LePage Weekly Address to Maine SNAP Recipients: “Get Outta The Hammock!”

Posted on September 22, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

AUDIO HERE: Maine Will Test Assets for Those Seeking Food Stamps

Maine Will Test Assets for Those Seeking Food Stamps

Hey, you lazy Maine black bears- Guvnah says it's time to get outta the hammock and get a job! Yeah, YOU there!

Hey, you lazy Maine black bears- Guvnah says it’s time to get outta the hammock and get a job! Yeah, YOU there!

    Our administration will start testing applicants for food stamps to determine if they have more than $5,000 in assets. It has just come to my attention that this is the federal law.

    Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program— which is called SNAP or food stamps—is for people who truly need a hand up.

    If an able-bodied person has over $5,000 in assets, such as ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles or jet skis, then they must divest of these items before asking the taxpayers for assistance.

    The asset test will apply only to households without children. It will apply to about 8,600 people on food stamps.

    They will be required to disclose whether their assets exceed $5,000 in value. This asset test is a provision of federal law that Maine has waived in recent years.

    Liberals have been spreading false information about what constitutes an asset. For the purpose of food stamps, assets do not include equity in a home or a household’s primary vehicle. They also do not include personal household items, furniture, TVs or washers and dryers.

    However, assets do include the balance of bank accounts, snowmobiles, boats, motorcycles, jet skis, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles, campers and other expensive luxury possessions.

    Governor LePage addressing attendees at UMF town hall, 9/22/15

    Governor LePage addressing attendees at UMF town hall, 9/22/15

    The majority of Mainers agree that before someone gets taxpayer-funded welfare benefits, they should sell non-essential assets and use their savings.

    Hard-working Mainers should not come home to see snowmobiles, four wheelers or jet skis in the yards of those who are getting welfare.

    DHHS is constantly working to transform the welfare system from a culture of entitlement to one of self-reliance. Welfare should be a safety net, not a hammock to support expensive toys or non-essential assets.

    When Mainers see some people using welfare benefits to keep boats or motorcycles, it hurts the public perception of the program.

    It also hurts our ability to provide welfare resources for our most vulnerable citizens: the elderly, the disabled and the mentally challenged.

    We have made moderate progress with welfare reform, but there is much more work to do. We have moved from the Number 1 welfare state in the country down to Number 3.

    We should be in the middle of the pack. That’s why we will keep working to make our welfare system an affordable safety net for truly needy Mainers.

    image002

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(5/8/15) HHS Work Sessions on 11 Medical Marijuana Bills (VIDEOS)

Posted on May 10, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Health and Human Services Cross Building, Room 209

9AM PUBLIC HEARING

    LD 1392, An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act
    Rep. Sanderson of Chelsea

10 AM WORK SESSIONS

    LD 5, An Act To Remove the Limit on the Number of Patients a Primary Caregiver May Provide for under the Medical Marijuana Laws
    Rep. Russell of Portland

    LD 23, An Act To Remove from the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act the Requirement That a Patient’s Medical Condition Be Debilitating
    Rep. Russell of Portland

    LD 35, An Act To Allow a Qualifying Patient To Use Medical Marijuana in a Hospital
    Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

    LD 266, An Act To Allow Access for Law Enforcement Officers to the List of Registered Primary Caregivers for Medical Marijuana Patients
    Rep. Blume of York

    LD 560, An Act Regarding Patient Information Under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act
    Rep. Russell of Portland

    LD 726, An Act To Increase Patient Safety in Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program
    Sen. Saviello of Franklin

    LD 752, An Act To Permit Medical Marijuana Cultivation by Incapacitated Adults
    Rep. Dunphy of Embden

    LD 766, An Act To Require a Medical Marijuana Primary Caregiver Cultivating in a Residential Building To Obtain an Electrical Permit
    Rep. Corey of Windham

    LD 1059, An Act Relating to Marijuana Testing Facilities
    Rep. Farnsworth of Portland

    LD 1258, An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act with Regard to Good Business Practices
    Rep. Sanderson of Chelsea

