I learned this year in the 125th Legislature that getting a job there was easier than getting a jobs bill passed.

My lesson was learned, however, not when I didn’t get what I wanted, but at the expense of what the people wanted and why we were elected.

My bill, L.D. 521, “An Act To Employ the Unemployed,” was a jobs bill that would give a leg up to people who had been unemployed for at least six months. Specifically, the bill would give a business a tax break for six months if it hired a qualified person who had been unemployed and on Maine unemployment for at least six months. The person would have to be either a new employee or filled a job that had been vacant for at least three months.

As most people know, from many national articles to local news, the longer a person is unemployed, the more that person is considered unemployable.

In fact, advertisements in some newspapers actually read, “The unemployed need not apply.”

That’s why I submitted my bill.


The Taxation Committee, which heard L.D. 521, is the Legislature’s only Joint Standing Committee with no Democratic senator and only four Democratic representatives out of its 13 members.

During the public hearing on my bill, two small business owners and the Maine Restaurant Association testified in favor of it; no one testified against it.

At the work session, however, I began to see the bill unravel. It was voted down because the members said it discriminated against people who had jobs. I contacted the Attorney General’s Office, which determined that it was not discriminatory.

At this point I made an appointment with Gov. Paul LePage, who ran on the campaign promise that he would create jobs for the state of Maine. During the meeting with him and his economic adviser, LePage said he really liked the bill and suggested a change to it, one that would require the employer to keep the employee for a year to receive the tax break.

Then LePage said he would send a representative to tell the committee that he was in favor of L.D. 521. That must not have happened, however, since it was apparent that the bill still was in trouble at the committee level, even though I had made changes to it to appeal to most of the members.

Thanks to my determination and belief in the bill, and to its supporters, a Democratic representative on the committee brought up the bill to be reconsidered at another work session. It was tabled and scheduled for a third work session, during which it was voted down 8-5, with one Republican voting in favor of the bill.


The Senate chairman, who was against it from the beginning, said he thought it was a bad bill from a tax-use viewpoint.

The annual fiscal note on this bill was only $15,000, although it actually would not have needed a fiscal note if one considered that the person hired would no longer be entitled to unemployment benefits.

When the full House voted on L.D. 521, it passed 87-57. After the vote, however, the House chairman of the Taxation Committee told me he didn’t argue against it because the Senate committee chairman had told him they were going to kill it in the Senate anyway.

I knew then that L.D. 521 was dead.

I met with LePage a second time, and he was still very supportive and wanted this bill to pass.

I guess I will never know what really happened, but I do know I put in a lot of hard work and commitment for a jobs bill for Maine’s unemployed, a bill that I believe in strongly.

I got to see politics at its worst, and learned what happens when you don’t collaborate, compromise and work together.

Rep. Anna Blodgett, a Democrat, represents District 56 (Part of Augusta) in the Maine House of Representatives.

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