Archive for March, 2014

Governor LePage EBT/ TANF Reform Bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 & 1842 Get Public Hearing (VIDEOS)

Posted on March 27, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

DSC_0044One day after Governor LePage, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew and others held a press conference in the governor’s cabinet room to roll out multiple EBT/ TANF reform measures, the bills were presented to the Legislature’s HHS Committee at a public hearing. After hearing the bills presented and discussed by supporters and opponents at a public hearing, the committee met again for a work session on Wednesday.

Ultimately the committee passed LD 1822, as amended, which would prohibit the use of electronic benefit transaction (EBT) cards in smoke shops, expanding upon current law that prohibits their use at liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos, sanction individuals who misuse the card, notify recipients of temporary assistance that funds should not be used to purchase tobacco or alcohol or used to post bail, require recipients to sign an understanding of where EBT cards could be used and send similar notification to merchants.

They also passed LD 1820 (amended as a resolve), which would direct the Department of Health and Human Services fraud unit to work with the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute the use of Maine-issued EBT cards out of state by non-residents and report back to the committee on its efforts.

HHS Chairs Sen. Craven and Rep. Farnsworth question DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew during public hearing. Also pictured, Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Waterville)

HHS Chairs Sen. Craven and Rep. Farnsworth question DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew during public hearing. Also pictured, Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Waterville)

LDs 1815 and 1842 were rejected by the majority of committee members, with harsh criticism leveled at LePage by the HHS Committee chairs.

    Sen. Margaret Craven of Lewiston: “Governor LePage’s proposals will not help people get a job and get back on their feet. They will simply make it harder for struggling families to survive. The right route to reform is through education and training. We certainly should not be passing the buck to our towns and shirking on our responsibility.”

    Rep. Dick Farnsworth of Portland: “If there is fraud, no matter how small, it should be investigated and prosecuted, not politicized. We are directing the Governor to investigate that fraud and prosecute it, if it is real. He should stop using it to pull the rug out from struggling families, especially at a time when Maine has one of the worst job growth records in the nation. Governor LePage has built his election campaigns on cynically stereotyping poor Mainers under the guise of welfare reform. The reality is that his policies have only led to a rise in homelessness and an increase in child hunger.”

Some statements from opponents are below.

    Sara Gagné-Holmes, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners: “Maine families turn to TANF when they are in crisis — domestic violence, illness or disability or other family traumas. More than 90 percent have work experience. What they often lack is a path to sustainable employment — a job that enables them to support their children and meet their basic needs. These are dead-end proposals that will lock people into low wage jobs without benefits or hope for advancement. Policy should be driven by facts and the actual circumstances of these families. These bills fail that test. They are driven by anecdote and misperception and do nothing to address the biggest problem that these families face, which is poverty. In fact, they create new barriers to job training and education.”

    Danna Hayes, director of public policy, Maine Women’s Lobby: “These proposals target a program focused on helping mothers and children with very low income. We support efforts to help parents obtain employment, but these jobs need to provide enough so that women are able to support their families and leave poverty behind. Simply requiring people to apply for three jobs regardless of the jobs available and the family’s circumstances will not help people get ahead. Instead, this job search requirement will close the door on education and training opportunities parents can access through the TANF program.”

    Claire Berkowitz, executive director of the Maine Children’s Alliance: “Preparing Maine for a prosperous future begins with recognizing that our youngest residents must get what they need today to become the adults who will strengthen our communities and build our economy. At a time when child poverty is on the rise, lawmakers should be focused on policies that reverse this troubling trend. Not only do these proposals distract us from working to address this growing problem, they also unfairly stigmatize low-income families and drive children deeper into poverty.”

Here are (in order of speakers) clips from the public hearing on Tuesday.

House Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette introduces Gov. LePage bill LD 1815 to HHS Committee

Rep. Allen Nadeau (R-Ft Kent) presents LD 1820 to HHS

LD 1820 co-sponsor Rep. Terry Hayes (D-Buckfield) speaks in support of bill

Rep. Shari MacDonald (R-OOB) presents LD 1822 to HHS Committee

LD 1822 Cosponsor Terry Hayes speaks in support of bill

Rep. James Gillway (R-Searsport), town manager of Searsport, offers LD 1842 to HHS Committee

LePage administration senior health policy advisor Holly Lusk speaks in support of bills

HHS Committee asks questions of LePage administration’s Holly Lusk

MDOL Director of Legislative Affairs Susan Wasserott speaks in support of LePage EBT/ TANF bills

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew testifies in support of LePage 4 EBT/ TANF bills (pt 1)

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew answers HHS Cmte ?s on LePage 4 EBT/ TANF bills (pt 2)

Attorney Heidi Hart, former TANF recipient, testifies against bills

Heidi Hart, former TANF recipient, answers HHS Committee questions

All bills will now go before the Legislature.

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(VIDEOS) Governor LePage, DHHS Commissioner Mayhew Unveil TANF, EBT Program Reform Bills

Posted on March 27, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Earlier this week, a press conference was held in the governor’s cabinet room as Maine Governor Paul LePage, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) and Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald spoke on 4 bills restricting usage of EBT/ TANF benefits.

