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AUGUSTA – The two new Republican legislators from Falmouth and Cumberland will be engaged in some of the most critical issues facing the state – the governor's school consolidation plan and the crisis in health insurance – when committee work begins in earnest later this month. Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess (R-Cumberland) has been named to the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, and Rep. David Savage (R-Falmouth) has been appointed to the Insurance and Financial Services Committee.

All House Republican committee assignments were made by Rep. Joshua Tardy, of Newport, the new leader of the House GOP caucus, and Rep. Robert Crosthwaite, of Ellsworth, the new assistant leader.

The joint standing committees are central to the legislative process. Any bill submitted – 2,436 so far – is referred to whichever of the 17 committees has jurisdiction over the subject matter. The committees hold public hearings on legislation, conduct work sessions on each bill assigned, negotiate amendments and vote on the legislation before it proceeds to the House and Senate. Each joint committee has 13 members – three senators and 10 representatives.

Rep. Strang Burgess represents District 108, which includes Cumberland, Long Island and part of North Yarmouth. The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, school finance, school budgets, the University of Maine System and the community college system. The committee will also likely be tasked with oversight of Governor Baldacci's school consolidation initiative.

"I'm very much looking forward to serving on the Education Committee," she said. “As a mother of three children and a graduate of the University of Maine, I know how important the educational system is to our state. The education level of Maine residents directly affects our state economy, and K-12 school budgets have a direct impact on property taxes."

Rep. David Savage represents District 112, which is comprised of part of Falmouth. A retired insurance executive, he has been appointed to the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. That panel has jurisdiction over banking, credit unions, Maine Mutual Insurance Company, workers' compensation insurance, the Bureau of Insurance, health care reform and the Dirigo Health Agency.

"My background is in the field of insurance, and fortunately I’ll be able to use that expertise and experience in Augusta," said Rep. Savage. "This committee deals with health insurance issues, and one of my top priorities is reforming that system so working families can once again afford coverage. We have the second highest insurance costs in the country now. We need to increase competition and bring premiums down to the level they are in other states."

Rep. Strang Burgess is a second-term legislator representing House District 108, which includes Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Long Island and part of North Yarmouth.


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