MMA’s Legislative Policy Process
(from Maine Townsman, May 2000)
by Christopher G. Lockwood, Executive Director, MMA

This issue of the Townsman features a wrap-up of the recently concluded legislative session, together with a recap of the two year legislative platform adopted by MMA’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) at the beginning of the 119th Legislature in 1999. Through the collective efforts of our LPC, MMA legislative staff, and municipal officials throughout the state, we were successful in addressing most of the major components of our legislative platform.

From time to time we receive questions about how MMA determines its positions on legislative issues. This is the responsibility of the 70 member MMA Legislative Policy Committee - two municipal officials elected from each of the 35 state senate districts. The LPC establishes MMA’s legislative platform, identifies priorities and offers guidance on legislative strategy, as well as taking positions on individual legislative proposals.

At first blush, the thought of a 70-member committee might sound cumbersome and unwieldy - particularly in trying to establish policy with respect to the array of legislative issues and proposals affecting municipal government. Our experience has been quite the opposite. The MMA Legislative Policy Committee structure was established in the early 1970’s by the MMA Executive Committee to provide a broad-based, highly representative process to establish legislative positions. The Legislative Policy Committee has been woven into the fabric of MMA as an organization. In many ways, the LPC is reflective of Maine’s town meeting heritage - with each and every member of the Legislative Policy Committee - representatives of larger cities and small towns, from all corners and regions of the state - afforded an opportunity to participate in the important process of determining municipal priorities and legislative positions.

Although this process is very broad based and representative, we recognize that individual municipalities and municipal officials might not agree with a position adopted by the LPC on a particular issue; however, the Legislative Policy Committee process offers a high degree of assurance that MMA’s positions reflect collective municipal interests on most issues. When the LPC adopts a position, it is the MMA staff’s responsibility to ensure that the LPC position is communicated and represented as effectively as possible.

As the TOWNSMAN goes to press, we are in the initial stage of the election process for the Legislative Policy Committee which will serve for the next two years (in preparation for the election of the 120th Legislature in November). In late April, MMA sent a nomination form to the municipal officers in each MMA member municipality. We encourage interested municipal officials to have your name submitted for nomination to the LPC. Ballots will be sent in late May to the municipal officers in each municipality to vote for representatives for their respective state senate district.

If you have any questions or would like any additional information regarding the Legislative Policy Committee, please contact Geoff Herman, Tina Means or me (1 800 452 8786; 623 8428).