From the media advisory:

Rep. Fredette addresses media during press conference.

Rep. Fredette addresses media during press conference.

As he announced in his State of the State Address, Governor Paul R. LePage has submitted legislation to reform welfare by restricting some use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and by requiring applicants for welfare to look for work before receiving taxpayer-funded benefits. The Governor has submitted four bills that would:

  • Prevent the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits for alcohol,tobacco products, lottery tickets and bail;
  • Prohibit TANF recipients from using EBT cards to access TANF benefits out of state
  • Require job-ready TANF applicants to look for three jobs before receiving welfare benefits
  • Removes state exemptions allowing TANF recipients to get around the federal work requirement.

“These TANF benefits are supposed to help vulnerable families with young children,” said Governor LePage. “Instead, welfare benefits are being used for alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, bail and other purchases that hardworking taxpayers should not be footing the bill for. With 6,700 job openings listed online at Maine Job Bank, TANF applicants should have no problem looking for work before asking the taxpayers for welfare benefits.”

Links here to the bills:

1. LD 1815, “An Act To Require a Work Search for Job-ready Applicants for Benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program”
(Governor’s Bill) Sponsored by Representative Kenneth Fredette

2. LD 1820, “An Act To Reduce Abuse of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Electronic Benefits Transfers”
(Governor’s Bill) Sponsored by Representative Allen Nadeau

3. LD 1822, “An Act To Increase Integrity in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Expenditures”
(Governor’s Bill) Sponsored by Representative Sharri MacDonald

4. LD 1842, “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program”
(Governor’s Bill) Sponsored by Representative James Gillway

Here are clips of the entire press conference, including a parsed-out moment at the beginning where the Governor provided cover for his embattled DHHS commissioner from media questions.

Gov. LePage admonishes press not to ask DHHS Mayhew about CDC shredding scandal

Governor LePage discusses EBT/ TANF restrictive bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842

Remarks of DHHS Head Mary Mayhew on 4 LePage EBT/ TANF restrictive bills

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) Remarks on LePage 4 EBT/ TANF restrictive bills

Remarks of Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald on 4 LePage EBT/ TANF restrictive bills

Q&A at end of LePage, Mayhew EBT/TANF Bills press conference

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Democratic Radio Address of Rep. Jane Pringle (Windham): Provide Access to Life-Saving Care to 70,000 Mainers

Posted on March 22, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.

    Expansion would create 4,400 jobs, more than a half billion dollars in economic activity

jane pringleOur state has the opportunity to expand the security of health care coverage to 70,000 Mainers. It’s an opportunity that we can’t afford to pass up.

Good morning. I’m Representative Jane Pringle of Windham. Thank you for tuning in.

I’m serving in the Legislature because I want more Mainers to have access to health care.

I was a primary care doctor for 36 years and was also the medical director of a clinic that served many working-class patients. I saw the number of uninsured Mainers growing and how these Mainers were harmed by their lack of coverage. They could not get the care they needed until they were in crisis, and sometimes not until it was too late to save their lives.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If we accept the federal government’s offer, Mainers will be healthier, health care costs will go down for all of us and our economy will benefit. In fact, health care expansion is expected to create 4,400 jobs and generate more than a half billion dollars in economic activity in Maine by 2016.

Over the course of my career, I learned that some illnesses result from genetics and others from habits. But two-thirds of the time, the reasons are unclear; it’s not a result of something we did wrong. Fortunately, medical science has found many treatments to cure and manage these illnesses. The sad thing is that not everyone has access to care that can save lives.

When I first learned that some leaders in Maine were against health care expansion, I thought it was because the Legislature didn’t have enough people with health care backgrounds who saw firsthand the consequences of having to go without care.

I’ve since heard arguments about how people could have health care if they just worked a little harder, got an additional job or were just more motivated.

Imagine coming to me as your doctor and telling me about having chest pain and trouble breathing. And what if I asked you whether you had worked hard enough that day to deserve to have me care for you?

My profession’s code of ethics calls for me to care for you – regardless of who you are and what you may or may not have done to be in your particular situation.

But right now, our state is denying health care coverage to 70,000 Mainers, including 2,700 veterans.

Their numbers include Mainers who struggle with serious and chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer.

Their numbers include Mainers who work hard in jobs that don’t provide health care insurance: custodians who clean up after us, servers who wait on us, cashiers who are on their feet all day and Mainers who try to piece together a living by doing carpentry and odd jobs.

Ten-thousand five-hundred very low-income Mainers lost their coverage at the start of this year because of Maine’s failure to expand health care. They are eligible for neither MaineCare nor insurance on the federal health care exchange.

The others – who are also low-income – do not qualify for subsidies on the exchange even though people with greater earnings do qualify. It’s because we didn’t expand health care as anticipated by the Affordable Health Care Act.

We do have the ability to make a difference for these Mainers – to provide access to life-changing health care that can reduce disability, help more people work and – yes – save lives.

We have the power to do this. We just have to make the right choice.

Thank you for listening. This is Representative Jane Pringle of Windham.

