Entries Filed in 'Issues'
J.D. Irving Ltd., Maine’s largest landowner with 1.25 million acres of forestland, has been exempted from some clear-cutting regulations and harvesting standards of the Forest Practices Act after signing a five-year agreement with State forestry officials.
The agreement was made on May 2012, but only became public this month after Maine Forest Service submitted a report to state lawmakers on Outcome Based Forestry, an experimental tree harvesting program.
J.D. Irving’s deal allows the company to clear-cut 250 individual acres without state approval.
With major landowners agreements being mostly confidential and regulations been overseen by a panel appointed by Gov. Paul LePage, environmental groups say 10 million acres of certified forestland could be endangered.
State officials counter that the panel of experts will review the scientific rationale for each harvest and the aesthetic impact of each cut beforehand.
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Tags: Agriculture·Clear cutting·Government transparency·Maine's quality of life
More than 200 Mainers, including many who have been personally affected by the state’s failure to accept federal funding to expand-health care coverage, gathered at the Statehouse for a rally and lobby day organized by the Maine People’s Alliance.
“As a nurse, many of the patients I see every day wait until they are so sick that we can’t help them the way that we should, and their health deteriorates even more,” said Jessie Mellott, from Bangor. “They lose limbs. They may never get back to their previous health due to lack of access to care. A lot of the time, these are easy things to fix, if they were addressed in time. I urge the Legislature to help me care for my patients and take the important step of expanding Medicaid services for 70,000 Maine people.”
Attendees urged legislators returning to Augusta for the first day of the new legislative session to make accepting federal funds and expanding health care their top priority.
One of the personal stories highlighted was that of Richard Holt, a lobsterman and carpenter living in South Portland, who describes himself as a “Downeast Yankee Republican.” Currently building a new boat by hand, he has refused to take a tax exemption on his materials because of his belief that “you have to carry your own weight.” Recurring injuries and disability, however, have made it difficult for Holt to work and to afford to keep his home. He has relied on MaineCare to keep him going, but on December 31st he lost his coverage.
“Without MaineCare, my injuries will just keep getting worse and worse. I’ll just keep going until I can’t go anymore, and then they’ll throw you to the wolves, I guess,” said Holt. “I need it to make sure I can stay healthy enough to keep working for at least another four years before I qualify for Medicare.”
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Tags: Need the ACA in Maine
The vast majority of those who accept assistance from state and/or federal programs are people who had a bad turn in life and just need society believing in and supporting them temporarily. They don’t want to have to live off the State, they are forced to because they need the essentials. The impact that an uncaring society has on the economy is hard to calculate, but it certainly damages our image not to mention the soul of our state to stand by and do nothing to help.
Without programs like Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and low-income tax credits, the poverty rate would rise to nearly 30 percent. According to the Census data, SNAP, (or food stamps, which are the EBT cards) cuts the poverty rate by 1.6 points.
Today Governor Paul LePage sent out a press release that attempted to brand recipients of EBT benefits as negligent citizens.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that there are 50,000 EBT transactions per month or 1.2 million transactions in the two year period reviewed by the Governor’s office. The 3,701 questionable transactions identified by the LePage administration account for 0.31 percent of the total transactions during that period. The .31 percent LePage is trying to make headlines over is minuscule compared to the honest sector of EBT recipients. Breaking the law can be remedied by legal action.
“No one wants to see funds meant for struggling families abused. If this list is verified, it’s time to take action,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “The question for the governor is will he prosecute or politicize it? Democrats will continue to support good-faith efforts to crack down on fraud and abuse.”
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Maine is the first state to allow prescription drug imports from other countries, which has saved people needed funds but has angered the prescription drug companies. Litigation is underway. While some people are worried about the safety of the drugs, others point out that the Portland program (run by CanaRx) has only had two complaints since it started back in 2004.
As Maine shippers don’t ship temperature-sensitive drugs, like insulin, the process appears safe. For years the elderly and those in need of generic drug brands have crossed Maine’s boarder to Canada. Dirigo Health helped people with prescriptions as the Affordable Care Act is doing now that the “donut whole” has been fixed. However, the costs are still high depending on the prescription.
One economist in a Wall Street Journal article said, “Americans have crossed the Canadian border for cheaper meds since the 1950s, if not before — if safety was a primary issue, it likely would have collapsed as a process by now.”
The Portland City’s program has saved the city and it’s workers needed funds. If this program is expanded to other states, it could seriously affect big drug corporations and allow U.S. citizens to get prescription drugs cheaper. This story was highlighted by a PBS documentary.
In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) will offer a unique one-day workshop for Maine code officials and photovoltaic (PV) design and installation professionals on Jan. 21 at its Fairfield campus.
