(UPDATED x3) Governor LePage’s “Notes From The Edge”: A Compilation

Posted on July 27, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UPDATE X2: A LePage letter to now House Majority Leader Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) is being added to this post. Frankly, with the two different pens and more scribbled appearance, it is harder to read than some of the others, but is related to bonds similar to that of the harshly worded one to Senator Patrick.

mccabe lepage letter

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UPDATE: A June 2012 note from the governor to State Senator John Patrick (D-Oxford) is being added to this post. It reads (emphasis mine):IMG_20150727_175457194_HDR

    “John

    You are a bald faced liar and cheat! Character eludes you. It is up to the Governor’s discretion on when bonds are sold, he has up to five years.

    Paul”

==========

(With apologies to Carrie Fisher et al)

Sometimes it is simply better to let the content tell the story.

1. First is this recent letter from retired librarian Louise Sullivan of Cape Elizabeth to Maine Governor Paul LePage, which read:

    “Dear Gov. LePage, please resign. You will save yourself time and embarrassment. You will save our state time and money. Sincerely, Louise Sullivan”

The governor wasted no time with his reply.

louise

2. For handwriting comparative purposes, there is this 2013 note sent by the governor to Rep. Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor).

hubbell

3. Governor LePage to supporter Victor Lister of Athens, dated July 6.

victorlister

Mr. Lister had sent a copy of a published LTE to the governor:

    “It’s time for the media to take the Constitution seriously. The paper has tyrannically silenced too many voices for too long, and it should watch its language.

    Why is Gov. Paul LePage called “bombastic”? I hear him denounced regularly, and I can’t figure out why.

    I don’t approve of “taking care of” legislators by making them heads of educational institutions.

    I’m a veteran and profit mightily from being one, but I question its cost to our nation.

    Clearly, we’ve entered the “Bread and Circuses” stage of decaying empires, and, though I personally profit from it, I think it is social diabetes. LePage is doing his darndest to put Maine on a diet; the least we can do is recognize the need.

    Victor Lister, Athens”.

4. A rather informative look at the sharp-toned division between Governor LePage and GOP legislative leaders are apparent with this note, sent to Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo):

5. Lest one think that the governor incapable of being polite to legislators, we have this note directed to Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst). Seems Governor LePage thinks more of Lockman’s potential leadership qualities than those GOP leaders currently serving:

larry

6. Sometimes the meaning of the governor’s words has been lost upon the audience, in this case, Maine principals. From September 2012:

loser cartoon lepage

Jonathan Nass, LePage’s then senior policy adviser, had sent the above image along with a letter to some Maine high school principals, which read:

Governor Paul LePage sits at Governor James G. Blaine's Congressional desk.

Governor Paul LePage sits at Governor James G. Blaine’s Congressional desk.

    “Governor LePage was recently given the attached cartoon and asked that I forward it along to all of the state’s high school principals. You will see that the governor added a hand-written note. Thank you for your time and best wishes for the new school year.”

Some reported reactions:

    Deborah Migneault, principal of Portland High School, said her first thought was: What did the governor pay for postage?

    “If he sent that to all principals, it seems like an incredible waste,” she said. “We have enough to think about. I don’t think that cartoon motivates us.”

    Christian Elkington, principal of Massabesic High School in Waterboro, said he understood the governor’s point that vocational and technical education should be encouraged as an option, but disagreed with the assumption that schools don’t do that already.

    “We aren’t forcing kids down one path or another,” he said.

LePage press secretary Adrienne Bennett attempted to clarify that “career and technical education has not been given the recognition it deserves.”

    “The governor is simply saying let’s do better, let’s provide students with the choices that will provide successful outcomes,” she wrote. “Every child learns differently; our teachers recognize this and so does the governor.”

7. Finally is this note from Governor LePage on his 2014 re-election campaign letterhead to then Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).

As the two share a “history”, no explanation from Bennett or anyone else on the second floor is needed, and unlike the above notes to Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Lister, this was not in response to a letter from Senator Jackson, but rather the governor taking the initiative to write first.

11801939_10204851265063671_1577496542_n

    “Troy,

    Until you’ve walked in my shoes you have no idea what abuse and poverty is. I’ve never attempted to throw your wife and kids or challenge your pension as you did to my family. I know what abuse is and you must realize it doesn’t always come from industrialized landowners. You talk a good game, but I saved the pension fund without you helping. I’m very sorry you felt the need to attack my family and tried to throw us on the street, but I guess actions do speak louder than words.

    P.”

It is being reported that WGME spoke with Ms. Sullivan and that the segment will air later tonight, and that the governor’s staff will not be responding.

————–

UPDATE X3: Portland Press Herald political reporter Steve Mistler linked back to this MPW post with his Aug. 17 story, “LePage’s handwritten notes show failings in Maine’s record retention law”. Some crucial points made regarding the handwritten notes, existing Maine law, and the ongoing Good Will-Hinckley investigation:

    Neither LePage nor his staff apparently makes copies of his letters – even when the topic at hand involves state policy or other matters of public interest connected to his official duties as Maine’s chief executive.

