August 26th, 2014 · Filed under: Economy
The latest in a series of reports, authored by the national Alliance for a Just Society, on the divide between what Maine workers need to earn to afford basic necessities and what available jobs in Maine actually pay was released today.
The report finds that a living wage (enough money to cover food, housing, health care, utilities, household expenses and to save for the future) for a single adult with no children working full-time in Maine would be $15.82 an hour. Two adults, both working and with two children, would have to earn $19.49 an hour to make ends meet. The minimum wage in Maine is currently only $7.50 an hour.
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Tags: Wages in Maine
The Maine Council on Aging (MCOA)—made up of over 30 organizations working to ensure the well-being of Maine’s older adults—announced its support today of a package of legislative proposals presented by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves.
“Maine is the oldest state in the nation — each day more than 50 people turn 65. These numbers must be a call to action for our state leaders,” said Eves, who has who has spearheaded a statewide aging initiative to address Maine’s aging challenges. “We must transform how people age in our state so they can live independently in their communities and homes. That is the goal of the “KeepME Home” initiative.”
The “KeepME Home” initiatives announced by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves addresses several critical needs for older Mainers: affordable housing near services, access to needed home care and financial security.
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Tags: Health in Maine
Pingree fought successfully for a dramatic increase in funding in the 2014 Farm Bill
August 20th, 2014 · Filed under: Community Maine
Five Maine small businesses would receive a total of $471,571 in federal Value Added Producer Grants from the USDA. Funding for the program has risen dramatically—from $15 million to $63 million over five years—thanks to Pingree’s successful efforts to have an increase included in the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Value Added Producer Grants are critical investments to help small food producers like the ones we have in Maine take their businesses to the next level. These funds allow them to expand their operations, find new markets, and develop new products,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “I couldn’t be happier that the increased funding will allow more Maine producers to take this opportunity, creating and saving dozens of jobs in the process. It’s exciting to see the new innovations this diverse set of recipients will create with this investment.”
The 2014 Farm Bill, which sets the nation’s agriculture policy every five years, was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. Pingree wrote and advocated for numerous provisions that will promote local agriculture, sustainable farming, and help young farmers.
The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant program.
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Tags: Grants for Maine
August 19th, 2014 · Filed under: Community Maine
Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx
One in seven Americans relies on food pantries and meal service programs, according to a new study from the Feeding America Food Bank Network. Nationwide, that amounts to more than 46 million people, which includes 12 million children, out of a country of 316 million. Hunger has become an epidemic in the U.S.A.
For Maine that means more than 178,000 citizens use food banks to keep alive. The study showed Maine food banks receive an average of 11 visits per year from families. Having to go to a food bank every month, on average, is a significant hardship.
“People are coming back, they’re needing to come back to their local pantry month after month,” said Clara Whitney who is with Maine’s Good Shepherd Food Bank, which is part of Feeding America’s network of food pantries. “Our pantry network has become a huge part of how Maine families are accessing food on a monthly basis.”
About 15 percent of Mainers experience hunger, and that number’s been increasing since Governor Paul LePage was elected four years ago along with significant food stamp cut backs from Congress.
LePage made part of his platform out of cutting back “social services” to those in need while he gave Maine’s 1 percent a hefty tax break. For average homeowners LePage’s policies have led to property tax increases as local towns have had to make up for funds they used to get from former state revenue sharing policies.
Since LePage took office, Maine has experienced a job creation record among the worst in the U.S., ranking 46th out of 50 states in the latest report (July 2014). Additionally, Maine has the 6th highest rate in the country of people who work only part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs.
Under his predecessor, Governor John Bladacci over 310 companies recieved Pine Tree Development Zone Status, a tax incentive program which grew thousands of jobs in the state. The jobless rate was under 7 percent, and the state had a surplus.
Now, with LePage, the state has had the second worst personal income growth record in the U.S., ranking 49th from 2009 through 2013. Plus, median household income is down $1,600 and $4,600 below the U.S. median.
Business Insider and CNBC recently ranked the state among the worst in the nation for business climate.
