections showing revenue shortfalls and a still unsettled economy leaving many things in question. As the Assistant Majority Leader, the first Republican to hold this position in over thirty years, I was charged with keeping the 78 members of our caucus informed of the issues and trying to earn their trust of the policy agenda that we in the Legislature and our new Governor would provide. Their were many who had worked hard to see us in the majority and there were expectations and concerns about our ability to lead and to move on key issues. To me the most important thing was to move carefully and respectfully in what we did.
Governor LePage had called for a series of forums to receive from Maine’s citizens and small business owners in put about the challenges they faced with government regulatory issues. These meetings dubbed “Red Tape Reform” meetings are to be hosted by Chambers of Commerce and business groups across the state. The Legislature is holding LD 1 as the vehicle to incorporate these proposed changes. We have established a special joint committee who will be charged with hearing public testimony on the proposed bill and it is considered a priority for the 125th to address.
I have shared with the Republican caucus some of the insighted that pollster Scott Rassmussen presented when he came to Maine in November. That the 2010 elections were again a sign of the publics dissatisfaction with elected officials and particularly those who were recently in charge. Mr. Rassmussen is a well respected national pollster who studies trends in our plotical system. He cautioned that this was the second election cycle in a row where the majority party of the sitting PResident lost control of Congress and he also pointed out the very low opinion the public holds for elected officials.
I summarized it as follows, people did not fall in love with the Republican Party in Maine during the 2010 election. They voted out those in charge as having failed in their duty to listen to the people and act in their best interests. I used the anology that opur chance to govern in Maine is like borrowing a book from the library. We don’t own it, it is on loan and how we treat it will determine whether we can take it out again in two years.
There is much to do in the coming year and we must move carefully, and fairly in the process. Maine people are hoping for a better future and we must do our best see help it along.