Entries Filed in 'Community Maine'
Labor leaders gathered in Augusta on Thursday March 6th to affirm their solidarity with Senator Troy Jackson in his bid for the 2nd Congressional District. Various labor leaders spoke on behalf of Troy, noting that he has consistently stood up for middle class working families throughout his career.
“Troy has always fought for working families. He understands how important it is making sure budgets aren’t cut on the backs of those that can afford it the least,” said Diane Winton from IBEW local 2327.
Jackson stood with lumber workers when their jobs were at risk because of some Canadian logging practices. He was a major player in helping Governor John Baldacci and the Congressional Delegation work out an understanding with these companies, five years ago. His connection with protecting working logging families goes back even further.
Joe Piccone of Teamsters local 340 explained, “Troy Jackson got his start in politics in 1998 during the border shut down to protest unfair wage disparities between American and Canadian loggers. I know that Troy will never vote for trade deals in Washington that but the American worker second to that of Corporate interests.”
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Tags: Elections·Troy Jackson·Unions in Maine
In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree urged the government to block a proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner. U.S. Rep.Pingree warned the proposed merger would lead to less competition and could result in higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.
“In the end, a merger between Comcast and Time Warner will lead to higher rates, less competition and a loss of innovation and choice in programming. In short, it will be bad for the American consumer and this merger should not be allowed to go through,” Pingree wrote in her letter.
Together, the two companies would serve more than a third of the US cable market and half of all “bundled” customers, who get internet, TV and telephone service all from one cable company. Pingree raised concerns about prices, service and the effects on a free and open Internet.
“Access to broadband should not be jeopardized by further market concentration in an entity that not only has a last-mile monopoly in large swaths of the country, but also control over must-have broadcast content,” she wrote in the letter.
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Tags: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine·Corporation mergers·Economy·TIme-Comcast merger
In a party line vote, the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday advanced a measure to cancel the controversial $1 million contract with the Alexander Group following a public hearing on the proposal.
The Alexander Group’s no-bid contract to study Medicaid expansion contained serious flaws, including a $575 million math error and was delivered a month late. The group produced a similar report for Pennsylvania which proved to be riddled with false information. The Alexander Group is expected to produce additional reports but none have been released or made public despite continued payments to the firm.
“No expense approaching a million dollars can be allowed to continue under these glaring missteps. These are funds that are way too precious to be spent on an agency that fails to perform,” said Rep. Richard Farnsworth of Portland, the House Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “If the Governor is unwilling to cancel the contract, it is our responsibility to maintain the integrity and credibility of our financial management with citizens of the State of Maine as they are footing the bill for the cost of this initiative.”
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Tags: Government transparency·Health and Human Services·Misappropriation of government funds
Maine’s capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx
In a letter to the state’s top budget officer, Democratic leaders urged the administration to make public a list of shovel-ready projects and jobs that will lose out as result of Governor Paul LePage reneging on statewide jobs bond contracts.
Millions of bond funds voted for by the people of Maine are still waiting to be released. Only $30 million in bonds have been authorized by LePage over the past four years. Maine’s credit rating is high and interest rates low making it the idea time to jump start the economy with already approved bonds.
The letter comes in response to a press conference held by LePage where he doubled down on his threat to hold jobs hostage by reneging on bond investments he gave the go-ahead to last July. He said, “I cannot stand by and watch as Democrats destroy our state’s credit rating and cash reserves.”
“The people of Maine expect a governor who is going to lead–not jump from crisis to crisis. And unfortunately, this time, there are real consequences to the governor’s volatility,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “Reneging on jobs and projects that are shovel-ready hurts Maine businesses, workers and our economy.”
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The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee advanced a measure to accept the federal government’s offer to expand health coverage to 70,000 Mainers including nearly 3,000 veterans, today.
Governor LePage had vetoed the Affodable Care Act funds for Maine last year even though it would cost the state $0 for three years. And only less than 10 percent after that. LePage’s action put the lives and livelihoods of 70,000 people at risk. Now lawmakers are trying to compromise to make sure they have a 2/3 rds majority vote to override LePage.
A proposal by Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz would accept the federal funds with a sunset provision after three years, while also putting in place a managed care plan to reduce program costs. It would also reduce the waitlist for homecare services for Mainers with intellectual disabilities, addressing a key talking point for Republican opponents.
