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Maine State Rep. McDonald bill decriminalizing hypodermic syringes signed into law

LD 994 eliminates the crime of illegal possession of hypodermic syringes. Additionally, possessing a hypodermic syringe with residue of drugs will no longer be considered criminal possession of those drugs. Providing hypodermic syringes to others who may not be able to obtain them on their own will no longer be considered an act of illegal trafficking. Finally, the bill declassifies other items used for safer drug use, as well as testing strips and other items used to determine the contents of a drug from “drug paraphernalia.”   “This is an important victory for Maine’s harm reduction and recovery communities and for public health. The opioid epidemic requires a sharper focus on support, treatment and prevention,” said McDonald. “With this law in place, […]

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Maine Sec. of State issues warning of phishing campaign via text

07/19/2021 AUGUSTA – Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is warning Mainers to be suspicious of text messages they may have received from an entity claiming to be the “Secretary of State Drivers License Facility” which asks the recipient to click a link to complete this verification. The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles does not contact Mainers via text regarding their drivers licenses, said Secretary Bellows. Unfortunately there are bad actors out there attempting to trick well-intentioned people into exposing their personally identifiable information, or exposing their phones or computers to malware. I urge Mainers to be cautious when receiving any texts or emails like this, and if you have any suspicions about messages claiming to be from our office to always […]

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Supreme Court guts voting rights when upholding Arizona’s restrictions, elected officials speak out against biased racist court ruling

July 1, 2021 EOPA, a national coalition of elected officials, says John Lewis Voting Rights Act would uphold the promise of our democracy for all. The following is the statement from the Elected Officials to Protect America about the Supreme Court July 1 decision on Arizona’s voting restrictions: “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted most of what remains of the landmark Voting Rights Act. Once hailed as the most effective civil rights legislation in the nation’s history, with their decision the Supreme Court has turned on the promise of democracy, the promise of equality and equity for all. For without voting rights, communities of color and low income become disenfranchised, and equality and equity unfulfilled dreams. ‘“We the People of […]

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Severe drought in central Maine as dry conditions get worse

Officials warn the trend is expected to continue this summer unless Maine gets prolonged rain. Despite a little rain this week, a section of central Maine is now considered to be suffering a “severe drought” and most of the state is experiencing a moderate one. The state’s Drought Task Force said  “drought conditions have rapidly intensified” in Maine this month “and this trend is expected to continue into summer.” Half the monitoring stations measuring stream flows in the state are at record low levels for this time of year and nearly all of them are well below the normal standards. The U.S. Drought Monitor said the severe drought area in Maine, mostly in Somerset County but also impacting sections of surrounding counties, including […]

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Air quality Alert issued for Maine coastline from ozone concentrations

Maine DEP expects ozone concentrations to reach unhealthy levels on Monday, June 7, 2021 AUGUSTA, June 6, 2021 — Ground-level ozone concentrations will be climbing in Maine on Monday June 7, 2021 and are expected to reach unhealthy levels according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Ozone levels have been high upwind since June 2nd.  High levels began around Lake Michigan and have been slowly migrating eastward.  By Saturday June 5th southern New England had very high levels of ozone even reaching into the Unhealthy (red) category.  Transport winds are expected to direct the higher values to Maine on Monday.  The unhealthy levels of ozone are possible along the entire coastline. At elevated ozone levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory […]

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Maine Technology Institute solicits proposals for the Maine Clean Energy Innovation Challenge grants until June 18

May 2021 By Ramona du Houx The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) began soliciting proposals for the Maine Clean Energy Innovation Challenge that was announced by Governor Janet Mills on Earth Day. In collaboration with the Governor’s Energy Office, MTI developed the challenge to catalyze the deployment of innovative clean energy technology solutions in Maine. During the Baldacci administration grants for innovative technologies came from MTI, funded by bonds the people of Maine voted on. The program successfully helped many businesses advance the clean energy economy. The University of Maine’s VolturnUS offshore wind scale model prototype was helped by a MTI bond backed grant, then federal grants followed. Today the project is America’s leading offshore floating wind technology. Now, MTI has […]

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Maine Secretary of State hosts student artists and their artwork at office

May 28, 2021 Secretary of State Shenna Bellows hosted student artists from King Middle School in Portland and Sweetland School in Hope, Assistant House Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross viewed the students’ artwork and poetry on display in the Secretary of State’s main office. The students made the artwork in partnership with Americans Who Tell the Truth, a non-profit arts and education organization founded to foster and inspire a profound sense of citizenship in students. “Challenging young people to think deeply about the world and their place in it through art and poetry is a wonderful project and we’re honored to display it,” said Secretary Bellows. “I was delighted to get the chance to meet the students and hear what they […]

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Maine legislative committee advances Rep. Berry’s bill to create Pine Tree Power to replace CMP and Versant 

