U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud was recognized by the Southern Maine Labor Council (SMLC) with their Working Class Hero Award today. Fellow Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree and SMLC President Douglas Born presented Michaud with the award at the organization’s annual Labor Day Breakfast in Portland.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive this award from the Southern Maine Labor Council. Maine’s workforce represents the heart of our communities and the true engine of our economy,” said Michaud. “I’ve never forgotten my roots, and I’ve never forgotten the importance of using my position in Congress to work for the betterment of all Maine families. I know that by continuing to stand side-by-side, we can keep making meaningful advancements on the issues most important to Maine families.”
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Tags: Congressman Mike Michaud·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Back in 2005 the Federal Government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced that there would be closures of military bases across the country. Maine was targeted at three major facilities: Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center (DFAS) in Limestone.
The State’s Congressional Delegation swung into action along with Gov. John Baldacci, and the communities effected. Press conferences and meetings were held at each threatened facility, sometimes one a day at each location, and Congressman Mike Michaud was at the majority of them, from promoting the attributes of workers in Limestone to rallying shipyard employees in Portsmouth. He fought for the workers and their communities in Portsmouth and BNAS in Maine and D.C., even though those bases were not in his congressional district.
After ten years of reporting on the Congressman’s activities, I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to him that making sure the people of Maine are treated fairly and have good paying jobs with healthcare benefits.
Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Recently we talked about his economic development plans for Maine.
Q: What is your highest priority?
My biggest priority is building a Maine economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us. That starts with job creation, but it also means an intense focus on education, starting with early childhood, and continuing through college; it means a higher minimum wage and expanded access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, and 3,000 veterans; and it means empowering business to grow and expand.
Under Gov. LePage and his failed policies, Maine has lagged behind the rest of New England in private-sector job growth. His “open for business” policy is nothing but rhetoric. He’s actually driven hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector investment out of the state.
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Tags: Agriculture·Congressman Mike Michaud·Elections in Maine·Jobs·Maine·Maine's 2014 governor's race·Maine's quality of life
Tags: Climate change·Maine's quality of life
“When women succeed, America succeeds,” said President Obama at a executive order singing event for equal pay at the White House. Women compose nearly half of the American workforce – yet, according to the latest U.S. Census statistics, on average, full-time working women still earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by men.
On Equal Pay Day, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree welcomed the executive order by President Obama that bans retaliation against employees of federal contractors who discuss their salaries. Pingree and female colleagues in the House had written to Obama in January urging him to issue such an order.
One of the first bills that Pingree voted for in Congress—and the first that President Obama signed—was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The law makes it easier for women to recover lost wages to discrimination. At the executive order bill singing Ledbetter said many women still don’t know that discrimination is happening. Ledbetter only found out about the discrepancy in her pay when co-worker sent her a note saying she was getting paid less. After that Ledbetter went to court and it was disclosed that a man in her same job had earned over 200,000 more than she did during the same time period. But the court also said she was too late filing the lawsuit against her employer. That provision is gone due to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
“Despite the strides we’ve made in recent years, women continue to earn 21 percent less than their male counterparts for doing the same work in Maine,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “I was proud to pass legislation in Maine more than a decade ago instituting Equal Pay Day. We’re reminded today that more still needs to be done to ensure women are receiving equal pay as men. It’s unbelievable that women who do the same jobs as men stand to make substantially less money – just because of their gender. Both women and men serve as breadwinners for families, and both women and men face the same financial obligations and challenges. It’s time for us to take action that corrects this inequity once and for all.”
Michaud is running for Maine Governor against Gov. Paul LePage and Independent Elliot Cutlar.
“Wage discrimination is still a problem in the workplace but many women may not even know they are making less than their male counterparts. Nearly half of all workers in the country are either prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay,” said Pingree. “If you don’t know you are being discriminated against, it’s impossible to do something about it.”
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Tags: Civil Rights·Equal pay·Equality·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
US Capitol. photo by Ramona du Houx
Shenna Bellows, Maine’s Democratic candidate for United States Senate, declared her solidarity with farmers and brewers alike in the face of the FDA’s new proposed rule pertaining to the regulation of spent grains. Spent grains, which are brewers’ byproduct of a brewing process called mashing, are commonly used as a valuable source of food for livestock at local farms.
“This is an example of government regulation at its worst – harming Maine’s emerging craft brewing industry and many small farmers to benefit a few large agricultural corporations,” said Bellows. “It is wasteful and counterproductive to mandate that spent grains be sent to a landfill rather than local farmers. To protect our local economies and the environment, I urge the FDA to exempt craft brewers from this onerous regulation.”
THe new rule would mostly affect small- and medium-sized farms and create conditions where only big companies would be able to survive. Craft brewers, farmers, and other opponents of the regulations would like to see spent grains granted an exemption from the FDA’s regulations, which would increase regulations surrounding livestock feed.
The regulations are pursuant to the controversial Food Safety Modernization Act voted for by Republican incumbent Senator Susan Collins.
Candidate Bellows submitted her comments to the FDA today expressing her opposition to the draft regulations.
Tags: Agriculture·Farming in Maine·Maine's quality of life
Maine Public lands at risk because of a back door deal with the LePage Administration. photo by Ramona du Houx
According to a new investigative report issued today by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the LePage Administration over the past two years privately developed a plan to dramatically increase logging on Maine’s public lands without disclosing the plan to Maine lawmakers or the public and without providing a science-based justification or opportunity for public comment. Internal documents secured by NRCM reveal that the state foresters and land managers responsible for timber management in Maine’s public forests initially were excluded from discussions of the plan, which departs radically from a decades-long state policy to grow bigger, older trees in Maine’s public forests.
