31 December 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we enter 2019, I want to wish you a prosperous and healthy new year and to thank you for placing your confidence in me to represent you once again in the Maine Legislature. I remain grateful, honored, and humbled by your trust.
For my final legislative session as your representative in the House, these are my goals:
Energy independence and climate stability
At present, Maine remains exceptionally dependent on imported petroleum and natural gas, primarily for heating and transportation. Importing energy is a drag on the state’s prosperity and carbon emissions are sharply emerging as an economic liability.
In climate change, we face imminently what I believe to be the major test of our times. The need for real action is undeniably urgent and.further delay can only exacerbate the economic peril.
Yet Maine also has the potential from renewable resources of wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower to become a net exporter of carbon-neutral energy.
I sense broad interest among my colleagues and from the Governor-elect to respond to the urgency of this moment with significant action. Toward this end, I am sponsoring five bills which will strengthen the state’s plan for prosperity through conservation, efficiency and distributed generation of renewable energy. These bills will also fortify Maine’s commitment to the reduction of carbon emissions.
Scientific research, development, and commercialization
Maine lags all the other New England states in combined private and public investment in research and development as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product.
As a result, as the industries of the old economy have expired, young Mainers have left the state directly to pursue growing economic opportunities elsewhere. Yet we understand that Maine retains the family-friendly communities, schools, and qualities of life that others envy and which attract entrepreneurship and creativity.
In our established research and educational institutions, we already have extraordinary seeds for an economy founded in knowledge and innovation. We lack only the clear vision of a state plan and a stable commitment towards a different economic future.
With legislation, I intend to prompt a comprehensive plan objectively outlining how the state can efficiently support expanded research, development, and commercialization — specifically targeting the technologies of biomedical and life sciences, renewable energy, marine science, composite materials, information, and precision manufacturing.
To support that plan once it is established, I am offering a bond bill which would provide a public financial commitment to match up to $250 million over five years in private investment. It is an ambitious goal but also one which is supported by many economic studies and which would measurably improve the economic prospects of the state’s next generation.
Equitable access to broader pathways of meaningful learning
While I was gravely disappointed in the final days of the last session when the legislature backed off on the state’s 25-year commitment that all students must have the opportunity to achieve the state’s established learning standards, I am still committed to that greater vision of equity in learning opportunity.
To reach that promise, I believe it is essential that schools liberate students from the limitations of a single standardized curriculum and allow them opportunity to learn and meet those standards through multiple pathways beyond the conventional academic routines.
The challenges of an uncertain future require a formidably-equipped generation of innovative and collaborative critical thinkers who are resilient lifelong learners.
While the conventional routes of schooling have always led to success for some, for too many students at present we are simply not properly preparing them to think clearly and independently and to work effectively and collaboratively. We share no graver public responsibility and no greater collective failure.
In schools across the state, I am heartened to see growing numbers of teachers and school leaders heroically eager to meet this challenge. So I am confident that their examples will serve to lead us towards this necessary better future.
But, at the same time, I feel keenly the increasing disparity of opportunity across this state and fear the collective danger that inequality represents for us all.
I offer no better strategy than to cultivate and encourage the widespread good work that goes on in our schools and trust that, by example through such commitment, we can outrun the well-apparent advancing needs.
But it also seems increasingly clear that we are in this together and that our common well-being depends on the success and prosperity of all Mainers. No matter the measure of any one person’s individual success, none of us is sustainably secure when our neighbors are sinking from the absence of opportunity.
For this term, the Speaker has returned me to the Appropriations Committee where we will have the responsibility of many hard decisions about the overall ordering of real needs against finite resources. I am grateful for the Speaker’s continuing confidence in me in this role.
In this next session of heightened expectations, I also understand that on that committee we will inevitably be the source of much disappointment and grievance on all sides. Nonetheless, I am hopeful and optimistic that, together with this new governor, collectively this next legislature will work assiduously for the prosperity and well-being of this state and that the future will indeed be better for the effort.
Thank you for the privilege of letting me serve once more as your representative. Please let me continue to hear from you.
Representative Brian Hubbell,
Maine House District 135
Bar Harbor, Lamoine, Mount Desert