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  • 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.”

  • Maine Democrats Miramant and Herbig give in to religious exemptions for vaccinations

    Miramant & Herbig Join Republicans to Keep Vaccination Exemption

    BY Andy O’Brien is communications director at Maine AFL-CIO. He is a former managing editor of The Free Press and a former state legislator.

    The Maine Senate voted the frist week in May to repeal philosophical exemptions from mandatory vaccinations for school-age children. However, Sens. Dave Miramant (D-Knox County) and Erin Herbig (D-Waldo County) joined Republicans in voting 18-17 to keep the religious exemption, putting the fate of the bill with both exemptions in jeopardy. The Maine House voted on largely party lines to keep both exemptions in the bill and reject the Senate amendments, so if the two chambers can’t agree on the final language of LD 798, the bill will die between the bodies. Reps. Bill Pluecker (U-Warren), Jeff Hanley (R-Pittston) and MaryAnne Kinney (R-Knox) were the only local House members in attendance to vote against the bill.

    Sen. Miramant, who proposed the amendment to preserve the religious exemption, holds the belief that vaccines are dangerous and cause autism, even though numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies have debunked these claims. But in his floor speech in support of his amendment, he said the proposal was about religious freedom.

    “If you have a strong religious belief, this country has accepted that and we need to continue to allow that acceptance in all areas, especially where there’s no proof that this is causing harm to our state,” said Miramant.

    Opponents of Miramant’s amendment pointed out that there is no canonical basis for refusing vaccines among the world’s major religions, as they were established centuries before the smallpox vaccine was even invented. Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland County) noted that, out of the hundreds of comments her committee received during the 13-hour hearing on LD 798, only two addressed the religious exemption. She called the amendment a “Trojan horse” for people to opt their children out of vaccines for personal reasons, noting that the number of religious opt- outs in Vermont more than quadrupled after it eliminated its philosophical exemption in 2015. Currently, 90 percent of people who opt out of vaccines in Maine use the philosophic exemption.

    On Tuesday, activist Mike Tipping published a piece in the Maine Beacon that included several screen shots from an anti-vaccination Facebook group called Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice where parents were celebrating the vote and discussing how easy it will be to exploit the religious exemption loophole. Finally, one member told the others to knock it off.

    “I’ve seen numerous posts about people now becoming religious and how to get the [religious exemption]. Totally fine to say here but I agree — people need to stay off of social media!” the member wrote. “Anyone can screen shot and send to reps and senators. Let’s not ruin this.”

    The bill came in response to several outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles and pertussis across the country. At 5.3 percent, Maine’s vaccine opt-out rate is more than double the national average, which is above the rate needed to retain the “herd immunity” standard, according to the CDC. In 2018, Maine had the highest rate of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the country. Waldo County had the highest vaccine opt-out rates in the state as well as the highest rate of pertussis.

  • Rockland's Apprenticeshop Talk: Maine’s Working Waterfront: Personal and Professional Reflections

    Thursday, May 10,
    The public is invited to the Apprenticeshop, 655 Main Street, Rockland, on Wednesday, May 15, at 6 p.m., for “Maine’s Working Waterfront: Personal and Professional Reflections,” a discussion with Merritt Carey (pictured) about the working waterfront, its importance to Maine’s economy, and what it means to work on the waterfront in Maine today.
    There is a suggested donation of $10 for admission to the talk. From Portland’s proposed referendum to conflict over aquaculture lease sites to the Land for Maine’s Future Fund and the oft-cited statistic that of Maine’s 3,500 miles of coast only 20 are protected as working waterfront, there is constant conversation about what Maine’s coastline should look like.
    Carey will share personal reflections and observations about the changing culture along the coast, as well as professional insights from her work as a board member of the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op, the Maine Aquaculture Co-op and Luke’s Lobster.
  • Maine CDC Promotes Awareness of Tickborne Diseases

    05/07/2019 

    The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds Mainers to get in the habit of taking precautions against ticks and tickborne diseases during May, Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine. Most Mainers are at risk every day, since deer ticks that can carry pathogens that cause tickborne diseases such as Lyme, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis are most commonly found in wooded, leafy, and shrubby areas.

    As warmer weather ushers in the beginning of tick season, individuals are advised to take the proper steps to limit exposure to ticks. Using the following four strategies will help you to be Tick Aware and Tick Alert, to prevent exposure to ticks and the pathogens they can carry:

    1. Use an EPA-approved repellant
    2. Wear protective clothing
    3. Perform daily tick checks
    4. Use caution in tick-infested areas

    Providers reported over 1,400 confirmed and probable Lyme disease cases to Maine CDC in 2018. The most commonly reported symptom was an erythema migrans or "bullseye" rash. Other common symptoms include arthritis, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes.

