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  • Maine Rangers deserve pay raise that would create parity for law enforcement

    Measure will bring pay in line with salaries raised by lawmakers last year

    A measure from Rep. Catherine Nadeau to provide wage parity among state law enforcement is necessary to recruit and retain talent, law enforcement officers told a legislative panel March 31, 2017

    “Last session, we passed into law a measure that provided certain law enforcement with pay raises necessary for successful recruitment and retention,” said Nadeau, D-Winslow. “That was an important first step. Let’s finish the job and pay the men and women included in this measure a fair, appropriate salary for the work they do to keep our communities safe.” 

    Maine Rangers deserve a pay raise that would create parity for law enforcement, they patrol the state's vast forestlands and seaside. 

    Lawmakers voted last year to provide some state law enforcement officers with pay raises necessary for successful recruitment and retention. Nadeau’s bill would provide similar increases to law enforcement officers who were not included in the previous measure, including forest rangers, investigators with several state agencies and probation officers. 

    Lincoln Mazzei, a forest ranger pilot with the Maine Forest Service, told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee that the agency has struggled to attract and retain qualified pilots during his decade as a forest ranger. The relatively low pay, he said, is part of the reason would-be rangers look for work elsewhere. 

    “This job is important,” Mazzei testified. “I realize I could leave and find better compensation elsewhere, but I don’t want to leave. This is my home, my children’s home and I know that the work I do makes a difference.”

    The committee is scheduled to hold a work session on the measure, LD 861, April, 7, 2017. At that time, committee members will have the opportunity to offer amendments and make a recommendation to the full Legislature. 

    Nadeau is serving her third term in the Maine House. She represents Winslow and part of Benton. She is a member of both the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

     

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  • She worked for everyone in Maine and now Lennie needs us to help with her cancer

    Lennie's Medical Fund - GoFundMe 

    My mother, Lennie Mullen, has devoted her life to public service in Maine.  Sadly, she was diagnosed with anal and colon cancer in April of 2016.  The radiation and chemo she received in Maine appears to have put the anal cancer in remission.  Unfortunately, the colon cancer has metastasized.

    In order to take care of my mom I had to move her to San Diego to live with me.  She had to make the hard decision to leave all her friends and family and move.  

    She is presently receiving treatment at Scripp's Cancer Center.  She has undergone so much radiation.  I tease her that she likes to go there so much because the doctor and staff are wonderful.  Chemo has been really hard on her.  We still have not found that "coctail" that is going to work long term.  Mom develops small tumors throughout her body, and a couple in her lungs.  The radiation is helping, but the main goal is to stop anymore from developing.  I lost count at over 20. We are encouraged with the treatment and she has a very positive attitude--refers to treatment as a journey.
    Below is a link that talks about immunotherapy for anyone interested in learning more.
    https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/immunotherapy.html 
    (On Feb, 8 PBS aired a new article on immunotherapy see it HERE. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/cancer-immunotherapy-life-saving-powers-limits/
    There is hope.)

    The money raised will allow us more options with her medical treatment. 

    Mom's professional life has been devoted to helping people. 

    She served as a constituent service advocate for a United States Congressman, and later for the Governor of Maine. She has always been there to help others, and her family.  She does not realize how all her small contributions have left such a large impact on the lives of everyone she helped. 

    I know that any small contribution to help her now, will have a large impact on her recovery. 

    When you loose your job, for whatever the reason, you need to find value in your life.  Mom needs to find her strength and value from the Cancer that has taken over her body.  She needs to be able to go the beach, visit family when she is stronger, and treat herself to going to an estate sale.  She can not do any of these things without my financial help.  She wants to be able to buy groceries or pay for her perscriptions. Her limited income does not allow for any of this.  

    She is now facing her toughest challenge.  Cancer treatment is costly even with insurance.  The co-pays, supplements, insurance premium, medical supplies not covered by insurance, and eating healthy food has created a financial hardship that hopefully GoFundMe can assist.  Could you help?

    Help spread the word!
  • Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership Supporters Join Congresswoman Giffords

    By Ramona du Houx

    Portland Maine Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, along with citizen co-sponsor of Question 3 ballot initiative, Judi Richardson, joined former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ 14-state, 42-day national “Vocal Majority Tour” in support of the Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership campaign on October 12,2016.

