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DEP seeks grant proposals for first round of 2022 waste diversion projects

January18 2022  The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is soliciting grant proposals to support the development, implementation or improvement of programs, initiatives or activities designed to increase the diversion of solid waste from disposal.  Last year, the DEP awarded a total of $117,876.50 to fund 7 waste diversion projects across Maine. These grants are supporting efforts to: increase efficiencies, […]

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Maine legislation introduced to modernize liens and titling at Bureau of Motor Vehicles MV

01/18/2022 AUGUSTA – Secretary of State Shenna Bellows testified in favor of a bill to advance an electronic lien and title system at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles during a public hearing in the Legislature’s Transportation Committee on Thursday. The bill, L.D. 1843, https://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280082219 “An Act To Allow the Secretary of State To Use an Electronic Lien Titling Program for the Purposes of the Maine Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title and Antitheft Act” was introduced by Rep. Mike Perkins, R-Oakland. “When I started as Secretary of State, we had a titles backlog of 78,000. This meant people were waiting weeks for titles, and it was reportedly having a negative impact on dealer sales,” said Secretary Bellows. “We made a number of changes at BMV […]

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Over 450 scientists sign letter that calls on PR and ad agencies to drop fossil fuel clients

Advertising and public relations campaigns for fossil fuels must stop or they’ll make the climate crisis worse, say over 450 scientists. By Ramona du Houx January 19, 2022 Over 450 scientists have signed a letter released this morning calling on public relations and advertising agencies to stop working with fossil fuel companies and spreading climate disinformation. This is the first time that […]

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Maine Emergency Management warns of dangerously cold temperatures

01/14/2022 AUGUSTA, MAINE – Plummeting temperatures combined with gusty winds will create very cold to dangerously cold wind chills as low as -40F across sections of Maine this evening into tomorrow morning. The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is urging people to use caution during these extreme temperatures. The National Weather Service in Caribou says expect to see snow and blowing snow in far eastern Washington County beginning this afternoon. Aroostook County is also concerned about white-out conditions. “We are looking at another round of dangerously cold temperatures. I again urge Mainers to use extreme caution, look in on your neighbors and stay safe,” said MEMA Director Peter Rogers. Citizens are encouraged to stay tuned to alerts and warnings through media […]

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Maine families are struggling without January Child Tax Credit payments – we need the Build Back Better Act

Senators Manchin and Sinema need to vote for the Build Back Better Act January 14, 2022 In 2021, the expanded monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) drastically reduced child poverty, provided a buffer against rising costs, and dramatically improved the overall wellbeing of children in America. But that lifeline ended December 15th for more than 200,000 children in Maine and tens of millions of families across the country, because Congress failed to pass Build Back Better Act. The Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University reported that the child tax credit reached 61.1 million children, lifting about 3.6 million kids out of poverty. A U.S. Census Bureau report found that most families were using the payments for necessities like food, rent and utilities. […]

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Attorney General Aaron M. Frey announces $1.85 billion settlement with student loan servicer Navient

January 14, 2022 Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey filed a Complaint and Consent Judgment today in Kennebec County Superior Court resolving alleged unfair and deceptive practices in connection with Navient’s student loan serving business. The settlement will require court approval. According to the attorneys general, the interest that accrued because of Navients forbearance steering practices was added to the borrowers loan balances, pushing borrowers further in debt. Had the company instead provided borrowers with the help it promised, income-driven repayment plans could have potentially reduced payments to as low as $0 per month, provided interest subsidies, and/or helped attain forgiveness of any remaining balance after 20-25 years of qualifying payments (or 10 years for borrowers qualified under the Public Service Loan […]

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Deployment of National Guard members to 16 health care facilities across Maine

Augusta, MAINE – Following engagement with Maine’s hospitals, Governor Janet Mills announced today that the 169 members of the Maine National Guard she activated earlier this week will deploy to 16 health care facilities across the state beginning January 20, 2022. Governor Mills activated the additional Guard members in response to record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine, the majority of which are among people who are not vaccinated. As of today, there are a near record high 424 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, including 109 in critical care and 57 on ventilators, leaving only 46 adult intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Maine. “I am grateful to the Maine National Guard and to health care workers across the state who are working day and night to […]

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Public hearing on bill to increase access to voting in Maine, helps tribes

January 12, 2022 AUGUSTA – The Department of Secretary of State and Senator Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, proposed several changes to Maine’s election law to increase access to voting and streamline election administration. L.D. 1830, “An Act To Amend the Election Laws” https://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280082180 is the Departments agency bill which traditionally is introduced each year to update Maine election laws. Among other issues, this bill addresses proof of identity for tribal members, the right to vote for residents of nursing homes and other residential care facilities and petition forms. Specifically, the legislation allows identification cards from federally recognized Indian tribes to be used as proof of identity when registering to vote. The bill also updates laws about voting on-site in nursing homes that pre-dated […]

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Maine state Rep. Dunphy introduces bill to support school staff in unorganized territories