    Maine CDC continues its efforts to help educate Mainers on ticks and tickborne diseases. Some of our activities include:

    In addition to these events and resources, Maine CDC offers a variety of tickborne disease data on the Maine Tracking Network Portal:

    • View Lyme disease data at the town level from 2008-2017
    • Identify trends in tick submission data from 1989-2013, through a collaboration with the Maine Medical Center Research Institute's Vectorborne Disease Laboratory
    • Follow Lyme disease data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey
    • View updated Lyme disease data through 2018
    • View anaplasmosis and babesiosis data by county, gender, and age for 2001-2018.

    This data can be reached by visiting www.maine.gov/lyme and clicking on the Maine Tracking Network on the left navigation pane.

  • Rep. Berry: Reverse LePage's tax code that enriched the one precent on the backs of the middle class

    State Rep. Seth Berry wants to reverse the tax code former Gov. LePage put in place that gave the 1 percent of Mainers huge benifits but hurt the middle class and poor.

    Rep. Berry said that Maine needs to do what the Obama administration did when they came to office and reversed the Bush era tax code that enriched the one percent but hurt the middle class and poor.

    “Maine’s tax code is regressive. The top one percent, in particular, pays a significantly lower share than the average Mainer,” Rep. Berry told the legislature’s Taxation Committee on May 6, 2019. “When all state and local taxes are combined, it is factual to say that incomes are more unequal in Maine after state and local taxes are collected than before. That’s a problem.”

    In February, Governor Janet Mills introduced her first budget proposal, leaving LePage's tax cut for the 1 percent in place. But now she faces new costs, like paying the Federal Government for how Gov. LePage mishandled Riverview Hospital. She's also holding back on other programs because of lack of revenue.

    Under Maine’s current tax code, the top one percent of households pay into state and local taxes, on average, at an effective tax rate of 8.6 percent of their yearly income. That is lower than the bottom 20 percent, which pays 8.7 percent - far below the middle 20 percent, who pay 9.6 percent.

    Rep. Berry's legislation, LD 1647,  would create an effective tax rate floor below which wealthy Mainers could not fall. To do so, it would apply a “tax equalization assessment” on individuals earning over $250,000 a year, and married couples making over $400,000, if they pay less than the average effective tax rate of the bottom 99 percent of Mainers.  

    “Even if we don’t believe in a progressive tax code, even if we just believe it should be flat with everyone paying the same percentage of their income, we’re not even accomplishing that,” said Rep Berry. “We are, in fact, doing the opposite.”

    Under the proposed legislation, the additional revenue would be redirected into further funding the Homestead Exemption, the Property Tax Fairness Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit — three programs designed to shape a more progressive tax code by lowering the effective tax rates for low- and middle-income Mainers, who pay, on average, a larger percentage of their income on regressive sales and property taxes than the wealthy do.

    Rep. Berry, who served four terms during the Baldacci administration in the Maine House of Representatives, and is back serving said that Maine’s tax code became more regressive during the LePage administration when income tax cuts favoring the wealthy were passed in the 2011 and 2015 state budgets, alongside cutting estate taxes and creating new tax havens for large corporations.

    To shift the tax burden away from the wealthy LePage made minicipalities have to raise property taxes, and sales taxes went up too. 

    LePage’s tax cuts were not paid for, Berry explained, instead, “It was essentially kicking the can down the road, putting it on the credit card. We’ve been paying for it ever since, by not funding our schools, by not getting to the 55 percent that we hoped for, by trimming municipal revenue sharing, and essentially taking it out of working families and the middle class.”

  • Climate change impacts Maine tribes

    Photo: Fashion Show during The Abby Museum's first Indian Market in 2018. Ranco's talk will be one day before the 2nd Indian Market held May 17 - 19 in Bar Harbor, Maine.

    Darren Ranco will discuss climate change impacts and adaptation priorities among Wabanaki First Nations in Maine on Thursday, May 16, at 4:10 p.m. at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.

    The lecture, part of the Seminar in Climate Change 2019 Speaker Series, will be held in McCormick Lecture Hall.

    “Indigenous people will be impacted by climatic change in significant ways. In this talk, Ranco examines current and future climate change impacts to the Wabanaki Confederacy and their climate adaptation priorities,” said event organizers.

