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Rep. John Martin shares goals for coming session

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 12:04 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WAGM) -

We begin a series this week, checking in with our state representatives, taking a look at their priorities for this current session, including the bills they’re sponsoring. In today’s segment, Kathy McCarty speaks with Representative John Martin, of District 151. Martin also serves on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, as well as the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

You’ve got some interesting bills coming up that I noticed. You’ve got something for Route 161. Maybe you could tell me a little bit about that.

“Well we’ve - if you’re talking about the Route 161 bill?” asks Representative John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, District 151.

Yes.

Rep. Martin says, “Yeah, basically that was a request of Commissioner from people who live on 161, from Fort Kent towards Caribou concerned about the contents - the road. So I put in the bill at their request. And ironically I don’t know if it was because of that, but the Commissioner’s recommending a good portion of that road in the new budget, which takes effect in July. And so I think we put a little fire into the department, and so we will be getting that work being - will be under construction.”

And why is that road such an important section for The County?

“Well, we only have a couple ways out of Fort Kent. I mean, you either gotta - unless you want to go all the way around into Van Buren and come across through Route 1, but the other way is obviously 161, and then the other one is Route 11 from Fort Kent down to Eagle Lake into Patten. So it’s for commerce and for recreation and for whatever else, it becomes important. And if you’ve been on that highway this time of the year, the snowmobilers are coming through like heck. And basically it needs to be kept up,” says Rep. Martin.

Okay. And there was also - she had sent me LR 1393, the Municipal Gigabit.

“The multiple broadband bill?” asks Rep. Martin.

Yes.

“Yeah. Basically the intent of that - of course we have a bond bill that was adopted and voters have voted for it in the fall. This is a broadband access fund bill. And it basically would - and if a municipality or an area wants to put in a broadband, they could apply by raising some funds and then getting the state to match with it and put it in quicker than - do a certain part of the town or perhaps the entire town. And so that’s gonna be of interest to some. But we haven’t worked out the details of that legislation yet, but we will before the year’s over,” says Rep. Martin.

And The Valley - have you noticed there’s a - more of an issue with broadband issues up your way?

“Well, it depends where. I mean, you know, I think in some parts, you know, you basically have - you have very little access. I mean, unless you have - the telephone company has that line in, that’s really all there is. And the only other way to get it is through broadband through the air, and, of course, there is a company that provides that availability in Maine,” says Rep. Martin.

How many bills do you currently have that you’re ...

Rep. Martin says, “I really - no idea. I’ve never counted them, but I probably have about, once they’re all done, probably 15 or 20. And then I’m co-signing a number of bills with Senator Jackson, for example, on issues involving Aroostook County. And so there are other bills in which I will be participating as well. But that’s very usually the case for legislators helping legislators to co-sign on their bill, if there’s an interest. And so basically that’s what transpires. But we’re just starting the process, to be honest. Some of the bills are not yet out of the printer’s office yet, and so it’s difficult to really be sure. But I think that there - probably in the next three weeks probably you’ll see two-thirds of the legislation will be coming out. And then legislators will be signing them and co-sponsoring them as well, and we’ll move into the process. Obviously the first legislative session has yet to be held. A lot of work sessions have been held. And, for example, we have - Appropriations - we’ve met almost every single day. And then as I said, I’m also Inland Fish and Wildlife, and we’re meeting once or twice a week. That tends to be a shorter type of - different kind of schedule that Appropriations, but, you know, it may last for an hour or two, so I can skip away from Appropriations and get over there and come back.”

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