“It’s disappointing that the governor is making his choice to deny health care to tens of thousands of Mainers and deny economic opportunity in every corner of our state,” said Senate President Justin Alfond after Governor Paul LePage vetoed legislation June 17th, to expand Maine’s Medicaid program with help from the Affordable Care Act, (ACA).
The House and Senate took final votes on the Medicaid bill, LD 1066, last Thursday. It passed in the House, 97-51, and in the Senate, 23-12. Some Republican voted for the measure but the numbers still are short of the two-thirds threshold needed to override LePage’s veto.
In his veto message LePage wrote Maine has expanded Medicaid before and all that amounted to was what he called a “massive increase in welfare expansion.”
Under Governor John Baldacci’s Dirigo Health Care Act Maine increased the numbers of people covered with preventative care to 15 percent. The measure saved lives with critical medical screenings and procedures many couldn’t afford on their own.
Healthcare is not considered welfare in all other industrialized nations. And many in America consider healthcare a right not a privilege.
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With strong bipartisan support, the Maine Legislature today enacted a bill to create an industry-run collection and recycling program for leftover household paint. If allowed to become law by Governor Paul LePage, the bill (LD 1308) would save money for towns and taxpayers through a product stewardship program that would provide convenient used paint collection sites at participating paint retail stores and transfer stations across Maine. The bill received a 28-7 vote in the Senate, and a 92-44 vote in the House. Governor LePage has 10 days to sign the bill, allow the bill to become law without his signature, or veto the bill.
“Creating this program to recycle leftover paint will be good for Maine people, municipalities, and our environment. It will build on Maine’s other successful product stewardship programs, which are helping keep toxic materials out of landfills and incinerators,” said Abby King, Toxics Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We are pleased to have worked closely with representatives of the paint industry and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to shape this legislation that will provide a solution for the unwanted used paint piling up in basements and closets across the state.”
The bill would save money for Maine towns by avoiding the high costs of processing used paint that currently is collected, sporadically across the state, through household hazardous waste events. Industry data on Maine paint sales suggest the program could result in the collection and environmentally-responsible recycling and reuse of more than 300,000 gallons of paint annually in Maine. Maine would be the seventh state to enact this program, following Oregon, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Vermont.
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Maine’s first veteran legal needs survey, administered by Pine Tree Legal Assistance from September to December 2012, showed that 70 percent of surveyed veterans experienced a legal problem in the past year, but only 16 percent contacted an attorney. A complementary survey revealed that 98 percent of service providers had worked with veteran clients in the past year who demonstrated some type of legal need. These findings bolster the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) National survey findings that 3 out of 10 unmet needs for veterans have legal causes or solutions.
Maine is ranked third nationally in veterans per capita. With one out of nine veterans estimated to be in poverty, this survey’s findings are consistent with previous studies by the Maine Justice Action Group that revealed Mainers in poverty experience 1 to 2 legal problems a year.
The top five needs identified by veterans were problems accessing military benefits, job problems including hiring and payment, debt collection including collections harassment, child visitation, custody or support and getting or keeping social security benefits. Service providers reported similar needs for their clients with the additional concerns of problems with landlords, divorce, and getting and keeping government benefits.
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Lawmakers in the State Senate voted 21-14 to provide direct funding for charter schools through the State’s General Purpose Education fund. Charter schools were approved by the Republican-controlled 125th Legislature and have negatively impacted public school funding by taking funds away from public schools.
“The funding of our charter schools is flawed. This measure addresses one of the biggest weaknesses by putting forth a fair funding model,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “This bill helps strengthen all of our schools and I am proud of the bipartisan support this measure.”
- In this year alone, Skowhegan is losing $400,000 and is expected to lose another $650,000 next year to both Cornville and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences.
- The communities of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Topsham and Harpswell (MSAD 75) are expected to lose $300,000 next year to Harpswell Coastal Academy School. The public schools in MSAD 75 serve nearly 2,600 children, while the Harpswell charter school will serve 60 students at most.
“Funding for charter schools should not come at the expense of funding for public schools,” said Senator Rebecca Millett, the Senate Chair of the Education Committee. “Preventing charter schools from draining financial resources from public schools provides relief for local schools, and local property taxpayers. This measure provides more local control over how our property taxes are spent instead of blindly turning money over to charter schools.”
LD 1057, “An Act Related to Public Funding of Charter Schools,” was approved by the House earlier today in an 85-55 vote. It faces further votes in the House.
