Working for Washington County

 

By Rep. Bruce Poliquin (ME-02)

 

 I am honored to serve on behalf of all Washington County families, Veterans, seniors and small business job creators.  Since joining Congress 22 months ago, I am proud to have worked hard with my colleagues, regardless of party affiliation, to promote policies that will preserve and create jobs, lower energy costs, protect our environment, secure our seniors’ benefits, and support our Veterans across Maine. 

I believe that in order to get things done in a broken Washington, D.C., Congress needs to work together and across party lines. That bipartisan spirit is part of our Maine tradition, and it is exactly how I’ve approached working on behalf of the people of Maine.

 One of the major initiatives that I’ve been working on in Congress is fighting to protect the more than 400 jobs at Woodland Pulp and St. Croix Tissue in Baileyville. Together, this company is the largest employer in Washington County.  These are good jobs and I’m doing everything I can to protect them. 

Recently, the federal government has pushed the mill to adhere to new, expensive and unnecessary regulations that would put enormous financial burdens on the 400 job employer.  It is absolutely unfair for one of the major economic engines in the region to face this kind of unnecessary pressure from Washington federal regulators. 

For more than a year, I’ve been actively talking with and hearing directly from folks of all different political parties and backgrounds across Washington County and our State to understand this issue.  I’ve consulted with the mill managers, mill workers, union leaders, local community officials, Maine state regulators, the entire Washington County delegation to Augusta—Democrats and Republicans—and several others on this issue.  It’s clear that the federal government is overstepping its limits. 

That’s why I am proud to have introduced a bill this year to help resolve the issue and support the mill’s hundreds of jobs. My bill would stop Woodland Pulp mill from being forced to adhere to these excessive and onerous federal regulations, while keeping in place appropriate environmental oversight at the local and state levels.

 I was honored to recently stop by Woodland Pulp and St. Croix Tissue at the end of August to tour the company’s two new tissue machines that were added as part of a $150 million expansion.  This tremendous investment brought with it the creation of 80 new jobs. It’s critical that Woodland Pulp and St. Croix continue to have stable growth, so they can continue to be a vital employer to Washington County and to Maine’s larger forest economy. 

 You can count on me to always stand up for our mill jobs and to push like heck to protect and grow all jobs in Maine—no matter what.

 To that end, you should also know that I am firmly opposed to unfair and secretive international trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.  We’re Mainers—we can work, compete and win against anyone in the world, but the rules must be fair.  We need trade that works for us and is fair to our workers.  I don’t believe that the TPP gives Maine workers, like those at Woodland Pulp, a fair shot—and so I will not support it. To me, this is not a partisan issue.  This is common sense.

 I am also proud to have fought last year to make sure that Calais Regional Hospital could remain open without a break in service when the hospital was unfairly facing a large repayment after a mistake in federal funding allocations. Last year, my office was made aware of an accidental overpayment made to Calais Regional that the federal government was requiring the hospital to pay back in full all at once.  This enormous one-time payment could have placed a great deal of pressure on the hospital. After my office worked with the federal government, we arranged for a gradual payment that would ensure the hospital could remain open and serving the families of Washington County uninterrupted.

 I don’t work for any one party or any special interest group from Washington, D.C.  I work for the people of Maine.  I am proud of having a proven record of working across party lines and with anyone and everyone to help Mainers.  I am wholly focused on creating jobs, protecting our seniors’ benefits like Social Security and Medicare, opposing unfair trade deals, balancing our budget and supporting our Veterans.  In Congress, I’ll always stand up for what’s right for Maine.