    The trio called on Mainers to vote to reduce gun violence in this election by voting Yes on Question 3.

    “Stopping gun violence takes courage - the courage to do what's right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Congresswoman Giffords“Now is the time to come together - to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans - everyone.”

    On January 8, 2011, at a “Congress On Your Corner” event in Tucson with her constituents, Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head from near point-blank range. In stepping down from Congress in January 2012, Congresswoman Giffords said, “I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.” She is doing so with her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, with the organization that they founded- Americans for Responsible Solutions- as a way to encourage elected officials to stand up for safer communities. 

    Police Chief Sauschuck, (photo left with Giffords) who along with the Maine Chiefs of Police Association recently endorsed the Yes on 3 campaign, called on the Vocal Majority of Americans and Maine residents who support responsible change to our gun laws to stand up and speak out. 

    “Question 3 on this year’s ballot will close an enormous loophole in the law that means criminals, domestic abuse perpetrators and the severely mentally ill can more easily access firearms in our state. While no law will stop all crime, we know that background checks are the single most effective way to reduce gun violence, said Sauschuck.

    “I’m here today with Judi Richardson and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, because we are all standing up and speaking out for what we know to be true: background checks are the best way of keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people who would use them to do harm to themselves or others.”

    Question 3 will require background checks for all gun sales in Maine, with reasonable exceptions for passing guns on to family members, and for loaning of guns between friends and neighbors while hunting.

    In states that require background checks on all handgun sales, FBI and CDC statistics have shown that there are 48 percent fewer police officers killed by handguns, 48 percent fewer suicides by firearms and 48 percent less gun trafficking.

    This measure is particularly important for Maine, where nearly half of all murders are due to domestic violence. FBI statistics indicate that in states that have similar laws to Question 3, 46 percent fewer women are shot and killed by their intimate partners.

     “There is more the people of Maine can be doing to help make our state safer. By voting to support Question 3 on election day, Mainers are using their voices to close the loophole in our law that means criminals can get a gun on the unlicensed market with no questions asked and face no responsibility for their actions when they use that gun in a crime. Question 3 is just a common sense solution to prevent prohibited persons from having easy access to firearms,” said Richardson, citizen co-sponsor of the Question 3 ballot initiative.

    The Vocal Majority Tour event in Portland was the 17th stop in the 42-day Tour, which Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly kicked off on September 27th in Orlando, Florida, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history, the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead.

    Following the event today in Portland, the Vocal Majority Tour will travel to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for events with the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

    According to recent research, a strong majority of Mainers support this common-sense initiative that will help to keep guns out of the wrong hands, including closing the loopholes in our laws that let felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns without a background check.

    While some Sheriff's in Maine opose the measure the majority of police officers in the state's largest cities support the common sense plan. It's important to note that sheriffs are elected officials and many are up for re-election.

  • President Obama's statement on shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  I know we've been on a long flight, but given the extraordinary interest in the shootings that took place in Louisiana and Minnesota, I thought it would be important for me to address all of you directly. 

         And I want to begin by expressing my condolences for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. 

         As I said in the statement that I posted on Facebook, we have seen tragedies like this too many times.  The Justice Department, I know, has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge.  The governor of Minnesota, I understand, is calling for an investigation there, as well.  As is my practice, given my institutional role, I can't comment on the specific facts of these cases, and I have full confidence in the Justice Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and fair inquiry. 

         But what I can say is that all of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings, because these are not isolated incidents.  They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.  And I just want to give people a few statistics to try to put in context why emotions are so raw around these issues. 

    According to various studies -- not just one, but a wide range of studies that have been carried out over a number of years -- African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over.  After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched.  Last year, African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites.  African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites.  African American defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums.  They receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime. 

         So that if you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population.

         Now, these are facts.  And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same.  And that hurts.  And that should trouble all of us.  This is not just a black issue.  It's not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we should all care about.  All fair-minded people should be concerned.

         Now, let me just say we have extraordinary appreciation and respect for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day.  They’ve got a dangerous job.  It is a tough job.  And as I've said before, they have a right to go home to their families, just like anybody else on the job.  And there are going to be circumstances in which they’ve got to make split-second decisions.  We understand that.

