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  • Maine Issues Alert to Corporations and Non-Profit Entities Regarding Solicitations from Council for Corporations

     Numerous Maine corporations have received mailings recently from a business operating under the name Maine Council for Corporations, whose address is usually listed as 126 Western Ave., #338, Augusta, ME 04330-7252. These unsolicited mailings include a form titled “2015 - Annual Records Solicitation Form” and an offer from the Maine Council for Corporations to prepare documents to compile annual corporate records, for a fee.

     

    Please be advised that the form provided by the Maine Council for Corporations is not a document prescribed or recognized by the Department of the Secretary of State.  This is not being sent on behalf of the Department of the Secretary of State, and the records described are not required to be filed with the Secretary of State.

     

    The mailings from the “Maine Council for Corporations” include an official-looking document titled “2015 - Annual Records Solicitation Form” and instructions for completing the form. The Solicitation Form includes an offer from the Maine Council for Corporations to prepare “corporate consent records in lieu of meeting minutes” for a fee of $125.

     

    The Solicitation Form looks somewhat like the annual report form, which is prescribed by the CEC and mailed to corporations of record. Although the solicitation correctly states that Maine Council for Corporations is not a government agency, some corporations have confused the Solicitation Form for the CEC’s prescribed annual report.

     

    The form provided in this mailing is not an official annual report and will not be accepted as an annual report if submitted to the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. Additionally, the preparation of these records does not satisfy the requirements to file the annual report with the Secretary of State.  The legal deadline to file annual reports with the Secretary of State’s office is June 1st, and those reports may be filed online:  http://icrs.informe.org/nei-sos-icrs/ICRS.

     

    The Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions posted an alert last year about similar solicitations to Maine corporations from Corporate Records Service, whose address is identical to the address for Maine Council for Corporations.

     

    Any corporation that has questions about the solicitation or form is encouraged to obtain advice from its lawyer or business advisor. Also, the Maine Division of Corporations can be contacted at (207) 624-7752  for information about corporate annual report and other business entity filing requirements under Maine law.

  • PUC gives in to LePage, reverses wind energy contracts

    Kibby Wind Farm, in Western Maine, opened in 2010 and has given thousands back to the communities it serves with programs and TIFF's- tax incentives.  Photo by Ramona du Houx

    By Ramona du Houx

    Top Maine lawmakers in the State House denounced the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the state's energy regulator that is mandated not to make political decisions,  for caving to Governor Paul LePage’s demands to reopen bids on two approved wind contracts. 

    The three-member commission, which is supposed to be independent, reversed its decision in a 2-1 vote. The PUC previously approved contract terms with SunEdison and NextEra for wind projects in Hancock County and Somerset County. That approval allowed the parties to begin negotiating final contracts with Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine. A lot of work they never would have undertaken if they new LePage was going to pull the plug on. The contracts, which were approved two months ago, would have helped to lower electric costs for Maine consumers by $69 million and create jobs.

    “The Public Utilities Commission is meant to serve the public’s interest – not the governor’s ideology. Maine should be open for all businesses – not just the businesses the governor favors,” said House Speaker Mark Eves. “He is throwing away real energy savings and jobs that Maine needs. Just as we saw when he meddled with StatOil, he is putting hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in investment in our state at risk.”

    Newly appointed PUC Commissioner Carlie McLean - former legal counsel to LePage  - joined the Commission’s Chair and LePage appointee Mark Vannoy to reverse the decision. Commissioner David Littell voted against the re-opening the bid.

    “I’m disappointed to see Commissioner McLean overturn a decision with so little evidence and put future energy business contracts in jeopardy,” said Mark Dion, House Chair of the Legislature’s Energy Utilities and Technology Committee. “This creates an unpredictable environment for future business contracts.”

    According to a letter from LePage to the Commission obtained by MPBN,  LePage attempted to persuade the commissioners to ignore language in the law that directs them to consider new renewable energy sources.

    LePage wrote, "I request that you expand your current request for proposals to include any clean resource, including existing hydropower and nuclear, and review whether these potential contracts could have benefits for the ratepayers in Maine and our broader economy." 

    Nearly 50 individuals and businesses submitted comments warning that re-opening the bid would create economic uncertainty.

    “Shame on the PUC and Gov. LePage for once again yanking the welcome mat out from under two substantial businesses. Broken promises like these do nothing to reassure business that their capital is welcome here. In fact, decisions like these tarnish our reputation and scare off future opportunities,” said State Senator Dawn HIll.

