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  • Maine is now the 19th state to adopt an Automatic Voter Registration system

     

    By Ramona du Houx

    On June 20,2019 Governor Janet Mills signed a bill to create an Automatic Voter Registration system in Maine.  LD 1463, “An Act To Create An Automatic Voter Registration System,” creates a process that would automatically register eligible Mainers to vote when they interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or another approved state agency where they already provide proof of eligibility for voter registration.

    “The foundation of America is built on every eligible citizen’s ability to participate in our democracy, and that starts with making the right to exercise our vote as easy and accessible as possible,” said Speaker Sara Gideon, sponser of the legislation. “We know that greater participation in our democracy will make our government more responsible and make elected officials more representative of the people we serve. Making that participation easier while improving the integrity and security of our elections is something we should all be able to support.

    Maine is now the 19th state to adopt an  Automatic Voter Registration system. Oregon became the first in 2015, and that effort is widely considered a success. Since then, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws.

    LD 1463 will allow eligible Mainers to be registered to vote when they interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or another approved state agency where they provide proof of eligibility for voter registration—including name, address, citizenship status, and signature. For an eligible voter, this information would be automatically added to the Central Voter Registration file. Election officials will then make available an option for the voter to enroll with a party or to decline registration altogether. Outdated information, e.g. old addresses, of registered voters will also be automatically updated.

     

    Voters can still register with a voter registration card at their town hall if they prefer, and registration would not become mandatory. If an eligible Mainer does not wish to register and have their information on the voter rolls, they will be provided the opportunity to decline registration.

  • Maine's Legislative session adjourns on time with many accomplishments - more work to do

     By Ramona du Houx

    The first session of the 129th Legislature adjourns on time, before 12 midnight on June 20, 2019.  

    “We passed a budget that expands health care coverage, lifts up working Maine families, supports our schools, improves broadband access and provides meaningful property tax relief. We charged forth as an environmental leader by acting to remove litter like polystyrene and single-use plastic bags from the supply chain. We took steps to keep our kids safe and healthy by improving vaccination requirements. And we took long needed actions towards improving relations with our tribal community and honoring that community through Indigenous Peoples Day," said House Majority Leader Matt Moonen 

    There were many bills carried over to the next session, plus a question why there weren't any research and deveopment bonds proposed. The growth of Maine's economy during the Baldacci administration had a alot to do with citezen approved R & D bonds. 

    The House also fell short of the two-thirds vote it needed to approve a bond package that included funding for infrastructure, economic development, workforce development and energy projects. 

    “Today we failed to fund a comprehensive, powerful bond package that would have provided important investments in Maine’s economy, infrastructure and environment. Included in that bond package was $5 million that would have gone towards supporting career and technical education (CTE) in Maine. We have not had a bond for CTE in 21 years, and now we are delaying financing once again. CTE centers need equipment upgrades and capital improvements to better serve our students and communities, and we are depriving them up the funds they deserve. These bonds were important, and we failed to act,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Ryan Fecteau.  

    “We did not achieve everything we set out to this session, we've even further to go on property tax relief, workforce training and affordability of higher-education to name a few, but we are proud of the steps we have made."

    The Legislature will reconvene in January of 2020.

     

  • Seth Wescott - A thriving clean-power economy is key to a bright future for our state's outdoor recreation industry

    When you grow up romping through Maine’s snow-covered mountains, swimming in sun-warmed crystal lakes or hiking through an autumn forest at the peak of the season, it comes as no surprise that Maine’s outdoor recreation economy is a driving force, attracting and sustaining employers and families across the state. We know this, because this is our home.

    But it’s not just about a feeling of love we share for this place – it’s also about support for a thriving economy. Maine’s outdoor recreation industry generates $8.2 billion in consumer spending annually, provides 76,000 jobs and contributes $548 million in annual state tax revenue. To say that Maine and its great outdoors are deeply interwoven would almost be an understatement.

    But our way of life is under threat from climate change. Temperatures have already risen 3 degrees Fahrenheit in our state since the beginning of the 20th century, winter temperatures have increased twice as fast as summer temperatures and sea level is predicted to rise 1 to 4 feet along the Maine coast by 2100. This isn’t the way life should be. We have to act now.

    Fortunately, Mainers are ready for a clean-energy transition. In fact, according to an April poll by Moore Information, 70 percent of Maine residents support increasing the amount of renewable electricity sold in the state from 40 percent today to 100 percent by 2050.

