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Koch not stopping business in Russia despite major US companies halting operations

March 18, 2022 Pressure is mounting on Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by the rightwing billionaire Charles Koch, to pull out of Russia after it was revealed it was continuing to do business in Russia through three wholly-owned subsidiaries. Hundreds of companies including Coca-Cola, KPMG, McDonald’s, Netflix and Starbucks have paused operations in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. But, as news site Popular Information revealed, […]

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President Biden bans imports of Russian oil, liquified natural gas and coal

March 8, 2022 By Ramona du Houx On March 8, 2022 President Biden signed an Executive Order (E.O.) to ban the import of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal to the United States. This represents a significant action with widespread bipartisan support that will further deprive President Putin of the economic resources he uses to continue his horrific war of choice. The United States does not rely on Russian energy sources. The US is a net exporter. While Europe, on average imports 40 percent from Russian. Germany alone depends on Russia for 60 percent of their fossil fuel needs. In announcing the restrictions from the White House, Biden said the action was designed to target “the main artery of […]

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Maine Judiciary Committee advances O’Neil bill to protect biometric identifiers

March 4, 2022 By Ramona du Houx AUGUSTA – In a tripartisan vote, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee advanced a bill on March 1, 2022 from Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco, aimed at protecting the right to privacy by regulating corporate collection and use of biometric identifiers. “It is no secret that our personal information is collected, used and monetized at an alarming rate,” said Rep O’Neil. “In Maine, there are essentially no restrictions on the ways that Big Tech and other corporations can collect our biometric data, and what they can do with our data. I sponsored this bill to protect our personal data and to empower Mainers with a choice about what companies do with it.” LD 1945 would require companies to […]

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Biden signs a law to avoid silencing sexual harassment in companies

March 4, 2022 By Ramona du Houx Washington – The US president, Joe Biden , signed a law on Thursday that will make it difficult to silence cases of sexual harassment in companies and that gives victims more tools to be able to report them in court. Some 60 million American workers have included in their contracts the obligation to resolve disputes about sexual harassment through arbitration processes, “and many do not even know it,” said President Biden said during the State of the Union. The fine print in many contracts refers to the arbitration processes which the majority of people tend to overlook. Journalist Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual abuse lawsuit against Roger Ailes led to the resignation of that powerful former president […]

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DOE releases comprehensive strategy to secure America’s clean energy supply chain

February 24, 2022 DOE Releases First-Ever Comprehensive Strategy to Secure America’s Clean Energy Supply Chain DOE Report Includes Over 60 Actions to Enhance Supply Chain Resiliency, Spur Domestic Manufacturing Capacity, and Create Millions of Good Paying Jobs for American Workers WASHINGTON, D.C. — On February 24, 2022 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released America’s first comprehensive plan to ensure security and increase our energy independence. The sweeping report, “America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition,” lays out dozens of critical strategies to build a secure, resilient, and diverse domestic energy sector industrial base that will establish America’s role as a global leader in clean energy manufacturing and innovation. In addition to spurring job creation and […]

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ConnectMaine receives major award to connect dozens of rural communities with broadband

U.S. Department of Commerce Grant will enable the ConnectMaine Authority, municipalities, internet service providers to connect more than 11,000 households February 25, 2022 The ConnectMaine Authority today celebrated an announcement that it has been awarded a $28 million grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce to bring fast, affordable internet service to thousands of unserved homes across the state. The award will […]

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Mills Administration distributes more than $9 Million n MaineCare to behavioral health providers for mental health and substance services

02/24/2022 01:13 PM EST Additional support comes as Maine launches state’s first comprehensive crisis center The Mills Administration announced today that, starting next week, it will begin distributing $9.3 million in monthly MaineCare payments to 442 mental health and substance use disorder service providers to support immediate workforce needs as the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) advances its long-term plan to ensure Maine people have access to high-value behavioral health care in their communities. DHHS is prioritizing the payments to bolster community-based services for mental health and substance use disorders that have been strained by the pandemic and its ongoing effects. The $9.3 million in supplemental payments, which come from the biennial budget passed by the Legislature and signed by […]

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Maine leads Nation in making WIC (food stamp) transactions at farms easier

02/23/2022 Nutrition program adds phone app to expand access to local produce AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) today announced that Maine is the first state in the nation where participants in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program can use a phone app to get fruit and vegetables from farm stands and farmers markets throughout the state. Participants can download the mobile-to-mobile app, called Bnft, to redeem benefits for produce from farmers certified for electronic WIC (eWIC) transactions. Maine CDC launched eWIC in 2020, transitioning from paper food vouchers to an electronic benefit transfer card that could no longer be redeemed with Maine farmers year-round. This new transaction capability and barcode scanning process returns […]