     Statoil, which promised to invest $120 million to develop offshore wind technology in Maine took its investments overseas to Scotland, because LePage pushed through legislation that took away a contract Statoil had made with the PUC.

  • What to do over the long term about ice dams

    With all this snow mixing with attic air leaks, many homes in Maine are seeing ice dams form on their roofs. It's important to get rid of them as they add presure to the building's roof.

    Myth: The long term solution for ice dams is to call a roofer. 


    Fact: Ice dams aren’t a roofing problem. Ice dams form when attics are unintentionally heated by air leaks and/or insufficient insulation. You can reduce the risk of ice dams by sealing attic air leaks and adding insulation. Find out about how to get $1,500 towards solving your ice dam problem here: http://www.efficiencymaine.com/at-home/home-energy-savings-program/

  • Maine citizens urge lawmakers not to cut funding to towns, property tax relief, schools and public safety

    by Ramona du Houx 

    Deep concerns about rising property taxes and the ability of cities and towns to maintain vital services dominated a public hearing Wednesday on Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed plan to abolish state revenue sharing as part of his proposed $6.5 billion state budget. The proposal is viewed as being a way to shift costs from the state to towns, many of which don't have anyway to pay for the deficit besides raising property taxes.

    Dozens of people, including municipal officials and police, fire and library workers, from all across the state turned out to the joint public hearing before the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Taxation Committee to testify against the revenue sharing provision of the governor’s budget. Town leaders from rural Maine – including Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Piscataquis and Washington counties – told the legislators about the impact that revenue sharing cuts have already had on their budgets, municipal services and property taxes and how much more their communities would suffer with the elimination of revenue sharing.

    “The state cannot turn its back on local communities,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, the House chair of the Appropriations Committee. “Today we heard about the devastating impact that the elimination of these funds will have on schools, emergency services and property taxpayers, especially seniors trying to get by on fixed incomes and young families. We owe it to our towns and their residents and small businesses to protect these vital funds.”

    The LePage budget would end the state’s decades-old revenue sharing arrangement with Maine towns and cities. The state gives back around 5 percent of sales and income taxes to communities, which rely on these funds for services like education, firefighting and road maintenance while keeping property taxes in check. During LePage's last term he already cut the revenue sharing forcing many communities to raise property taxes.

    “We heard repeatedly from town officials across our state that the cuts to revenue sharing are detrimental and miss the mark. We should be looking for ways to reduce property taxes, not shift additional taxes on to homeowners,” said Sen. Linda Valentino who serves on the Appropriations Committee. “No community should have to choose between underfunding and understaffing our public works or police departments in place of rising property taxes.”

    Under the LePage administration, state revenues have increased, but revenue sharing funds to towns have plummeted. From Fiscal Year 2012-2014, Maine reduced revenue sharing funds to Maine towns by 32 percent. If the Legislature does not blunt these proposed cuts, they will be completely eliminated in the second year of the budget.

    Winslow Town Councilor Ken Fletcher, a former lawmaker and LePage’s former energy chief, testified that the elimination of revenue sharing would result in the loss of approximately $940,000 – an amount that is greater that the town’s public works, police or fire budgets. He expressed concern about the increase in the property tax burden that would result from the loss of revenue sharing and the governor’s proposed elimination of the Homestead Exemption for those under 65.

    “It is generally accepted that property taxes are the most regressive of the three primary tax methods. Please do not place more of a burden on Maine homeowners by underfunding Revenue Sharing and eliminating the Homestead Exemption,” Fletcher said.

    “Small rural communities like ours don’t have plush budgets. We don’t have administrators. We have no ‘rainy day’ funds,” Perry First Selectman Karen Raye said in written testimony presented to the committees. “People are angry at their increased property tax bills. This is only going to make the situation worse.”

    Revenue sharing is the only discretionary funding towns get from the state to cover costs like snowplowing – a particularly vivid example given that the forecast calls for yet another storm.

    From plowing to emergency responders to putting down additional salt and sand, municipalities put these dollars to work with each snowstorm.

    Public hearings on the tax portions of the governor’s budget will continue Thursday.  

  • Rep. Beck's bill would improve how the medicine is administered in the event of an overdose

    Photo and article by Ramona du Houx

    Rep. Henry Beck wants to prevent drug-overdoses in Maine by building on last year’s law that increases access to a life-saving medicine known as naloxone. 

    Beck’s bill would allow friends of the drug user, as well as others who are in a position to help, to administer the medication.

    “Last year’s naloxone law established an important foundation that I hope to build on with this new bill,” said Beck. “My proposal can further save lives and improve public safety.”