    But when we see data that indicates disparities in how African Americans and Latinos may be treated in various jurisdictions around the country, then it's incumbent on all of us to say, we can do better than this; we are better than this -- and to not have it degenerate into the usual political scrum.  We should be able to step back, reflect, and ask ourselves, what can we do better so that everybody feels as if they’re equal under the law?

         Now, the good news is, is that there are practices we can institute that will make a difference.  Last year, we put together a task force that was comprised of civil rights activists and community leaders, but also law enforcement officials -- police captains, sheriffs.  And they sat around a table and they looked at the data and they looked at best practices, and they came up with specific recommendations and steps that could ensure that the trust between communities and police departments were rebuilt and incidents like this would be less likely to occur.

         And there are some jurisdictions out there that have adopted these recommendations.  But there are a whole bunch that have not.  And if anything good comes out of these tragedies, my hope is, is that communities around the country take a look and say, how can we implement these recommendations, and that the overwhelming majority of police officers who are doing a great job every single day, and are doing their job without regard to race, that they encourage their leadership and organizations that represent them to get behind these recommendations.

         Because, ultimately, if you can rebuild trust between communities and the police departments that serve them, that helps us solve crime problems.  That will make life easier for police officers.  They will have more cooperation.  They will be safer.  They will be more likely to come home.  So it would be good for crime-fighting and it will avert tragedy.

         And I'm encouraged by the fact that the majority of leadership in police departments around the country recognize this.  But change has been too slow and we have to have a greater sense of urgency about this.

         I'm also encouraged, by the way, that we have bipartisan support for criminal justice reform working its way through Congress.  It has stalled and lost some momentum over the last couple of months, in part because Congress is having difficulty, generally, moving legislation forward, and we're in a political season.  But there are people of goodwill on the Republican side and the Democratic side who I've seen want to try to get something done here.  That, too, would help provide greater assurance across the country that those in power, those in authority are taking these issues seriously.  So this should be a spur to action to get that done, to get that across the finish line.  Because I know there are a lot of people who want to get it done.

         Let me just make a couple of final comments.  I mentioned in my Facebook statement that I hope we don't fall into the typical patterns that occur after these kinds of incidents occur, where right away there’s a lot of political rhetoric and it starts dividing people instead of bringing folks together.  To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement.  There are times when these incidents occur, and you see protests and you see vigils.  And I get letters -- well-meaning letters sometimes -- from law enforcement saying, how come we’re under attack?  How come not as much emphasis is made when police officers are shot? 

    And so, to all of law enforcement, I want to be very clear: We know you have a tough job.  We mourn those in uniform who are protecting us who lose their lives.  On a regular basis, I have joined with families in front of Capitol Hill to commemorate the incredible heroism that they’ve displayed.  I’ve hugged family members who’ve lost loved ones doing the right thing.  I know how much it hurts.  On a regular basis, we bring in those who’ve done heroic work in law enforcement, and have survived.  Sometimes they’ve been injured. Sometimes they’ve risked their lives in remarkable ways.  And we applaud them and appreciate them, because they’re doing a really tough job really well.

    There is no contradiction between us supporting law enforcement -- making sure they’ve got the equipment they need, making sure that their collective bargaining rights are recognized, making sure that they’re adequately staffed, making sure that they are respected, making sure their families are supported -- and also saying that there are problems across our criminal justice system, there are biases -- some conscious and unconscious -- that have to be rooted out.  That’s not an attack on law enforcement.  That is reflective of the values that the vast majority of law enforcement bring to the job. 

    But I repeat:  If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement officers who are doing a great job and are doing the right thing, it makes their lives harder.  So when people say “Black Lives Matter,” that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter; it just means all lives matter, but right now the big concern is the fact that the data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. 

    This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives.  This is recognizing that there is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens.  And we should care about that.  We can’t dismiss it.  We can’t dismiss it.

    So let me just end by saying I actually, genuinely, truly believe that the vast majority of American people see this as a problem that we should all care about.  And I would just ask those who question the sincerity or the legitimacy of protests and vigils and expressions of outrage, who somehow label those expressions of outrage as “political correctness,” I’d just ask folks to step back and think, what if this happened to somebody in your family?  How would you feel? 

