State Representative Dan Sayre talked about what it means to represent Kennebunk in the state legislature. 
Dan gave an overview of his experience as a first year legislator. The legislature works on "legislative time" and sessions sometimes run past the official end date in June (which is not unusual.) The words he uses to guide his decisions:
  • Conscience
  • Constituents 
  • Colleagues 
2000 bill initiatives considered in this session. Every bill gets considered, even if briefly - this is part of why the session runs long. The Maine legislature really strives to be inclusive on representation.
Reaching out to your individual legislator is very important. It helps the legislator get a sense of what the constituents want. Legislators have very little staff support. Legislators depend heavily on committee work; there are 17 committees. Dan is on the IDEA (Innovation, Development, Economic Activity) committee.
Other guiding factors are: 
  • People
  • Policy
  • Process 
  • Politics
Dan covered the process for legislation, which starts with a legislative request.  Some bills start as "concept drafts", which are placeholders to allow further development of a legislative idea, but does take up legislative time. An example was the Paid Family Medical Leave Act, which took 10 years to develop before passage this year. Interpersonal interaction with legislative colleagues is a critical part of the decision making process - it's rarely a situation of being purely pro or con on a topic. Experience with process is critical, and term limits means few legislators have experience.
Politics: The exercise of power does play an a role, particularly at the end of the session, but it happens after the consensus process has happened.