July 25th, 2014 · Filed under: Issue 41
Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Back in 2005 the Federal Government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced that there would be closures of military bases across the country. Maine was targeted at three major facilities: Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center (DFAS) in Limestone.
The State’s Congressional Delegation swung into action along with Gov. John Baldacci, and the communities effected. Press conferences and meetings were held at each threatened facility, sometimes one a day at each location, and Congressman Mike Michaud was at the majority of them, from promoting the attributes of workers in Limestone to rallying shipyard employees in Portsmouth. He fought for the workers and their communities in Portsmouth and BNAS in Maine and D.C., even though those bases were not in his congressional district.
After ten years of reporting on the Congressman’s activities, I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to him that making sure the people of Maine are treated fairly and have good paying jobs with healthcare benefits.
Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Recently we talked about his economic development plans for Maine.
Q: What is your highest priority?
My biggest priority is building a Maine economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us. That starts with job creation, but it also means an intense focus on education, starting with early childhood, and continuing through college; it means a higher minimum wage and expanded access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, and 3,000 veterans; and it means empowering business to grow and expand.
Under Gov. LePage and his failed policies, Maine has lagged behind the rest of New England in private-sector job growth. His “open for business” policy is nothing but rhetoric. He’s actually driven hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector investment out of the state.
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Tags: Agriculture·Congressman Mike Michaud·Elections in Maine·Jobs·Maine·Maine's 2014 governor's race·Maine's quality of life
September 29th, 2014 · Filed under: Civil Rights
In a letter made public last week, Gov. Paul LePage urged members of Maine’s congressional delegation to support legislation that would make it significantly easier for private businesses to use eminent domain to seize property from unwilling landowners. LePage wrote to U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud urging them to support H.R. 1900, “The Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act.”
The bill makes it much easier for companies proposing to build new natural gas pipelines to sidestep important environmental safeguards and move more quickly to seize private property. This would be especially problematic for landowners in rural Maine. The process of “fracking: to obtain natural gas has been plagued with problems. Water lines have been compromised causing gas to pour through them making the contents flammable, and earthquakes in states not prone to them have happened.
Using the current system, FERC approves 90 percent of pipeline applications within 12 months. H.R. 1900 would disrupt the system by requiring FERC to approve or deny all natural gas pipeline applications, regardless of size or complexity, within one year, and require all relevant agencies to approve or deny related permits within 90 days. If FERC or another agency fails to issue their decisions within the allotted timeframes the application or permits would be automatically approved.The arbitrary deadlines set forth by H.R. 1900 would cause agencies to either rush permits – jeopardizing public health, safety, and the environment – or needlessly deny permits when time limits prevent full environmental reviews. More concerning still, if an application deadline is exceeded, a pipeline company would be automatically granted the power of eminent domain – the ability to take a private landowner’s property,” wrote Congressman Michaud in a letter to LePage.”
“Matters of public safety, Maine’s environment and private property rights are critically important issues that should be fully and carefully considered, not subject to unnecessary deadlines. It is for these reasons that I voted against H.R. 1900 and continue to oppose the legislation.”
The East-West Highway, a proposal by private investors to build a transportation corridor connecting Calais to Canada through western Maine, is an example of a private project that is likely to require eminent domain.
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Tags: Congressman Mike Michaud·Fracking
September 28th, 2014 · Filed under: Capitol news
The Clerk of the Maine House Hon. Millicent M. MacFarland of Augusta passed away on Saturday surrounded by friends and family after a long courageous battle with cancer. She was 58.
“I’m deeply saddened by the passing of the Hon. Millie MacFarland,” said House Speaker Mark Eves. “Millie’s service to the people of Maine and to the Maine House for the past 32 years, including a decade as Clerk of the House, has been marked by the highest standard of professionalism and integrity. Under Democratic and Republican administrations, she served faithfully. Her commitment was always to the people of Maine. In both my tenure as the Speaker and as a member of the Legislature, Millie served as an adviser, a trusted friend, and a teacher to me and to the thousands of legislators that came through the House Chamber under her watch. Her expertise and commitment to public service guided us all. As Clerk, she has been the unsung and quiet steady hand shepherding many of the laws that have shaped our state. We will all miss her at the rostrum, in the House Chamber, and the halls of our great Capitol building.”