    To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness.  It’s just being an American, and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals.  And it’s to recognize the reality that we’ve got some tough history and we haven’t gotten through all of that history yet.  And we don’t expect that in my lifetime, maybe not in my children’s lifetime, that all the vestiges of that past will have been cured, will have been solved, but we can do better.  People of goodwill can do better.

    And doing better involves not just addressing potential bias in the criminal justice system.  It’s recognizing that too often we’re asking police to man the barricades in communities that have been forgotten by all of us for way too long, in terms of substandard schools, and inadequate jobs, and a lack of opportunity. 

    We’ve got to tackle those things.  We can do better.  And I believe we will do better. 

  • Watch out for ticks in Maine

    The height of the season for blacklegged tick nymphs is now. These adolescent ticks are tiny, difficult to spot on the body and have already fed once, giving them a chance to acquire the bacteria that produces dreaded Lyme disease.

    According to the Maine Medical Research Center, 65 percent of the Lyme disease reports in Maine occur during this time of year. Nymphs, less than 2 millimeters in diameter, are about the size of poppy seed and can easily be mistaken for a freckle.

    Alan Eaton, an entomologist at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension in Durham and a state expert on ticks, avoids tick sampling during this part of the year because he feels it’s too dangerous. The nymph season starts around mid-May and continues into July and later, depending on the weather.

    One of Eaton’s many tasks is identifying ticks the public brings in, which he reports to the state. He highlighted the difficulty of finding blacklegged nymphs through a recent example of a woman who dropped off a tick for identification — she found the critter hidden between her toes.

    “It’s not a place where we always think to check,” he said.

    Based on the anecdotal data from the samples he’s received this year, the nymph season is on par with last year, though the nymph population dropped in the last part of the season because of the moderate drought the region experienced in late June. Nymphs need a meal or moisture to stay alive. Once they’ve found a meal, they will molt into an adult and re-emerge in the fall. If they dry out, they die.

    While the adult ticks have had two chances to acquire Lyme disease from feeding on hosts, they are easier to spot and feel on the body. Eaton said they also take a longer time to transfer the Lyme-causing bacteria to humans. Where it generally takes 24 hours for nymphs with the disease Lyme to transfer it to humans, it takes adult ticks about 36 hours to do so.

    Lyme disease can cause a variety of symptoms, such as headaches, stiff neck and muscle and joint pain. If not caught early, other long-lasting symptoms may develop, like aseptic meningitis, encephalitis and cranial neuritis.

    Last year, New Hampshire had an estimated 1,371 cases of Lyme disease with the highest number of cases in Rockingham, Hillsborough and Strafford counties. Rockingham had 456 cases and Strafford had 163. In Maine, there were 1,171 reported cases in 2015, with York County reporting 178. Eaton said Strafford, Rockingham and York counties are all good places to find blacklegged ticks carrying the disease.

    A New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Service alert from late May stated that New Hampshire continues to have among the highest rates of Lyme disease in the nation and that roughly 60 percent of all blacklegged ticks sampled in the state were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

    While Lyme disease gets all the attention, blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, can also carry babesiosis, anaplasmosis and Powassan virus. Last year, there were 110 cases of anaplasmosis and 53 cases of babesiosis reported in New Hampshire, and Eaton said their presence in the state is rising. The only known case of Powassan virus in New Hampshire was reported in 2013.

    The most important prevention method is through daily checks, Eaton stresses again and again. Check yourself and check your children every day, especially this time of year. “If there is only one thing you do, do a daily tick check,” he said.

    After that, tall rubber boots can help, as the ticks slip off the rubber. DEET-based insect repellents can also help. Tucking socks into pants can help as can wearing light-colored clothing to better see ticks crawling up clothes. Staying out of high grasses and brush is also helpful.

    Last year, the New Hampshire DHHS released the “Tickborne Disease Prevention Plan,” which has a plethora of information about the disease that also outlined landscaping suggestions to help keep ticks to a minimum in the back yard. It includes ideas such as keeping children play structures in the sun and away from the woods, as ticks dry out in the sun.

    The main reservoir for ticks to acquire the Lyme pathogen is from white-footed mice. Blacklegged tick larvae often feed on these mice and get the bacteria. Keeping their habitats to a minimum around homes is another strategy to help prevent Lyme infection.