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Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) in support of LD 1487: Health Care Coverage a Life or Death Matter

Posted on March 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Here is the floor speech of Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the House, what would you do if you have lied awake for countless nights because you feared you would lose your life or your loved ones’ life? You (or your wife) found a lump in their breast a while ago but were afraid to go to the doctor not because of the fear that it was cancer but because your family could not afford to get the care that you needed? What would you do when that mole that you have on your arm is changing and you just hope it is just dry skin and it will go away? You can’t sleep because if you have it checked it might be melanoma and it will likely open the door to bankruptcy. How do you decide? Get care or go broke?

It is a matter of life or death for those people we deny health care coverage to.

Gail McLean is a member of my community. She is the model of a self-made woman. She built her farm and her home with her own two hands. She doesn’t ask for a hand out. What she asks for is to not face complete financial ruin if she is injured or she is diagnosed with a severe illness like cancer. She lives a healthy lifestyle. You won’t find her sitting on her couch drinking and smoking. She and many others like her are working hard to make a living. Are these the people we should deny healthcare?

I have heard the argument that these people could just go to the hospital or local clinic because they can’t turn anyone away. That is true but at what price? Do you honestly think that your insurance premiums won’t go up when hospitals raise their fees to cover the uninsured? And that local health clinic closes their door because they can’t continue to run in the red. Healthcare is not free. The solution is to accept the federal dollars that many other states have. States like Arizona, Michigan and New Hampshire have recognized that in it is the right fiscal thing to do and the right moral thing to do.

The argument that that everyone should go on the exchange is false. Yes, one can purchase an insurance plan for $50 per month with a $2,5000 deductable. When one makes less than $12,000 a year, this is an impossibility. Once again, lose your life or lose your livelihood. I ask, what choice would you make?

It saddens me deeply that this debate has become more about politics than about people. That is not why I am here. I venture to say that that is not why my constituents or yours sent us here. We have a common sense bipartisan compromise before us. A compromise that will save money by providing care in a smart cost effective way. We should embrace this compromise and not ignore the hard working farmers, weavers and fishermen who are just trying to make a living.

My friends, thank you for serving the people of our state. I ask you to have an open mind and really think about the impact the decision to deny health insurance to close to 70,000 fellow Maine neighbors will have. I am here to serve the people of my community and state as are you. I am not here to serve a political master and hold an unbending ideological stance. I admit this vote comes not just from my common sense but from my heart. I will vote to accept to federal dollars to cover more Mainers. I will sleep well tonight knowing that I stood for my neighbors and friends. I ask that you do the same.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Theater At Monmouth 2014 Announces 45th Season Theme: “The British Invasion”

Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Via press release:

tam british invasion


Monmouth, Maine – The British are coming to Monmouth for Theater at Monmouth’s 45th season. The British Invasion, running from June 28 through September 28, 2014, features a line-up of plays from England’s greatest playwrights.

In celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th and TAM’s 45th, the Summer Repertory will include William Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Romeo & Juliet; Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance; and Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw. Opening June 28, the Family Show is a world premiere adaptation of Andrew Lang’s Tales from the Blue Fairy Book. The Fall Musical, opening September 18, is The Sorcerer, the second production in a three-year commitment to Gilbert & Sullivan. Since its founding in 1970, TAM has produced more than one hundred of Shakespeare’s works and many other British classics both during the Summer Repertory Season and throughout Maine.


Performances take place in Cumston Hall, a 250-seat Victorian opera house designed by Harry Cochrane. Since its founding the Theater has rehearsed and performed in rotating repertory, inviting audiences to see the actors in different roles in four different shows in one weekend. Each of this season’s six productions features newcomers as well as TAM favorites including Mark S. Cartier, Janis Stevens, and Bill Van Horn.

  • As You Like It | July 10 – August 22
    by William Shakespeare | directed by Catherine Weidner

      When Rosalind and Orlando are banished from the court by the usurping duke, they flee for their lives into the wild. It isn’t long before the lovers find each other and act out a bizarre ritual courtship that ends, as all good comedies do, with everyone paired up two-by-two.

    Catherine Weidner is a director, actor, and chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College. Recent directing includes: Jane Austen’s Emma for Nebraska Repertory Theatre; Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, and Merry Wives of Windsor for Illinois Shakespeare Festival; Two Gentlemen of Verona for Theatre at Monmouth, and a one-man Henry V in Austin, Texas for Rude Mechanicals. She has worked at The Guthrie Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, La Jolla Playhouse, and Bread & Puppet. From 2007- 2013 she taught Classical Acting and Heightened Text at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

  • A Woman of No Importance | July 17 – August 23
    by Oscar Wilde | directed by Will Rhys

      In this dark comedy of serial seducers, moralizing monogamists, secret pasts, and simmering heartbreak, which will the idealistic George Arbuthnot choose—social advancement or loyalty of the heart? Surely the basis for Downton Abbey, Wilde’s deliciously witty satire lays bare the moral contradictions of Victorian England.

    Will Rhys was artistic director at The Cleveland Play House where he directed over 25 productions including plays by: Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet); Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities); Sam Shepherd (Buried Child); and Ferenc Molnár (The Guardsman). Regional credits include The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre; and Macbeth, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Is He Dead? at Theater at Monmouth. Mr. Rhys is a founding member of The National Theatre of the Deaf and served as Artistic Director from 1992 to 2000.

