On Tuesday, Senate President Kevin Raye's last full day in office, he welcomed new and returning members of the 126th Legislature with an address emphasizing the value of bipartisanship in the legislative process. Below is that address:
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I assure you, from past experience, that you will get far more done working cooperatively with each other than you will drawing lines in the sand and insisting on getting everything you want. That is the lesson I learned in the minority and that was my approach as the presiding officer of the Maine Senate.
Tomorrow, coincidentally the day I leave office, I will be flying to Aspen, Colorado, where I am a participant in the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership Program. Each year, 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans from across the country are invited to participate in a 24-month program with a goal of reshaping the American political dynamic through a commitment to civil dialogue to produce a more bipartisan approach to governing.
So, in that spirit, I will conclude by urging each of you to seek out someone from the other party, get to know them and learn what they hope for this great state of ours. And do your part to ensure that the 126th Legislature is conducted in a bipartisan manner.
During my two years in the president’s office, a picture of my mentor U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe hung prominently on the wall. Her fierce commitment to bipartisan problem-solving had its roots during her three terms here in the Maine House of Representatives and Senate during the 1970s. Her mantra has been that "You can never solve a problem without talking to people with whom you disagree.”
That approach has been alive and well here in the Maine Legislature (noting that the 125th Legislature passed the biennial budget and four of five supplemental budgets with unanimous votes of the Appropriations Committee and two-thirds votes of the full Legislature).
And I will always believe that was, in no small part, made possible because, for the past two years, Speaker Bob Nutting, House Democratic Leader Emily Cain, Senate Democratic Leader Barry Hobbins and I had dinner together every Thursday night, where we got to know each other and develop the friendship, trust and working relationships that helped us work together effectively for the people of Maine.
I hope those dinners will become a tradition that the incoming leaders will carry on – and I would encourage each of you to seek out members of the other party and do the same thing.
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In his final responsibility as Senate President, Raye (R-Perry) will preside over the banquet celebrating the swearing in of the new Legislature and honoring outgoing members of the Legislative Council at the Augusta Civic Center Tuesday night.