In the first meeting since the November election, state representatives met with Portland’s Legislative Committee as part of the process of setting legislative priorities for the upcoming year in Augusta. The Committee is chaired by Councilor Pious Ali.
Seventy-seven (77) individual asylum seekers from Africa, spent last night at the city’s overflow shelter at the Salvation Army gym said Dave MacLean, Portland’s Social Services Director, this morning at city hall. “Portland has a reputation for providing assistance to vulnerable populations. Portland wants to do that, but we can’t be a statewide shelter.” MacLean told the Committee that he recently received a telephone call from a detention center in Texas “looking for a network to send asylum seekers to a place where they could be successful.”
MacLean said Portland needs to enlist the assistance of our federal politicians to thwart that trend. Councilor and Committee member Kim Cook said: “We won’t continue to make Portland a place of last resort.” Senator Dick Farnsworth said: There is a significant part of the population with out their own community” in response to a comment from Cook that people should be returned to their communities.
MacLean also told this blogger that he believes the state will provide a higher level of reimbursement and expand their GA for asylum seeking families. “We have a more supportive governor and legislative body in Augusta, so we are hopeful.”
After several other presentations by city employees, the exchange turned to ‘pet’ projects of each of the state representatives they hope to pursue legislatively. For example, Rep. Mike Sylvester, intends to reintroduce a bill that would permit a sales tax in Portland with 15% of the proceeds going elsewhere than in Portland and to go toward the opiod crises as seen necessary by that ‘elsewhere.’ Last year, the bill got out of Committee – a promising step.
Rep. Brennan said he will propose, among other things, to create an office of substance abuse at the cabinet level. Ben Chipman said that he will be reintroducing bills that the Governor vetoed last session – that should keep Ben busy!
Rep. Sylvester said there will be an opportunity to achieve a lot of goals that cities have had to provide for their citizens. “These bills will get a more positive hearing in this administration.” Senator Sanborn said: “We have a lot of opportunities, but not unlimited resources. So, we have to focus on our priorities.”
Rep. Rachel Talbott-Ross said she’d recommend that the state legislators conduct district meetings such as the city of Portland does with its department heads. What do you think?
Rep. Dick Farnsworth said that at the next meeting the legislators will decide which are candidates for rulemaking and which for bills. There may be another meeting of the state reps to determine who will “sponsor” each piece of legislation agreed upon before they meet again with the Legislative Committee. The next Committee meeting will be on December 13th.
This morning’s meeting was one of the final steps in compiling the legislative agenda. It is largely managed by city manager Jon Jennings according to a memorandum to the Portland Legislative Committee by Michael Murray, Assistant to the City Manager.
Note: mhn.com took other photos of the state reps, but unfortunately they did not turn out because this blogger is still getting used to a new camera. Apologies! Nothing on this agenda to give renters in Portland some rights that they don’t currently have in this anti-renter city – just another lump of coal!