    That’s why our Legislature has already taken action to remove unfair barriers to rooftop solar. L.D. 1711, An Act to Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation in Maine, would expand solar access for towns, businesses and all Mainers, regardless of income or available roofs. These changes would not only benefit individual homeowners and businesses that install solar panels on their property, they also have the potential to lower energy costs for everyone by bringing more clean energy into the regional power grid.

    It’s also time for Maine to modernize its Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires electricity suppliers to obtain a certain amount of power from renewable sources each year. Our current RPS expired, which is why we’re proud to support L.D. 1494, An Act to Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.


    Already, RPS policies in Maine have created nearly 12,000 jobs and increased the state’s economy by more than $1 billion, with minimal costs to electricity consumers. L.D. 1494 would update our state’s RPS to reach 80 percent renewable energy by 2030 and put us on track to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. It will prioritize new, made-in-Maine energy resources – including solar, wind and high-efficiency biomass heating – and preserve and grow our economy. Updating our RPS is an essential part of a clean-energy economy and a comprehensive climate change strategy. It’s about Maine power for Maine people.

    Our state motto is “Dirigo,” Latin for ‘I lead.’ ″ It’s time to do just that, and get Maine back on track to the way life should be. We can’t wait any longer. Let’s pass L.D. 1711 and L.D. 1494 and support a self-made, clean energy future.

  • Maine State Senate & House open with Hindu prayers

    Rajan Zed reading invocation in Maine House of Representatives.

    Both Maine House of Representatives and Senate in capital Augusta opened their June 3rd and fourth sessions respectively with Hindu mantras; containing verses from world’s oldest extant scripture. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered these invocations from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate and House.

    After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English interpretation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages. Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use; besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He started and ended the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work. 

    Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed said “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he then interpreted as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.”

    Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged Senators and Representatives to keep the welfare of others always in mind. Senate President Troy D. Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon introduced Zed and Senate gave him standing ovation after the prayer.

    Zed was wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead. Senators, representatives, employees, public and others present were seen standing in prayer mode with their heads bowed down during the invocations.

    Zed also met Maine Governor Janet T. Mills on June fourth. 

    Rajan Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project, etc.

    He has been panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post; and produces a weekly interfaith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for over eight years. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

  • New land based fish farm with yellowtail proposed for Maine coast


    By Ramona du Houx
    June 2, 2019
    Kingfish Zeeland, a Dutch aquaculture company, is eyeing Maine for a new land-based fish farm.
    CEO Ohad Maiman told the trade publication SeafoodSource on May 8, 2019 that his company is looking at two potential locations on the coast of Maine to raise yellowtail, a popular sushi fish, in a land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). Maine is an excellent site for starting the company’s first US farm, Maiman said.
    The concept of building RAS farms in the United States to serve the northeast megalopolis between Boston and Washington is taking off, after Nordic Aquafarms and Whole Oceans announced plans to build Atlantic salmon farms in Maine. Kingfish Zeeland will make it the thrid.
    Despite high start-up costs, RAS farms could potentially slash transportation costs of supplying to the US market, by eliminating the necessity to pay air freight. RAS also offers the potential to manage the entry of pathogens into a farm, and allows companies to sell under a ‘produced locally’ label.
    Yellowtail kingfish is a highly regarded fish in Japanese sushi. The fish is also popular in Italy and South Africa. Maiman is promoting its use as a grilled and cooked fish, as well as in sushi and sashimi form.
    Maiman formed Kingfish Zeeland in 2012 serving customers in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.
    Maiman said that Kingfish Zeeland looked at 22 sites on the Atlantic Coast before settling on Maine. He added that both of the prospective Maine locations have access to clean seawater.

    Kingfish Zeeland currently operates an RAS facility in Kats, The Netherlands, producing 600 metric tons of yellowtail per year, with plans to expand that facility to 5,000 metric tons annually. 
  • Mills Nominates Bartlett-Former Chair of Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee to head Maine PUC

    Former Senate Majority Leader Phil Bartlett helped shepherd some of the state’s leading energy initiatives into law during time in Legislature 

    On May 28, 2019 Governor Janet Mills nominated former Maine Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, Phil Bartlett, to serve as Chair of the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

    “I am honored that Governor Mills has nominated me to serve the people of Maine, and I look forward to working to protect the rights of consumers and ratepayers statewide,” said Bartlett.

