Archive for January 24th, 2015

State Senator Joseph Brannigan (D-Cumberland) Remembered

Posted on January 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Sad news to report, as it was announced last weekend that former State Senator Joe Brannigan (D-Portland) passed away last weekend.

From a press release issued by the Maine Senate Democrats:

brannigan

    Brannigan served 28 years in the Maine State Legislature: seven terms in the Maine House from (1979-1986, 2001-2006) and seven terms in the Maine Senate (1987-1994, 2007-2012). He served on ten committee, most notably, on the state’s budget writing committee, Health and Human Services, Insurance and Financial Services, and State and Local Government. During his time in the Legislature, Brannigan led the way on issues such as access to mental health services, expanding health insurance to low income Mainers, bail reform, and strengthening Maine’s “lemon law.” In 2010, Brannigan retired from 34 years of service as the Executive Director of the Shalom House, a housing and mental health program for adults with severe mental illness.

State Senators Justin Alfond and Anne Haskell issued the following statements:

“Joe Brannigan touched thousands of lives through his work and commitment at the Shalom House and his public service in the Legislature,” said Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland, who served with Brannigan in the 124th and 125th Legislatures. “Joe’s sharp wit made him a tremendous leader and we will miss him.”

“Joe’s compassion was legendary. He was a tireless advocate and he meant so much to all of us,” said Senator Anne Haskell, who has known Brannigan for more than 20 years and is the current State Senator for Brannigan’s district. “Joe was more than a mentor. He was a great friend and a neighbor. I will miss him and his quiet way with words.”

On last Tuesday, Senator Haskell asked the Senate to join her in remembering Brannigan:

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Weekly Legislative Update by Rep. Justin Chenette (D-Saco): Overview of Kennebec County Jail, Riverview Pyschiatric Center

Posted on January 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

This week, Representative Justin Chenette, now serving in his second term, recorded his first video legislative update and kindly gave permission to share:

As he remarked within the clip, some of the members of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee has started to tour some of the state’s correctional facilities. His observations of the Kennebec County Jail and Riverview Psychiatric Center are below.

    “What an eye-opening experience. Sometimes you just don’t realize the negative sides of society until you see it firsthand (and this was just a narrow focus). Alongside Sen. Linda Valentino and York County Sheriff Bill King, we toured the Kennebec County Correctional Facility and Riverview Psychiatric Center to ask questions and actually witness some of the issues plaguing our criminal justice system and mental health facilities. Just a few quick takeaways based on my initial observations:

    Sen. Linda Valentino, York County Sheriff Bill King and Rep. Justin Chenette at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta

    Sen. Linda Valentino, York County Sheriff Bill King and Rep. Justin Chenette at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta

    At the jail, we met a group of women in an innovative program to help actually rehabilitate their lives while in the system. Focusing on support and getting individuals to change their lives for when they get out is better than just sitting in jail awaiting a return to a life that is not only a determent to themselves but the safety of those around them. Gave me hope that we could use it as a model in other facilities, but much like anything else has been reduced and limited due to a lack of funding. Learned the state has over 21 well-organized gangs. Jail officials have to put special care in where they place certain inmates from rival gangs or violence is extremely heightened. The overcrowding problem was apparent, but partly the issue is so many mentally-ill individuals end up being housed there after ping ponging within the system that the jails have become ill-equipped to handle the influx; not to mention the increased need for proper treatment and care that the jails really can’t provide effectively.

    We visited the high risk part of Riverview that tends to have the most attention about patients attacking staff. I have to admit I was a little nervous about being there especially after we were briefed on the protocols in case patients went on a rampage in our presence who were only an arms length away. The staff have a high level of frustration with CMS and the lack of legal willingness or adaptiveness to policies that could enable the facility to be more hands on in restraining ‘patients’ that cause significant physical harm to nurses and others while at the same time not wanting to become something other than a hospital. It seems like the lines between corrections and high risk mental health treatment though are blurring and clashing at the same time.

    As you may have seen in the media, issues surrounding our county jails and corrections system will be hot button topics as we navigate challenges of overcrowding, control, and funding. Not to mention a huge monkey wrench from the Governor in not appointing members to the Board of Corrections out of protest. Without a quorum for the board, it’s almost impossible to tackle the $2.5 million shortfall until a resolution is settled from the Governor’s Office or we find a way around him. More tours are being planned with my Criminal Justice Committee over the course of the next few weeks to continue collecting needed information from boots on the ground rather than just those at the very top.”

Link here to Chenette’s website for signing up for future updates.

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Weekly Radio Address by Sen. Linda Valentino (D-Saco): “Stakes too high for Maine women, can’t roll back clock on health”

Posted on January 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

House Asst Majority Leader Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) issued a statement on this week’s anniversary as well:

“The anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is an opportunity to reflect on how much this landmark decision has done for American women. Decisions about adoption, abortion or raising a child must be up to the woman. It’s a deeply personal decision that cannot be made by someone who isn’t walking in her shoes.”

 

 

DEMOCRATIC RADIO ADDRESS

Valentino says, “The stakes are just too high for Maine women. We simply can’t afford to roll back the clock on women’s health.”

This week marked the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade–a decision that affirmed a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. A right to constitutional privacy–so that every woman can make her own personal medical decisions without the interference of politicians.

Now, more than four decades after Roe, who would have guessed that we’d still be fighting for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions?

linda valentinoGood Morning. This is State Senator Linda Valentino of Saco.

Some forty years later, the conversation about abortion is no longer about being “pro choice” or “pro life.” It has, instead, shifted to a more unifying conversation about the impact and real-life decisions women and their families face every day.

We’ve arrived at this viewpoint because we know that abortion is a deeply personal and an often complex decision for a woman. And no one–but her–can make that decision for her.

But even as we celebrate the Roe v. Wade decision, I am deeply disheartened by the ongoing, and unprecedented, level of attacks against women’s health and reproductive rights.

Since 2010, more than 200 restrictions on abortion access have become law. Seventy of these new restrictions have passed in 2013 alone. There have been more attacks on reproductive freedoms in the last three years than in the entire previous decade.

Just this month, one of the first acts of Congress and the Republicans right here in the Maine Legislature was to introduce measures that will restrict women’s health care including access to a safe and legal abortion.

Study after study demonstrates that when women have control over the timing and spacing of her family — or over the decision not to have children — women are able to take advantage of educational and career opportunities and to workplace protections like paid family and medical leave and childcare. The economic reality is that for women, reproductive health and access to affordable health care is an essential part of our economic security and opportunity.

The stakes are just too high for Maine women.

I grew up in a pre-Roe v. Wade world until my sophmore year in high school. I saw what restricting access to a safe and legal abortion did to forever change young women’s lives.

Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. And, I’m thankful for that. As a mother and a grandmother, I want to make sure that my 13 year old granddaughter and my two year granddaughter are afforded the same rights that I had. That we have.

We simply can’t afford to roll back the clock on women’s health.

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Linda Valentino. Have a good and safe weekend.

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