Entries Filed in 'News from Washington'

Federal aid, $1.2 million, for clean water projects in Wiscasset

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced that Wiscasset is getting $1.2 million in federal funding to pay for a new clean-water project that will upgrade some of the town’s pump stations and replace water and sewer lines on Birch Point Road and in downtown Wiscasset.

“This funding is going to make it possible for Wiscasset to make some much-needed upgrades to pumping stations to increase their capacity and replace an old water and sewer line,” Pingree said. “Not only does that help maintain clean-water supplies in Wiscasset, it will bring work to local contractors and give local taxpayers a bit of a break.”

Some of the water and sewer lines are over 40 years old and the pumping stations are over 30 years old and in need of replacement.

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Maine to get $600,000 to help increase value of crops grown in the state

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Issue 40, News from Washington

1044461_637727639590596_2065773848_n1Maine will get $600,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grants, a 50 percent increase over the previous year’s funding. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who serves on the Appropriations Committee that sets funding levels for the US Department of Agriculture, successfully pushed for a significant increase in funding for the program.

“This is great news for Maine and will help support the state’s farmers,” said Pingree. “Whether it’s a blueberry grower Down East or a small vegetable farm in western Maine, this grant money will help farmers increase the value of their crops through research, planning, and educational programs. Farmers can do a lot with a little bit of money and this funding will go a long way in helping grow Maine’s farm economy.

‘Specialty crops’ are really the food that most consumers eat—apples, tomatoes and carrots for example. This program provides funding for research and marketing to help raise the value of these crops. Last year Maine got $400,000 in funding and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry divided the money up for eight projects around the state.

The 2014 Farm Bill, which sets the nation’s agriculture policy every five years, was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. Pingree wrote and advocated for numerous provisions that will promote local agriculture, sustainable farming, and help young farmers.

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President Obama announced that the federal government will award over $500 million in job training and apprenticeship grants

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Creative Economy, Issue 40, News from Washington


President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker tour a classroom at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in Oakdale, Pa.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker tour a classroom at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in Oakdale, Pa.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker tour a classroom at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in Oakdale, Pa., April 16, 2014. Students Zach Kuzma and Stephanie Womack demonstrate equipment that teaches students how to manipulate gears, pulleys, sprockets, etc. to adjust the speed and/or torque of a motor or system. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama announced that Vice President Biden would lead a reform of America’s job training programs, making sure that these programs ”train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.”

Yesterday, the President and Vice President visited the Community College of Allegheny County in Oakdale, Pennsylvania to announce progress on that reform.

“CCAC is an outstanding model of the kind of job-driven training we’re trying to encourage all across the country,” said President Obama. “You’re doing something right that is making a difference in people’s lives — and we want to spread the word.”

The President first announced a nearly $500 million competition in which the federal government will award grants to community colleges and employers partnering together to develop job-driven training programs.

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Emily’s List – lists Shenna Bellows for US Senate Race

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington

This morning, EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for pro-choice Democratic women running for political office, put Shenna Bellows “On the List.”

Being “On the List” provides Bellows with access to EMILY’s List’s more than 3 million nationwide members whose support has helped elect hundreds of pro-choice Democratic women to office at the local and state level since its founding in 1985.

“Emily’s List has produced amazing results, helping to elect Democratic women at every level of government, and we look forward to partnering with them in 2014. The Republican attacks on women and reproductive freedom demonstrate how vitally important it is that we have strong leadership for women in Washington. I will always be a fighter for civil rights and reproductive freedom,” said Bellows.

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$1 million federal grant to protect Maine coastal lands

April 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Environment, Issue 40, News from Washington

Several conservation groups in Maine would receive a $1 million federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to protect valuable coastal lands across the state.

In York County, funds will provide matching dollars for Kittery Land Trust’s Brave Boat Harbor Headwaters project and efforts by the York Land Trust to protect land along the York River. The projects are part of the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea(MtA2C) conservation initiative, an effort to protect significant lands in the largest un-fragmented coastal forest between Acadia National Park and the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The MtA2C partnership includes several private groups, state agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

“The lands these groups in York County are working to protect represent some of the most diverse and critical wildlife habitat in the Northeast,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “Moreover, they are key to protecting water quality, fisheries, and the unique character in some of Maine’s fastest growing communities. My appreciation and congratulations go out to all the partners who are working so hard to conserve these key lands for future generations.”

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Mike Michaud tours Togas, VA Hospital to help veterans needs progress

April 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care, Issue 40, News from Washington

Congressman Mike Michaud on a tour of Togus, VA hospital. courtesy photo

Congressman Mike Michaud on a tour of Togus, VA hospital. courtesy photo

Congressman Mike Michaud met with veterans today at Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta. Rep. Michaud was joined by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the House. Michaud serves as the Ranking Member on Veterans’ Affairs.

While visiting Togus, Michaud and Miller had breakfast with veterans, received a tour of the administrative and medical facilities, and got an overview of Togus’ operations. Michaud and Miller also participated in a roundtable discussion with veterans to hear about the challenges they face, and got their insight on how Congress can help.

