By State Rep. Ben Chipman
I hope you are having a great new year. The 2016 legislative session began January 6th, and this year we will be taking up over 200 bills. I will continue to provide effective leadership on the issues that are important to you and pass legislation that benefits the City of Portland. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas, please feel free to contact me anytime. I am here to serve you.
Addressing the Drug Crisis
The opiate/heroin epidemic has become a huge problem in our neighborhoods and across the state. Last year we had 14 overdoses in one 24-hour period here in Portland, and drug abuse is now responsible for about 75 percent of the crime in our city. Right now 5 people are dying every week in Maine from drug addiction, and many more are having their lives destroyed. This is a major crisis we cannot ignore.
We just took a significant step to address this issue. Last month I co-sponsored and helped pass a bill to make drug treatment and rehabilitation easier to access (LD 1537). This bill, which has now been signed into law, will provide $3.7 million to improve and expand drug treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery programs in Portland and around the state.
Drug addiction is a serious public health issue. We need to do everything we can to continue expanding access to treatment and rehabilitation. I am glad we passed LD 1537 and I hope it makes a real impact on an issue that is affecting so many people.
Rent and Property Tax Relief
This year we continued funding in the state budget for the rent and property tax refund program, known as the Property Tax Fairness Credit. Those who qualify can receive refunds up to $600 per year (up to $900 for those 65 and older). The refund amount is based on your income and how much you pay for rent or property taxes. If you would like a refund application, please contact me. I would be happy to mail or deliver one to you.
Ben Chipman has been representing part of Portland in the Maine House of Representatives since 2010. He can be contacted at (207) 318-4961 or Ben.Chipman@legislature.maine.gov.