    For example, LePage’s threat to strip Good Will-Hinckley school in Fairfield of $530,000 in state funding if it hired House Speaker Mark Eves as its next president was communicated in a handwritten note from the governor to the school’s board chairman, Jack Moore. Moore has said he may have discarded the note, and a copy was not among the documents the governor’s office released to the Portland Press Herald last week in response to a Freedom of Access Act request for all records related to the Good Will-Hinckley matter.

    The administration has taken the position that LePage’s handwritten notes are not subject to the public records law because they are personal communications, not official business.

    But current and former state archivists disagree, as do experts on the Freedom of Access Act.

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Maine Senate Passes LD 443, Strengthening Workers Comp for Seriously Injured Workers, 18-16 (VIDEO; TEXT)

Posted on June 12, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

troy sleevesLast night, the Senate voted 18-16 to strengthen workers’ compensation insurance benefits for workers who were injured on the job through no fault of their own. The GOP-led 125th Legislature had amended the 1992 Maine’s Workers’ Compensation Act, altering the process and requirements by which injured workers receive benefits beyond the established 10-year threshold among other changes. LD 443, “An Act To Amend the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992 To Provide Benefits to Seriously Injured Workers”, sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, repeals some of the more onerous provisions.

While the new law allows injured workers with 18 percent impairment to continue receiving benefits beyond the 10-year cap, an independent medical examiner must verify that the employee’s actual earnings are in line with their earning potential. This however remains difficult to ascertain. There are many instances where injuries may be considered only 5 percent or 10 percent impairment, but still have the practical impact of significantly hindering a worker’s ability to do the job.

Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 1)

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 1)

    “To some, injured workers are disposable commodities. They’re just a statistic,” said Senator John Patrick (D-Rumford), who is a co-sponsor of the bill and the Senate chair of the Labor Committee. “These are some of the most vulnerable people in the state and they were completely thrown under the bus. We can do better. This is Maine. We don’t turn our backs on our workers.”

Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

Sen. Jim Boyle (D-Cumberland) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

“I have seven employees who work for me, and I strongly support improved workers comp for my employees,” said Senator Jim Boyle, D-Gorham, a small business owner. “Most of the other decisions about my business are mine: I decided who is hired, who is fired, whether we have health insurance. Workers’ comp is not up to me. It is a protection for the men and women who work for my business. People need this protection. It is fair, and uniform, and I strongly support it.”

Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 1)

    “Injured workers have already been dealt a bad hand,” said Senator Jackson. “They need to be able to focus on their health and not worry about when they’re going to lose the only benefits they have left.”

Senator Andre Cushing speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 2)

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 2)

Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 2)

The bill faces more votes in both chambers before it goes before Governor LePage.

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ME Republican Party; Maine Wire Call Out 126th Dem Leaders- for Doing What 125th GOP & Others Before Them Did

Posted on May 3, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(Since the admonitions given in this earlier post “Hey Dave- Thanks Bunches For Illustrating Again Why Maine Dems Won BIG In November. Now, Shush!” were ignored and wonkiness/ out-and out, bald-faced lying seem to be the modus operandi of the Right this year, I decided to channel some GOP flavor for this post. ~AP)

—–

Oh, those “Liberal Elitists in Augusta”– Governor LePage just today tried to warn us all about them! Now, look at the no-good, very bad thing they did!

Gasp and swoon!!

Via Maine Wire:

Governor LePage's "Liberal Elitists in Augusta" (aka Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves) once again refuse to provide Maine with a plan to pay off Maine's hospital debt. NOTE: Completely ignore, as the Maine Wire and Maine GOP do,  the information behind the nefarious pair of no-goodniks!

Governor LePage’s “Liberal Elitists in Augusta” (aka Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves) once again refuse to provide Maine with a plan to pay off Maine’s hospital debt. NOTE: Completely ignore, as the Maine Wire and Maine GOP do, the information behind the nefarious pair of no-goodniks!

    State Democratic leaders have suspended a rule providing for transparency in the proceedings of the Legislature.

    Senate President Justin L. Alfond (D-Cumberland) and Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick) informed lawmakers in an email Wednesday that they are suspending the public notice requirement for advertising public hearings.

    “Effective today, the notice requirement for advertising public hearings for bills that are referred to committee after May 3rd is waived entirely,” the Democratic leaders wrote in an email to state lawmakers.

    Suspending the public notice requirement will make it difficult for Maine citizens to monitor the progress of bills in Augusta and attend public hearings to voice their concerns.

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette had the following reaction:

Minority Leader Fredette turns away from the awful badness that is House Speaker Mark Eves and looks to the far right instead for guidance.

Minority Leader Fredette turns away from the awful badness that is House Speaker Mark Eves and looks to the far right instead for guidance.

