As the 130th Session of the Maine State Legislature kicks off, PenBayPilot.com has reached out to each area state legislator to see what is at the forefront of the minds for each of them.
Representative Victoria Doudera, D-Camden, ran unopposed for her second term in Augusta, and continues her work representing constituents of House District 94, which comprises Camden, Islesboro and Rockport.
One highlight of Doudera’s first legislative term, the 129th session, was Governor Janet Mills signing her bill prohibiting the performance of pelvic examinations, without consent, on unconscious or anesthetized patients.
For the upcoming 130th legislative session, Doudera identified a trio of legislative priorities: Help District 94 families and businesses grapple with the fallout from COVID-19 and help the economy recover; make progress on climate action by working toward the goals of the Maine Climate Council; and maintain a focus on equity for Indigenous Mainers and Mainers of color.
Rep. Doudera has requested 13 legislative pieces be addressed by the Legislature:
An Act To Create Online Voter Registration
An Act To Increase Recycling
An Act To Ban the Sale or Import of Cosmetics That Have Been Tested on Animals
An Act To Update and Eliminate References in Statute to Boards of Selectmen and Overseers of the Poor
An Act To Allow Municipalities To Exempt Volunteer Firefighters from Paying Excise Tax on Their Vehicles Used To Respond to Fire Calls
An Act To Clarify the Definition of “Machine Gun”
An Act To Adjust Sewer and Wastewater Lien Fees
An Act To Amend the Child Endangerment Laws
An Act Clarifying Patient Consent for Certain Medical Examinations
An Act To Require the Public Utilities Commission and Other State Agencies To Consider Climate Change and Vulnerable Communities in Their Decision Making
An Act To Prohibit the Use of Chlorpyrifos
An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Create Energy-efficient and Affordable Homes for Maine People
An Act To Provide for Remote Notarization
Rep. Doudera has requested 13 bills be brought forth this legislative session in an effort to tackle an array of issues important to her constituents, and Mainers across the state.
“My bills range from ways to strengthen our democracy, such as creating online voter registration to make voting easier for new voters in Maine, to protecting our environment, including banning the pesticide chlorpyrifos (a potent nerve agent, especially damaging to children) and encouraging a circular economy by making manufacturers increase post consumer recycled plastic content in beverage containers,” she said.
Several of her requested bills are aimed at helping Maine families, she said in a Jan. 7 email.
“The pandemic highlighted how difficult it was for Mainers to get legal documents, such as wills, notarized, and so I have put in a bill to allow remote online notarization of legal documents, something most other states already have in place,” she stated. “Gun safety continues to be a concern for constituents and I have submitted a bill to ban rapid-fire devices known as bump stocks which have been used in several mass shootings.”
Rep. Doudera noted the lack of safe, affordable housing continues to be an issue in within her district, and after months of collaboration with legislative colleagues on ways to address housing inequities, Rep. Doudera has requested a bill be put forward to address housing inequality.
“My bill proposes a $50,000 housing bond to build new energy-efficient, affordable homes through new construction or adaptive reuse of existing structures, and I worked with the Maine Housing Coalition to draft it,” said Rep. Doudera.
Other bills requested by Doudera came at the behest of town officials and from her own moral compass.
“Rockport officials suggested several bills I have submitted, including an act for towns to better recoup sewer lien payments; a bill to help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters by exempting them from paying excise tax on their vehicles; and legislation aimed at making gender neutral language the norm in Maine statutes by eliminating archaic and sexist terms,” Rep. Doudera said.
“The thought of animals suffering needlessly for a tube of lipstick prompted me to submit a bill banning the importation of cosmetics that have been tested on animals, and if it passes it will allow Maine to join other states that have already taken this step toward a nationwide stance pressuring China to end this unnecessarily cruel practice,” she said.
With President-Elect Joe Biden poised to place more emphasis on combating climate change, Rep. Doudera knows Maine’s contributions to confronting climate change has a path through the state legislature. In fact, she will be serving on the legislature’s environment and natural resources committee, which she said will enable her to gain traction on the environmental and climate action goals important to the Midcoast communities, and will remain a member of the climate and coastal action caucus to work on racial justice, gun safety, and gender equality issues.
As a new member of the environment and natural resources committee, Rep. Doudera has requested a bill be introduced this term to ensure certain state entities keep climate change actions at the forefront of their respective activities.
“The Maine Climate Council has created an excellent road map to combat climate change here in Maine, but to put into motion these strategies to cut carbon emissions, make our towns more resilient, and accomplish the goals of the Council we need to make sure that state agencies are 100% on board,” said Rep. Doudera. “Rockport’s Acadia Center reached out to me and I worked with them to submit a bill that will ensure entities such as the Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Transportation, etc., keep climate action front and center when they make decisions going forward. My bill has a lot of support from other midcoast legislators as it’s a critical step toward actually accomplishing these climate action goals in Maine.”
In a divided nation, Rep. Doudera said she is prepared to continue her work of bridging party aisle gaps and strengthen bipartisan relationships with legislators across the state.
“Finding common ground and fostering relationships that go beyond party affiliation comes naturally to me,” she said. “I work out every morning on Zoom with a Republican senator from another part of the state and it has created a friendship that enables us to really talk about core issues that matter to all Mainers, regardless of their party affiliation. My goal for the coming year is to continue in that vein with others of different political stripes, as I really believe we can overcome our divisions with most people if we reach out and listen to learn.”
Doudera shared some general advice for incoming group of legislators, which includes the Midcoast’s Valli Geiger (House District 93; Owls Head and Rockland) and Glenn “Chip” Curry (Senate District 11; Waldo County).
“When constituents reach out with questions or ideas, get back to them as quickly as possible,” she said. “It’s common courtesy, for one; a good communication strategy, second; but also it shows that you care and are responsive, creating more trust and transparency in government at a time when these qualities are sorely needed. I love the constituent service part of my job as it enables me to help neighbors and friends navigate an incredible variety of issues.”