    During his time in the Legislature during the Baldacci administration, Bartlett, an attorney, forged bipartisan support for several of the state’s landmark energy initiatives, including Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) legislation, as well as a bill to increase Maine’s renewable portfolio standard, and bills to support renewable energy development. He also chaired the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Maine's Energy Future. 

    “Phil Bartlett is a dedicated public servant and an experienced leader on energy policy who will uphold the Public Utilities Commission’s core responsibility of ensuring every Maine consumer has safe, adequate and reliable utility services at reasonable rates,” said Governor Mills, who knew Barlett since the Baldacci administration, when she too served in the legislature.  “As chair of the PUC, Phil’s background in economics and utilities and his commitment to the State of Maine will be a significant asset to our state’s ratepayers.”

    Elected four times, Bartlett served in the Maine Senate from 2004 to 2012 and was elected by his peers to serve as Senate Majority Leader from 2008 to 2010. Bartlett chaired the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and as well as the Joint Select Committee on Maine's Energy Future and he served on the Government Oversight Committee, Natural Resources Committee and Labor Committee.

    Bartlett, 42, is a native of Gorham, Maine and a graduate of Gorham High School. He graduated from Tufts University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a major in Economics and Political Science, and has a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He taught micro and macroeconomics at the collegiate level. He has practiced law with Scaccia, Bartlett & Chabot since 2004. He lives in Portland with his daughter, Abigail.

    Barlett was head of the Maine Democratic Party during Gov. LePage's terms.

    Bartlett’s nomination is subject to review by the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology and final confirmation by the Maine State Senate. If confirmed, Bartlett will replace former PUC Chair Mark Vannoy whose term ended last month.

    The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, natural gas, telecommunications and water utilities to ensure that Maine consumers enjoy safe, adequate and reliable services at rates that are just and reasonable for both consumers and utilities. The Commission oversees emerging competitive markets for some of these services. The PUC’s three full-time Commissioners serve staggered terms of 6 years. The Governor designates one Commissioner as Chairman. The Commissioners make all final Commission decisions by public vote or action of the majority.

     

     

  • Task force created to help transform juvenile justice in Maine

    New task force is collaboration of state legislators, the Department of Corrections and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group

    Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland, announced on May 16, 2019 a newly formed task force to examine the state’s juvenile justice system and develop recommendations for continuum of care for system-involved youth and those at risk for becoming involved in the justice system.

    Chaired by Brennan, Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty and Jill Ward of the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law, the task force brings together state government leaders from multiple agencies, legislators, the Judiciary branch, practitioners and impacted communities. The task force will work with national experts to assess the efficacy of the current system and develop recommendations to improve outcomes for system-involved youth. The group will study ways Maine can develop a more comprehensive, coordinated continuum of care that more effectively targets resources to meet individual needs in ways that support families and strengthen communities. 

    The work of the task force will be guided by LD 1108, legislation introduced by Brennan, and previous work of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. The task force plans to provide a report of findings and recommendations to the Legislature in early 2020.

    “There is no higher priority than our children,” said Governor Janet Mills. “My administration is committed to protecting and supporting them from their early years through their transition to adulthood, and I see the Task Force’s work as a critical component to help inform and improve public policy across state agencies to better serve the needs of our children.”

    “We are at a pivotal moment in the history of juvenile justice in Maine. Before us is the opportunity to really transform our system and in ways that will allow our young people to thrive and make our communities safer,” said Brennan. “This collaboration will help us get there.”

    “Maine has had great success in reducing the number of youth detained and committed over the past decade and in increasing the number of young people diverted from the system entirely,” said DOC Commissioner Randall Liberty. “We are ready to take the next step, working with colleagues across agencies, to identify the resources and approaches to create and sustain a community-based continuum of care that improves the lives of kids and families throughout the state.” 

    “The best way to ensure public safety is by creating a healthy and hopeful young person,” said Ned Chester, chair of the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. “The Juvenile Justice Advisory Group is pleased to be able to support this historic effort to fundamentally transform our juvenile justice system by developing a true community-based continuum of care for our youth.”