  • Romeo & Juliet | July 24 – August 24
    by William Shakespeare | directed by Dawn McAndrews

      In a world consumed by self-interest and divided by hatred and mistrust, Shakespeare’s impetuous young lovers defy family, friends, and society to be together. With no one to turn to but each other, Romeo and Juliet provoke both fate and fickle fortune in their quest for pure and passionate love.

    Producing Artistic Director Dawn McAndrews directs Romeo & Juliet in her fifth season with TAM. Dawn has worked as a director, producer, and educator at theatres across the country including Shakespeare Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre, Arena Stage, Portland Stage Company, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Directing credits include The Language Archive (Public Theatre), The Glass Menagerie and Three Days of Rain (1st Stage) Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (The Orange Girls) and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Antigone (Saint Louis University). TAM credits include The Mousetrap, On the Twentieth Century, Romeo & Juliet, Henry IV Part 1, Of Thee I Sing, Hamlet, The Year of Magical Thinking, and This Wonderful Life.

  • What the Butler Saw | July 31 – August 23
    by Joe Orton | directed by Brian P. Allen

      When a psychiatrist invents a series of outrageous lies to cover up his attempts to seduce his young secretary, all manner of mayhem breaks out in the ward. Clothes are discarded, sensibilities skewered, and political correctness flouted in Orton’s risqué and ferociously playful farce.

    Brian P. Allen is the co-founder and artistic director of Good Theater, a professional company in Portland ( where he has directed more than 40 productions. Recent favorites: Clybourne Park, The Grand Manner, Becky’s New Car, The Outgoing Tide, Good People, Striking 12, Death by Design, August Osage County, Next Fall, and Little Me. He has appeared in several Good Theater productions including Ancestral Voices.


    Each summer, TAM presents a play for children of all ages adapted from classic literature.

  • Tales from the Blue Fairy Book | June 28 – August 21
    adapted by Dawn McAndrews from the collection by Andrew Lang | directed by Luke Bartholomew

      Lang’s Blue Fairy Book bursts with classic tales from around the globe, including East of the Sun West of the Moon, The Bronze Ring, The White Cat, The Stars in the Sky, and more. From princesses to fairies, kings to dwarfs, there’s a magical happily ever after for both girls and boys.


    The Fall Musical features talented voices and musicians from Maine and professional actors from away.

  • The Sorcerer | September 18-28
    music by Arthur Sullivan, libretto by W.S. Gilbert | directed by Bill Van Horn

      What happens when a magically brewed cup o‘tea intoxicates unsuspecting residents of an entire community? Alexis, a young man obsessed with the idea of love leveling all social distinctions, engages J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers, to find out. When the potion causes everyone in the village to fall in love with the first person they see—the results are mystical mayhem.

    Associate Artistic Director Bill Van Horn returns for his thirteenth season to direct this comic gem from G&S. Van Horn also frequently acts, directs, and writes for the acclaimed Walnut Street Theater. In 2013, he directed TAM’s Patience and appeared as Citizen in The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Professor Willard/Warren in Our Town, and Gremio in The Taming of the Shrew.


  • 15th Annual Black Fly Follies | July 5 at 7:30 p.m.
    Theater at Monmouth’s annual variety show returns featuring the talents of our summer company. Black Fly Follies goes British Music Hall with songs, comic routines, and variety acts popular in England during the turn of the 20th century.

  • The Making of A Hard Day’s Night with Mark S. Cartier | August 7 at 7:30 p.m.
    As Beatlemania blossomed in Britain, United Artists offered the Beatles the chance to star in their own rock ‘n’ roll film. Cartier traces how the group conquered America, unleashed the British Invasion, hosted their own television special, and launched their first world tour—all while simultaneously helping to create what Andrew Sarris of the Village Voice calls “the Citizen Kane of juke box movies.”

  • Point Last Seen with Odelle Bowman | August 14 at 7:30 p.m.
    Hannah Nyala, search and rescue tracker, is so attuned to nature’s messages that she can read the history of a footprint and the secrets of desert sand. Adapted from the memoir of the same name, Hannah escapes an abusive marriage by teaching herself the skills of tracking in the Mojave Desert.

  • Legends: The Music of Judy Garland with Kelly Caufield | August 21 at 7:30 p.m.
    An engaging evening featuring many of Judy Garland’s most well-known songs and few surprises. Highlights include beloved hits from her movies, the Gershwin recordings, Broadway and cabaret standards, and more. Directed and co-written by Brian P. Allen. Music direction by Victoria Stubbs.


