Entries Filed in 'Creative Economy'
With strong bipartisan support, the Maine Legislature today enacted a bill to create an industry-run collection and recycling program for leftover household paint.
“This bill will move Maine’s recycling efforts forward,” said Rep. Joan Welsh, who is the House Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “It was exciting to have the paint manufacturers come to us with this solution based on a model that is working in other states.”
If allowed to become law by Governor Paul LePage, the bill (LD 1308) would save money for towns and taxpayers through a product stewardship program that would provide convenient used paint collection sites at participating paint retail stores and transfer stations across Maine. The bill received a 28-7 vote in the Senate, and a 92-44 vote in the House. Governor LePage has 10 days to sign the bill, allow the bill to become law without his signature, or veto the bill.
“Creating this program to recycle leftover paint will be good for Maine people, municipalities, and our environment. It will build on Maine’s other successful product stewardship programs, which are helping keep toxic materials out of landfills and incinerators,” said Abby King, Toxics Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We are pleased to have worked closely with representatives of the paint industry and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to shape this legislation that will provide a solution for the unwanted used paint piling up in basements and closets across the state.”
The bill would save money for Maine towns by avoiding the high costs of processing used paint that currently is collected, sporadically across the state, through household hazardous waste events. Industry data on Maine paint sales suggest the program could result in the collection and environmentally-responsible recycling and reuse of more than 300,000 gallons of paint annually in Maine. Maine would be the seventh state to enact this program, following Oregon, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Vermont.
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ReEnergy Holdings announced that it’s the first company solely focused on producing electricity from biomass to be certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Company CEO Larry Richardson, who owns four of Maine’s biomass-to-energy facilities won the distinction by using sustainably-harvested biomass.
“That is a critical part of our industry, as we are a integral part of the renewable energy industry here in the U.S.,” said Richardson. “We can provide clean, sustainable and baseload energy for the grid, for customers – commercial and residential customers.”
The SFI standard, which the Baldacci Administration promoted with policies and initiatives, is based on certain requirements that are intended to promote sustainable forest management and stewardship. The standard requires that producers support training for loggers and forestery, workers and encourage suppliers to reforest harvested sites, protect threatened and endangered species, and help protect water quality, amongst other criteria. Two years ago Japanese loggers came to Maine to see the SFI working so they could take the best practices home to implement.
“ReEnergy is leading the industry in using sustainably harvested biomass. I commend the company for this significant advancement of clean energy,” said David Littell, a commissioner for the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Littell previously was the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection during the Baladacci administration.
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it has awarded Maine a Balancing Incentives Program grant projected to total approximately $21 million over the next two years. According to CMS, the grant is designed to help seniors and people with disabilities live in their communities, helping to ensure that Maine residents can choose to receive care at home rather than in a nursing home or other facility.
“This critical investment is another example of how the Affordable Care Act is working to expand health care options in Maine,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “This program will help expand opportunities for Mainers to receive care in home and community-based settings.”
The Balancing Incentives Program, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, rewards states that work to increase access to non-institutionally based long-term care services and support. States are awarded funding through an increase in the amount of federal matching funds for investments made to provide new or expanded offerings of non-institutionally based long-term care services and support under the state Medicaid program.
This year’s largest annual gathering of historic schooners in America, the 37th Annual Great Schooner Race, is scheduled for Independence Day weekend.
“The appeal of the Race is getting the boats all together and recreating a scene that people might have seen a hundred years ago. There’s no other place I know of where guests can take part in such an exciting sailing event,” said Captain Brenda Thomas, owner of the 127-year-old Schooner Isaac H. Evans.
On Friday, July 5, at 11 am, dozens of schooners will race across Maine’s Penobscot Bay, from Islesboro to the Rockland Breakwater, where their mid-afternoon arrival will be reminiscent of the days when cargo-laden schooners raced to be the first to port so they might capture the best market prices. A century ago, every schooner trip was a race against time and a captain’s profits depended heavily on his crew’s sailing skills.
Immediately following the Race, the entire fleet will anchor in Rockland’s South End where an awards ceremony for participants will be held at the Sail, Power and Steam Museum.
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Tags: History·Maine's quality of life
The Legislature passed a Joint Order that allows the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future committee to continue its work through the summer and the second regular session of the 126th Legislature. The workforce committee was established last January.
“The committee found common ground to benefit Maine’s workers, communities and economy. Our shared goal of investing in our prosperity inspired our bipartisan cooperation and hard work,” said Rep. Seth Berry.
Last month, the committee approved LD 90, An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, a first of its kind, omnibus piece of legislation that renews the partnership between government, education, workers and businesses and addresses the specific factors contributing to the skills gap.
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The IAM Maine Lobstering Union, (IMLU), garnered enough signatures for a statewide union and applied for a charter. Their application should be approved soon said Joel Pitcher, an organizer for International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
So far there are already over 300 members.