NASA has eight new astronauts — its first new batch in four years. In fact, four of the eight are women, the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected by NASA. And one is from Maine.
Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35 is from Caribou, Maine. She is a graduate of Brown University, has an advanced degree from the International Space University, and earned her doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Meir currently is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
The eight were chosen from more than 6,000 applications, the second largest number ever received. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says these new candidates will help lead the first human mission to an asteroid, and then Mars.
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According to the 2010 Census, nearly one in seven Mainers is considered “food insecure,” meaning there is a limited or uncertain food supply. The bill would bring together several local and regional groups working on food policy throughout the state, as well as farmers and other interested parties. Today the State Senate unanimously passed a measure to establish a food policy council to develop a plan to increase access to locally grown and sustainable food for more Mainers across the state.
“Quite simply, we can do more to help hungry Mainers. We have the local resources to produce much more food in Maine, and feed many more Maine people. While we struggle with this food crisis, we have farmland ready for production and a labor force ready to work,” said Senate President Justin Alfond, the bill’s sponsor.
Alfond’s bill establishes the Maine Farm-to-Plate Commission, tasked with developing a strategic plan for agricultural economic development and identifying methods and the funding necessary to strengthen links among producers, processors, and markets.
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Peter Alexander and his band will perform July 20, in Brunswick
Peter Alexander and his band will take the stage for a live concert at the Frontier Theater (in Fort Andross Mill, Brunswick) at 8:00 pm on Saturday, July 20. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Please call (207) 725-5222 for tickets and details.
Alexander performs a repertoire of original songs—mainly from his new “Promised Land” CD—with some great covers thrown in, like Jimi Hendrix’ “Little Wing.” Tom Masucci on drums and Sheldon Bird on bass provide an incredibly tight foundation to support Peter’s exciting guitar work and powerful vocals. Johannah Harkness’ voice adds a pleasing blend as the band breaks into four part harmonies, and comes through strong and with attitude when she sings lead. From hard driving rock and roll like “I’ve got a Secret” and “I’ll Just Fade Away” to moving ballads like “Dreaming” and “Vicksburg” this band will make you a part of a memorable musical journey. You can get a taste of their live performance by clicking here.
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Eight water and wastewater projects across Maine will receive grants all together totaling $2.97 million from the USDA Rural Development program. Communities in rural Maine will see drinking water and wastewater systems improved, which could also spur economic development.
“I am pleased that USDA Rural Development can invest nearly $3 million. These projects ensure people living in Maine’s rural areas have access to clean, safe, drinking water and reliable wastewater infrastructure while helping to preserve the environment and the integrity of Maine’s pristine lakes and streams,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.
The following organizations will receive grant funding:
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An investigative report by Colin Woodard of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram revealed that Gov. LePage’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection, Patricia Aho, stalled restrictions on toxic chemicals in everyday products to the benefit of out-of-state corporate interests – including the very same chemical industry she formerly served as a paid lobbyist.
“Shame on Governor LePage for representing the toxic chemical industry, rather than protecting the health of Maine families,” said Amanda Sears, associate director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “The Governor should drop his opposition to the Healthy Kids bill, and put Maine people before toxic politics,” she said, referring to LD 1181, An Act to Further Strengthen the Protection of Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals.
The seven-month investigative news report revealed that the LePage Administration:
* Blocked restrictions on toxic flame retardants made by Aho’s former lobbying clients;
* Failed to name a single priority chemical under the Kid Safe Products Act; and
* When it couldn’t overturn the law in 2011, switched to stalling tactics to thwart it.
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Sarah Matthieu, age 6, is served spaghetti by Governor John Baldacci at his Baldacci Spaghetti Dinner for the Lewiston Fire Relief Fund as her proud grandparents look on. They came out for the dinner to support their community. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Governor John Baldacci hosted a spaghetti supper at the Lewiston High School, on June 12, 2013 for the Lewiston Fire Relief Fund. Thousands of dollars was raised as the community came to bond together and help their neighbors.
“We’re pleased to see a great turn out. There were over 275 people here tonight enjoying each other’s company for a good cause,” said Governor John Baldacci.
Devastating fires on April 29, May 3 and May 6 in downtown Lewiston displaced nearly 200 people and destroyed nine apartment buildings. After the fires Governor Baldacci contacted the United Way of Androscoggin to help create a community gathering that would also raise funds for the victims.
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Tags: Maine's quality of life