    Eaton said there are five things that keep Lyme alive: The spirochete that causes the disease; reservoir hosts (white-footed mice); ticks to spread the disease; other hosts to keep the population alive, such as deer and victims.

    “You pull any of those out and it can easily drop,” he said.

    One interesting proposed study to reduce Lyme disease may occur in Nantucket, Eaton said, which has high rates of Lyme disease. Earlier this month, according to a New York Times article, an MIT biologist proposed introducing genetically engineered white-footed mice on the island “that are immune to the Lyme-causing pathogen, or to a protein in the tick’s saliva, or both, to break the cycle of transmission,” the article states.

    “It’s a really interesting alternative, but we’ll have to evaluate the risks as well,” Eaton said.

  • Eve's to file appeal after federal judge ruled in favor of Gov. LePage

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and his attorney David Webbert talk to reporters after a federal judge ruled Gov. LePage's office gave him immunitiy.

    By Ramona du Houx

    A federal judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of Gov. Paul LePage and dismissed a lawsuit filed by House Speaker Mark Eves over his loss of a job at Good Will-Hinckley.

    David Webbert, Eves’ attorney said, "Mark Eves will file an appeal and have his case reviewed by three judges on the Court of Appeals in Boston. We are confident that the Court of Appeals will agree that Governor LePage violated the basic rules of our Constitution when he used taxpayer money to blackmail a private organization into firing his political opponent for partisan purposes. Mark Eves is determined to hold Governor LePage accountable for his abuses of power that undermine our democracy." 

    U.S. District Judge George Singal issued a 44 page ruling that declared LePage was immune from the lawsuit.

    “Ultimately, the governor’s alleged threats were made in his official capacity, and the individuals hearing those threats believed that the governor could exercise his executive discretion to impound amounts appropriated in the budget,” Singal concluded. “Therefore, even assuming his threats to withhold such funds from GWH amounted to an abuse of his discretion, the court finds that the Governor is entitled to immunity under [the law].”

    David Webbert, Eves’ attorney, said the decision would be appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

  • Bill to Increase Access to Affordable Drug Addiction Treatment Advances


    Committee Vote Unanimous For Higher Reimbursement Rates

      Today, members of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services committee voted unanimously in support of a bill to increase reimbursement rates for substance abuse treatment providers.


    “Methadone treatment is heavily researched and evidence based.  It gets people back on their feet, back to their families, and back to work,” said Speaker Eves (D-North Berwick).  “Providing more sufficient reimbursement to methadone providers will enable more Mainers to access life-saving treatment and regain their lives.” 

    LD 1473 “Resolve to Increase Access to Opiate Addiction Treatment in Maine” sponsored by Senator Woodsome (R-York) passed as amended.

    The report of the HHS Committee partially restores the MaineCare reimbursement rate paid to outpatient opioid treatment providers from $60 to $72 a week. The rate increase will sunset on June 30, 2017 pending a rate study to further analyze its effectiveness. The committee will then hear a report back by the end of December in that year.

    This proposal will lower the burden on treatment providers who will then be able to increase patient access and provide crucial individual and group counseling in addition to critical medication, including methadone.

    “This session alone, we have heard dozens of hours of testimony urging us to increase availability of drug treatment and support services,” said HHS House Chair Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook).  “Increased access to proven Methadone treatment will provide a vital tool to addressing the opioid crisis that has gripped our state.”

    LD 1473 now faces action in both the House and Senate.   

  • Prison is no place for innocent, sick Mainers

    Editorial by Senator Anne Haskell from Portland

    The state-run psychiatric hospital in Augusta has many, many problems, and Governor Paul LePage’s plan to fix it is to put sick, innocent Mainers in prison. That’s just wrong.

    This week, Governor LePage proposed a bill to move patients out of the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, and into the Maine State Prison in Warren. The idea, he said, was to take unruly patients and put them in the prison’s mental health unit. He said the move was necessary for security reasons.

    But there’s one big problem with the governor’s plans: These patients, no matter how unruly, have not been convicted of any crime. They aren’t criminals, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. So why would we ever put them in prison? This flies in the face of the very foundation of our justice system.