    Naloxone is a drug used to offset the effects of opiate overdose and is specifically used to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. Naloxone is not addictive and does not produce euphoria. It has no effect if there are no narcotics in a person’s system.

    One provision of the bill would allow, under certain conditions, for naloxone to be administered by a wider array of health care professionals and first responders. This way, a doctor may prescribe naloxone to a greater number of people, thereby increasing the chances of saving a life from overdose. As it stands, only immediate family members of the drug user have access to a prescription for naloxone. 

    Since 2001, sixteen other states have passed laws making it easier to prescribe, dispense and administer naloxone.

     Statistics released last year by the Maine Attorney General’s Office showed that the number of opiate overdose deaths in the state rose from 156 in 2011 to 163 in 2012 – almost the same number of people who died in traffic crashes that year.  Heroin overdose deaths in Maine are also increasing sharply. Heroin overdoses claimed 28 lives in 2012, a fourfold increase from the previous year, and the number for 2013 is expected to be higher still.

    For more information on Beck’s bill, go to:http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280054265 

    Beck is a lawyer serving his fourth term in the Maine House and represents part of Waterville and Oakland.

  • EPA’s gives Damariscotta technical assistance in developing sustainable housing options for seniors

    by Ramona du Houx

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has chosen Damariscotta as one of just 22 communities in the country to participate in its Building Blocks program.  Through the program, Damariscotta will receive technical assistance from EPA and other federal agencies to develop plans for sustainable housing options geared to meet the needs of seniors. 

    “Maine is one of the oldest states in the country.  So often, small towns bear the brunt of figuring out how to provide seniors the housing and services they need to stay in the communities they’ve called home for so long,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.  “I’m so glad Damariscotta will receive this valuable assistance to generate some different options for meeting those needs in a sustainable way.  The process should offer valuable lessons for many Maine communities dealing with the same sort of challenges.”

    Through the program, the EPA will host a workshop for the community to generate options for addressing housing needs, then help develop a plan to pursue those ideas. EPA will conduct the workshop in coordination with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation—the three federal agencies work together to coordinate federal investment for housing, environmental protection, and transportation.  

    “Our EPA Sustainable Communities workshop comes at the right time for Damariscotta’s continuing response to the challenges of the 21st Century,” said Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus in an EPA press release earlier today. “Our recently adopted comprehensive plan in June 2014 calls for the development of new alternatives and flexibility in meeting the changing housing needs of our aging population, one of the highest in the country, so our long-term residents may remain in our community long after retirement. As a service center for seven surrounding towns, Damariscotta also is mindful of the housing needs of younger working families and single persons starting out. We look forward to the workshop.”     

    Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, which oversees funding for the EPA.

  • Bigelow scientists to exhibit microbe art photos in Boston

     

     A photo taken by a scientist from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences that will be exhibited in Boston

    A team of scientists from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the New England Aquarium will gather at the popular new District Hall, 75 Northern Ave. in Boston’s Innovation District on Thurs. Jan. 15 to celebrate the technological and scientific achievement of a gallery of photos that capture microscopic marine microbes that are invisible to the naked eye.

    Called “Tiny Giants: Marine microbes revealed on a grand scale,” the photographic art exhibit illuminates the intricate details of microscopic creatures that are vital to the oxygen we breathe, the food chain essential from fish to whales to humans, and that mitigate the damaging effects of climate change.

    The photos were taken by scientists at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science in East Boothbay, Maine. To understand the microbes’ significance, presentations will be made by Dr. Graham Shimmield, Bigelow Laboratory’s Executive Director, and Dr. Nigella Hillgarth, the Aquarium’s CEO and President.

    Guests can share dinner and a glass of wine with Bigelow Laboratory and Aquarium scientists including: Bigelow Laboratory’s Dr. Pete Countway, a microbial ecologist, who took many of the photographs;Dr. David Emerson, an iron-oxidizing bacteria expert; Dr. Paty Matrai, an expert on atmospheric and ocean conditions in the Arctic Ocean; and Dr. Benjamin Twining, a senior research scientist and director of education and research at the Laboratory. From the Aquarium will be: Dr. Scott Kraus, vice president of research; Dr. John Mandelman, director of research and a senior scientist; Dr. Kathleen Hunt, an expert in marine wildlife stress; and Dr. Randi Rotjan, a coral reef and hermit crab researcher.

    Tickets are $50 and include exhibit admission, wine, appetizers, and dinner. Space is limited. Please RSVP online: http://bit.ly/1vSoDuA

    Or, call 207-315-2567 x112 or email Dana Wilson, dwilson@bigelow.org