    Monmouth is located along Route 202 in the Winthrop Lakes region of central Maine. By car, the Theater is 25 minutes from Augusta, 25 minutes from Lewiston, 45 minutes from the Mid-Coast region, 60 minutes from Portland, and 90 minutes from Bangor. Monmouth and neighboring towns Winthrop, Hallowell, Augusta, and Lewiston offer a variety of attractions suitable for the whole family, including the Monmouth Museum, Cobbossee Colony Golf Course, Mount Pisgah Hiking Trail, Children’s Discovery Museum, Maine State Museum, Viles Arboretum, Bates College Museum of Art, Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary, and more. You can enjoy your stay in Monmouth at one of the several bed and breakfasts or nearby hotels, including Annabessacook Farm B&B, Maple Hill Farm B&B, A Rise and Shine B&B, the Hilton Garden Inn, and The Senator Inn & Spa.

    cumston hallCUMSTON HALL
    All performances take place in historic Cumston Hall, which towers dramatically over Monmouth’s Main Street. While Dr. Charles M. Cumston donated the funds for the building to the Town of Monmouth in 1899, it has always been a gift shared with the community at large. A registered National Historic Building since 1976, the building’s architecture is a mix of Romanesque-style asymmetrical columns and towers and varying external textures of the Queen Anne period. The 250-seat opera hall features elaborate plaster carvings, and a fresco mural ceiling.


    Single tickets for Summer Repertory and Fall Musical $30 for adults, $27 for senior citizens, and $20 for students. Tales from the Blue Fairy Book tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children. Opening Nights are Educator Nights. Educators receive 20% off with photo id. To reserve single tickets, subscriptions, or arrange group sales, please visit our website,, or call the box office at 207.933.9999. You can find us on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter at, and stay current for latest updates on our blog.

      # # #

    Theater at Monmouth, founded in 1970, was named the Shakespearean Theater of Maine in 1975. The theatre’s mission is to present innovative approaches to Shakespeare and other classic plays through professional productions that enrich the lives of people throughout Maine. Since its founding, TAM has produced expertly crafted, engaging productions in its three-month Summer Repertory Season entertaining audiences from 36 states and through Education Tours annually reaching more than 15,000 students.

    Bonus: An overview clip of last season’s performances.


    Theater At Monmouth Opens 44th Season With Family Classic: “The Velveteen Rabbit” (REVIEW)
    Theater At Monmouth: “The Taming Of The Shrew” (REVIEW)
    Theater At Monmouth: “The Year Of Magical Thinking” (REVIEW)
    Theater at Monmouth: “Our Town” (REVIEW)
    Theater at Monmouth: “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” (REVIEW)

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  • Monica Castellanos Announces Candidacy for House District 86 Seat

    Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

    Via press release:

    castellanos logo


    Augusta, ME – Democrat and self-employed small businesswoman Monica Castellanos announced her campaign had submitted the necessary signatures to appear on the ballot to represent House District 86, covering neighborhoods on the west and north sides of the city.

    Born and raised in Maine, Castellanos has spent the past 20 years working on state and federal issues, advocacy and economic development. Her career path and current bid for State House, she said, were inspired by her experiences growing up in neighboring Gardiner, where she was raised by a young single mother who often struggled to make ends meet.

    photo (13)“Economic opportunity, access to education and affordable health care are not distant political issues to me and to far too many other Mainers,” said Castellanos. “As a self-employed businesswoman, I know firsthand the challenges of building a business and the uncertainty of being without health insurance. I also understand how one medical bill can wreak havoc that takes years to overcome.”

    Launching her small business several years ago, Castellanos now works with Maine businesses and organizations across the state, including many that are involved with economic development. Prior to that, she worked as an advocate for women’s health care and the environment. She also served nearly eight years as a senior member of Congressman Mike Michaud’s staff.

    Castellanos said restoring a positive sense of community and a willingness to work together will be a central theme in her campaign. Only then, she said, can state government focus on creating jobs and opportunity for the people of Maine.

    “I believe it is time to end the politics of name calling and blame so that we can get back to working together for the good of our state,” she said. “I am committed to improving Maine’s economy and everyday life for our hardworking families. I look forward to meeting and listening to people about their ideas to increase prosperity and opportunity in our community.”

    Castellanos attended the University of Maine at Farmington. She serves as Vice-President of the Westside Neighbors and on the Kennebec Valley Humane Society Board of Directors. More information on her bid for the Maine House of Representatives can be found at

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    Emerge Maine To Honor Senator Dawn Hill and Representative Peggy Rotundo as 2014 Women of the Year

    Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

    Via press release:

    Emerge Maine To Honor Senator Dawn Hill and Representative Peggy Rotundo as 2014 Women of the Year
    AFL­CIO organizer Sarah Bigney named 2014 Rising Star

    Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

    Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

    Portland­­- Emerge Maine, the premier political training program for Maine Democratic women, has named State Senator Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick and State Representative Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston as the 2014 Women of the Year. Previous Emerge Women of the Year are Clerk of the House Millie MacFarland (2010), the Honorable Libby MItchell (2011), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (2012), and Attorney General Janet Mills (2013).

    Senator Hill and Representative Rotundo chair the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, the state’s budget­writing committee. In an economically challenging and contentious political environment, they lead by example demonstrating a strong commitment to bipartisanship, working together, and civility in politics. Under their leadership, the Appropriations Committee unanimously recommended a bipartisan budget that was approved by more than two­ thirds of lawmakers in the House and the Senate during initial votes and again during subsequent votes to override Governor LePage’s veto of the budget.

