Entries Filed in 'Issue 34'

In Maine, the Majority in the State House Determines Constitutional Officers, and Influences the Agenda

November 5th, 2012 · No Comments · Capitol news, Civil Rights, Community Maine, Economy, Issue 34

Maine's state Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

Republicans have 77 House seats to the Democrats’ who have 70, and there are two unenrolled members and two vacancies. The Senate has 19 Republicans, 15 Democrats and one unenrolled member. Until the upset in the 2010 elections, Republicans hadn’t controlled both chambers at the same time since 1974.

If the Democrats manage to regain control of the Legislature than Maine’s Constitutional Officers; the state Treasurer, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General could and most likely would change. Maine is the only state where these officers are elected by the State Legislature. Under Gov. Paul LePage there has been an unpredicted misuse of promoting the LePage agenda through the offices of these Constitutional Officers, which is not constitutional. One of the reasons why Maine has the State Legislature vote in these officers is to avoid such a situation.

Democrats also hope to hold back the extreme Republican agenda that the LePage administration has been focused on. The Republican controlled legislature last session removed 19 and 20-year-olds from the Medicaid program, known in the state as MaineCare, made drastic reductions in Head Start and Family Planning, eliminated state funding for home health care visits, and initiated other cutbacks. Gov. Paul LePage’s tax cut for the most wealthy in Maine put a hole into state resources and shifted the costs to local towns. This made property taxes rise as state education funding declined. Insurance costs also went up due to the Republican backed insurance “reform” forcing many businesses to drop their policies.

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Sen. Rotundo responds to LePage video statement on Medicaid cuts

November 2nd, 2012 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care, Issue 34

“The governor and his Republican allies have given tax cuts to the wealthy, while pitting one group of vulnerable people against another. It’s shameful. In times like these, millionaires should be giving to charity not getting it. It is blatant hypocrisy for the governor to claim that he is protecting the safety net when he is clearly trying to dismantle it,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, who is the ranking House Democrat on the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

Rep. Rotundo was responding to a video that Gov. Paul LePage released to the media where LePage blasts the federal government for seeking more information about the administration’s proposed health care cuts, some of which are in violation of federal law. LePage and Republican lawmakers left a $10 million gap in the state budget after passing the illegal eligibility cuts last Spring.

Releasing a video instead of holding a traditional press conference where the Governor would be subject to press questions is highly unusual and is a measure taken in non democratic societies not in open societies.

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Local Small Business Owners Speak Out Against Health Insurance Rate Hikes

October 26th, 2012 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles, Issue 34

When the health insurance premiums for Leighton Imaging in Durham increased by 20 percent this year because of health insurance restructuring that was ramrodded by Republicans in the Legislature, it was a difficult cost for owner Geoff Leighton to bear.

“I’m proud to be a small business owner and proud to contribute to the economic success of our community, but if insurance rates keep going up so much so quickly, I don’t know how we’ll be able to continue,” said Leighton. “This big of an increase this quickly has a huge effect on our bottom line. We need to elect members of the legislature who will put small business owners” interests ahead of those of the insurance companies and who will vote to repeal the rate hike bill.”

Leighton’s rates went up because of the passage of a new law last year allowing health insurance companies to charge higher rates for small businesses, especially those in rural areas or with older employees. More than 1,200 members of the Maine Small Business Coalition signed petitions, wrote letters and lobbied in Augusta against the law, but the bill was eventually pushed through on a narrow, mostly party-line vote with the support of Anthem and other large insurers.

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Front Street Shipyard Wins $200,000 Grant to Expand Operations in Belfast, Maine

October 26th, 2012 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Issue 34

The Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine, will be expanding and adding new jobs because of a federal grant. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Front Street Shipyard and the City of Belfast learned recently that they have been awarded a $200,000 grant from the State of Maine’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Economic Development Program. 

“The announcement that Front Street Shipyard and the City of Belfast were awarded the CDBG grant was met with great excitement by everyone at the yard. Our continued close working relationship with the City has been one of the keys to our success,” said JB Turner, Front Street Shipyard’s President. “The City’s involvement and help throughout our rapid growth has been unprecedented in my career. We truly relish being a part of this community and hope that by working together on items such as the grant, Front Street Shipyard can continue to be an important piece of Belfast for many years to come.”

