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The Maine Emergency Management Agency Prepares for Tropical Storm Isaias

08/04/2020 AUGUSTA, MAINE -The Maine Emergency Management Agency is closely monitoring the track of Tropical Storm Isaias and is working with the Emergency Response Team, County Emergency Management Agencies, the National Weather Service, other State agencies and utilities to prepare for the possibility of damaging winds, rain and power outages. The fast-moving storm is expected to have the most impact […]

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Maine CDC Teams with USDA Wildlife Services to Distribute Rabies Vaccine

07/30/2020 AUGUSTA – Oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits will be distributed in northeastern Maine beginning on or about August 3 through August 7 as part of ongoing, cooperative rabies control efforts aimed at reducing the spread of raccoon rabies in Maine. Approximately 385,000 ORV baits targeting raccoons will be distributed by air and ground over a 2,650-square-mile area. Wildlife Services, a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will distribute the ORV baits in cooperation with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). ORV baits are coated with fishmeal and distributed in one-inch square cubes or two-inch plastic sachets. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits but should leave them undisturbed. This […]

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Mills Administration Announces Further Investment to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19

07/30/2020 AUGUSTA- The Mills Administration announced today an investment of $1 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to significantly and quickly expand services to help reduce the disproportionately large racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 in Maine. This funding through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will expand education, prevention, and eligibility for services currently supported by the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Generally, it will include individuals referred to DHHS by communities at elevated risk of COVID-19. It will support temporary wrap-around services such as food as well as referrals to existing child care, health care, and income support programs. This funding will be provided directly to community-based organizations that are run and led by the communities they serve. […]

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Maine Mills administration adjusts outdoor gathering limit during COVID-19

Augusta, MAINE – The Mills Administration announced today an adjustment to the limit on large gatherings for outdoor activities from 50 to 100 people, effective August 1, 2020. Under the increase, however, no more than 5 people are allowed per 1,000 square feet in order to maintain appropriate physical distancing.    “Recent scientific evidence gives us a better understanding of the relative safety of outdoor activities, as compared to indoor activities,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. “We continue to welcome opportunities for Maine people and businesses to interact in ways that the science indicates pose less risk. Physical distancing, face coverings and hand hygiene remain vital to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Maine as we take this step.”  The adjustment in the outdoor gathering limit is in line with Maine’s evidence-based approach to COVID-19 restrictions and reflects […]

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Maine voters overwhelmingly approved $15 million bond for better internet

July 15, 2020 By Ramona du Houx Maine voters overwhelmingly approved Question 1 on the statewide ballot, authorizing a $15 million bond investment to increase access to high speed internet in underserved and unserved areas of the state. “Voters were clear. They understand that access to high speed internet is a necessity and that no community in Maine should be left behind,” said Nick Battista, co-chair of the Yes on 1 for Better Internet campaign. “Question 1 will help our economy to recover from economic hardships caused by COVID-19, strengthen Maine’s rural economy and help families to connect to their jobs, schools and loved ones. I want to thank all of our partners who supported this campaign, and the voters who […]

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Maine to be first state in nation to use ranked-choice voting for president

July 15, 2020 By Ramona du Houx Efforts to Block Ranked-choice Voting Fail The campaign to repeal ranked-choice voting for president failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot in November. “Voters in Maine have made up their minds about ranked choice voting. They like it, it’s easy to understand and it gives them more voice,” said David Farmer, a spokesperson for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting 2020. “Even after spending more than half a million dollars, opponents of ranked-choice voting couldn’t convince Mainers otherwise. In November, Maine voters will be able to rank their choices for president in a historic first. Today is a good day for voters and for democracy.” “We are grateful to live […]

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Maine joins coalition urging childcare funding in next federal stimulus

07/14/2020   Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general urging the United States Senate to provide robust financial support for childcare providers in the next federal stimulus bill amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter sent to Senate leadership today, the coalition of attorneys general called on Congress to provide robust funding to address the immediate needs of childcare systems around the country. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some childcare providers are operating at reduced capacity or have closed, leaving them with little to no revenue to cover payroll, rent, insurance, and other fixed costs. This additional financial support would help childcare providers fulfill these financial obligations so that they may remain open and […]

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United States District Judge rules in favor of Maine privacy law