    “This is symptomatic of some of the problems we’ve been seeing in committees,” said House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport). “Add to that Democrats continuing to use the one big thing we all agree on, the hospital bill, as a bargaining chip and a lack of credible solutions coming from them on balancing the budget, and we’re bound to have a very rushed final two months of session,” Fredette said.

Assistant Minority Leader Alec Willette concurred:

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

    Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapelton) said the Democrat’s decision does not bode well for the creation of sound public policy.

    “Anytime you stop advertising public hearings, you’re hindering the public’s ability to weigh in on important issues and, as a result, hindering our ability to craft good public policy,” he said.

As both Fredette and Willette are on their second term in the House, they KNOW what this is about; they know what has happened in the past. This is such a marked difference from the transparency and procedure of the past GOP-led 125th Legislature!

So it was no WONDER that a fuming Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage this week shot off a quick response in the form of an email blast, to alert the public of these shameless shenanigans, complete with quotes from equally shocked and horrified former Maine Legislative member Rich Cebra.

Here is their press release:

    MAINE GOP: DEMOCRATS SUSPEND TRANSPARENCY, TIP HAND FOR REST OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION
    Back-loaded session now ripe for Dems to ram contentious bills through while denying Maine people a voice

    AUGUSTA – The Maine Republican Party is speaking out about a dangerous and disrespectful situation created by Democratic leadership in the Maine Legislature.

    Yesterday, a memo from Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves notified legislators that the Maine Legislature would be suspending rules requiring public notification for public hearings.

    The memo also indicated that the Democratic majority had only voted 50% of their bills out of committee with about 2 weeks to go until the deadline.

    CebraColor“Democrats took time to try to sell the Governor’s house, ban teenage girls from going tanning for prom, and a host of other petty and low priority bills, but they have failed to do the work they were sent to Augusta to do,” said Maine GOP Chairman Richard M. Cebra.

    “With just a few weeks remaining in the session, it is now clear that Democrat leadership has either completely failed to lead, or has intentionally back-loaded the session to ram through bad and extreme public policy,” said Cebra.

    “The public deserves to know what their government is up to, and this action denies them that ability. The people of Maine are now in the dangerous position of being denied transparency on a back-loaded legislative session ripe for those who would ram bad and extreme policy down the throats of Maine people under the cloak of darkness. This political malpractice is unacceptable,” concluded Cebra.

    Full text of memo here. Maine Wire article here.

    ###

Oh, that is terrible! Awful! How dare they?!?

Hey, wait a minute… what? Could it be that the Maine Wire/ GOP is trying to score cheap political points out of nothing at all?

Nah… couldn’t be. Not those bastions of honesty and truth!

But, then how does one explain today’s media advisory?

Via Maine House Democrats:

    Enclosed please find a notice from the 125th Republican Legislature waiving the two-week time period for public hearing notices for bills referenced after a certain date. This week, Speaker Eves and President Alfond sent committee chairs a similar memo. This is a routine time-management tool used by past legislative leaders — Republicans and Democrats. Similar notices waiving the two-week notification period have occurred in the 125th, 124th, 123rd, 122, and 121st Legislatures. I’d be happy to provide a back log of those memos.

    Please note that public hearing notices are still required. They must be posted on the Legislature’s web site and in the committee room.

Cebra_ethicsSure; sounds like a party operative/ apologist, just trying to cover up for the Dems. One would like to remind the majority party that Maine Republican Party chair Rich Cebra was himself a member of those same 122, 123, 124 and 125th Legislatures.

So it stands to reason that if such notifications HAD been issued, he would certainly know about it!

Well, unless he were unethical, duplicitous or something really gawdawful like that. And goodness knows, that is NOT the case!

Where is your proof, Democrats?

Oh.

This.

Hmm… well, this is awkward!

125th GOP letter

Waiting for Ken Fredette, Alex Willette, Jason Savage, Rich Cebra and Steve Robinson to respond/ issue heart-felt apologies in 3… 2… 1…

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(UPDATED) 126th Legislature Joint Standing Committees: Big Changes Ahead

Posted on December 20, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

(NOTE: Originally posted 27 Nov 2012; being shared again for comparative purposes with the recently released 126th committee lists. ~AP)

With all of the 126th Legislative races now settled and all names known, it is time to look ahead to 2013- not just the new members, but possible shake ups in the joint standing committees (For more info: “Rule 301. Joint Standing Committee Responsibilities and Jurisdiction”).

These committees will be of great focus immediately after the new Legislature is sworn in next week, as there are already anticipated reviews of LD 1333/ PL 90 and LD 849/ PL 692, as well as the next biennial budget, with additional work still needed to fix the Governor’s previous budget:

    LePage’s finance commissioner, Sawin Millett, told Capitol News Service that the governor’s two-year budget will be presented to the Legislature in early January and that a supplemental plan to plug the gap in the current budget would follow.