The one-day Solar PV Workshop for Maine Code Officials will focus on electrical, building, and fire safety codes and how they apply to PV systems. This workshop will benefit not only the code officials who permit and inspect PV systems, but also the professionals who design and install PV systems who would like a deeper understanding of PV code requirements.
Solar PV installations have increased exponentially in the last five years as prices for the technology have fallen precipitously. Because this technology is advancing so rapidly, there is a great need for training on inspecting solar systems to ensure they meet life safety code requirements.
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Tags: Solar energy in Maine
Research and Development (R&D) funds from state and the federal government have fueled innovation and inventions for decades, making America’s economy grow. R&D has kept us on the cutting edge of industry changes and medical breakthroughs. If it weren’t for federal grants the Internet would still be a concept. From new medicines to computer technologies “we the people” have had a hand, through our taxes, in helping businesses that use these innovations across the country get off the ground. Some of these businesses now make billions. So, why not ask these businesses to help invest into new innovations that have been waiting for grants. Seems it would only be fair if they gave more in taxes to help fuel our economy in this way.
There’s no doubt about it America’s economy is improving; it has been since President Barack Obama’s stimulus package took hold. That Recovery Act fueled needed areas in our economy by keeping first responders, and teachers employed while investing in R&D to grow innovative jobs.
Here in Maine broadband IT technology is beginning to transform rural parts of Maine that are far from metropolitan hubs. What started on a small scale, with Governor John E. Baldacci’s ConnectME initiative, Maine now hosts some of the best broadband connections in the country, yet more needs to be done. And projects funded by innovation grants at the University of Maine show the promises of industries that will employ thousands of workers in the years to come.
While there is definitely a deficit of trained workers for job openings in IT and other innovation jobs, that problem is starting to be addressed by lawmakers in Augusta, who in a bipartisan effort formed a committee that has visited all areas of the state to listen to the community. They passed some laws based on their findings and are working on others.
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Tags: Minimum wage increase·Research and Development Bonds
As of January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been insuring over 2 million Americans. But over 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans in Maine, have been denied health insurance because Governor Paul LePage refused to accept federal funding for MaineCare from the ACA.
At no cost to Maine taxpayers, the state could have accepted the federal government’s offer to expand MaineCare health insurance for these people. Under the deal, with the first three years of the ACA the federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs of the MaineCare expansion. That’s three years. Then the state would have to pitch in, at the most just 10 percent of the cost. By anybody’s book that’s a good deal. With healthier workers, productivity increases and so do people’s outlook.
Most importantly lives would be saved, and businesses would grow.
Accepting federal funds would create and save 4,100 jobs in Maine, according to the Maine Center on Economic Policy.
Analyses by the Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation show Maine could save $690 million over the next decade from Medicaid expansion. Maine is one of ten states that will see Medicaid expenditures go down over ten years.
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Tags: ACA in Maine·Dirigo Health Care Act was a model for the Affodable Health Care Act·Dirigo Health in Maine
If we didn’t have government programs aimed to help reduce poverty by providing assistance to low-income Americans, the actual poverty rate in the United States would be nearly twice as high as it is today.
It’s inexcusable that the rate is currently at 15 percent. This is a generational high has a lot to do with Republicans in Congress, and in states like Maine, who have extreme Republican governors, who have cut back on these economically beneficial programs. Yes economically beneficial. It is far better to lend a helping hand to those in need than to let them become homeless and ill.
The vast majority of those who accept assistance from state and/or federal programs are people who had a bad turn in life and just need society believing in and supporting them temporarily. They don’t want to have to live off the State; they are forced to because they need the essentials. Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the aid of Frances Perkins, understood this, and his New Deal became a beacon of hope for millions in this country. Social Security is a part of our national security.
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by State Senator John Patrick of Rumford
We are just a few days into 2014. For many of us, ringing in a new year is the marker of new beginnings. Often, we make new year’s resolutions that include a pledge to be healthier. For many, we are fortunate: accessing health care and getting our medical needs tended to is not met with obstacles and challenges. But, for the tens of thousands of Mainers who don’t have health insurance and can’t afford the out-of-pocket expense of going to the doctor, getting basic health care is often saved just for emergencies.
When folks can’t get the care they need, more serious health problems often arise and the quality, and sometimes even the length of their life, is diminished. For 3,000 veterans and tens of thousands of other Mainers, New Year’s Day was not likely a day for celebration. It was the day they lost their existing MaineCare health insurance.
What is going to happen to those folks who are in the middle of treatment for cancer or diabetes? What about those who have a heart condition? What choices do they now have?
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Tags: ACA in Maine