While Maine is the only state in New England without Medicaid expansion the Legislature enacted significant other healthcare laws

July 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Guest Columns, Health Care, Issue 41, State Representatives

Close to 70,000 Mainers would be covered with the Affordable Care Act. If Maine doesn't accept the funding the state will loose millions

By State Senator Colleen Lachowicz, representing Senate District 25.

With the second session of the 126th Legislature now behind us, I want to give you an update on some of what we accomplished this year and where there is still work to be done. While Governor LePage’s obstructionism threatened our progress at times, ultimately the Legislature came together to pass sound policies that will have far reaching benefits for the people of Maine.

This year, I fought hard to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorder receive the care and treatment they need. As a licensed Clinical Social Worker I have worked in the mental health field for more than 25 years and have witnessed the dramatic rise in the incidence of autism and the impact it has had on Maine families.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, with one in 68 children now identified with the disorder. In fact, Maine is now the state with the third highest rate of autism prevalence in the country.

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Vitelli: There’s a lot happening with the Maine economy but we all need a willing partner as governor

June 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Guest Columns, State Representatives

By State Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic

Maine is a special place. Whether you’re a native Mainer, you moved here, or you’re vacationing here, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. Our natural resources—from our lakes and oceans to our rolling hills and mountains—it’s easy to see why people want to live, work, and play here in Maine. But there’s one thing that makes Maine truly special.

Our people.

Mainers are known for our hard work; our creativity; and our determination. Perhaps it goes back to our Yankee roots. But regardless, whether you live in the smallest of Maine villages or in our state’s largest city, entrepreneurs can be found in every corner of our state. They include artisans, farmers, engineers, designers, inventors, microbrewers, creative crafters, and ambitious Main Street retailers.

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Nationwide survey shows Millennials’ favor more government involvement on many issues

May 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine

Millennials’, approximately ages 18 to 33, account for about a quarter of the voting-age population. They, surpass the number of seniors eligible to vote. Results of a nationwide survey conducted by Democratic polling firm Harstad Strategic Research for the Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America, measures their attitudes on a range of issues.

Pollsters interviewed about 2,000 Millennials in late March and April. Here are a few key takeaways from the results:

Millennials favor more government involvement on many issues

On the economic and social issues included in the poll, Millennials overwhelmingly support more government intervention. Across all issues surveyed, an average of 72 percent of this bright young group of voters supported greater government involvement.

A Chart from with data from the survey:

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Controversial Alexander Group report another example of LePage mismanagement

May 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Health Care, State Representatives

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

By Rep. Farnsworth- the House chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee

What can a million dollars get the state of Maine? Well, if you’re Governor Paul LePage the answer is a whole lot of talking points from a Tea Party ally for the campaign trail – but nothing that actually helps Maine people.

You may have already heard about the controversial Alexander Group. This Rhode Island firm is led by the former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Gary Alexander. Under his mismanagement, Pennsylvania lost $7 million in the consolidation of home care worker contracts. Mr. Alexander also cut off health care for 89,000 children – including kids with life-threatening illnesses who were mistakenly deemed ineligible.

Those things alone should have been huge red flags. But the governor secretly awarded the Alexander Group a $925,000 no-bid contract to study health care expansion and anti-poverty programs.

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LePage’s sudden push for nursing homes is hypocritical compared with three year record of harm

May 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Editorials, Guest Columns, State Representatives

By State Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville.

One of the reasons I ran for the State Senate is to help our seniors. And I’m especially proud to be a member of the state’s Health and Human Services Committee where we spent much of our time troubleshooting challenges facing our aging population. And so as a first term lawmaker, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that the governor was falsely accusing Democrats of failing to fund our nursing homes.

When I first heard that Governor LePage flipped the script and blamed Democrats for not doing enough to help our seniors, I scratched my head…figuring Governor LePage forgot about all that the Democrats and the Legislature did this session to help our seniors, including a big bump in funding for Maine’s nursing homes.

I also wondered if Governor LePage remembered that a bill, sponsored by my colleague Democratic State Senator Margaret Craven, increased funding to our nursing homes by $12 million starting in just six weeks on July 1st. I figured he also forgot about the bipartisan, nearly unanimous budget that allocated $10 million—with a federal match of more than $16 million— for our nursing homes for the next two years. Governor LePage vetoed that bill too.

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Maine people lose when ideological vetoes sustained

May 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Issue 40, State Representatives

By House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham

182. That’s the number of vetoes Governor Paul LePage has issued since he took office. The number isn’t just excessive, it’s unprecedented.