      “Senator Hill and Representative Rotundo exemplify what it means to engage in civil discourse in politics,” said Jill Barkley, the Executive Director of Emerge Maine. “These two incredible women have worked together to create and maintain our state’s budget while fielding more than one funding crisis. They remain calm and committed to the best outcome for our state. We are thankful for their leadership.”

    dawn hillSenator Hill, a non practicing attorney, is currently serving her second term as State Senator representing Eliot, Kittery, Ogunquit, South Berwick, and York. Prior to her time in the Senate, she served two terms in the State House representing York. In May 2008, she graduated from the prestigious “Leadership Maine,” a program of the Maine Development Foundation, in the Omicron Class.

    Senator Hill is the founder and owner of It’s a Dog’s World, a large canine training and activity facility in southern Maine. She also serves on the board of directors for MMG Insurance of Presque Isle, Maine.

      “I’m honored to be named one of Emerge’s women of the year,” said Senator Hill. “It is an even greater honor to share this designation with all of the previous women named, who have worked tirelessly for our great state.”

    peggy rotundoRepresentative Rotundo was first elected to the Legislature in 2000. She served four terms in the State Senate and is currently serving her third term in the State House representing part of the city of Lewiston. During her time in the Legislature, she has sponsored legislation that has created greater public access to government information, a cleaner environment, greater educational opportunities for all Maine people and better services for veterans and the elderly.

    She has also led in creating bipartisan state budgets. Rep. Rotundo has won numerous awards for her work on these issues and for her work in creating civil and respectful public discourse. Prior to her service in the Legislature, she served on the Lewiston School Committee, which she chaired for four years.

    Representative Rotundo helped found the Center for Service­ Learning at Bates College in Lewiston in 1995, which has become a nationally recognized program that connects Bates students to the community through service. She currently serves as the Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives for the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships.

      “I am deeply honored to be recognized by Emerge Maine, which has done so much to encourage and support women interested in public service,” said Representative Rotundo. “We all stand on the shoulders of courageous women leaders who have gone before us. We honor their lives and service by encouraging and mentoring the next generation of great women leaders.”

    Sarah Bigney and Sen. John Patrick (D-Rumford) at the State House.

    Sarah Bigney and Sen. John Patrick (D-Rumford) at the State House.

    Emerge Maine will also be honoring Rising Star Sarah Bigney of Hallowell. An Emerge alumna from the Class of 2009, Bigney is Director of Field and Member Mobilization at the Maine AFL­CIO where she advocates for workers’ rights and economic justice. Her work includes supporting the newly formed Maine Lobstering Union and recruiting and training union members to be candidates for the Legislature. She was named the 2014 “Mrs. Paul Bunyan” in her hometown of Bangor.

      “I’m humbled to be recognized by Emerge Maine. The training I completed with Emerge was such a terrific boost when I was first starting out working in politics,” said Bigney. “I greatly value the encouragement and support I receive from this powerful network of women leaders in public service in our state. Together we will make Maine a better place for working families to thrive.”

    Emerge Maine is one of fourteen state Emerge programs across the country.

    Emerge is committed to increasing the number of Democratic women in office, building a strong network of dedicated women leaders, and creating a pipeline of Democratic candidates at all levels of government. Emerge Maine has 140 alumnae, Emerge Maine alumnae make up ten percent of the House Democratic caucus, and there will be 20 Emerge Maine alumnae running for the State House in 2014.

    Senator Hill, Representative Rotundo, and Bigney will be honored at the 2014 Woman of the Year reception Thursday, May 15, at the Senator Inn in Augusta.

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    Rep. Katherine Cassidy (D-Lubec) on LD 1487: Washington County all about community, helping during tragedies

    Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    Video and prepared remarks from 3/18/14. Rep. Cassidy expanded upon her statement to reflect that Mrs. Salleroli would be finding out Wednesday the results of biopsies and testing done upon a newly discovered tumor on her liver.

    Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House,

    I want to tell you about Washington County, where I live, and specifically about two of the hardest working people I know in Washington County.

    There’s a place in Eastport, a very funky café and bar called the Rose Garden.

    During the summer and fall in 2012, and also in 2010 and 2008, during the campaign season, I would end up at the Rose Garden in late afternoon, after I finished knocking on doors in Eastport. I would ask for a root beer float, and relax a bit before heading home. That’s how I got to know Alan and Linda Salleroli, who own the Rose Garden. One or the other of them would fix my root beer float and ask about the work I wanted to do in Augusta, the issues that I cared most about. Just on Sunday, both Al and Linda worked the bar, and served up a proper St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

    You always find them together these days, never apart.

    That’s what spouses do, when one of them is diagnosed with cancer.

    They go forward together, trying to appear as if everything is business as usual. Al and Linda put on a good game face – still always cheerful and mindful of their patrons and their community.

    But things are different now at the Rose Garden. There’s still live music on weekends, and chili or rib cook-offs Sunday afternoons in winter, and open mic and poetry gatherings at other times. And the Rose Garden is still a place where everybody knows your name. And everybody also knows how Linda got cancer two years ago, and had one eye removed, and then things were good again because we all thought that Linda had beaten cancer.

    The Sallerolis have owned the Rose Garden for 10 years, and Al Salleroli even took a turn as president of the Eastport Chamber of Commerce. But although they both still work seven days a week, they can’t afford health insurance.