    Our state has been down this road before. Like most states, we have an embarrassing history of treating our mentally ill neighbors like a problem — and one best hidden from the rest of society. We’ve even traveled the dark path of mixing sick Mainers with criminals before.

    But we decided decades ago that it was wrong to treat sick people like the guilty. We recognized that no matter how severe a mental illness may be, sick Mainers need treatment and care, not to be locked away.

     Hospitals, like Riverview, are designed first and foremost for treatment, with recovery as an outcome. In a correctional setting, the goal is stabilization, so they can be moved back into the general prison population.

     The Intensive Mental Health Unit at the Maine State Prison is a good facility, and the staff there do good work. But it is not designed to meet the needs of non-criminal patients.

     We know that Riverview has been badly mismanaged by this administration. That mismanagement has led to chronic understaffing, numerous security incidents, and the loss of federal accreditation. Things have gotten so bad that a Court Master has been charged with oversight of the hospital.

     We need solutions to fix Riverview and make it a success, but the governor’s answer is to swap one problem for an entirely different one.

     Simply put, criminalizing mental illness is not a solution for the problems at Riverview. The hospital needs more staff, better resources, and a sound turnaround plan.

    A real solution may even include the creation of a new, independent unit designed specifically for patients with behavioral issues or violent behavior. But that facility must be a hospital setting, not a correctional one.       

    As the lead Senate Democrat on the Health and Human Services Committee, I will oppose the governor’s bill with all my might. And I’ll urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to do the same.

  • Bipartisan drug prevention, enforcement and treatment bill signed into law by Maine governor

    Legislature unanimously enacts law to fight drug addiction

    By Ramona du Houx

    On january 18, 2016, a bipartisan bill to combat the drug crisis in Maine passed both bodies of the Legislature. LD 1537 “An Act to Combat Drug Addiction Through Enforcement, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery”, passed both the Senate and House unanimously as amended.  

    The new measure is in responce to Maine's drug crisis. Five Mainers are dying every week from drug overdose.

    The bill was sponsored by Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Winterport) and co-sponsored by Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick).The law includes efforts to reinforce Maine’s law enforcement capacity to fight drug dealers on the streets and to strengthen the state’s treatment efforts to help more struggling Mainers break free from addiction. Governor Paul LePage initially only wanted to help fund an increase in law enforcement.

    “While many others have advocated for law enforcement funding alone, Speaker Eves and President Thibodeau have helped change the conversation by fighting for a more complete approach. By championing prevention, treatment, and expanded resources for law enforcement, they’re standing with families like mine and yours,” said Karen Walsh, Portland parent of a young person in recovery.

    “We did what many skeptics said we could not: we came together to pass a bipartisan, targeted, meaningful plan to address the drug crisis in Maine,” said Speaker Eves. “Today, our law enforcement, medical professionals, families, and young people trying to build a better life for themselves heard our commitment to provide the help they desperately need.”

    The final $3.7m package includes vital funding for prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement.

     Funding for the MDEA agents comes from the Gambling Control Board while the prevention and treatment portions will be funded through the Maine Medical Marijuana Fund and grants to law enforcement for treatment initiatives will be administered by the Department of Public Safety. 

    The new law will provide $2.4 million for additional addiction treatment programs, including a new 10-bed detoxification facility to be located somewhere in the underserved Northern or Eastern Maine regions. It will also support increased access to treatment services for uninsured Mainers, and bolster peer support recovery centers, which help those in recovery avoid relapse.

    “With a divided Legislature, there’s plenty of room for disagreement. But we knew that to address the drug addiction crisis, we needed to put politics aside,” said Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, the lead Senate Democrat on the Health and Human Services Committee. “This plan addresses both the supply and demand side of our drug problem, and will result in more treatment options for Mainers struggling to escape the grip of substance use disorder.”

    The bill also supports continued funding for 10 new MDEA agents. Those agents, once hired, will lead additional investigations that will continue MDEA’s work to bust trafficking operations and keep drugs off the streets. Additionally, it provides start-up grants for local law enforcement agencies to establish projects similar to Scarborough’s Operation HOPE, to connect addicts with treatment, recovery and support services.

    The bill was signed into law, by Governor Paul LePage who said,"I had expressed concerns about funding sources and the grant-making authority, but I thank legislative leadership for their willingness to broker changes that both the administration and the legislature could support."