“We’ve come so far with a compromise bill that will provide health care to tens of thousands of Maine people,” said Rep. Dick Farnsworth, the House Chair of the Committee. “Despite political pressure from the Governor and his allies, we have a Republican-sponsored health care bill that will save lives, save state dollars, and boost jobs at a time when Maine has the worst job growth in the country. ”
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Tags: Need the ACA in Maine
On March 3rd, Portland’s celebration of Read Across America Day will become the first community in Northern New England to join the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The Campaign is a nationwide network of more than 140 communities working to improve reading proficiency for all children by the end of third grade, a crucial benchmark for future academic success. As a network member,Portland will receive access to experts and policymakers, strategic and technical assistance, and opportunities to share and learn from similar communities.
“Portland is now at the vanguard in working to ensure that all of our children reach this critical threshold,” said Portland Mayor Michael F. Brennan.
Portland’s public elementary schools are celebrating Read Across America Day, which coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, by inviting guest readers to visit classes and planning other special activities. Portland’s police chief, fire chief, several television reporters and anchors and other local celebrities will read at Hall Elementary School.
“We know how important it is for all of our children to read at grade level by third grade,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “That is why our district made it a priority goal to increase by 20 percent the number of students reaching that goal by 2017.”
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Congressman Mike Michaud signed a discharge petition to force the House to bring up and vote on legislation to raise the federal minimum wage. Michaud is a cosponsor of the bill, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 within two years. A discharge petition allows a majority of members to bypass the Speaker of the House and bring a bill to the floor for consideration.
“No one who works every day to pay the bills, take care of their family, and put food on the table should have to live in poverty. It’s time to raise the minimum wage so that hard-working Mainers can receive a living wage,” said Michaud. “It has been nearly seven years since a Republican President signed a minimum wage increase into law. It’s time for Congress to act to ensure that all American workers receive a fair and honest wage.”
The Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the minimum wage to $8.20 an hour within three months of enactment. The wage would increase to $9.15 an hour within a year, and to $10.10 an hour within two years. A recent study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would generate $22 billion in increased economic activity.
Tags: Minimum wage increase
Senate Republican Leader Senator Roger Katz has a new proposal to accept the Affordable Care Act federal funds that would provide healthcare coverage to 70,000 Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans.
“We are forgoing almost a million dollars a day by not participating in the Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Katz.
Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash sponsored two separate measures to accept federal funds. The likelihood of a merger of these proposals into one bill would move the joint work to give people the healthcare they need forward.
“We view the proposal as a step forward after months of debate over how to ensure more families can have access to a family doctor,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “Our priority has always been securing life-saving health care for 70,000 Maine people. While we have been skeptical of managed care programs in the past, we look forward to hearing the details of the Republican proposal. We will want to make sure that the emphasis is on quality treatment; not simply denying care.”
In addition to accepting the federal funds, Sen. Katz’s proposal would:
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Tags: healthcare rights·Mark Eves·The need for the ACA in Maine
On Sunday, March 2, 2014, Democrats across Maine will kick off the 2014 campaign season at the Democratic Party caucus.
“Statewide, the party will be drawing thousands of activists to caucus and build our grassroots campaign for 2014,” said Ben Grant, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. “Maine Democrats are energized and ready to elect Democratic leaders who stand up for working class Mainers. We have one of the strongest tickets in our party’s history with Mike Michaud, Chellie Pingree and Shenna Bellows on the ballot. Mainers have had enough of the current leadership and are ready to turn the page.”
At the caucuses attendees select delegates to the Democratic State Convention, elect Municipal Officers and County Committee members, and discuss national and local policy issues impacting Maine. Democratic candidates, elected officials and representatives from Democratic campaigns will attend. Attendees are asked to bring their viewpoints, ideas and questions for discussion.
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Tags: Maine elections 2014
Maine’s Department of Marine Resources announced today the immediate closure of the Fort Point-area lobster fishery due to high levels of toxic mercury contamination found in surrounding parts of the Penobscot River and its local marine life. This proactive measure ensures the broader Maine lobster fishery remains strong and consumers can feel confident that Maine lobster is safe for consumption.
“Closing this small portion of the fishery was a smart and responsible move by the State,” said Maine People’s Alliance executive director Jesse Graham. “We need to protect local residents from harmful contamination and also ensure the ongoing health and vitality of Maine’s iconic lobster industry.”
According to a court-appointed scientific panel, the source of the mercury contamination in the river is the HoltraChem chemical processing plant, which dumped tons of mercury into the Penobscot, mostly in the late 1960s.
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Tags: Lobster fishing in Maine