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 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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Legislature passes bipartisan bill to stiffen Bath Salts penalties

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

(Via Maine House Democrats)

    Legislature passes bipartisan bill to stiffen Bath Salts penalties

AUGUSTA- The Maine Legislature passed a bill to strengthen the penalties for users and dealers of the illegal synthetic drug bath salts.

“The bath salts epidemic this summer has prompted the legislature to take emergency action on this critical issue,” said Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who is a cosponsor of the new bipartisan bill and was the sponsor of the original bill that made the drug illegal earlier this year.

“We had originally proposed these stiff penalties and now we have stronger support from the governor and the Republican majority. Increasingly, the experts no longer put bath salts near the top of the list. They put it at the top.”

Berry’s bill was scaled back to be a civil violation in the spring due to a lack of funding needed to pay for incarceration, treatment, and indigent legal services.

The abuse of bath salts has ballooned across the state over the summer, according to law enforcement officials. The epidemic prompted the governor and lawmakers to reintroduce Rep. Berry’s original proposal to make the penalties equal to drugs like heroin and methamphetamine.

Nationally, Poison Control Centers recorded 303 poisonings in all of 2010. In the first seven months of 2011, they recorded 4,137.

In Maine, Bangor has seen an increase of Bath Salts cases in the past few months. The Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Monday that there were 14 bath salts related incidents this weekend alone.

“Our law enforcement officials need these stronger penalties to help them better protect our communities,” said Anne Haskell, D-Portland, who is the lead Democrat on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. “Rep. Berry was right the first time around. It was a mistake to water down the bill in the spring. We’ve heard from police officials, first responders, and families who urged us to strengthen the law and fight back against this dangerous drug.”

During the debate on the bill House lawmakers rejected an attempt by the Senate to amend the bill to scale back the punishment for furnishing versus trafficking of the drug.

“We opposed providing different penalties for the crimes because it would be inconsistent with our other laws for this class of drug,” explained Haskell. “While I understand the concerns, we don’t have variation in the law for heroin or cocaine for example, and we shouldn’t set a different, weaker standard for bath salts.”

The bill will now be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

“We took an important first step tonight to meet the immediate challenges of combating this horrible drug,”
said Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House Democratic Leader. “In addition to strengthening the criminal penalties, we must also plan for the education and treatment challenges we will face in the future.”

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