AUGUSTA (NEWS CENTER Maine)-- The new Maine Legislature has started work. Most of the 186 lawmakers were sworn in during ceremonies on Wednesday morning. The new 129th Legislature will have a different face than seen in the State House the past two years, as Democrats won lopsided majorities in both House and Senate.
The past two years in the State House saw repeated partisan fights, a state shut down the first year and a session that ran five months longer than planned the second year.
In the new Legislature, with large Democratic majorities in both House and Senate, those problems seem unlikely.
The oath of office was administered by Maine Chief Justice Leigh Saufley. She took the place of Governor LePage, who was undergoing a medical procedure. Saufley said she’d believed it may have been the first time a Chief Justice has sworn in the Legislature.
As expected, Sara Gideon was elected to another term as Speaker of the House. Gideon told House members they need to “reset” from the past two divisive years, and try to achieve a more collaborative relationship with other members.
“Whether we think about modern infrastructure, lower health care costs, educating our kids, taking care of seniors, “or” creating opportunities for families and businesses these issues are not rocket science,” said Gideon. “And number two they are not partisan, they are just not.”
“In the Senate, Troy Jackson was elected President. Jackson told Senators he wants them to work to address the problems of average Mainers.
“I want us to work together,” Jackson said, “to come up with something that actually helps with their property taxes, helps people with health care and prescription drugs, making sure we do something to maybe start attracting people to Maine by helping them with student debt.”
There will be many other issues for those Legislators to contend with, including a new, 2-year state budget. The work begins January 2, after Governor-elect Janet Mills is sworn in.