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USDA Awards $160,000 to Maine Lumber Company to Convert to Biomass

October 21st, 2012 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Energy Issues, Issue 34, Maine's green energy potential

Congressman Mike Michaud praised the USDA announcement that Pleasant River Lumber, which has operations in Dover-Foxcroft and Hancock, will receive a $160,000 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant. REAP funding is administered by the USDA’s Rural Development office and is used to assist farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses in developing renewable energy systems and making energy-efficiency improvements to their operations.

According to the USDA, REAP has provided more than $1 million in funding to Maine, which has supported over 747 jobs, over the last two years. Michaud introduced a bill this summer to reauthorize REAP and is working to include it in the final version of the Farm Bill.

“This funding will help save the company money and allow more of their investments to go straight into their business,” said Michaud. “This program has helped a number of Maine businesses convert to more efficient energy systems, improving their ability to grow and create jobs.”

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Maine Insights, Issue 34: Cultural shifts and progressions make Maine stronger

October 17th, 2012 · No Comments · Books, Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Economy, Editorials, Energy Issues, Environment, Exclusive Interviews, Health Care, Issue 34, Maine's green energy potential



CREATIVE ECONOMY GROWS COMMUNITIES & JOBS—

Cultural shifts and progressions make Maine stronger

Spaghetti suppers to promote same sex marriage as an equal right

The Belfast Co-op — a lifestyle

A long overdue welcome home for Vietnam Veterans

Neil Rolde: a profile of a Maine Renaissance man

SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY GROWS JOBS—

The first floating offshore wind turbine in the North Sea, built in Norway by Statiol. Now they wish to build them here.

Maine’s current energy policies create jobs for Maine businesses

Recent Wind Power Developments in Maine, with an Eye to History

A new report on Maine’s offshore wind potential

Tidal power online in Maine — milestone for America

Historic clean car standards — Maine led the way


SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH = INVENTIONS & INNOVATION—

‘Bridge-in-a-Backpack’ has approval from transportation officials

Connecting to the global economy with a high-speed Internet network

Pemaquid Point Cast in a New Light

Marine Scientist Explores Hidden Terrain

The RGGI program has made the state over $33 million

CHANGING PRACTICES IN GOVERNMENT & BUSINESS—

Gov. Baldacci in 2006 talking with paper company officials on how to help their company diversify by producing energy from waste, saving and making them money. photo by Ramona du Houx

Weakening Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard could see job losses

Tax rating doesn’t consider cost shifting that is increasing property taxes

Owner of Historic Arsenal in Augusta wants to continue with building-by-building renovation

Health insurance premiums rise for consumers and small businesses

125,000 Veterans & Military Spouses Hired through Joining Forces- Maine benefits with the program

Maine ballot to include $76 million in job-creation bonds

Gov. LePage Receives a “D” on Environmental Report Card – LePage fires back

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1787

Maine Insights is a non-profit 501(c)4 corporation and an associate member of the Maine Press Association. Contributions to help support this publication — dedicated to growing Maine communities — are always needed and very appreciated. Please click here for a Paypal link. We look forward to continuing to serve you as we have for the past seven years! Thank you for your insights and support.

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Pemaquid Point Cast in a New Light

October 17th, 2012 · No Comments · Creative Economy, Education, Issue 34

The Fresnel lense in the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, in Maine. Photo by Emily du Houx

SEPTEMBER 15, OPEN LIGHTHOUSE DAY, STATEWIDE: The autumn colors in the cool, early afternoon were semi-precious and jeweled — emerald, ruby, gold, obsidian, sapphire — colors that consume light and radiate inner depth. It was one of those autumn days in Maine that makes it feel as though it’s possible to spot a leaf falling from a maple twenty miles away. In other words, it was the perfect day to go see a Fresnel Lens, a device that actually makes it possible to see the light from a lighthouse twenty-some miles out to sea with the naked eye. I had never seen a lighthouse up close, even though I grew up here; they always seemed like overrated tourist bait, impossible to experience in any meaningful way after having been barraged all my life by images of them on postcards, cups, calendars, bags, cookies, socks, and anything else that takes a decal or can be shaped into one of their famous silhouettes. But I was drawn by the lure of free admission, the possibility of an early fall drive, and the chance to visit the ocean, so I headed out to Pemaquid Point.