The new report, Maine’s Big Old Trees at Risk from Administration’s Plan to Increase Logging on Public Lands, draws from dozens of internal documents secured by NRCM through information requests to the Maine Forest Service and Bureau of Parks and Lands. NRCM also filed a Freedom of Access Act request last November with the Governor’s Office, but has yet to receive any of the requested documents more than four months later.
“The State is planning to cut our forests faster than they are growing back, and cut the best trees owned by the people of Maine,” said Cathy Johnson, attorney and North Woods Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Maine’s previous policy was to grow bigger, older trees on public lands, because there are so few places left in northern Maine with anything close to a mature forest with older trees. But the Administration’s plan would be is a complete reversal.”
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Tags: Government transparency·Maine's quality of life
The Affordable Care Act federal funds are expected to generate $1 million per day in economic activity and 4,000 jobs at a time when Maine ranks 50th in the nation for private sector job growth. For the first three years under the Affordable Care Act the state would not pay a penny for the program. After that the state would only have to pay 10 percent or less. All the state has to do is tell Washington, D.C. we want to participate in the ACA. But Governor Paul LePage vetoed any chance last year of that happening. Now the Democrats have put it back on the table and Republicans have put forward their own proposal. Both measures would have to have a two-thirds vote to override a LePage veto. Lawmakers are hoping to merge the two proposals.
Opponents of the bipartisan effort to provide health care to 70,000 Mainers are proposing a false “alternative,” which would leave 36,000 Mainers without care. Some are even encouraging Mainers to falsify their income in order to qualify for the health subsidies on the federal exchange. Federal law makes clear that individuals earning income under 100 percent of the federal poverty level are not eligible for financial assistance to purchase private insurance on the health exchange.
In a column printed in the Morning Sentinel, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Michael Thibodeau suggests those earning under 100 percent of the federal poverty level should knowingly overestimate their income in order to qualify.
“Maine should not turn its back on tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens, including veterans, low wage workers and those recovering from serious illness. We certainly shouldn’t be suggesting they falsify their income levels to qualify for subsidies on the insurance exchange,” said Speaker Mark Eves. “Lawmakers should seize the opportunity to come together around a good-faith compromise to ensure Maine families can have access to a family doctor.”
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Tags: Government transparency·Maine's quality of life
Governor Paul LePage has wasted nearly $200,000 additional funds to pay for the controversial no-bid Alexander Group contract.The Alexander Group, has produced a biased report in Pennsylvania. Their initial work in Maine exhibited the same level of unprofessionalism. Lawmakers have submitted a bill, An Act to Cancel the No-Bid Alexander Group Contract to Produce Savings in Fiscal Year 2014, in order to prevent further waste of taxpayer dollars.
“It amazes me that the state continues to pay the Alexander Group when there is no new product,” said bill sponsor Rep. Richard Farnsworth, the House Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “It seems to me that standard business practice is that you pay when you receive either goods or services. At this point we have received only flawed goods and only a small portion of those goods at that.”
On Feb. 7, the administration made a payment of $193,360, bringing total taxpayer dollars spent on the failed contract to $378,000 total, according to payment records from the non-partisan Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review. The contract is expected to cost taxpayers $1 million, if it continues.
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Tags: Government transparency·Maine's quality of life·Need the ACA in Maine
On a telephone town hall forum last Thursday night, Congressman Mike Michaud joined more than 1,000 members and supporters of the Maine People’s Alliance to answer questions about federal and state health care issues and discuss how everyday Mainers can get involved in the effort to accept federal funding in order to expand health care coverage in Maine.
“Mainers are already seeing the advantage of the Affordable Care Act and hopefully this legislature will be able to move forward with the expansion of the MaineCare program which is not only the morally right thing to do, as it will cover approximately 70,000 people but it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do as well,” said Michaud during the event. “Maine will save approximately $600 million over a ten year timeframe because of that expansion and hospitals will receive an addition $438 million over that timeframe. It’s a win-win all the way around.”
Michaud worked in Congress to make sure Maine was able to access an enhanced reimbursement rate for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and has been outspoken in favor of the state accepting federal funding. More recently, has been meeting with and hearing the stories of some of the 70,000 Mainers who would be helped by expanding coverage.
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Tags: Congressman Mike Michaud·Health Care in Maine·Maine's quality of life
Green Living, an eco-conscious lifestyle magazine, has declared Portland Maine as one of 7 Happy Cities in America.Green Living magazine, published in Scottsdale Arizona, declared Portland as the only one “Happy City” in the East.
“This designation by Green Living confirms what Portland residents already know – that life is good here,” said Mayor Michael Brennan.
Simone Butler of Green Living magazine indicates that Portland is one community that “reigns superior” as a result of national polls and surveys.
Portland’s organic foodie atmosphere was emphasized, as well as having the best lobster in the county.Other benefits the magazine listed were that the city has “impressive air and water quality”, waterways for boating and the scenic White Mountains for hiking and other outdoor adventures. They also identified the lower than average obesity rate and twice as many physicians per capita than other cities.
The others that made the list were San Diego, CA., Honolulu, HI., Boulder, CO., Bend, OR., Lincoln, NE., and Minneapolis, MIN.
Tags: Maine·Maine's quality of life·Portland