By Senator Jeff Timberlake
Hello, this is Senator Jeff Timberlake of Androscoggin County. I’m glad to join you for this week’s Republican Radio Address and say that the 131st Legislature is about to get underway.
With every election cycle comes change; and a big one for me is I have a new Senate district – District 17 – that I’m about to represent starting next week. I, along with 185 others who were elected earlier this month, will be sworn in on Wednesday, Dec. 7. That means it’s time for us as a Legislature to get back to work for the people of Maine.
We’re going to have a lot of things to address in the upcoming year. Some that are really at the top of most people’s minds are our energy costs, including the cost of electricity and heating oil. Those are just two of the many things impacting Mainers; and we’ll have to deal with them immediately.
How do we tackle electricity costs? Well, the Legislature has multiple tools at our disposal. Some options include exerting more control over the Public Utilities Commission process, removing the 100-megawatt limit on clean hydropower and reworking the solar net-metering system. I have put in bills for the upcoming session to address the latter two, and these are all actions that could make a big difference in what we pay for electricity.
The cost of heating oil is another issue we’re facing here in Maine. Sixty percent of homes heat with it; and while there’s not a lot we can do about it from a production or refining standpoint, we can at least remove the sales tax on heating oil to businesses. Businesses have been under even greater pressure this year with higher electricity and fuel oil prices as well as labor and supply-chain costs.
I think one of the most important things the 131st Legislature is going to have to deal with is the power of the Executive Branch over the Legislative Branch. I have put in a bill that will give the Government Oversight Committee, on which I have served, the right to review any department within Maine’s Executive Branch. I think it’s important that the Legislature has the ability to oversee the Executive Branch, and we need to do more of it.
Another very important topic I think we’ll have to deal with in the upcoming session is the next biennium budget. You would think everything was all rosy with the December Revenue Forecast report that came out on Tuesday. But if you look deeply into the report, the message here is to be very careful.
Why? Inflation is persistent and still on the rise in every sector; and there is the potential for a recession in the future. These are all things that we as legislators need to be mindful of as we work on the next budget.
Which brings me to my final point. If these big government surpluses keep continuing, we all should admit that it is because we’re overtaxing you. The government should break even and never make money because if the government is making money, that means they’re taking too much out of your pocket. It should be yours to keep.
Again, this is Senator Jeff Timberlake of Androscoggin County; and I look forward to working with both sides of the aisle in the next Legislature and doing the people’s work. I thank you for joining me and hope you have a great day and a great weekend.
Senator Jeff Timberlake is the Senate Republican Leader and is in his second term representing District 22. He is a member of the Government Oversight Committee.