07/07/2020 By Ramona du Houx United States District Judge Lance Walker ruled on July 7, 2020 in favor of a landmark privacy law passed by the Maine Legislature and signed by Governor Janet Mills in 2019. The law, LD 946, “An Act To Protect the Privacy of Online Customer Information,” was sponsored by State Senator Shenna Bellows of Manchester and prevents broadband internet service providers operating in Maine from selling or sharing a customer’s personal data without the customers permission. The groundbreaking law was challenged in federal court on preemption and First Amendment grounds by large telecom industry organizations. The Office of the Maine Attorney General defended the Act. “I enthusiastically supported Senator Bellows bill when it was introduced because […]

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Transportation bond – long overdue for Maine

Op-ed by Bruce Van Note, Maine’s transportation commissioner There has never been a more important transportation bond vote in Maine than the one to be decided on July 14. Question 2 asks voters if they support a $105 million state investment in Maine’s transportation infrastructure. This bond will be used to match an estimated $275 million in federal and other funds. Like past years, the vast majority of these funds will be used for highway and bridge projects statewide as planned by the Maine Department of Transportation. Unlike past years, approval of this bond is needed to support projects ready to go to construction this year. If this bond does not pass, the Department of Transportation will have no choice […]

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Report on status of women in Maine released

07/09/2020 Article and photo taken in Portland, Maine by Ramona du Houx Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women  released its 2020 report to Governor Janet Mills and the Maine Legislature on July 9, 2020. The Commission researches and prepares a biennial report https://www.maine.gov/sos/womens-comm/index.html for the legislature that reflects the current status of women and girls in Maine and recommends policy options that will improve their lives. “We are proud of the progress women have made in our states first 200 years of statehood, but as this report shows, Maine women still disproportionately struggle for economic security, experience domestic and sexual violence, and lack access to health care,” said Commissioners Rebecca Austin and Kate Elmes, in a joint statement. The institutional […]

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Maine’s lakes could experience increased algae blooms in summer of 2020

Photo and article by Ramona du Houx July 7, 2020 With record heat and drought-like conditions, Maine’s lakes are more likely to experience algal blooms according to Linda Bacon, Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) lead lakes biologist. Algae are a natural part of healthy freshwater ecosystems, but algae, like land plants love warmth and sun. With abundant sunshine, warm weather and plenty phosphorus from the spring’s runoff Maine lakes have perfect conditions for an algal bloom. When a lake is blooming people often describe the lake water as green. Maine DEP describes an algal bloom as a nuisance bloom when the clarity of the water is 2 meters (6.6 feet) or less. If the water clarity is less than […]

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Maine Legislature to return to work – committees first

AUGUSTA – Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon announced that legislative committees will resume their work on carry-over measures, including holding public hearings and work sessions, in July to prepare for when the Legislature reconvenes for a special session. No final dates for that session have been secured, however Legislative staff have been undertaking the logistical preparations necessary for a return. “In the wake of COVID-19, the Maine Legislature was forced to rapidly switch gears to keep Maine people safe and healthy. Since March, we’ve been working daily to resolve unemployment claims, advocate for our small businesses and connect people with food pantries, health insurance and rental relief,” said President Jackson. “Now, we’re asking lawmakers to tie up […]

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UMaine’s Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory has been recognized as an official TEAMER facility

 Dr. Habib Dagher, Director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine talks with Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx about the floating offshore wind technologies developed at UMaine and tested in the Ocean Engineering Laboratory. The laboratory received initial funding from the American Reinvestment Recovery Act in 2009. Since its completion they’ve tested prototypes from around the world. Photo by Ramona du Houx By Ramona du Houx July 3, 2020 Last June, the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) program officially recognized the Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory as one of their official facilities. TEAMER aims to accelerate promising marine energy technologies by providing access to select U.S. testing facilities within its network. […]

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The UMaine Composites Center awarded $3.2 million for troop protection buildings

The Modular Ballistic Panel System (MBPS) was developed with the US Natick Army Soldier Center and provides soldiers with enhanced ballistic protection, is rapidly deployable, and lightweight. UMaine photo By Ramona du Houx July 2, 2020 Washington, D.C. – The University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) has been awarded a total of $3,215,332 from the U.S. Army Natick Soldiers Systems Center (SSC). The funding will support UMaine ASCC’s continued research to better protect the men and women of our nation’s military, including the development of the Modular Ballistic Protection Systems (MBPS) to protect the lives of personnel in Army tents. UMaine will also work to develop inflatable arches that allow troops to quickly set up shelter. The […]