June 1,2021 By Ramona du Houx The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee voted to advance a historic bill June 1, 2021 to replace Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant with the Pine Tree Power Company, a consumer-owned electric utility dedicated to providing Mainers with lower cost, locally controlled, more reliable, cleaner electricity. Over the years, many people have testified that CMP has not been responsible to customer needs. From responding too slowly to restore power after storms to billing customers inflated rates, the electricity giant has misused its power. The majority of the committee members voted in favor of LD 1708, sponsored by the committee’s House chair, Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, as amended. The vote was 9-2, earning support from Republican and […]

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70 Percent of Mainers 12 and older have received on shot of COVID-19 vaccine

Governor Janet Mills announced today that Maine has reached another vaccination milestone, delivering at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 70 percent of Maine people eligible to receive a vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) tracker. Maine has now given at least one shot of a vaccine to 70.5 percent of Maine people 12 and older. President Biden set a July 4 goal of delivering at least one shot to 70 percent of adult (18+) Americans. Maine met that goal on May 12, 53 days ahead of July 4. With today’s achievement, Maine has again met that goal ahead of schedule, but now for a larger eligible population: people 12 years and older. […]

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Rep. Cloutier’s bill to establish grant program for family caregivers approved unanimously by committee

The Maine Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously on May 24, 2021 to advance a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston, that would establish the Family Caregiver Grant Pilot Program. If passed into law, the proposed legislation will give certified family caregivers the opportunity to receive $2,000. As outlined in the bill, this program would provide caregivers the choice to receive a direct payment for care provided or the use of the existing Respite Care program to access support in the community. The measure would also examine the needs of families served by the Respite Care Fund by requiring the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to establish a stakeholder group to make recommendations for […]

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Master Wood Carver from Russia to teach in Camden, Maine June 16

The Camden Public Library and Maine Coast Workshop invite the public to attend a special online presentation by world-renowned wood carving master Alexander Grabovetskiy on Wednesday, June 16, at 7:00 pm. Maine Coast Workshop is hosting Grabovetskiy at their studio in Camden for a 5-day immersion workshop. This Zoom event is a unique opportunity for the community to get a peek at the craft of classical wood carving.  Maine Coast Workshops is a small woodworking school in Camden; the school offers a limited number of classes each year, with a focus on traditional eighteenth-century American craft.  Email jpierce@librarycamden.org to request a Zoom link to attend this free online event. Grabovetskiy has hand-carved many pieces for luxury homes around the world. “He has been called the world’s finest carver,” […]

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Moody’s and S&P affirm Maine’s strong credit rating which makes investments in bond good

May 28, 2021 Ramona du Houx Affirmation of Maine’s credit ratings come as other states struggle to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings, global companies that analyze and issue reports of credit worthiness, have affirmed their strong credit ratings and stable outlooks on the State of Maine’s general obligation debt. Moody’s affirmed both their Aa2 rating and stable outlook while S&P affirmed their AA rating and stable outlook. In its affirmation, S&P praised Maine’s “active budget management” and the State’s “steady progress in strengthening its reserve profile” while noting that the State’s cash pool is “very good.” Moody’s stated that Maine has a “strong financial position with adherence to governance best practices.” The […]

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Eight Maine communities chosen for climate change pilot planning projects

June 1, 2021 By Ramona du Houx Funding from Maine Climate Council will support climate resilience planning in Aroostook, Cumberland, and Sagadahoc counties, develop model processes for Maine  Eight Maine communities have been selected to participate in pilot projects for local climate resilience planning, to help them prepare for effects of climate change and develop climate planning models for towns […]

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Annual reports for Maine business and nonprofit entities are due Tuesday, June 1

05/18/2021  AUGUSTA, Maine – Annual reports are due on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 for all business and nonprofit entities on file with the Secretary of State’s office as of December 31, 2020. Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is reminding those who must file that they can do so quickly and easily using the Secretary of State’s online filing system. To file online, go to https://www10.informe.org/aro/index_on.html . Payment can be made by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, electronic check or with a subscriber account. The annual report fee is $85 for domestic business entities, $150 for foreign business entities and $35 for domestic or foreign nonprofit corporations. Entities that filed online in a previous year will be able to review and update their information as […]

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Maine state Rep. McDonald’s balloon plastic pollution bill wins strong House vote

The Maine House gave its initial approval May 19, 2021,to a bill defining intentional balloon releases as an act of littering. LD 1023, sponsored by Rep. Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington, addresses an issue that fishermen have wrestled with under the radar for years. The vote was 83-64. “Discarded balloons are one of the most common types of plastic that we see on the water,” said Rep. McDonald. “People may not realize they are littering, damaging ocean life and harming our livelihoods, but that’s exactly what is happening. I’m grateful my colleagues agree it’s time to define intentional balloon releases as an act of littering so that people know how they are affecting Maine fishermen and the marine ecosystem.”  Data from the U.S. Fish and […]

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Committee advances State Rep. Blume’s bill to help Maine prepare for sea level rise

AUGUSTA – Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York, has sponsored a bill, LD 1572, to help the state plan for the amount of sea level rise that is scientifically predicted by the turn of the next century. The Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources voted to advance the bill on a 10-3 vote last week. “Sea level rise will have a serious impact […]