    “To design the full range supports and services to support our young people, promote healing and justice, and ensure communities have the resources to sustain a continuum of care, elected officials and system leaders must work together in partnership with those most impacted,” said Jill Ward. “It is my hope that this task force will generate opportunities for dialogue and learning that will result stronger, safer, healthier communities where all young people can thrive.” 

    Task Force Membership

    •  Rep. Michael Brennan, D- Portland – Chair
    •  Commissioner Randall Liberty (or designee), Department of Corrections – Chair
    •  Jill Ward, Maine Center for Juvenile Policy & Law – Chair
    •  Chief Justice Leah Saufley (or designee)
    •  Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew (or designee), Department of Health and Human Services
    •  Commissioner Pender Makin (or designee), Department of Education
    •  Commissioner Michael Sauschuck (or designee), Department of Public Safety
    •  Commissioner Laura Fortman (or designee), Department of Labor
    •  Sen. Susan Deschambault, D- Biddeford
    •  Sen. Marianne Moore, R- Calais
    •  Rep. Charlotte Warren, D- Hallowell
    •  Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D- Portland
    •  Rep. Victoria Morales, D- South Portland
    •  Rep. Patrick Corey, R- Windham
    •  Rep. David Haggan, R- Hampden
    •  Christine Thibeault, Assistant District Attorney, Cumberland County
    •  Ned Chester, Defense Attorney, Chair, Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group
    •  Dr. Lindsey Tweed, Maine Coalition for the Advancement of Child & Adolescent Mental Health
    •  Jill Allen, Child & Family Provider Network
    •  Margot Fine, Maine Inside Out
    •  Alison Beyea, ACLU of Maine
    •  Atlee Reilly, Disability Rights Maine
    •  Mary Bonauto, GLAD
    •  Zack Gregoire (Biddeford), formerly system-involved youth
    •  Rodney Mondor (Portland), parent of system involved youth
    •  Margaret Micolichek, restorative justice consultant
    •  Malory Shaughnessy, Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services
    •  Greg Bowers, Day One
    •  Tessa Mosher, Victims Services, Department of Corrections
    •  Julia Sleeper, Tree Street
    •  Jeff McCabe, MSEA-SEIU

    The first meeting of the task force will take place on Friday, May 17, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Capitol Judicial Center, Tamberlin Room, 2ndFloor, 1 Court Street, Augusta.  The meeting is open to the public.

  • Gov. Mills Signs Bill to Prohibit Native American Mascots in Maine

    Flanked by Maine tribal leaders and ambassadors, lawmakers, and education officials, Governor Janet Mills signed into law a bill passed unanimously by the Legislature to prohibit Native American mascots in all Maine public schools May 16, 2019..

    “While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish,” said Governor Mills. “A mascot is a symbol of pride, but it is not the source of pride. Our people, communities, and understanding and respect for one another are Maine’s source of pride and it is time our symbols reflect that.”

    “I am deeply proud of the steps our Legislature has taken this session to finally honor Maine’s tribes in the way they should be honored. Our tribal communities laid the foundation of our state. They are people, not mascots. I am grateful Gov. Mills continues to support laws that recognize the rightful place of indigenous people in our state,” said Representative Benjamin Collings, D-Portland. 

    "The argument has always been that 'we are honoring you,' by passing this legislation the State of Maine is truly honoring Native Americans,” said James Francis, Penobscot Nation's Tribal Historian.

    “After many years of work by both Native and non-Native people in Maine, the signing of LD 944 marks a significant step in showing respect for the humanity of every Mainer.  None of us are mascots anymore.  It also shows great leadership by Governor Mills and the legislature in protecting the children of Maine—overwhelming research shows how harmful Naive mascots are to children, especially to Native children, and LD 944 ensures that our children will not be harmed by the kind of disrespectful representations of Native people that always come with these mascots,” said Darren Ranco, PhD, Chair of Native American Programs, University of Maine.

    “We recognize this day as the start of a higher trust of promoting cultural diversity and awareness in place of any continuous social injustices towards one another. Today and for now on, it is our collective responsibility to the next generations to promote each other as equals, as individuals, and most importantly as neighbors,” said Representative Rena Newell, Passamaquoddy Tribe.

    “On behalf of the Penobscot Nation and the Wabanaki Nations of Maine, I want to thank Governor Mills and Representative Collings for this huge step toward honor and respect for Indigenous people. This is a very personal issue for me. I have been educating and advocating for change of these mascots since I was a teenager and it is very meaningful to have my daughter here at this signing ceremony along with our tribal leaders, allies and friends,” said Ambassador Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation.