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4/29/15 HHS Work Session on 6 GA/ TANF Bills

Posted on May 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Work sessions were held by the Legislature’s HHS Committee on 4/29/15 regarding the following bills:

LD 368, An Act To Integrate the State’s General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 369, An Act To Align Municipal General Assistance Programs with the Immigration Status Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 632, An Act To Require the State To Administer and Fund the General Assistance Program
Sen. Saviello of Franklin

LD 722, An Act To Strengthen Penalties for Abuse of General Assistance
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 1035,An Act To Create a 9-month Time Limit on General Assistance Benefits
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 1037, An Act To Establish a 180-day Residency Requirement for Welfare Benefits
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

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LePage: “If You’re A Refugee, I’m All In- If You’re An ‘Asylee’, I’m Skeptical And I’m Concerned”

Posted on April 3, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

The first question asked of Governor Paul LePage last night directly took on the administration, in regards to the 150 day wait for those seeking asylum in order to be allowed to work. This has been a huge battle between LePage, DHHS and the Cities of Portland and Westbrook for quite awhile now over funding with ongoing litigation.

A theme LePage has repeated for quite awhile now. From his State of the State address:

    “We have limited resources and we have to stretch them as far as we can go. And one of the elements that has a burden in the last couple years has been those who have receiving funds, but they are here illegally. 

    Now, am I compassionate about illegal aliens? Yes, I am. I would prefer that they do it the right way, but it’s very expensive, ’cause I’ve gone through that. We brought a young man here and we did it the right way and paid the bill.  

    But this is the problem with some of the illegals that are here today. When a refugee comes here from a foreign country, they get a medical assessment and we know their health. But when they come here illegally, they don’t get medical assessments. 

    And one thing that we don’t want to see is the uptick of hepatitis C, HIV and tuberculosis. 

    But it is here. We are dealing with it. And it is very costly. 

    So if nothing else, they should be getting a medical assessment when they get here.

    And I believe that my responsibility as your governor is number one to Maine residents first and everyone else second.”

Other Republicans in Maine have been very vocal in their views of those who come to Maine seeking asylum, most notably Lewiston Mayor Bob MacDonald. This last night seems on the surface via LePage’s wording to be a reversal of his previous views on refugees.

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AFA/ HHS Public Hearing LePage FY 2016/17 Biennial Budget, Day 5- Developmental Disabilities, Children & Adult Mental Health

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Public hearing before the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee regarding LR 1852 (Governor LePage’s proposed FY 2016-17 biennial budget), recorded 3/6/15.

Topics covered (summarized):

  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Brain Injury
  • Children’s Services
  • Children’s Mental Health
  • Medical Payments to Providers

    AFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 1)

    Return to editingAFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 2)

    AFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 3)

    AFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 4)

    AFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 5)

    AFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 6)

    AFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 7)

    AFA/ HHS LR 1852 Public Hearing, Friday 3/6/15 (Pt 8)

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  • Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DHHS Meets With AFA, HHS

    Posted on February 1, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

    DSC_0121Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew along with Alec Porteous and Stephanie Nadeau met with the 127th Legislature’s Appropriations and HHS Committees for three hours on January 22 to discuss the administration’s FY 2016/17 biennial budget as it pertains to the state’s largest agency (Governor Paul LePage’s 2016-2017 Biennial General Fund Budget Proposal can be found here). The entire meeting is below, recorded in five clips.

    From a DHHS press release:

      “For years, DHHS has come to the budget committee with news of massive shortfalls that send lawmakers scrambling,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “This time, it’s different. Under Governor LePage’s leadership, we have stabilized spending in the Medicaid program and are no longer managing to a crisis. Instead, the budget proposal tackles some of the Governor’s biggest priorities: nursing home funding, waitlists, primary care, and much more.”

      The DHHS budget proposal identifies significant savings to help fund important new initiatives, with a net request of just over $6 million for the FY 2016-2017 biennium-this out of a total Department General Fund budget of more than $2 billion.