The governor’s veto spree hit bipartisan, commonsense measures that would help small businesses, veterans, women, children and farmers and fishermen across our state. Instead of working with lawmakers from both parties, he has taken a “my-way-or-the highway” approach that hurts our state.

The governor’s veto spree may make for good editorial cartoons and water cooler conversation, but it’s no way to run a government. Leaders shouldn’t use our difference of opinion as an excuse to stop things from getting done – especially when Maine’s economy is struggling.

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Neil Rolde: The budget from hell, or heaven if you’re one of the 1 percent

May 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Guest Columns, Neil Rolde

By Neil Rolde
Congressman Paul Ryan always reminds me of a medieval court jester. Although not gussied up in the belled cap and four-color doublet of a fool’s costume, his sharp-nosed profile, glittering eyes and slender build stamps him as an heir to those quick-witted souls who spent their lifetime amusing royalty in somewhat the manner of a brainy animal pet.

Yet Paul Ryan does have human attributes. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be so sly and quietly ferocious. Some critics (mostly fellow Republicans) have pointed out his diabolical self-serving interest in producing the Budget From Hell. It was nothing less, they claimed, than an effort to exonerate himself in their eyes from the fact that at a crucial time, he had led the effort to produce a budget in tandem with the Democrats that would keep the U.S. government functioning. The hard right so-called Tea Partyers (how I cringe as an historian whenever I hear that distortion of the group of 18th century patriots fighting for representation not tax evasion) blistered Ryan. The Congressman from Wisconsin then simply cobbled together a blue print for the Republican Party that would satisfy the fanatics.

The red meat that Ryan threw to these Inegalitarian’s included ending Medicare and Medicaid and turning health care 100 percent back to the health insurance companies. A small subsidy would be included under Ryan’s plan for everyone to BUY health policies. I recently had a case of shingles diagnosed at a hospital emergency room out of state. The bill for that one visit was almost $1,000. Thank God for Medicare.

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Lawmakers should override LePage veto for Maine’s farmers, fishermen, and school kids with local food hub law

April 28th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Economy, Environment

Lindsey Glick at the Skhowegan Farmers Market representing the farm she work on - One Drop of Cornville, Maine

Lindsey Glick at the Skhowegan Farmers Market representing the farm she work on – One Drop of Cornville, Maine

By State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville

In this fast moving 21st century world, sometimes it’s important to just “get back to basics.” And there could be no greater truism for today’s food and agriculture movement than that.More and more, not only do we want to know what’s in our food but we also want to know where our food is grown or harvested.

This connection to our food extends beyond what’s healthy; it also grows our sense of community, and it strengthens our local economy. All you have to do is visit your local farmer’s market to get a taste for what local agriculture has done for Maine. Many aren’t aware of this fact, but did you know that Maine has more working farms than any other state in New England?—and that while the rest of the nation is seeing a decline in working farms, Maine is experiencing an uptick. Successes like these need to be praised and built upon.

And that is why, this session, I sponsored a food hubs bill that makes it easier to distribute local foods from small farms to new markets. Unfortunately Governor LePage vetoed the measure, in spite of its overwhelming bipartisan support. In fact, in the Senate, it passed unanimously!

Food hubs help gather, store, distribute, promote, and sell products from small farms to new markets such as schools and grocery stores.

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Music on the Mall, summer program in Brunswick, Maine

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Arts & Entertainment

Every Wednesday evening at the Mall in Downtown Brunswick free musical shows will perform. Grab a blanket, bring your family and friends, order a picnic dinner or dine at a local Brunswick restaurant, then relax and enjoy great music.

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Rep. Seth Berry: Maine needs small business and innovation bond package

April 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Issue 40

The VolturnUS 1:8 first offshore floating wind turbine in the Americas started producing electricity on June 13, 2013. Maine's Innovation Bond program jump started the UMaine project.

The VolturnUS 1:8 first offshore floating wind turbine in the Americas started producing electricity on June 13, 2013. Maine’s Innovation Bond program jump started the UMaine project.

By House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham

We have to face some hard truths about Maine’s economy. We are struggling to shake off the effects of the recession. Others are passing us by when it comes to recovery, but Maine does have a great thing going for it when it comes to possibilities for job creation.

I have the honor of co-chairing the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. This bipartisan panel has done some really amazing work to spur job creation and move our economy forward. Just this week, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a set of bond investments created by our committee, which are targeted to help small businesses grow, and to boost high tech innovation.

Many of these are long overdue investments that support the little guy: small but promising businesses from around the state, as well as our farmers, foresters, and fishermen.

Maine needs these investments now to address our lagging job creation.

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