    As a cancer survivor, Linda continued to get check-ups, but after January 1, in order to receive charity care at the Lafayette Family CancerCare facility in Brewer, she first had to show that she had been denied MaineCare. And there is up to a 45-day wait to get a MaineCare eligibility determination. So while she was waiting 45 days to be told by the state of Maine that he did not qualify for MaineCare, just in order to be eligible for charity care, she missed an appointment with a cancer specialist, because she couldn’t afford it.

    Three weeks ago, Linda learned the cancer has returned, and has spread. She is angry, and Alan is especially angry. Any one of us would be angry, too, if we got cancer, and if we didn’t have the health insurance that we get in our roles as state legislators.

    I know how Alan and Linda feel. Just three years ago, my husband and I were living without health insurance, because we also were self-employed and we couldn’t afford it. Frank got cancer, and he died.

    We were lucky, though, because Frank was a veteran, and he could turn to the VA, and Togus, for cancer treatment, and then hospice care.

    But the Sallerolis don’t have any such option to turn to, except for the Maine Legislature, to ask for help with Linda’s cancer. So here I am, this morning, asking you, my legislative colleagues, on behalf of Alan and Linda Salleroli, to cast your vote to expand health care for Mainers such as Linda. Just like you, she’s a hard worker, and she’s a taxpayer and, like some of you, a small business owner and a community leader. And she deserves better.

    Mr. Speaker, I don’t rise often to speak on the floor, but when I do, I stand up for Washington County, and I do so with pride because that’s where I live. Six of us in this Chamber represent Washington County, in fact, with a seventh serving in the Senate.

    We can tell you about entire small towns where everybody knows your name, and how our four weekly newspapers frequently print photos of five generations of a family. In Washington County, we know that after the Eastern Maine basketball tournament every spring, caravans of cars honking horns and fire engines with sirens will arrive back in town at midnight. We love our local beauty pageants, our high school graduations, our Fourth of July parades, our countless quilt raffles as fundraisers, our festivals for blueberries and salmon and pirates. We support our American Legions that always serve a hunters’ breakfast, and churches that put on bean suppers no matter the time of year. We turn out by the hundreds for benefit suppers when tragedy visits an individual or family, whether we know them or not.

    Washington County is all about community. And my personal definition of community is “the way we get by”. But I cannot tell you how my friends Al and Linda Salleroli are going to get by now, if we don’t have enough votes to expand health care across Maine. They’ve already put a portion of Linda’s cancer costs on their daughter’s credit card.

    You have read all the numbers about Washington County. We have demographic differences, and we have health disparities with the rest of Maine. You know about our poverty, our unemployment, because you’ve seen the numbers in the Kids Count annual report. So, it hurts when others tell our Washington County people to “get a job”, as a way to get health care.

    Nobody can dare tell Alan and Linda Salleroli to work any harder than they do.

    What the individuals and families of Washington County, like the Sallerolis, share with all of you, is that we are all Mainers. And just as much as the rest of you, we also believe in that great motto for Maine – “the way life should be.”

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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    Complete Video Record of Maine House Debates LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”

    Posted on March 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

    In chronological order, here are clips from this week’s House floor debate on LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”. The bill passed the chamber, but as in the Senate last week, narrowly failed to garner a veto proof majority.

    Whenever possible, the full text of the prepared remarks has been linked to each clip; for others, either direct quotes or summaries as provided by House Democratic legislative aides online has been shared.


    HHS Chair Rep. Dick Farnsworth (D-Portland) Presents LD 1487

    Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)

    Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) supporting LD 1487

    Asst. Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

      Rep. McCabe thanks lawmakers for this bipartisan effort. “This bipartisan health care bill can make a different to 70,000 Mainers — Our friends, our family, our neighbors.”

      Rep. Jeff McCabe on economic benefits of health care expansion: “Why not these jobs? Why not now? ”

    Rep. Paul McGowan (D-York) supporting LD 1487

      Rep. Paul McGowan on health problems he had: “I had that health experience with the security of health insurance. Everybody in this chamber has the security of health insurance.”

      Rep. Paul McGowan: “Can you imagine living in a society where if your house caught on fire and you called the fire department, and they said I’m sorry, you don’t qualify?”

    Rep. Helen Rankin (D-Hiram) supporting LD 1487

      Rep. Helen Rankin: “Our veterans who have sacrificed everything. Do we really turn away from them? I think not.”

      Rep. Rankin: “Who made us God to decide about the lives of these people who are so desperate? … I think it’s time for us to pay it forward.”

    Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)

    Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487

      Rep. Matt Pouliot: “This bill is a valiant attempt to find a middle ground, incorporating many principles that are important to me. … I will be supporting this motion.”

    Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 1

    Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 2

      Rep. Craig Hickman reading from a constituent letter: “Are we really going to let these people down and say tough luck you’re on your own?… We are a better nation than that. We are a more compassionate people than that.”

    House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

      Rep. Seth Berry: “Health care expansion makes good business sense. There’s also the human cost of denying health care to 70,000 Mainers.”