    Budgetary matters could set the tone for a legislative session seemingly set up for conflict between the Democratic majority and LePage.

    Democrats haven’t announced any policy initiatives but have hinted that workforce development, education and health care are on their wish list. Changes to the Republican-backed health insurance law that was passed over the objection of Democrats in 2011 will likely be proposed.

The 125th saw the elimination of 2 separate committees to form a third with a tremendous range of focuses. As Reps Terry Hayes and Paul Gilbert explain in a BDN opinion piece (“Maine workers and employers deserve more attention”) published yesterday:

    Here is a bit of Maine legislative history. The Joint Standing Committee on Labor existed for 100 years before 2010, when the Republicans were elected to lead. The first action of the new Republican leadership two years ago was to eliminate the Labor Committee and broaden the charge of the Business, Research, and Economic Development committee to include labor policy. The rationale included, “By combining these two committees, GOP leadership seeks to address commerce, workforce, research and development issues within a more effective framework.”

    The outcome was the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, a “supercommittee” of 13 legislators with a staggering workload. Policy issues ranged from uniform building codes to workers’ compensation reform to protecting heating oil consumers. Previously, the two committees dealing with these issues each met twice a week during the legislative session. The newly formed supercommittee met five days per week.

What Hayes and Gilbert envision for a practical workable solution to the problems seen in the past is the creation of a new committee:

    Republicans argued successfully in 2010 that isolating labor issues from management was counterproductive. We agree. We suggest establishing a Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Work Force Development, appointing members from both management and labor backgrounds. Diverse representation on the committee will provide the variety of perspectives necessary to generate policy improvements for workers and businesses.

Via Pierce Atwood comes this comprehensive look at the current state of the various standing committees, with the names of former and no longer serving legislators crossed out:

    Appropriations and Financial Affairs (6 openings of 13 seats)

    Senator Richard W. Rosen (R-Hancock), Chair

    Senator Roger J. Katz (R-Kennebec)*

    Senator Dawn Hill (D-York)

    Representative Patrick S. A. Flood (R-Winthrop), Chair
    (now Senator of SD 21)

    Representative Tom J. Winsor (R-Norway)

    Representative Kathleen D. Chase (R-Wells)

    Representative Tyler Clark (R-Easton)

    Representative Kenneth Wade Fredette (R-Newport)*

    Representative Dennis L. Keschl (R-Belgrade)

    Representative Margaret R. Rotundo (D-Lewiston), Ranking Member

    Representative John L. Martin (D-Eagle Lake)

    Representative David C. Webster (D-Freeport)

    Representative Sara R. Stevens (D-Bangor)

    *Member of legislative leadership in the 126th and unlikely to serve on a committee

    Energy, Utilities and Technology(6 openings of 13 seats)

    Senator Michael D. Thibodeau (R-Waldo), Chair*

    Senator Christopher W. Rector (R-Knox)

    Senator Philip L. Bartlett II (D-Cumberland)

    Representative Stacey Allen Fitts (R-Pittsfield), Chair

    Representative James M. Hamper (R-Oxford)

    Representative Dean A. Cray (R-Palmyra)

    Representative Larry C. Dunphy (R-Embden)

    Representative Aaron F. Libby (R-Waterboro)

    Representative Jon Hinck (D-Portland), Ranking Member

    Representative Alexander Cornell du Houx (D-Brunswick)

    Representative Roberta B. Beavers (D-South Berwick)

    Representative Mark N. Dion (D-Portland)

    Representative Louis J. Luchini (D-Ellsworth)

    *Member of legislative leadership in the 126th and unlikely to serve on a committee

    Environment and Natural Resources(6 openings of 13 seats)

    Senator Thomas B. Saviello (R-Franklin), Chair

    Senator Roger L. Sherman (R-Aroostook)

    Senator Seth A. Goodall (D-Sagadahoc)*

    Representative James M. Hamper (R-Oxford), Chair

    Representative Bernard L. A. Ayotte (R-Caswell)

    Representative Jane S. Knapp (R-Gorham)

    Representative Joan M. Nass (R-Acton)

    Representative Ricky D. Long (R-Sherman)

    Representative James W. Parker (R-Veazie)

    Representative Robert S. Duchesne (D-Hudson), Ranking Member

    Representative Melissa Walsh Innes (D-Yarmouth)

    Representative Joan W. Welsh (D-Rockport)

    Representative Denise Patricia Harlow (D-Portland)

    *Member of legislative leadership in the 126th and unlikely to serve on a committee

    Health and Human Services(6 openings of 13 seats)

    Senator Earle L. McCormick (R-Kennebec), Chair

    Senator Nichi S. Farnham (R-Penobscot)

    Senator Margaret M. Craven (D-Androscoggin)

    Representative Meredith N. Strang Burgess (R-Cumberland), Chair

    Representative Leslie T. Fossel (R-Alna)

    Representative Richard S. Malaby (R-Hancock)