    LD 944 "An Act To Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools" sponsored by Representative Benjamin Collings of Portland prohibits all Maine public schools from adopting a name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to a Native American tribe, individual, custom or tradition and that is used as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead or team name of the school.

    A 2005 study by the American Psychological Association called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities stating “The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in schools and university athletic programs is particularly troubling because schools are places of learning. These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and too often, insulting images of American Indians. These negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students."

    California, Oregon and Wisconsin have enacted similar bans or restrictions on the use of Native American Mascots and Michigan, New York and South Dakota are among states nationwide that have enacted resolutions calling on the end of their use.

    Upon Governor Mills’ signature, the law will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature.

     

  • Maine joins 44 state collation in largest prescription cartel case in the history of the United States

    Lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals, 19 other generic drug manufacturers, 15 individuals in conspiracy to fix prices and allocate markets for more than 100 different generic drugs

    By Ramona du Houx

    Maine's Attorney General Aaron Frey joined a 44-state coalition led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong in announcing a lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation's largest generic drug manufacturers alleging a broad conspiracy to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition and unreasonably restrain trade for more than 100 different generic drugs.

    The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, also names 15 individual senior executive defendants at the heart of the conspiracy who were responsible for sales, marketing, pricing and operations. The drugs at issue account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States, and the alleged schemes increased prices affecting the health insurance market, taxpayer-funded healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and individuals who must pay artificially-inflated prices for their prescription drugs.

    "Prescription drug costs create significant financial pressures on individuals and families, and there is compelling evidence that the prices for some of these drugs have been artificially inflated," said Maine A.G. Frey. By joining this multistate litigation, Maine is cooperating with other states to hold generic drug manufacturers accountable for the outrageous behavior outlined in the complaint.

    The complaint alleges that Teva, Sandoz, Mylan, Pfizer and 16 other generic drug manufacturers engaged in a broad, coordinated and systematic campaign to conspire with each other to fix prices, allocate markets and rig bids for more than 100 different generic drugs. The drugs span all types, including tablets, capsules, suspensions, creams, gels, ointments, and classes, including statins, ace inhibitors, beta blockers, antibiotics, anti-depressants, contraceptives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and treat a range of diseases and conditions from basic infections to diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV, ADHD, and more. In some instances, the coordinated price increases were over 1,000 percent.

    The first week in May, 2019, 60 Minutes, correspondent Bill Whitaker reported on this lawsuit against dozens of generic drug manufacturers. According to the suit, the price of hundreds of generic prescription drugs jumped in a single year—and plaintiffs say the drug makers colluded to do it.

    It's not the first time 60 Minutes has reported on price fixing of prescription drugs. Last May, correspondent Lesley Stahl reported from Rockford, Illinois, an industrial town that paid the healthcare costs of its employees, rather than use an insurance company. Stahl reported, the mayor of Rockford realized his town was bleeding money because their pharmaceutical costs were skyrocketing. He said he couldn't hire police and firefighters because of prescription drug bills to the city.

    "Everybody's asking the question, 'Why is health care so expensive?' Because the fix is in," Rockford's mayor Larry Morrissey said. "That's the answer." Morrissey said Rockford's prescription spending largely came down to one brand-name drug: Acthar, a drug used to treat a rare condition called infantile spasms. In 2001, Acthar sold for about $40 a vial. By 2018, it sold for more than $40,000—an increase of 100,000 percent.

    The complaint Maine joined, lays out an interconnected web of industry executives where these competitors met with each other during industry dinners, "girls nights out", lunches, cocktail parties, golf outings and communicated via frequent telephone calls, emails and text messages that sowed the seeds for their illegal agreements.

    Throughout the complaint, defendants use terms like "fair share," "playing nice in the sandbox," and "responsible competitor" to describe how they unlawfully discouraged competition, raised prices and enforced an ingrained culture of collusion.

    The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.

    The complaint is the second to be filed in an ongoing, expanding investigation that the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General has referred to as possibly the largest cartel case in the history of the United States.

    The first complaint, still pending in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2016 and now includes 18 corporate defendants, two individual defendants, and 15 generic drugs. Two former executives from Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Jeffery Glazer and Jason Malek, have entered into settlement agreements and are cooperating with the Attorneys General working group in that case.