MacFarland served the Maine House of Representatives in various capacities for over 30 years, including more than a decade as Clerk of the House, a position she held from 2012-2014 under Speaker Eves, and from December 2000 to December 2010 under prior Speakers.
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September 23rd, 2014 · Filed under: Economy
US. Capitol on the morning of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural of 2013. photo by Ramona du Houx
The U.S. Treasury announced major steps on September 22nd to reduce the number of American companies who are dodging taxes by moving their parent companies overseas.
“These transactions erode the U.S. tax base, unfairly placing a larger burden on all other taxpayers, including small businesses and hardworking Americans,” the U.S. Treasury wrote in a statement.
This type of business move — known as an inversion — has been highlighted by President Obama. Recently Burger King announced it was merging with the Canadian chain Tim Hortons, making them based in Canada. The deal would have “inverted” Burger King’s tax bill, saving them from paying their fair of taxes.
Treasury’s new steps will change these corporation practices announced two moves:
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Tags: Taxes in usa
September 22nd, 2014 · Filed under: Capitol news
Democratic candidates for the State Legislature rallied today for increased economic opportunity for all Mainers – not just those at the very top. The rally follows the release of new economic numbers that show Maine is lagging behind the nation in job growth and income-levels. According to the August report, Maine ranks 43rd among all states in job recovery, needing to recover 9,400 jobs to return to pre-recession levels. While Maine has only recovered 63 percent of jobs lost during the recession, the United States has recovered 110 percent and New England has recovered 111 percent. The Maine Center for Economic Policy’s analysis also finds that 40,000 Mainers are looking for full-time work and can’t find it.
“Mainers are experiencing our sluggish economic growth firsthand,” said Sen. Anne Haskell of Portland, the Senate assistant majority leader. “Mainers expect leaders who will put job creation ahead of ideology at a time when so many families are struggling. Our governor has left plenty of good jobs on the table, but he’s also had help. Republican legislators caved to Gov. LePage more times than not. They are accomplices in holding our economy back when Mainers need more opportunity–and work.”
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirms that incomes are also declining and more Mainers are working just as hard, but for less. In 2013, the median household income in Maine was $46,974. That’s $2,300 below what it was in 2009 when adjusted for inflation.
More than 40 state Senate and House candidates gathered to recount stories from voters in their district and share their vision for change in Augusta.
“What I’m hearing at the doors is that people expect results,” said Democratic candidate for state Senate, Rebecca Cornell du Houx, of Augusta. “We need to do everything we can to ensure that we have a strong economy and economic opportunity for all.”
Democratic candidates have knocked on tens of thousands of doors this campaign season and have heard that Maine’s economy and job growth are the top issues impacting Maine voters.
Sen. George Mitchell at a groundbreaking for an environmentally friendly village development. photo by Ramona du Houx
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the frontrunner in the race for governor, today announced the endorsement of one of Maine’s most senior statesmen, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.
“Maine’s next governor will face serious challenges,” said Sen. Mitchell. “I’m confident that Mike’s experience at both the state level – where he chaired the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and presided over an evenly divided Senate – and at the federal level as a ranking member in Congress, make him ideally suited to bring stability to the state budget, tackle the problems facing Maine businesses and restore a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Augusta.”
Sen. Mitchell served as U.S. Senator from Maine from 1980-1995 and as Senate majority leader from 1989-1995. He played a lead role in negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, serving as U.S. Special Envoy for Northern Ireland under President William Jefferson Clinton and as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under President Barack Obama. He began his political career serving as executive assistant to Maine Senator Edmond S. Muskie from 1962-1965.
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September 19th, 2014 · Filed under: Capitol news
Mike Michaud in Congress always stood up for the workers of Maine, despite administrations. Courtesy photo
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud set the record straight about recent Maine Republican Party attacks today and denounced the Maine Republican Party’s lies and dirty tactics.
“Nasty, ‘gotcha’ politics like this won’t get the economy moving. I could stand here and rattle off a list of offensive comments Gov. LePage has made, but Mainers deserve better than that,” Michaud said. “Our state cannot tolerate four more years of negativity, of baseless attacks and outright lies.”