    Representative Beth A. O’Connor (R-Berwick)

    Representative Deborah J. Sanderson (R-Chelsea)

    Representative Heather W. Sirocki (R-Scarborough)

    Representative Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick), Ranking Member*

    Representative Matthew J. Peterson (D-Rumford)

    Representative Linda F. Sanborn (D-Gorham)

    Representative Peter C. Stuckey (D-Portland)

    *Member of legislative leadership in the 126th and unlikely to serve on a committee

    Insurance and Financial Services(6 openings of 13 seats)

    Senator Rodney L. Whittemore (R-Somerset), Chair

    Senator Lois A. Snowe-Mello (R-Androscoggin)

    Senator Joseph C. Brannigan (D-Cumberland)

    Representative Wesley E. Richardson (R-Warren), Chair

    Representative Jonathan B. McKane (R-Newcastle)

    Representative Joyce A. Fitzpatrick (R-Houlton)

    Representative Susan E. Morissette (R-Winslow)

    Representative John J. Picchiotti (R-Fairfield)

    Representative Sharon Anglin Treat (D-Hallowell), Ranking Member

    Representative Adam A. Goode (D-Bangor)

    Representative Henry E. M. Beck (D-Waterville)

    Representative Terry K. Morrison (D-South Portland)

    Representative Paulette G. Beaudoin (D-Biddeford)

    Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development(7 openings of 13 seats)

    Senator Christopher W. Rector (R-Knox), Chair

    Senator Thomas H. Martin, Jr. (R-Kennebec)

    Senator Troy Dale Jackson (D-Aroostook)*

    Representative Kerri L. Prescott (R-Topsham), Chair

    Representative Dana L. Dow (R-Waldoboro)

    Representative Melvin Newendyke (R-Litchfield)

    Representative Amy Fern Volk (R-Scarborough)

    Representative Raymond A. Wallace (R-Dexter)

    Representative John L. Tuttle, Jr. (D-Sanford), Ranking Member
    (Now Senator of SD 3)

    Representative Timothy E. Driscoll (D-Westbrook)

    Representative Paul E. Gilbert (D-Jay)

    Representative Robert B. Hunt (D-Buxton)

    Representative Erin D. Herbig (D-Belfast)

    *Member of legislative leadership in the 126th and unlikely to serve on a committee

    Taxation(8 openings of 13 seats)

    Senator Jonathan T. E. Courtney (R-York), Chair

    Senator David R. Hastings III (R-Oxford)

    Senator Richard G. Woodbury (U-Cumberland)

    Representative L. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls), Chair

    Representative G. Paul Waterhouse (R-Bridgton)

    Representative Bruce A. Bickford (R-Auburn)

    Representative Paul Edward Bennett (R-Kennebunk)

    Representative R. Ryan Harmon (R-Palermo)

    Representative Windol C. Weaver (R-York

    Representative Seth A. Berry (D-Bowdoinham), Ranking Member*

    Representative Donald E. Pilon (D-Saco)

    Representative Mark E. Bryant (D-Windham)

    Representative Elspeth M. Flemings (D-Bar Harbor)

*Member of legislative leadership in the 126th and unlikely to serve on a committee

This post will be updated as soon as the final decisions regarding committees and members are released to the public.

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(BLAST FROM THE PAST) LD 1333 Already Causing Fears of Skyrocketing Rates, Disgraced Insurers Coming Back to Maine

Posted on November 26, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

(Originally posted 13 Sep 2011. ~AP)

Bangor Daily reporting that the U.S. Census Bureau today will be releasing the latest uninsured figures today. But as it is based upon the 2010 census numbers, one wonders how accurate the numbers for Maine will be.

Especially in light of news that the insurance industry is already raising premiums beyond reach of many small rural Maine companies.

One company that left Maine but has now returned, Assurant, is now sending out expensive lil recruiting literature to all life and health (L&H) insurance agents in the state. Previously they did business under than name of Fortis, and had landed themselves in hot water with the State of Maine Bureau of Insurance, as did the company John Alden.

More on Assurant here, John Alden here.

Expect to see a LOT of these formerly disgraced companies coming back home to roost in Maine, thanks to LD 1333. There are many reasons they left Maine markets in the first place, and one would be wise to be skeptical of them as they return, as well as do their own research into the companies before they sign anything.

In addition to Senator Plowman’s opinion piece today where she failed repeatedly and predictably to mention her (and others) many questionable connections to ALEC and MHPC, the Bangor Daily News ran one from Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle).

Some clips:

One of those laws is the major health insurance overhaul Republicans pushed through a few months ago.We are already seeing the negative effects of this health insurance overhaul. The Ellsworth American reported recently that some small businesses in rural Maine will be seeing their health insurance costs go up more than 60 percent as early as October.

According to the report, small businesses in Hancock, Washington and Aroostook counties will seeinsurance premiums rise more than 60 or 70 percent. One company in Presque Isle may see an increase of 90 percent.