January 12,2022 AUGUSTA – House Majority Leader Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, introduced LD 1780, An Act To Allow Unorganized Territory School Staff to Receive Annualized Pay, before the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs on Tuesday. The bill would allow unorganized territory school staff to have the option to receive annualized pay. This option would give teachers and critical support staff, including education technicians, bus drivers and janitors, the opportunity to receive a consistent year-round income. Currently, schools in unorganized territories are at a disadvantage for hiring quality staff, as there are many surrounding school districts who already provide this option. The legislation would also ensure that school staff do not have to decide between forgoing insurance coverage during the […]

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President Biden and Vice President Harris call on Senate to change Filibuster so voting rights are upheld for all Americans

 By Ramona du Houx On January 11, 2022, during a speech in the late Congressman John Lewis’ district, President Biden and Vice President Harris called on the Senate to change the Senate rules to pass the Freedom To Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. “The right to vote and have that vote count, it is democracy’s threshold liberty. […]

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Maine State Rep. Evans introduces bill to advance affordable health care coverage

January 11, 2022 AUGUSTA – Rep. Richard Evans, D-Dover Foxcroft, introduced legislation Tuesday to improve health care affordability and increase options for comprehensive coverage for individuals and small businesses in Maine. If passed into law, LD 1778 would require the Office of Affordable Health Care, an independent, nonpartisan agency, to analyze barriers to affordable health care and develop proposals on potential methods to improve affordability and coverage. Speaking before the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee, Evans said that without access to affordable health care, Maine families and communities suffer. “Access to affordable health care is not just an issue of quality of life. It is an economic imperative,” said Rep Evans. “I think we can all agree that Maine’s local, […]

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Over 100 people, including Maine’s Gov. Mills, testified in support of the Equal Rights Amendment

January 11, 2022 AUGUSTA – Rep. Lois Galgay Reckitt, D-South Portland, introduced legislation January 11, 2022 to amend the Maine Constitution to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on the sex of an individual. The proposal, LD 344, is part of a 50-year effort Galgay Reckitt has been involved in to get states to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment. During the bill’s public hearing before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, over 100 individuals testified in support of the measure. “It’s no secret, I have been advocating for a federal Equal Rights Amendment every day since 1972. In 1973, as a private citizen, I lobbied the Maine Legislature to ratify that proposal – losing in the Senate by one vote. The next year, in 1974, I did the […]

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Additional Maine National Guard deployment to support hospitals In response to COVID-19 surge

FEMA also approves Mills Administration’s request for two Federal COVID-19 Surge Response Teams for MaineHealth and Central Maine Medical Center Augusta, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills announced today that she will activate up to an additional 169 members of the Maine National Guard to help alleviate short-term capacity constraints at hospitals and maintain access to inpatient health care for Maine people amid record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations. The Governor today directed the activation of these additional Guard members to serve in non-clinical support roles at health care facilities across the state. The Guard members will help hospitals maintain capacity by freeing up clinical staff to focus on patient care. Their assistance will also open additional beds at nursing facilities, in swing bed units, and at other “decompression […]

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Infrastructure spending can not facilitate sawing down our National Forests

BY CAROLE KING, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 01/11/22  In The HILL The already-enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill allocated billions of dollars to facilitate logging in our national forests, with scant public awareness of those provisions. The House-passed Build Back Better bill contains similar sections.  Over 200 U.S. climate scientists and ecologists oppose those logging provisions. As negotiations resume, lawmakers could achieve compromise by excluding sections providing billions more for “restoration,” “fuel reduction,” “forest health,” and other euphemisms for commercial logging. Removing those provisions would free up money to extend the child tax credit, which families have been putting back into the economy through buying food, gas, toilet paper, medicines, and shoes for growing children, among other necessities.  But the cost of logging on public land is […]

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Maine’s Commission on College Debt meets to study loan impact on graduates

January 10, 2022 In July of 2021, Maine announced that it would be formally study the burden of student debt on its graduates. The state, which has the sixth-highest student loan average nationwide, reinstated Maine’s Commission to Study College Affordability and College Completion. Just this November, the Commission officially held their first meeting, comprised of legislators, educators, college representatives, and other stakeholders. […]

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Maine Emergency Management Agency urges caution in extreme cold temperatures

01/10/2022  AUGUSTA, MAINE -The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is urging residents and visitors to use caution during extreme cold temperatures. The National Weather Service in Gray forecasts temperatures below zero this evening and Tuesday night with wind chills between 15-30 below zero tomorrow morning. Wind chill warnings and wind chill advisories have been issued for late this evening through tomorrow morning. Snow squalls are also predicted across southwest Maine that may impact this evening’s commute. “With extreme cold temperatures coming to Maine this week, I encourage Maine people to take every precaution to stay warm and to check on friends, family and neighbors to ensure they are safe,” said Governor Janet Mills. “For those who are concerned about their ability to […]