Pitcher said the next step would be to organize a statewide meeting for lobstermen to elect the union’s officials from within the membership, according to the official charter process.
“With so many businesses struggling to survive, it is imperative that we require online retailers to do what thousands of Maine businesses do every day: collect the sales tax,” said President of the Senate Justin Alfond when talking about e-sales.
Online sales were over $560 million in 2011. Maine loses out on $19 million to $24 million in uncollected Internet sales tax annually, according to a study commissioned by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Association of Maine. Business loose sales as online stores can charge less without sales tax as part of the equation. Stores throughout the country have witnessed buyers coming in identifying what they want and then audaciously pulling out an Iphone and ordering the same item online, without sales tax.
To help Maine’s small businesses An Act Concerning the Collection of Sales Tax by Any Business Making Sales to Persons in Maine, LD 346, was signed into law June 7, 2013.
“This is a great for Maine’s bricks-and-mortar retailers,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Seth Berry,. “Our Main Street businesses will soon be able to compete on a level playing field.” The new e-law closes a loophole that allows large online retailers that use affiliates to avoid paying sales tax. Under current laws, Maine can only require sales tax collection from businesses with a substantial physical presence in the state.
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Fruits, vegetables and perennial herbs will be incorporated into the landscape of Capitol Park under a measure that became law May 29,2013.
Across America gardeners are transforming their home landscapes into edible gardens, reconnecting to gardening as a source of food that is beautiful to grow- and to eat. Tomatoes, arugula, squash and their other vegetable brethren have now found new homes nestled beside roses, marigolds and violets. Herbs and edible flowers are also harvested and added to salads, sandwiches and even ice creams. Once that harvest is in many, in Maine, share the bounty with neighbors.
“Gardens grow much more than food,” said Rep. Brian Jones, a co-sponsor. “They build community.”
The legislation sponsored by Rep. Craig Hickman became public law without the governor’s signature as it had a 2/3 rd’s majority.
“I want people, especially children, to see local agriculture when they visit the State House,” said Hickman. “I want them to see how beautiful food-producing plants can be.”
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Chris Hamilton the Associate Director of MOFGA discussing the GMO labeling bill at the Capitol. photo by Morgan Rogers
Maine may become the first state to pass legislation that would require the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMO plants are grown from seeds that are altered to resist insecticides and herbicides.
Over 30 citizens gathered at the State House the morning of May 30th to tell their representatives that they want GMOs in food labeled. A poll conduced by Pan Atlantic SMS Group has shown that 91.1 percent of Mainers support labeling of food that contains GMOs.
“When there is scientific uncertainty associated with something, our position is that consumers deserve a label so they can make their own choices and manage their own risks,” said Logan Perkins of Maine Organic Farmers Growers Association, (MOFGA), who coordinated the citizen’s lobby day.
LD 718, “An Act to Protect Maine Food Consumers’ Right to Know about Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock,” sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, was voted in favor 8-5 in the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and is now being sent to the full legislature for vote. If the bill passes in Maine it also must pass in four other Northeastern states to enact the labeling law. Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York are currently considering legislation that would require the labeling of GMO food products.
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Tags: Agriculture·Maine's quality of life
Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue, Dr. Habib Dagher and UMaine President Paul Ferguson discuss the VolturnUS offshore wind turbine project collaboration. Ferguson called the offshore wind effort a prime example of “remarkable research enterprise” that has given the university global status as a research hub. Photo by Ramona du Houx
The University of Maine recently unveiled the unique design behind VolturnUS, their patented offshore wind turbine, which will be deployed later this month. The floating hallow concrete/composite foundation of the VolturnUS is the only one of it’s kind in the world.
The VolturnUS unit will be assembled at Cianbro, in Brewer. On May 31st this prototype will be towed down the Penobscot River, by a crew from the Maine Maritime Academy to a spot off the coast of Castine where it will be moored- to become the first floating wind turbine in the United States. The waters off Castine are ideal for a test site because the waves are about one-eighth the height of the waves in the Gulf of Maine where full-scale turbines will eventually be positioned. By June 3, the prototype will be hooked up to the grid and providing electricity.
The goal for Dr. Habib Dagher, who leads the effort as director of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University, is to get the cost of offshore wind energy down so it competes, and eventually out competes, with energy generated from fossil fuels.
“In Europe offshore wind costs twice as much as wind energy harnessed on land. The purpose of VolturnUS is to bring that cost down. Our shared goal with the Department of Energy is to get the cost to ten cents a kilowatt-hour by 2020. It’s key to the whole project,” said Dagher. “VolturnUS brings down the cost to the point where it competes with fossil fuels.”
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Tags: Climate change·Cutting-edge technology·Jobs·Maine's quality of life