Premium hikes like these will put the companies at their breaking points. A recent survey of Maine people by Market Decisions found that 21 percent fear losing health insurance coverage in the next 12 months. Nearly 40 percent of those individuals said the top reason for their fear was the new health care law passed by Republicans in Augusta.

It’s no wonder they are afraid. The insurance overhaul will allow insurance companies selling individual policies to set rates based on age at up to five times higher than the lowest rate. And, most troubling, there will be no limits on rate changes depending on where you live, or what kind of job you have.

The new law expands that ratio to 1 to 5; that is, if the lowest premium is $500 a month, the highest an insurer can now charge is $2,500. The thought is that that insurers would increase the premiums for their more costly customers while – don’t laugh at this – lowering the costs for the young and healthy.

Raise your hand if you can afford $2500 a month for health insurance. Yeah, me neither.

This caught my eye, as I was in the House gallery on May 5th during the first reading of LD 1333:

During the floor debate, I asked this question to all the lawmakers in the House: “What effect will this have on premiums for a 50-year-old, self-employed fisherman living on an offshore island?” No one answered, either because they did not know or did not like the answer.

In fact, Reps. Kumiega, Webster and Russell all had questions of their colleagues that went completely unanswered. Have a look:

This is just getting started and it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

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Democratic Weekly Radio Address by Senator Joe Brannigan (Cumberland): Giving Thanks and Helping Others During The Holiday Season

Posted on November 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Audio link here.

Good Morning. This is State Senator Joe Brannigan of Portland.

The holiday season has officially arrived. Many of us have spent Thanksgiving with family and friends and reflected on the many reasons we have to be grateful and thankful. As we move toward the new year, we often see a surge of people reaching out a helping hand toward one another. Maine people are known for a spirit of generosity and kindheartedness toward their neighbors. It’s perhaps embedded in our core values.

In fact, Volunteering in America, a national organization, found that Maine ranked 4th in the nation for volunteer hours—averaging nearly 48 hours per resident. Volunteering time adds up! In just two years, Mainers contributed over one-billion dollars in services just from volunteering.

Every day we hear stories of people rising to the occasion and making a real difference. We don’t need to look far to hear about Mainers reaching out to help a struggling neighbor—whether it’s fuel assistance to warm a family home, providing food for a family meal, or shelter to those without, many individuals are working hard to lend a helping hand.

Difficult times bring people and communities together. With a growing economic inequality in our country and right here at home, it is easy to focus on ways in which our society is pulling apart. But it is important to look at not just what divides us but at what we share—what we have in common—and how we can pull together. With a can-do attitude, and by being concerned citizens and good neighbors, we can pull together to help lift up our struggling neighbors, shore up our communities, and strengthen our state.

We’ve seen the dangers of inequality in our society. More so than ever before, extreme wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the middle class standard of living is under assault.

Jobs are hard to find. Wages are falling—or at best, flattening. And, many are faced with hard choices like, which bill to pay or not pay; how to trim the grocery bill so there’s money left to fill the gas tank; and hoping—on a wing and a prayer—that sickness doesn’t crop up. Frustration is growing as the American Dream fades.

My Democratic colleagues and I know that it is our job to work for Maine people by coming up with real solutions for job creation and retraining our workforce; by putting policies in place that make health care more affordable to Maine people, and by strengthening our education system so that the next generation of Mainers is prepared for the jobs of the future.

There’s no doubt that times are tough. And now, more than any other time of year, we are reminded of the resourcefulness and resiliency of Maine people.

And, so it’s important to remember that there are those who have needs greater than our own, and think about ways we can help them. In keeping with the tradition of giving, there are many ways in which anyone can help a family this holiday season. Even the simplest acts of kindness may mean a world of difference.

This is State Senator Joe Brannigan. Thanks for listening. Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Sen. Seth Goodall (Sagadahoc): It’s time to find common ground to move Maine forward

Posted on November 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

Election Day is now behind us and Mainers spoke loudly and clearly for balance in Augusta, balance that is focused on a vision that grants every Mainer the opportunity to succeed, balance that grows our economy and the middle class. Balance that is focused on putting people back to work, not divisive rhetoric or distractions that turn back the clock.

It is time for action, by both parties and the Governor, to work together toward common ground to move Maine forward. It’s not about who is right or wrong, or who wins or loses, it’s about what is best for Maine.

Good Morning. This is State Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond.

During the campaign, Democrats knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors across the state. We spoke to Democrats, Independents and Republicans. We listened to what you had say. We heard your concerns. We understand our challenges. And we feel and share your frustration.

What we heard at your door cannot be forgotten. It must motivate us to work harder to strengthen our state.

We heard you say you want a vision for a better way—a stronger way. A plan that gives every person a shot.

We heard you say you want to be able go to work, pay your bills, and enjoy your family—and know that we, as lawmakers, are doing our job—working together to move Maine forward, getting results.

