Yesterday, Maine people (and the nation at large) answered our call to #EgretOutTheVote — in what appear to be record numbers. The majority of votes have been tallied, and we know one thing for certain: The 2018 midterm elections results bode well for Maine’s wildlife and habitat.
If you didn’t stay up into the wee hours of the morning, here are the highlights from the Maine election and their wildlife implications:
- Janet Mills wins the governor’s race. Attorney General Mills campaigned on making clean energy a priority. Bold investments in renewable energy are necessary to stem the tide of climate change, the greatest threat to Maine’s wildlife and habitat.
- Democrats flip the Senate and expand their margin in the House. Party alignment in the Blaine House, the Senate, and the House increases the likelihood — but surely does not guarantee — progress on new policy that supports Maine wildlife and habitat, such as land conservation funding, habitat stewardship, and smart growth. Additionally, bills passed out of the new legislature,will have a stronger likelihood of being signed by the Governor elect — a stark contrast from the LePage administration.
- Question 2 passes. This authorizes a $30 million bond to fund wastewater infrastructure and water quality grant programs. Maine has an estimated $1 billion backlog of improvements, meaning this bond will go a long way toward keeping essential lake, river, stream, and coastal habitats clean.
- Question 3 passes. The “Transportation Bond” includes $5 million for competitive grants to upgrade municipal culverts at stream crossings, a major boost for Maine Audubon’s Stream Smart campaign to protect wild brook trout, Atlantic salmon, and other wildlife that often get “stuck” at decaying, undersized stream culverts.
In the short months ahead of the first session of the 129th Legislature and Janet Mills’ inauguration, Maine Audubon will be working closely with our conservation allies on plans to make the most of these dramatic changes in Augusta. As always, we’ll need your help. How?
- Get to know your local representatives. There will be a lot of new faces in Augusta in January. One of the great things about Maine is that our state Senators and Representatives are uniquely accessible. Find out who your representatives are, invite them for coffee or a walk outside, and tell them why you value policy that protects wildlife and habitat.
- Stay in touch with Maine Audubon. Sign up for our action alerts to stay abreast of happenings in Augusta, including when to contact your representatives to encourage them to vote in support of wildlife.
Here’s to making important progress on behalf of Maine’s wildlife and habitat in the years ahead! Stay tuned for more information about the wildlife and environmental implications of this election on the federal level, next week.