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Tags: Congressman Mike Michaud
A humpback whale off the coast of Acadia National Park. photo by Ramona du Houx
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced today that two Maine organizations working to rescue stranded seals and whales would receive federal Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grants through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Though funding for the program has faced possible elimination in the President’s proposed budget in recent years, Pingree has worked tirelessly with other lawmakers to make these grants possible through the Congressional appropriations process.
“It’s important to protect the health of our marine mammal populations because they’re iconic species for our state and a critical part of the ecosystem. When whales and seals end up stranded on beaches or trapped in shallow water, we depend on having well-trained people who can respond quickly and appropriately,” said Pingree. “Two Maine organizations are doing fantastic work in coordinating responses for hundreds of animals a year. They’ve done a great job recruiting volunteers and raising private funds, but the federal government has an obligation to provide support. I’m so glad the organizations will receive these grants to help continue their very important work.”
Marine Mammal Rescue of Maine will receive a grant for $83,878 to support its work responding to marine mammal strandings from Kittery to Rockland. The organization has been under increased pressure since the closing of a marine mammal rehabilitation center at UNE last spring.
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Tags: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine·Maine's quality of life
The Obama administration, on September 18th, 2014, announced that it would dedicate nearly $70 million in funding toward bringing more solar power to homes and businesses, and improving energy efficiency in rural areas.
The $68 million in federal funds will go to 540 energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, 240 of which will be for solar power. Along with the funding, the White House also announced a slew of executive actions, private and public sector commitments, and initiatives from different federal agencies, including one from the Department of Energy to train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years.
The White House estimates that all of the new programs will cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons every year, the equivalent of taking about 12 million cars off the road annually. By 2030, the programs would result in carbon pollution cuts of approximately 300 million metric tons, the equivalent of 63 million cars.
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September 16th, 2014 · Filed under: Health Care
New census data released today shows thousands more Mainers are going without health care in the aftermath of Governor Paul LePage’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
According to federal Census Bureau data released today, the number of Mainers without any form of health care coverage grew by 12,000 in 2013 and the state uninsured rate rose from 10.2 percent in 2012 to 11 percent in 2013. Nationally, the rate of uninsured fell by .2 percent. Maine and New Jersey were the only states to experience an increase in the percentage of their people who do not have health insurance.
Speaker of the House Mark Eves, who led the effort to expand lifesaving health care to 70,000 thousands Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans, said the data show Maine is going in the wrong direction.
“Maine is falling behind because our Governor and his allies put ideology over the health of our people and the strength of our economy,” said Eves. “We had a chance to provide lifesaving health care to nearly 70,000 Maine people, and instead thousands lost coverage. We had a chance to grow thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars into our economy and into our hospitals, and instead now we are lagging behind the nation in job growth and health.”
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Michaud at Hinkley Boats. The company has worked in partnership with the UMaine composite laboratory to improve their boats.
Maine is receiving more than $1.2 million from the Northern Border Regional Commission – which was created by legislation U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud authored several years ago with the aim of rejuvenating some of the most economically distressed areas in New England.
“When I authored the legislation creating the Northern Border Regional Commission, I did so with the hope that it would create good jobs for Mainers and help jumpstart the parts of our state where business development is needed most,” said Michaud. “Today’s latest round of grants to Maine communities and organizations is more proof of how the NBRC is working just as we had hoped – it’s protecting and even creating jobs, and it’s giving many of our communities the tools and infrastructure they need to flourish.”
Today’s grantees in Maine are:
· $250,000 to Indian Township Passamaquoddy Reservation, to build a maple processing facility in Jackson;
· $250,000 to the town of Hartland to line a solid waste landfill facility (NBRC estimates this will save 142 jobs);
· $226,000 to the town of Ashland, to upgrade a section of highway that is central to the town forest-products intermodal facility;
· $230,000 to the Maine Woods Products Association, to start a training and credentialing program for industry employees; and
· $250,000 to the city of Ellsworth, to develop a station to expand the availability of high-speed internet along the city’s main thoroughfare (NBRC predicts this will support up to 100 new jobs).
“These are great investments for our state – they’ll create jobs, strengthen infrastructure and make our state a better place to do business,” added Michaud. “I’m pleased the NBRC has been such a success, and I look forward to future investments in our state.”