There’s no doubt about it, we are facing serious challenges. We still have more than 50,000 Mainers out of work–and families continue their struggle to make ends meet, pay their bills, afford their groceries and heat their homes. There are the daily pressures of how to pay for things such as day care and gassing up the car just to get to work, and then, many are forced to make hard choices about paying their bills while often not being able to set aside money for their retirement and their kid’s education.

Lawmakers need to get to work immediately to find solutions that will rebuild and grow our economy.

In January when the new Legislature convenes, Democrats will be moving forward with practical solutions–seeking common ground—that is based on what we heard from you at your door.

Our priority is to help rebuild our economy so that people can get back to work, businesses can grow and every Mainer has the opportunity to succeed.

Our agenda will not pick winners or losers, but instead address concerns of those all across Maine – from our cities to the smallest towns. Our initiatives will be focused on restoring opportunity and economic security so that Mainers can work their way into the middle class–not get pushed out.

Maine can once again, be and portray, a place where folks want to live, work, and do business. A place with good schools, strong communities, and vibrant downtowns. A place where our workers get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Where our unemployed workers can get the training they need and businesses demand, to get back to work. A place where businesses invest and entrepreneurship flourishes.

Maine must be a place where our students are challenged and our teachers supported. A place where all of our families can afford to see a doctor and our children are healthy and safe. And a place where our businesses thrive and our natural resources are protected.

We are committed to working on the best ideas for Maine—regardless of which party comes up with them. We hope the Governor is willing to join us and work together on addressing Maine’s challenges.

This is State Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond. And this Veteran’s Day weekend, please thank our veterans and their families for their commitment, sacrifice and service to our state and our nation. They will and always have been there to protect our freedoms and democracy. Thank you for listening.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Emily Cain (Orono): Stakes are high, make your voice heard

Posted on November 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

Good morning, I’m State Representative Emily Cain from Orono, the House minority leader.

Thank you for tuning in.

It’s the height of election season, which means most of you are probably fed up with all of the political TV commercials, radio spots, and your overstuffed mail boxes.

On Tuesday, all of that will end. And this election will come down to you. The noise will stop and you will have choices to make when you enter the voting booth.

No matter what political party you belong to or who you plan to vote for, your vote matters. It counts. There is a lot at stake for our country and our state. Our state and our nation have serious challenges to address.

But we can’t do it unless we have leaders who listen to us — and to each other.

Maine needs lawmakers who work together to get our economy on track. We want results — not a partisan or extreme agenda dictated by special interests or big corporations.

We want reasonable solutions for the problems we face each day. We need good paying jobs for a hard day’s work. We need a stronger middle class – that is growing not shrinking.

A working mom or Dad should be able to go to their child’s soccer game after a hard day’s work — not head to a second or third job because they can’t earn enough at the first.

An 82 year old grandmother should not have to choose between paying for her medicine or her groceries.

No student should walk away from college or technical training because they can’t afford it. And, we need to make sure we have those engineering and technology jobs they trained for here in Maine, so they don’t have to leave the state when they graduate.

We want clean air and water so our fishermen and farmers can continue to make a living here and support the amazing Maine brand across the world.

But no one party can do it alone. We must set aside our differences to find common ground.

When you get in that voting booth, you have an opportunity to send a strong message to our leaders. A message that says you care about the future of our state and our country. And that your voice will be heard.
In Maine, we have a tradition of high voter turnout. We know how important our vote is and we won’t take it for granted.

Our voting laws ensure that Maine people can conveniently get to the polls on or before Election Day to vote. The rules for voting are simple: You have to be 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and a live in the municipality where you want to vote.

A photo ID is not required to vote. Again, you do not need a photo ID to vote.

You can register to vote on Election Day.

Do not allow anyone to intimidate and bully you at the polls. Sadly, some may try. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine will be providing voter protection services on Election Day.

Your vote matters; make it count. Vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Now let’s set aside politics and the election. I want to share some information on how we can help our neighbors to the south who suffered incredible devastation from Hurricane Sandy. In most of Maine, we were fortunate to miss the worst of the storm.

Many of us want to know how we can help the families that have lost everything in the devastation. One simple and easy way each of us can help is to donate to the Red Cross. You can donate $10 by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 or visit RedCross.org.
Thank you very much for listening, I’m Rep. Emily Cain from Orono.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Sen. Chris Johnson (Lincoln): GOP tax policies push costs onto towns, ask taxpayers to foot the bill

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.

Good Morning. This is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville.

When I was growing up my family watched the Wizard of OZ every year. Do you remember the scene in which the curtain is pulled aside revealing the real identity of the wizard, a man with no real wizardry, saying “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”? Well I have to tell you the curtain has been pulled aside again, this time on the economic policies and priorities of the current administration, and the GOP-led legislature.

The truth is that many Maine people are worse off, not better, and paying more for less. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Earlier this month the independent, nonpartisan organization, Maine Center for Economic Policy, released a report analyzing the tax policies and priorities of the last legislature.