      DSC_0123Among those initiatives are $24 million in additional Medicaid reimbursement funding for nursing homes; $46 million to move elderly, disabled, and mentally ill patients off of waitlists for services; $28 million to improve access to primary care providers; and $14 million to fulfill Maine’s obligation to mental health under the Consent Decree.

      Roughly $11 million in savings from a proposed reform to General Assistance reimbursement to municipalities will be directed specifically to fund services under Section 21 for disabled Mainers on waitlists.

      A total of $20 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) will be repurposed away from third-party advocacy organizations and directed to fund increased access to primary care providers for Medicaid recipients.

      After doubling in size, enrollment, and cost in the decade prior to Governor LePage’s first inauguration, Maine’s Medicaid program has since seen enrollment drop from a high of 354,000 in 2011 to 291,000 today. In 2011, 26 percent of Mainers were enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 18 percent of the national population. In 2014, Maine’s Medicaid enrollment matched the national average of 22 percent. “After years spent bailing out the sinking ship of Medicaid, we have finally charted a new course where spending on able-bodied adults is controlled and services for the elderly and disabled are prioritized,” added Commissioner Mayhew. “I am proud to be presenting this balanced budget to the Appropriations Committee on behalf of Governor LePage, whose tenacity and responsible priorities have gotten us where we are today.”

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Part 5

    After the conclusion of the meeting, Daniel E. Wathen, Consent Decree Coordinator, met with the two committees to discuss multiple ongoing issues at Riverview Psychiatric Center and answer questions from legislators. The two clips of that meeting are below.

    Part 1

    Part 2

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    (VIDEOS) Maine Governor Paul LePage, Administration Present FY 2016/17 Biennial Budget

    Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

    The entire press conference here, in order of speakers.

    DAFS Commissioner Richard Rosen will be presenting the budget to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee later today.

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    Governor LePage Swears In Constitutional Officers

    Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

      Political Pettiness? “Get Over It”

    On Thursday, Cathy Breen (D-Cumberland) was finally sworn in to represent Senate District 25, a full month later than her colleagues, due to the recent recount snafu. Governor Paul LePage administered the oath of office in his chambers.

    State Senator Cathy Breen (D-Cumberland) is welcomed by Senate after taking oath of office.

    State Senator Cathy Breen (D-Cumberland) is welcomed by Senate after taking oath of office.

    While this is not unusual practice, what happened later that day most definitely was.

    In an unprecedented move, Maine’s three constitutional officers Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Treasurer Terry Hayes and Attorney General Janet T. Mills were informed that by the governor’s request, they would not be sworn into office publicly in the House of Representatives- but rather that LePage would administer their oaths privately in his chambers.

    All three had served as Democratic legislators with Hayes serving as House Minority Whip in the 125th Legislature. While Dunlap and Mills still are Democrats, Hayes last year declared herself as an Independent while working as field director for Eliot Cutler’s gubernatorial campaign. This marks Dunlap’s second consecutive term in the office, as he previously served three terms from 2005-10 and returned for the 2013-14 term. Mills, Maine’s first female Attorney General, served from 2008-10 and again from 2012-4.

    Terry Hayes was nominated by Republicans Senator Tom Saviello and former Speaker of the House Rep. Bob Nutting when she defeated incumbent Democrat Treasurer Neria Douglass in December. She ran unsuccessfully for House Speaker against Mark Eves in 2012. This is her first term as Treasurer and she made a special request of the governor for a public ceremony, as she had invited over 60 family members, friends and former legislative colleagues to witness her swearing in.

    Governor Paul LePage administers the Oath of Office to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap privately in the governor’s Cabinet Room.

    Governor Paul LePage administers the Oath of Office to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap privately in the governor’s Cabinet Room.


    On Thursday afternoon, Dunlap and Mills were escorted separately into the governor’s Cabinet Room along with members of their staff, family and a handful of state senators to witness the quick ceremonies behind closed doors. Neither the public nor the press were allowed to witness, although this reporter did manage to obtain a photo of Secretary of State Dunlap’s swearing in by quickly passing a camera to a willing party as they went through the door.