    Ranco, a citizen of the Penobscot Nation, is an associate professor of anthropology and Chair of Native American Programs at the University of Maine. He has a master’s degree in environmental law from Vermont Law School and a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University.

    His research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous science, diplomacy, and critiques of liberalism to protect natural and cultural resources. He teaches classes on indigenous intellectual property rights, research ethics, environmental justice and tribal governance.

    Contact 288-5015.

  • Mills signs Executive Order creating ATV task force

     

    By Ramona du Houx

    For thousands of Mainers who love to take peaceful walks, hikes, bike or ride horses along paths the Excutive Order Governor Mills signed creating a Task Force to investage the growing number of incidents where ATV riders break laws is long overdue, but very welcome.

    ATV riders are creating dangerous climates and pose a threat to others who wish to enjoy the outdoors, as well as to themselves. Preventable deaths have increased because of careless and negligent riding.

    On May 1, 2019 Gov. Janet Mills signed an Executive Order to create the All-Terrain Vehicle Initiatives Task Force. Although there are many ATV users who are operating on public and private lands responsibly, the Task Force comes at a time when there are other ATV operators who are disobeying state laws and trespassing on and damaging private lands, causing private landowners to consider posting their land which would jeopardize Maine’s long-held tradition of open access and threaten the state’s recreational economy. Governor Mills’ Executive Order establishes the Task Force to evaluate and recommend policy changes that will protect private lands and help preserve outdoor recreation opportunities, like ATV use, and their economic benefits.

    “Maine’s many responsible ATV users should not have to pay the price for the actions of a few irresponsible actors. But that may be the case unless we act,” said Governor Mills. “Maine has a proud history of outdoor recreational activity, and I want to ensure it stays that way. This Task Force will help preserve our traditions and their substantial economic contributions while also protecting public and private lands.”

    “Maine is well known for its network of ATV trails and the tradition of landowners allowing recreational access for offroad vehicles,” said Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso. “The ATV task force is designed to ensure that the concerns of private landowners are addressed, in order to continue Maine’s tradition of landowners and land users working together to enjoy Maine’s outdoor recreational opportunities.” 

    ATV Maine, Maine Woodland Owners, and the Maine Forest Products Council expressed support for the Task Force, “ATV Maine commends Governor Mills for her Executive Order creating the Task Force. ATVs are an economic boost for Maine’s rural economy and another avenue for folks to enjoy Maine’s great outdoors,” said Ed Pineau of ATV Maine. “We appreciate and look forward to working with Maine’s landowners, large and small who generously allow trails on their properties. We look forward to serving on and working with the Governor to promote our industry for the benefit of Maine’s Environment and her citizens.”

     “We support a complete review of the ATV trail system in Maine,” said Tom Doak, Executive Director of the Maine Woodland Owners. “That system relies largely on the willingness of private landowners to allow access.  The growth in ATV use, size and weight of machines, and expansion of the trail network requires a fresh look.”

    “The large landowner representatives of the Maine Forest Products Council appreciate Governor Mills' leadership in creating the ATV Task Force,”said Patrick Strauch, Executive Director of the Maine Forest Products Council.  “The expansion of trails and increased size of ATVs is leading to serious concerns about property damage, environmental harm and safety in Maine's working forests. We look forward to working with the Task Force on these challenging issues.” 

    The Task Force is charged with:

    • Discussing creating an ATV trail system with consideration to ATV size, weight, environmental impact and other relevant factors;
    • Discussing construction and maintenance standards for Maine’s ATV trail system;
    • Creating a plan to enforce compliance of trail construction and maintenance by the State, including discussion of third-party inspections;
    • Creating a communication and outreach plan for the Maine ATV trial system to include a focus on landowner considerations designed to educate the public on responsible ATV operation
    • Discuss ATV registration requirements based on size, width, weight and/or value; and
    • Discuss the adequacy of funding for the oversight, construction and maintenance of the ATV trail network.

     

    The fourteen-member Task Force will be appointed by the governor and will represent large forest landowners, a statewide forest products organization, a statewide small family woodlot organization, large farmland owner, statewide farming organization, utility corridor right-away owner, land trust organization, statewide ATV organization, combination ATV/snowmobile club, Maine ATV dealer, statewide snowmobile organization, the Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry ATV program, and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) Landowner Relations Program. It will be chaired jointly by the Commissioner of IFW and a member representing a large-forest or farmland owner. The specific members of the Task Force have not yet been appointed.

    The Task Force will submit its recommendations to Governor Mills on or before January 1, 2020, after which the Task Force will dissolve.

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