    In addition to Maine and Connecticut, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico joined the suit.

    Corporate Defendants
    1. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
    2. Sandoz, Inc.
    3. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.
    4. Actavis Holdco US, Inc.
    5. Actavis Pharma, Inc. 6. Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    7. Apotex Corp.
    8. Aurobindo Pharma U.S.A., Inc.
    9. Breckenridge Pharmaceutical, Inc.
    10. Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Inc.
    11. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc. USA
    12. Greenstone LLC
    13. Lannett Company, Inc.
    14. Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    15. Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Inc.
    16. Pfizer, Inc.
    17. Taro Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
    18. Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC
    19. Wockhardt USA, LLC
    20. Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA), Inc.

    Individual defendants
    1. Ara Aprahamian, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Taro Pharmaceuticals U.S.A, Inc.
    2. David Berthold, Vice President of Sales at Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    3. James Brown, Vice President of Sales at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    4. Maureen Cavanaugh, former Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, North America, for Teva
    5. Marc Falkin, former Vice President, Marketing, Pricing and Contracts at Actavis
    6. James Grauso, former Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations for Aurobindo from December 2011 through January 2014. Since February 2014, Grauso has been employed as the Executive Vice President, N.A. Commercial Operations at Glenmark
    7. Kevin Green, former Director of National Accounts at Teva from January 2006 through October 2013. Since November 2013, Green has worked at Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA) Inc. as the Vice President of Sales
    8. Armando Kellum, former Vice President, Contracting and Business Analytics at Sandoz
    9. Jill Nailor, Senior Director of Sales and National Accounts at Greenstone
    10. James Nesta, Vice President of Sales at Mylan
    11. Kon Ostaficiuk, the President of Camber Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    12. Nisha Patel, former Director of Strategic Customer Marketing and later, Director of National Accounts at Teva.
    13. David Rekenthaler, former Vice President, Sales US Generics at Teva
    14. Richard Rogerson, former Executive Director of Pricing and Business Analytics at Actavis
    15. Tracy Sullivan DiValerio, Director of National Accoun

  • Maine Secretary of State Dunlap announces winners of 2019 Maine Constitution Essay and Poster Contest

    05/07/2019 
     Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has announced the names of the winners of the 2019 Maine Constitution Essay and Poster Contest.

    The annual contest allows Maine students from grades K through 12 to participate, with older students submitting essays regarding the Maine Constitution, voting and democracy; and younger students creating posters reflecting Maine history or symbols. 

    "The essay and poster contest is a great opportunity for students to reflect on the wide spectrum of Maine's identity, from our traditional industries to the iconic animals that roam our woods and waters," said Dunlap. "We congratulate the winners and hope that all of the students gained a deeper appreciation for their state through their participation."

    The essay contest is for students in middle school and high school. It is divided into two categories:

    The theme for grades 6-8 is "The Maine Constitution." Reese Sullivan, a seventh-grade student in Helen Beesley's class at Windsor Elementary, received top honors in this category for her essay entitled State Parks: The History and The Memories https://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/student-programs/2019essay.html#RSullivan . 

    The theme for grades 9-12 is The Importance of Voting and Democracy. Brent Bellanceau, a 10th-grade student in Laura Fralichs class at Arthur R. Gould School in South Portland, took first place in this category for his essay entitled The Importance of Prisoners Voteshttps://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/student-programs/2019essay.html#BrentB .

    The poster contest, open to students from kindergarten to grade 5, is broken into two categories, with a theme of "Maine Symbols" for grades K-3 and "Maine History" for grades 4-5.

    Ethan To, a second-grade student in Fran Greenleaf's class at Ralph M. Atwood Primary School in Oakland, received top honors for his symbols poster, which depicts Maine animalshttps://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/student-programs/2019poster.html#ETo . Mackenzie Shields, a fourth-grade student in Kathy Moody's class at C.K. Burns School in Saco, took first place for her poster depicting the Maine Ice Storm of 1998 https://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/student-programs/2019poster.html#Shields .

    These students and their classmates are invited to view the states original 1820 Constitution at the Maine State Archives in Augusta - a special honor, as it is not regularly removed from the storage vault for viewings.