Tags: Hunger in Maine
August 14th, 2014 · Filed under: Uncategorized
This afternoon, President Obama updated the nation on two issues that he’s been monitoring closely over the past several days — America’s military operations in Iraq, and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.
Speaking first on Iraq, the President noted the progress the U.S. has made in carrying out “targeted military operations” in the country:
Last week, I authorized two limited missions: protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.
A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter. We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice — starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground. That’s when America came to help.
Over the last week, the U.S. military conducted humanitarian air drops every night –- delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water. We were joined in that effort by the United Kingdom, and other allies pledged support. Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely.
Yesterday, a small team of Americans -– military and civilian -– completed their review of the conditions on the mountain. They found that food and water have been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night. The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yezidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families.
“The bottom line,” President Obama said, “is that the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts.”
Because of the skill and professionalism of our military –- and the generosity of our people –- we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar; we helped vulnerable people reach safety; and we helped save many innocent lives. Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain. The majority of the military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving Iraq in the coming days. And I just want to say that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the men and women of our military who carried out this humanitarian operation almost flawlessly. I’m very grateful to them and I know that those who were trapped on that mountain are extraordinarily grateful as well.
The President also noted, however, that the situation is still dire for Iraqis that are “subjected to ISIL’s terror throughout the country,” including minorities like Yezidis and Iraqi Christians, as well as Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds.
We’re going to be working with our international partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground.
We obviously feel a great urge to provide some humanitarian relief to the situation and I’ve been very encouraged by the interest of our international partners in helping on these kinds of efforts as well. We will continue air strikes to protect our people and facilities in Iraq. We have increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines.
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During a campaign stop to improve the image of Gov. Paul LePage, Republican Governors Association Chair Gov. Chris Christie visited C&L Aviation in Bangor. The company was able to expand thanks, in part, to the work of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.
During their visit Christie and LePage tried to rebrand LePage’s dismal record on economic development and job creation using C&L Aviation. A major contributing factor to the C&L Aviation expansion was a $580,000 federal grant that Michaud helped secure from the Economic Development Administration.
C&L Aviation originally came to Bangor when Governor John E. Baldacci offered the company Pine Tree Development Zone status, (PTDZ), which is a tax incentive package started under his two terms as governor. The Bangor Chamber of Commerce as well as the City Council also played major roles in securing C&L Aviation as a Bangor business.
PTDZ status was granted to over 300 companies during the Baldacci Administration helping Maine companies expand and it brought new companies to the state. LePage has renamed the PTDZ tax incentive package to make it appear as his administration’s policy. It’s now just a Tax Incentive Package.
Michaud has long been a supporter of the EDA and has continually fought to protect its funding.
In November 2012, Michaud, along with other members of Maine’s congressional delegation, wrote a letter to the EDA urging it to approve funding for the expansion of C&L. And, in April 2013, Michaud hosted Matt Erskine, deputy assistant secretary for economic development for the U.S. Economic Development Administration in Bangor to tour the Bangor International Airport and project site for proposed expansion. According to the Bangor Daily News, that visit “made an impression” on Erskine, who approved funding for the project just three months later.
Under LePage’s leadership, Maine’s economy has lagged behind the rest of New England and the country. Maine is ranked near the bottom in job creation and personal income growth, and the state is currently ranked 47th in the country in economic development.
August 13th, 2014 · Filed under: Health Care
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is sweeping across America through social media with YouTube and Facebook. The challenge is raising awareness to the deadly disease, ALS, as well as increasing donations to ALS research. Last year from July 29 to Aug. 8, $25,000 was donated to ALS. This year during that same time frame, over $2.3 million has been donated, nationally.
The idea came from Pete Frates, 29, a former captain of the Boston College team who has been battling ALS since 2011. In July Pete decided to raise awareness about his disease as the famous baseball player Lou Gehrig did when he was struck down with ALS. Frates created the Ice Bucket Challenge asking people to post recordings on social media sites that show them dumping buckets of ice cold water over themselves. If they don’t not accept the challenge within 24 hours they must donate to the charity of their choice, hopefully ALS.
