Sometimes, the work of an elected official is eye-catching. News reporters and activists will latch onto it, pushing the issue onto the front page of the newspaper or the top of the 6 o’clock news.
Other work we do is less glamorous but, nevertheless, important. As members of the Legislature, we research, consider and vote on issues that have a real impact on our constituents’ lives - even when they don’t earn much media coverage.
I want to let you know about a couple of bills I’m working on that will protect and honor our seniors; those Mainers who have worked hard their entire lives and contributed to our society in countless ways.
First, I’ve introduced a bill to protect seniors from age discrimination in the auto insurance industry. The legislation has earned bipartisan support and a ringing endorsement from the Legislature's Insurance and Financial Services Committee.
This consumer-protection measure was prompted last summer when Progressive Insurance Company asked the state to allow it to charge seniors more for car insurance simply because they were older than other customers. While this proposal was offensive on its face, it was also based on a myth: Data shows that seniors are no more dangerous than any other age group of drivers. In fact, they are often less risky than younger motorists.
The proposal drew swift condemnation and Progressive ultimately pulled its request. Still, I felt we needed to pass a law to ensure that no other insurance company would seek to enact such a discriminatory scheme. The bill will be heard by the full Legislature soon, and I expect it to pass easily.
The second bill would exempt veterans with permanent and 100 percent service-related disabilities from paying property taxes, starting on April 1, 2018. Obviously, not all veterans are seniors. But just as is true with every demographic in our aging state, seniors make up the majority of Maine’s veterans.
Every veteran signs up to give their lives, if necessary, in defense of our country. Some of those servicemen and women will return to civilian life with disabilities earned during their service -disabilities both seen and unseen, that may affect their ability to enter the workforce.
The property tax is in many ways, the most unforgiving tax. Unlike the income tax, which rises and falls along with earnings, or the sales tax, which is levied depending on consumption, the property tax can increase dramatically, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. In the worst-case scenarios, it can rise so much and so quickly that it jeopardizes a Mainer’s ability to stay in their home.
No veteran should live in fear of being kicked out of their home because of property taxes. I believe that exempting disabled veterans, who may have difficulty earning a living, from the property tax is the very least we can do to ensure their stability at home.
These are just two small things we can do to protect and help our seniors. I’ll continue supporting policies that make life a little easier for our elders. They deserve nothing less.
I'll keep you informed as my bill moves through the legislative process. And as always, I'm ready and willing to listen to my constituents. Please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 287-1515, if you have questions or comments.
ometimes, the work of an elected official is eye-catching. News reporters and activists will latch onto it, pushing the issue onto the front page of the newspaper or the top of the 6 o’clock news.