Radio Address: Haskell says positive steps on drug crisis, conservation should propel us forward

Posted: January 22, 2016 | Senator Haskell, Weekly Radio Address

Mainers who want Augusta to work for them have a lot to celebrate this week. In just three days, action has been taken to address the state’s deadly drug crisis and to honor our commitment to conserving the natural beauty and rural economy of our state.

Hello, this is Senator Anne Haskell, from Portland. Thanks for tuning in.

Thisweek was one of the most productive that I’ve seen in my nearly 16 years in the Legislature.

We passed a bill on Tuesday that provides a $3.7 million down payment on our renewed effort to fight drug abuse and substance use disorder with more law enforcement and more treatment for suffering Mainers.

On Thursday, we revived $6.5 million in voter-approved conservation bonds. Those bonds will pay to preserve forests, wildlife habitat, family farms and working waterfronts around the state. They expired when the  governor refused to sign them for years. However, he’s come around and has said he’ll now step aside and let the conservation begin.

Democrats have supported efforts to fight the drug crisis and support our history of environmental stewardship for years, so these are both big victories. But the most notable thing about both is that they passed the Legislature with unanimous support. That means both parties came together and put aside their differences for the sake of our constituents back home.

It was a phenomenal way to start the session. I only hope the pattern continues.

As we move forward, there are many priorities that we still must address.

There’s still more to be done on drug abuse and addiction. Several upcoming bills — by Democrats and Republicans alike — would strengthen our education, treatment and law enforcement efforts to save lives and help Mainers on the path to recovery.

Beyond that, we will have opportunities this session to support our economy, welcome our new Mainers, and foster job creation. We will still deal with the issues at hand, such as the silent problem of childhood hunger. We’ll protect our social safety net and support our education systems. And we can do it all while ensuring the integrity of our public process.

As we face these opportunities together, I hope that this week was a preview of things to come. We came together on issues that could easily have divided us. That’s what people back home want. They want us all to give as well as we get, to seek common ground and do our jobs.

We owe it to them to give a fair hearing to any good idea, no matter where it comes from. This week gave me hope that we can do just that.

I’m Senator Anne Haskell, from Portland. Thanks for listening.