In Maine many Unions have taken up the challenge along with Congressman Mike Michaud, State Senator Emily Cain, Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci, and workers across the state.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis comes from Greek. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment. A loose translation of ALS is “No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As these areas degenerate it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in those regions.
To join the cause is simply: pour a bucket of ice water over your head, and then challenge a friend or co-worker to do the same within 24 hours. Post your challenge on social media and if it is not met, whomever you challenged should make a donation to ALS.
Tags: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
August 12th, 2014 · Filed under: Environment
The article from 2010:
Cutler wants to eliminate Board of Environmental Protection
August 20th, 2010 · Filed under: Capitol news · No Comments
At the August 19, 2010 meeting of the Board of Environmental Protection, Senate President Libby Mitchell testified in favor of proposed rules that will limit children’s exposure to bisphenol-A, also known as BPA.
BPA is a chemical commonly used in clear, shatter proof plastic containers; including some baby bottles and the lining of food cans. Research strongly indicates that BPA disrupts the hormone system and has been linked to cancer and other health problems.
That same day Eliot Cutler, a gubernatorial candidate, outlined his plan to eliminate the state Board of Environmental Protection as part of government restructuring to save money.
Mitchell, the Democratic nominee for Maine governor, criticized Cutler’s proposal to cut the board during a press conference before the hearing.
The Board of Environmental Protection is a 10-member citizen panel, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature, which interprets and enforces laws relating to environmental protection.
“I believe it’s a very important piece of our democracy,” said Mitchell. “Our Board of Environmental Protection gives everyday people the right to approach their government. Saving funds at the cost of our environment, and citizen rights, is wrong.”
Citizen testimony to the board, in the past, has lead to stronger environmental protection.
- See more at: http://maineinsights.com/perma/cutler-wants-to-eliminate-board-of-enviromental-protection#sthash.oamrxe7y.dpuf
During a “citizen hearing” today in Portland, local health experts, marine fisheries experts, clean energy leaders and conservation advocates, highlighted the public health and economic benefits of the EPA’s new carbon pollution standards for power plants, and urged Maine’s elected leaders, including Senators Collins and King to pledge support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. They also highlighted how the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has helped grow Maine’s clean energy economy.
“The Administration’s carbon pollution standards establish the first ever national limits on industrial carbon pollution from power plants and take an essential step toward protecting public health from the harmful effects of climate change,” said Dr.Lani Graham, Maine Medical Association. “Ignoring the impacts of industrial carbon pollution puts us all, especially children, at risk from asthma attacks and other health impacts associated with air pollution.”
“The sooner we implement the elements of the EPA Power Plant proposal the lower the costs in terms of money, human health, and the environment,” said Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne. “As advocates for Casco Bay we know that lowering emissions from power plants will help protect the health of the bay, the people in the watershed, and the coastal economy.”
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President thanks Michaud for his continued leadership on veterans’ issues
President Obama signed into law today bipartisan legislation that will address many of the immediate systemic problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud worked with leaders on both sides of the aisle to finalize the legislation late last month. The new law takes steps to ensure veterans receive care in a timely fashion, and also strengthens accountability and transparency within the Department. It includes a number of provisions from Michaud to benefit veterans in Maine and across the nation.
Michaud, who serves as Ranking Member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, commented:
“Today represents an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. The signing of this bipartisan legislation into law is, by no means, the end of this journey. In fact, it’s just the beginning.
“Now is the time for us to roll up our sleeves and get to work on implementing a wide range of reforms within the VA. Veterans deserve timely and high-quality benefits and services. We must change the culture at the VA to one where the needs of veterans are met directly and in a timely manner – and where employees are motivated to always do the right thing. A big part of getting there means increasing accountability and transparency across the Department, and having an assessment of whether VA’s current structure allows it to meet the needs of veterans. I look forward to working with Secretary McDonald over the long-term on achieving a stronger, more veteran-focused VA.”
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