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Maine state Rep. Meyer introduces bill to bolster prevention efforts against child abuse and neglect

By Ramona du Houx February 23, 3022 Rep. Michele Meyer, D-Eliot, introduced a bill before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday that seeks to restore Maine’s once successful child welfare system. The proposal comes in response to 2021 being the worst year on record for children’s deaths involving abuse and neglect in households with prior involvement with child protective services. “Maine’s […]

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Maine state Rep. Salisbury receives Outstanding Woman of 2022 Award

February 22,2022 Rep. Sue Salisbury, D-Westbrook, was selected from over 120 nominees as one of 20 Outstanding Women of 2022. Coast 93.1 and Hannaford offer this recognition to women in Maine who go above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their communities. As a small business owner, chair of the Westbrook school committee and state representative, Salisbury is an active member of her community in a multitude of ways.  “I am so happy to receive this recognition and for the opportunity to connect with other amazing Maine women working hard for their communities and our state,” said Salisbury. In the Legislature, Salisbury chairs the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Caucus and the Food Insecurity Caucus. The […]

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EOPA, an organization of thousands of elected officials, says Supreme Court W.V. case is trying to gut the Clean Air Act and block climate action

February 24, 2022 By Ramona du Houx On February 28, 2022, the Supreme Court will hear a case brought by West Virginia, supported by 18 other Republican-led states, that takes aim at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to issue strict regulations to curb pollution from fossil fuel-fired power stations. “We cannot delay curbing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing solutions […]

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Public Utilities Commission unanimously approves one-time utility bill credit of $90 for low-income Maine households

February 17, 2022 “This initiative provides immediate relief for Maine people from increased electricity rates caused by escalating costs of natural gas,” said Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office.  The Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) unanimous approval of a one-time utility bill credit of $90 for low-income Maine households will help 90,000 low income Mainers. “We recognize the importance of this assistance during a time when energy costs are increasing globally,” said Commission Chairman Philip L. Bartlett II. “We also have an open proceeding looking at revising our Low-income Assistance Program to provide longer term relief for utility customers most in need. For those still in need of assistance, we urge you to speak with your utility or visit the […]

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ME will merge individual and small group health insurance markets in 2023 to create more stable pricing in both

February 15, 2022 As outlined in Governor Mills’ 2020 Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, which passed in the Legislature on a bipartisan basis, Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa issued an Order that will merge Maine’s Individual and Small Group Health Insurance markets. This historic action will create more stable pricing in both its Individual and Small Group health insurance markets, starting in 2023. The merger, which will pool the risks of the two markets and roll the Small Group coverage into the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA), is projected to reverse the trend of steady premium increases and declining enrollments in Maine’s Small Group Market, while supporting continued stable pricing in the Individual Market. Superintendent Cioppa has applied to the […]

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Lawmakers advance ME Rep. Gramlich’s proposal to increase behavioral health support for first responders

February 10, 2022 The Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Monday to advance a proposal by Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, to increase behavioral health support for Maine’s first responders. The vote was 6-5 with two members absent. LD 1504 would ensure Maine’s first responders, including firefighters, emergency medical services and public safety telecommunicators, have access to behavioral health care services that will mitigate the impact of traumatic events encountered in the line of duty. “Our firefighters and first responders are exposed to traumatic events on the job, from routine calls to community-wide tragedies. This has a cumulative impact on these brave men and women over time,” said Rep. Gramlich. “I have worked closely with stakeholders on […]

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Energy committee advances Rep. Berry’s bill to protect public safety facilities from sudden utility service disconnection

By Ramona du Houx February 11, 2022 In a 10-2 vote, a bipartisan majority of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee voted last week to advance a bill sponsored by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, that would protect public safety facilities from sudden utility service disconnection. As amended, LD 1847 would require a public utility to provide 60 days’ advance written notice to public safety facilities of its intent to terminate or disconnect service, as well as to obtain prior authorization from the Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Public Safety. A committee amendment also requires that the utility carry out the law without demanding additional guaranteed profits as part of future rates. At the bill’s public hearing last month, Berry […]

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Maine real-estate sales have record year

JANUARY SALES SET SECOND-HIGHEST NUMBERS ON RECORD February 18, 2022 Maine realtors experienced the second-best January sales month on record for single-family existing homes last month. According to Maine Listings, while the statistics technically indicate a decline of 7.2 percent in sales compared to January 2021, overall numbers are still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic years. Madeline Hill, 2022 President of the Maine Association of REALTORS® and Designated Broker at Roxanne York Real Estate on Bailey Island, explains. “Buyer demand remains strong for residential real estate in Maine. Home sales in January 2022 are above the pre-pandemic January 2020 sales volume by nearly 10 percent but are 7.2 percent lower than January a year ago. Markets remain strong statewide but are constrained due to the low availability […]