    The posters were judged this spring by three members of the Maine Legislature who volunteered their time: Sen. Robert Foley, (R-York), Rep. Chloe S. Maxmin, (D-Nobleboro), and Rep. James R. Handy, (D-Lewiston).

    To learn more about the program and view winning entries from this year's contest and past contests, visit the Secretary of States website https://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/student-programs/index.htm .
  • Bill would boost clean energy jobs, reduce air pollution and advance energy independence

     

     Investment in local clean energy projects and jobs would see a big boost under a bill that received a public hearing today at the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. LD 1494, sponsored by Senator Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc), would expand Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by increasing the proportion of renewable electricity sold in the state from 40% today to 80% by 2030, a target also supported by Governor Janet Mills.

    “We cannot wait any longer to address climate change and reducing our carbon emissions is central to that effort,” said Senator Vitelli. “This bill will ensure Maine reduces its carbon footprint, transitions to renewable energy sources and reduces harmful pollutants.”

    In recent years, as state-based energy policies failed to encourage new investment in renewables, Maine has moved from a leader in clean energy to a laggard. Expanding Maine’s RPS would generate substantial economic and environmental benefits at a minimal cost to Mainers, according to an analysis conducted by Sustainable Energy Advantage and Synapse Energy Economics. The study found LD 1494 would: 

    • Create 170 new jobs each year between 2020 and 2030;
    • Improve public health by curbing air pollution, avoiding $500,000 per year in public health damages between 2020 and 2030;
    • Add 700 MW of new, in-state renewable energy projects in Maine;
    • Result in minimal impact to Maine’s ratepayers, with only slight increases in residential bills of $1.16 to $1.76 per month between 2020 and 2030; and
    • Reduce Maine’s reliance on fossil fuels by 5%, and curbs greenhouse gas emissions from the electric-sector attributable to Maine by 55%. 

    "It used to be that policymakers had to choose between clean or cheap — now they can have both. The best part of the RPS is its ability to stimulate new investment, new jobs, and all while protecting the environment,” said Jeremy Payne, Executive Director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “We know the RPS, when functioning properly, sends a strong signal to investors that a state is 'open for their business,’ and we applaud Governor Mills for leading the way on addressing the economically and environmentally harmful effects of climate change. Her support for having 80% of electricity coming from clean energy by 2030 shows us she is more than willing to walk the walk.”

    An RPS is a market-based approach used by 30 states to steadily increase the proportion of power coming from renewables. In 2007, Maine adopted an RPS that required 10% of power to come from new renewables by 2017, on top of a long-standing requirement that 30% of our power come from renewables. In recent years, many states in and out of New England have increased their RPS targets to take advantage of falling prices for renewable energy resources, like wind and solar.

    “Maine has huge untapped opportunities for accelerating economic development by investing in clean energy projects and innovative renewable technologies,” said Jack Parker, Chairman and CEO of Reed & Reed. “Development of renewable energy in Maine has already resulted in billions of dollars in investment, significant job creation, tax revenue for the state and rural communities, and reductions in generation of power from fossil fuels.”

    LD 1494 creates a structure for shifting to greater renewables and achieving stable, affordable prices for consumers by calling on the Public Utilities Commission to approve a greater number of long-term contracts for large-scale renewable energy projects. These contracts are increasingly seen as a critical tool for increasing capital investment from the private sector and delivering real rate benefits to residents. 

    “What’s become clear from experience here in Maine and across the country is that accelerating the transition to clean energy is a win-win that benefits both people and the environment,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Expanding Maine’s RPS is how we put our renewable energy aspirations into action, creating a structure that will enable new, home-grown energy projects that will spark new jobs, clean the air, and decrease our reliance on expensive, polluting fossil fuels.”

    The bill also establishes a “thermal” RPS, which encourages the use of renewable resources for heating. This would include modern wood pellet and chip boilers that can heat schools, hospitals, and other buildings or highly efficient co-generation units that provide both heat and electricity that can be used by sawmills and other industrial facilities.

    “Over the past four years, the wood energy economy in Maine has suffered greatly because of unstable policy and lost markets for low-value wood,” said Bob Linkletter, President of Maine Woods Pellet and Linkletter and Sons Logging. “With LD 1494, we now have the opportunity to create a sensible policy platform that ensures Maine is energy independent for the long term. Loggers and wood energy businesses throughout rural Maine will only benefit from this common-sense legislation to incentivize energy cultivated from our homegrown assets.”

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