This year the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee has a lot of new members, although some of them are not new to the legislature. Seven of this committee’s members from the last session will not be back.
Interestingly, six were re-elected but moved on to other committees or leadership positions. Representative Ellie Espling (R-New Gloucester), a hard-working, smart, and very capable legislator, was recognized for her leadership capabilities and chosen to be the Assistant Republican Leader in the House, where she is sure to continue her interest in outdoor and landowner issues. Representative Espling is sponsoring my proposed landowner relations bill that would significantly expand DIF&W’s landowner relations program.
Senator Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis) is the IF&W Committee’s new Senate chair. Davis served on the committee as a member of the House last session. Senator David Dutremble (D-York), who was the committee’s Senate chair last session, returns as the Democrat’s only Senator on the committee. Senator Scott Cyrway (R-Kennebec), a new legislator, will be the committee’s third Senator.
Representative Mike Shaw (D-Standish) returns as House Chair, while returning Rep. Dale Crafts (R-Lisbon) will be the committee’s lead Republican. Returning to the committee where they served last session are Rep. Stanley Short, Jr. (D-Pittsfield) and Stephen Wood (R-Sabattus).
New to the committee, but not the legislature, is Rep. Roger Reed (R-Carmel), and Representative Roland Danny Martin. Martin once served in the Senate and was DIF&W Commissioner for the 8 years of Governor John Baldacci’s administration.
New to the legislature are committee members Reps. Robert Alley (D-Beals), Patrick Corey (R-Windham), Gary Hilliard (R-Belgrade), and Peter Lyford (R-Eddington). For the first time in my memory, the Passamaquoddy Tribe will have a representative on the IF&W Committee, Matthew Dana II.
This IF&W Committee is one of only three legislative committees with a Republican majority, although to be successful, legislation will need bipartisan support, given that the Senate is controlled by Republicans and the House by Democrats.