“I had the opportunity to talk with a number of veterans at Togus VA Medical Center this morning about their personal experiences,” said Michaud. “It was a first-hand reminder of the obligation we have to ensure our veterans are receiving the highest-quality care possible. They have sacrificed so much for our nation, and we owe them the best in return. I’d like to thank Rep. Miller for joining me on today’s visit – our Committee shares the common goal of working in a bipartisan fashion to ensure our veterans are treated with the dignity and respect they so deserve.”

It’s not the first visit to Togas the Congressman has made. A few years back Congressman Michaud invited the Sec. of Veteran’s Affairs, Ed Shinseki to the facility twice. And while the Sec. was here Michaud got changes made that will help Veterans. In one endeavor Michaud was able to get land allocated to Togas put aside to build homeless “Cabins in the Woods.” Read more here.


Belfast, Maine water district receives $1.9 million to reconstruct Front Street

April 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Economy, News from Washington

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

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

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced that the City of Belfast and the Belfast Water District have been awarded a grant in the amount of 1.9 million dollars through its Public Works program. These funds will be used for the reconstruction and enhancement of a significant section of Front Street in Belfast, with the intent to facilitate economic growth in this area of Belfast’s working waterfront.

“This is terrific news, and a great opportunity for the City of Belfast to assist its existing waterfront businesses,” said Walter Ash, Belfast’s Mayor.

In particular, the project will make more efficient the operations of two of Belfast’s largest employers, Front Street Shipyard – a premier shipyard, and Penobscot McCrum – one of North America’s largest suppliers of value-added potato products.

“At Front Street Shipyard we are continuously grateful for the remarkable support for our growing business from the local level all the way to the federal level. This grant will enhance not only our waterfront and our city, but also our prospects for future growth as an entire community,” said JB Turner, President of Front Street Shipyard.

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President issues executive order prohibiting retaliation against employees of federal contractors who discuss salary

April 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Issue 40, News from Washington

“When women succeed, America succeeds,” said President Obama at a executive order singing event for equal pay at the White House. Women compose nearly half of the American workforce – yet, according to the latest U.S. Census statistics, on average, full-time working women still earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by men.

On Equal Pay Day, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree welcomed the executive order by President Obama that bans retaliation against employees of federal contractors who discuss their salaries. Pingree and female colleagues in the House had written to Obama in January urging him to issue such an order.

One of the first bills that Pingree voted for in Congress—and the first that President Obama signed—was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The law makes it easier for women to recover lost wages to discrimination. At the executive order bill singing Ledbetter said many women still don’t know that discrimination is happening. Ledbetter only found out about the discrepancy in her pay when co-worker sent her a note saying she was getting paid less. After that Ledbetter went to court and it was disclosed that a man in her same job had earned over 200,000 more than she did during the same time period. But the court also said she was too late filing the lawsuit against her employer. That provision is gone due to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“Despite the strides we’ve made in recent years, women continue to earn 21 percent less than their male counterparts for doing the same work in Maine,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “I was proud to pass legislation in Maine more than a decade ago instituting Equal Pay Day. We’re reminded today that more still needs to be done to ensure women are receiving equal pay as men. It’s unbelievable that women who do the same jobs as men stand to make substantially less money – just because of their gender. Both women and men serve as breadwinners for families, and both women and men face the same financial obligations and challenges. It’s time for us to take action that corrects this inequity once and for all.”

Michaud is running for Maine Governor against Gov. Paul LePage and Independent Elliot Cutlar.

“Wage discrimination is still a problem in the workplace but many women may not even know they are making less than their male counterparts. Nearly half of all workers in the country are either prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay,” said Pingree. “If you don’t know you are being discriminated against, it’s impossible to do something about it.”

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Gov. LePage’s dangerous actions make bad national news for Maine

April 4th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Capitol news, Issue 40, News from Washington, Public Safety

Earlier this year, LePage was featured on  the front page of the Huffington Post with the headline “Gov To Addicts: Drop Dead” because of his opposition to a common-sense bill sponsored by Rep. Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) that would expand access to naloxone to friends and family members of people who are at risk of opioid overdose.

Today U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud challenged Gov. Paul LePage for his opposition to expanding access to a life-saving drug called naloxone.

“It wasn’t Gov. LePage’s rough talk or outrageous claims that put him on the national news, it was his dangerous actions that are standing in the way of saving lives,” said Michaud. “Maine has a significant problem with drug addiction, and it harms not just the individuals who are addicted but also their families and communities.”

LePage was featured in a NBC nightly news story news story Thursday night for his opposition to expanding access to the drug. In the story, LePage said he opposed expanding access to naloxone to family and friends of people struggling with opioid addiction even though the drug can counter the effects of overdose and save lives.

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Supreme Court McCutcheon Decision reflects latest assault on campaign finance laws

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Civil Rights, News from Washington

U.S. Suprime Court, Washington D.C. Photo du Houx

U.S. Suprime Court, Washington D.C. Photo du Houx

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning released a decision that continues to erode campaign finance laws meant to protect the nation’s democratic process.

“The re­sult, as I said at the outset, is a decision that substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress; that fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opinion and influence bought by money alone; that overturns key precedent; that creates huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform,” said Justice Breyer’s in his written and verbal dissent.

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