      Rep. Berry on his younger brother: “He is one of the most hardworking Mainers you’ll ever meet. He is one of the Mainers who fall into the coverage gap caused by our failure to expand health care.”

    Rep. Bobbi Beavers (D-S Berwick) in support of LD 1487

      Rep. Roberta Beavers : “In York County alone, about 82 hundred more people will gain access to health care. An additional $43 million will be spent each year on health care services by 2016, stimulating about $59 million in additional economic activity and 513 new jobs in my county.”

    Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487

    Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487 (full remarks here)

      “The argument that that everyone should go on the exchange is false. Yes, one can purchase an insurance plan for $50 per month with a $2,5000 deductable. When one makes less than $12,000 a year, this is an impossibility. Once again, lose your life or lose your livelihood. I ask, what choice would you make?

      It saddens me deeply that this debate has become more about politics than about people.”

    Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) opposing LD 1487

    Rep. Dr. Jane Pringle (D-Windham) supporting LD 1487

      Rep. Jane Pringle, a retired doctor on why she’s in the Legislature: “I have watched the number of patients without health care grow. I have seen too many patients who could not get the health care they need until they were in crisis.”

      Rep. Pringle: “Imagine coming to me as your doctor with chest pain. And I say, ‘Have you worked hard enough today for me to give you health care?'”

      Rep. Pringle on the lack of belief in a system that will increase access, lower costs for all and save lives: “We have the power to do this. We just have to make this choice.”

    Rep. Paulette Beaudoin (D-Biddeford) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) opposing LD 1487

    Rep. Josh Plante (D-Berwick) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Dr. Ann Dorney (D-Norridgewock) supporting LD 1487

      Another patient of Rep. Dorney lost health coverage, ran out of insulin and ended up in the ICU with dangerously high blood sugars. The hospital gave her some insulin when she was well enough to leave.

    Rep. Bernard Ayotte (R-Caswell) opposing LD 1487

    Rep. Sheryl Briggs (D-Mexico) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Lisa Villa (D-Harrison) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

      Rep. Brian Jones on health care needs in the community: “The collection plate in church and the donation jar in the store have demonstrated they cannot completely fulfill this purpose. Nor can directives to get a better job.”

    Rep. Dr. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Steve Moriarty (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Tom Longstaff (D-Waterville) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Katherine Cassidy (D-Lubec) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

      Rep. Katherine Cassidy about constituent with cancer: “They already put a portion of cancer treatment on their daughter’s credit card.”

    Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. James Campbell (U-Newfield) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 2)

    Questions posed through the Speaker during LD 1487 floor debate

    Rep. Dick Campbell (R-Orrington) opposing LD 1487

    Rep. Karen Kusiak (D-Fairfield) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) supporting LD 1487

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    Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom) on LD 1487 Opposition: “I got mine; good luck getting yours”

    Posted on March 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    Here is video of are Rep. Jones’ floor speech and transcribed remarks as prepared for delivery.

    Mr. Speaker, men and women of the House,

    I rise to speak to the decisions that we must make and the actions that we must take, in light of the conflict between what we earnestly believe the right thing to do is and what we realistically can accomplish, between the ideal and the real constraints under which we work.

    Is the legislation before us perfect? Of course not. Is it the best we can do for our citizens on this day, given its imperfections and our differences? Yes. Is there a viable alternative plan before us today? No.

    I rise to speak of the values of the citizens I represent, and these values are visible and their benefits are tangible for all in our community to see.

    Mr. Speaker, the citizens that I represent volunteer as firefighters and emergency medical personnel; we volunteer to teach the illiterate to read; we keep jumper cables, a chain, and a bucket of sand in our pickups to help those who have gone off the road in the winter. And we help the so-called worthy and the unworthy equally.

    We collect donations and provide heating fuel for our neighbors, because we believe that no one should be cold in the winter. We have a vibrant volunteer food pantry, and we have community gardens because we believe no one should go hungry. And, we place a jar on the counter of our local general store to collect donations for a family who’s experienced misfortune or, most relevantly to this discussion, illness.

    That every one of our fellow human beings should be healed when sick is a belief I know, Mr. Speaker, we all share. It’s essential to our nature of empathy and our understanding of compassion. But the collection plate in church and the donation jar in the general store have demonstrated they cannot completely fulfill this purpose. Nor have the directives to “work harder” or “get a better job” met this need.

    We have heard today that we cannot afford, we do not have the money, to provide this remedy for our fellow men and women. Mr. Speaker, we cannot serve two masters: we will hate one and love the other; or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. Mr. Speaker, either we serve the master of compassion or we serve the master of money. We choose today whom we will serve, the master of benevolence or the master of selfishness, and today eternity is witness to our actions.

    Mr. Speaker, the worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy and a government lacking a truly human purpose. We have drunk from the fountainhead of personal enrichment and the philosophy of “I got mine; good luck getting yours.”

    Mr. Speaker, heaven have mercy on my soul if, on my travels from Jerusalem to Jericho, I pass by on the other side of the road when I see a man, beaten and naked in the ditch.

    Mr. Speaker, the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all of our policies, even if the instrument before us is imperfect.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask each member of this body to consider his or her conscience and faith when we vote.

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