Here’s what they found:

Two hundred and seventy thousand Mainers earning $42,000 or less are paying more in taxes.

The wealthiest one percent, earning more than $323,000 a year, are paying a lot less.

And our towns are forced to slash critical town services—letting our local roads crumble, closing or cutting hours at our libraries, or laying off teachers and first responders.

The problem with this slash and burn approach is that, at the end of the day, we are hurting our community. We can all agree to making government more efficient and frugal, but at some point, regardless of how much cutting you do, there is a baseline cost for keeping the lights on and the doors open.

There is a cause and effect to the Republican priority of giving tax breaks to the wealthy; pushing costs onto our towns and asking the local taxpayer to foot the bill.

They’ve created false choices—one where towns are being forced to deplete reserves, cut services, or raise property taxes. It is unfair and not sustainable.

Frankly, the conclusions of this report are not surprising. It confirms what many of us have been feeling across the state, that property taxes are increasing. Towns and taxpayers are feeling the financial squeeze like never before. We are being asked to do more with less—often with so much less, that essential services like police, fire, and rescue are on life support.

I have seen this first hand with the hard choices many of the towns in my district are faced with. Take Damariscotta. Because of the cost shift, they have proposed eliminating the police department in order to save the town money it lost in state revenue sharing. Many residents and local businesses are concerned about what this may mean for their public safety—and rightly so, especially when they have clearly stated their willingness to pay more in property taxes to keep the local police department on duty. Without the cuts from the state, Damariscotta could keep its police department and not pass along a property tax increase.

Other towns have been forced to make similar choices. Just ask Waterville Mayor Karen Heck who had to shed 14 employees as a result of less state revenue coming to her city.

It all comes down to decisions made at the state level. Governor LePage and many legislative Republicans came into office with the promise of cutting taxes, creating more jobs, and getting our economy back on track. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened. While tax cuts have been made–for some–they’ve led to property tax increases for nearly everyone. When cost shifts are ignored by policymakers in Augusta, they are turning their backs on a hard reality faced daily by Maine people. It turns into a State vs. Town game of whack-a-mole.

Since they took over, we have lost more than 2,300 jobs and we still rank at the bottom of the list for personal income growth. Their solutions for fixing Maine’s economy are in fact leaving behind middle class families, and those trying hard to stay in the middle class.

We need economic policies that encourage and prioritize investments for the very things we know will work, like investing in education, R&D, our roads, bridges and high-speed Internet. We need to encourage job growth by making sure our workforce is trained and ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow. And we also need a realistic tax program considering state and local taxes, that is fair and makes sense.

It is time to pay attention to what’s behind the curtain. It’s time to be realistic, and rely on what our own hearts, brains, and bravery tell us, not trickle-down magic.

This is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville. Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Brian Bolduc (Auburn): Your Vote Matters, Make It Count

Posted on October 20, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

No matter what political party you belong to or where you stand on the issues, get out and vote.

Good morning, I’m State Rep. Brian Bolduc from Auburn.

Election season is steaming ahead and by now the political signs are on every street corner. The political ads are on the radio, TV and even in the mail.

With all the politicking sometimes it’s easy to forget how lucky we are to live in a Democracy, where voting is our right.

Nationwide, the right to vote is facing a greater challenge now than it has in decades.

Since the last presidential election, more than 30 states have introduced new barriers to the ballot box that could make it significantly harder to vote for a staggering five million eligible voters this November.

Here in Maine, we’ve managed to weather the storm so far — thanks in large part to last year’s amazing campaign that restored same-day voter registration that Republican lawmakers attempted to take away last year — but it’s clear that our work is not done and threats to our democracy remain.

As a citizen, the most important step you can take toward protecting our democracy is participating in it – and that means voting.

Voting in Maine is simple and easy to do. You can even do it early and avoid lines. Any voter can request their ballot early—you don’t need to give a reason.

It’s true—it takes just a minute to request your ballot on the web site of the Secretary of State. Once your request is in, your town clerk will mail your ballot to you at the address you specify. Fill it out, put your ballot back into the mail before Election Day, and you’ve voted.

Don’t let anything get in the way of making your voice heard on Election Day – not a long line or a long work day.

It’s easy to take our voting rights for granted. Even worse, it seems like the more and more political ads we see, the more and more frustrated politics can seem.
But many people sacrificed and worked tirelessly so that women, minorities and adults 18 and older could cast ballots.
Soldiers and civil rights workers fought hard for voting rights.
American soldiers are still fighting and dying in wars to give people the freedom and Democracy we have here.
So, no matter what political party you belong to or where you stand on the issues, get out and vote. Vote early if you’ve already made up your mind. And, encourage your family and friends to vote. You can even vote in honor of a veteran.

Your vote matters. Make it count.

Thank you for listening. I’m State Rep. Brian Bolduc.

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