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Neil Rolde: author, public servant, philanthropist, Renaissance man, and a gentleman

October 17th, 2012 · No Comments · Books, Capitol news, Community Maine, Exclusive Interviews, Issue 34, Neil Rolde

Neil Rolde, outside the Capitol in Augusta in 2011. Rolde’s been involved in state politics for over forty years, has written extensively about Maine, is a philanthropist, a Renaissance man, and a gentleman. photo by Ramona du Houx

“I always wanted to be a writer from the very start. When I was eight, I think, I said I wanted to go to Columbia Journalism School, and strangely enough I ended up there,” said Neil Rolde, who is a prize-winning historian, prolific Maine writer, philanthropist, community activist, Renaissance man, former Maine State Representative, political activist and theorist.

Most of Rolde’s 15 books involve the history of Maine — the state he loves deeply — and its people. With his wealth of historical knowledge about politics, the author recently has turned his skill and wit to highlighting political incidents that happen today in a historical context. The results are thought-provoking blog narratives that strike the cord of humanity in us all.

The last blog in his History in Today’s Politics series is entitled: “LePage’s Research and Development Bond Veto Says, ‘High Tech Industries Keep Out.’”

“History is an amazing thing and teaches us all something, if we give it time,” said Rolde. “What happens today has happened — in a different incarnation — in the past. Giving today’s events a historical context can allow us to understand them better.”

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Weakening Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard could see job losses- Renewable’s are a growing sector

October 17th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Energy Issues, Environment, Issue 34, Maine's green energy potential

Gov. Baldacci in 2006 talking with paper company officials on how to help their company diversify by producing energy from waste, saving and making them money. photo by Ramona du Houx

By Ramona du Houx

The Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA) — whose members sustainably manufacture electricity from biomass, hydropower, wind, waste-to-energy, and tidal — recently highlighted a study, “MPUC RPS Report 2011 — Review of RPS Requirements and Compliance in Maine,” completed for the Maine Public Utilities Commission by London Economics International, LLC (LEI).

“This study helps articulate the importance of what a consistent and predictable state energy policy can provide for Maine in terms of economic and employment benefits,” said Jeremy Payne, the executive director of MREA. “We know there were those who questioned whether the costs outweighed the benefits, but the London Economics report makes it crystal clear how important this policy is to Maine’s economic growth. The LEI report showed us that Maine stands to see the creation of nearly 200 jobs per month over the next five years.”

The study found that Regional Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies in Maine and New England will create 11,700 jobs in Maine over several years, while the cost of the RPS for consumers may reduce employment by 32–129 jobs. The gain far outweighs any losses.

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Health insurance premiums rise because of Republican insurance deregulation

October 17th, 2012 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Economy, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles, Issue 34

President Obama in Maine discussing Obamacare in 2010, which is preventing unnecessary deaths. photo by Ramona du Houx

“This law has done more harm than good, and it should be repealed by the next Legislature. The law has proven to be anti-small business, anti-jobs, as well as anti-rural Maine,” said Rep. Sharon Treat, who led the opposition to the bill when it was forced through in a bitter party-line vote in 2011, and she filed a “bill request” to repeal the law.

The report “Few Winners, Many Losers: Evaluating Key Provisions of Maine’s New Health Insurance Law to Date,” released in September by Consumers for Affordable Health Care shows that health insurance premiums have risen for most Maine consumers over the age of 50 and small businesses because of the new Republican health-care law.

CAHC’s findings confirm that the sweeping changes the Legislature made in 2011 to Maine’s fundamental health insurance consumer protection statutes have raised health insurance costs for Maine consumers and small businesses. Meanwhile insurance companies have reaped rewards from the law.

According to the report’s findings, premiums have increased for more than half of Anthem’s Maine customers, including over 90 percent of those between ages 50 and 59, and 100 percent of those age 60 and older. Rates have also increased for more than 90 percent of Maine small businesses. The law was passed with little or no input from Democrats or analysis from the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

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