    Once both were sworn in, Governor LePage met with Hayes and her husband Stephen in the Hall of Flags and spoke for a few moments privately. Before a large crowd of invited guests including former legislators of all political stripes, he administered the oath of office publicly, congratulated her, waved to the crowd of witnesses and returned to his office.

    It would be easy to chalk all of this up as yet another example of “Paul LePage being Paul LePage”, except this feels like the beginning of a concerning tonal trend. Earlier in the week and with much fanfare, the governor unveiled a new facility in South Portland that consolidates the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Labor (DOL) offices. The administration claimed that the new facility will save taxpayers more than $23 million. But when asked by the press about the difficulties the new location creates for those having to take a 40 minute bus ride to get to it, the governor quipped:

      “Get over it.”

    Also this week, DHHS head Mary Mayhew stated that the federal government’s battle with the LePage administration over photos on EBT cards could lead to her department’s “questioning their ability to administrate the SNAP program”.

    Let that sink in: Mayhew, considered to be mulling a future Blaine House run herself, is willing to deny 249,000 Maine families their federally allowed food assistance.

      “Get over it.”

    But back to the private/ public oath of office brouhaha. The governor and his office have refused to comment on the matter at all.

      “Get over it.”

    One anticipates this phrase will be repeated many times over the next four years.

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    (UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Despite Opposition, Maine is Putting Photos on All EBT Cards

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

    Updated post from July to reflect the following letter from the USDA to Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew dated 11/20/14:

    As the Portland Press Herald is reporting, Maine has 45 days to respond to the letter, else risk losing 50% of the funding that helps cover SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) administrative costs.

      “Since Maine has represented to (the USDA) that the state’s EBT photo program is optional, the state must affirmatively demonstrate that SNAP clients have a choice whether to have a photo on their EBT card and their choice does not adversely affect their SNAP eligibility,” Kurt Messner, administrator for the USDA’s Northeast Region, wrote in the letter dated Thursday.

      Messner went on to say that “there are significant civil rights concerns about the state’s practice of taking photos of all non-applicant household members.” The practice, according to Messner, may represent a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

      “Any individual who applies for SNAP on behalf of eligible household members must be able to access the program without fear,” Messner wrote.

    Newly minted DHHS spokesman David Sorensen responded that “that the photo ID measure is a policy, not a rule or law” and that Commissioner Mayhew “plans to review some of the USDA allegations, including the claim that recipients are given the impression that a photo is mandatory.”

    Mayhew is quoted:

      “We remain 100 percent committed to placing photos on EBT cards. While we are still reviewing the letter, it is imperative that Maine is able to implement common-sense reforms to ensure the integrity of our welfare system, preserving resources for the truly needy while protecting taxpayers.”

    ACLU of Maine and Maine Equal Justice Partners have also weighed in:

      “Maine has a real hunger problem and it’s very serious,” said Chris Hastedt, public policy director for Maine Equal Justice Partners. “(SNAP) is being administered in a way that the state is creating more hunger problems and greater barriers for those who are hungry. The state has to tell people upfront that they have a choice about the photo ID.”

      “Requiring photo ID on EBT cards is incredibly costly, it’s ineffective and the Department of Agriculture has said it’s illegal,” Zachary Heiden, the ACLU of Maine’s legal director, said in a written statement. “If the administration wants to do what’s best for the state, it will stop punishing people who are struggling in this tough economy.”

    ====================================

    Originally posted July 9.

    A few weeks ago, DHHS officials provided case workers the following instructions regarding the photo ID EBT card changes the LePage administration was making.

    DHHS also provided those same case workers a script of prepared answers to use when the inevitable questions would arise:

    ————————–

    AUDIO LINK HERE

    Two men from South Thomaston were arrested last week for trafficking bath salts. Drug enforcement agents seized three handguns, $25,000 in cash and—yes, you guessed it—seven EBT cards.

    Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    Gov. Paul LePage discusses his EBT/ TANF reform bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842 at a press conference.

    Gov. Paul LePage discusses his EBT/ TANF reform bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842 at a press conference.

    The drug dealer admitted that the seven EBT cards were given to him as payment for the drugs. Bath salts contain very dangerous synthetic stimulants. They result in overdoses, hallucinations and even death. It’s bad enough that some people will pay for these drugs, but it is even worse when taxpayer dollars are used to pay for them.

    This drug bust, along with several others, shows EBT cards are being used to support criminal behavior invading our state.

    I had a plan that added 14 agents to fight drug crime, but liberal politicians rejected it. Democrats couldn’t even say yes, when I found the money for a compromise package with fewer drug agents, judges, prosecutors and supported an additional $750,000 for substance abuse treatment. Instead, liberal politicians swept the bill under the rug killing the compromise in the middle of the night.

    Despite all evidence, including major drug busts day after day, Democrats refuse to address drug crime in our State.

    These same liberal politicians also believe that a certain level of EBT fraud is acceptable. I don’t think any level of EBT fraud is acceptable, and I know you don’t either. Using an EBT card to buy drugs means a needy child, elderly or disabled person is not getting their benefits.

    That’s why we are moving ahead with our plan to put photos on all EBT cards. It will not stop all EBT fraud, but it will make it easier to identify who is abusing these cards. It puts those who would abuse EBT cards on notice that the state is holding them accountable.

    To test the plan to put photos on EBT cards, the Department of Health and Human Services ran a pilot project in its Bangor office. DHHS studied the mistakes other states made to ensure they did it right. The pilot program ran for two months and was very successful.

    We are now implementing the program statewide. The new card not only features a photo, but it also clearly states that misuse of the EBT card is considered a crime. Photos on the new EBT cards will help DHHS verify the identity of the card holder. The photos will be helpful in cases where EBT cards are sold for cash or drugs.

    They will also help determine who is the rightful owner of a card when multiple EBT cards are found on an individual.

    There are about 223,000 EBT cards in Maine. These cards are loaded with benefits such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other welfare benefits. Over the last 12 months, more than $383 million in benefits have been put on Maine EBT cards.

    Even if just one percent is wasted or abused, that’s almost 4 million dollars. Wasting 4 million dollars of taxpayer money may be okay to liberals in Maine and Washington, D.C., but it’s not okay with me.

    While I am your Governor, I won’t tolerate one dollar of waste, fraud or abuse. I believe it’s government’s responsibility to ensure your taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. That’s why my administration will keep moving forward to protect taxpayer dollars and the benefits that are truly needed by our most vulnerable citizens.

    Thank you for listening.

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    Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: The NFL has an Opportunity to Push Back Against Domestic Violence

    Posted on August 13, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

    5pm UPDATE: Here is the letter.

    nfl boycottNOTE: Last week, Governor Paul LePage went onto WVOM’s George Hale and Ric Tyler Show and during his interview, said that he was “boycotting the NFL”. He also referred himself in the third person when discussing his chances for re-election:

      “The governor does not agree [that it’s a tight race]. … The governor says that he’s either going to be blown out by a landslide or he’s going to win by a landslide. … The Maine people are either going to throw me out or take me in wholeheartedly, but I don’t think this is going to be close.”

    He has still not spoken publicly about his meeting with Democratic leadership, despite new reports that the situation with Augusta’s Riverview Psychiatric Center is more dire and will be even more expensive than thought even last week.

    This week, he chose to use his weekly address to double down on his condemnation of the NFL. A reminder: The only professional football team in all of New England is still located in Massachusetts, not Maine.

    No word from RGA Chair Chris Christie (the New Jersey governor who favors the Dallas Cowboys over his own local teams) who was in Maine supporting LePage on Tuesday, on his views of the LePage “NFL boycott”.

    ———

    Audio link here.

    The NFL has an Opportunity to Push Back Against Domestic Violence

    Domestic Violence does not discriminate. This crime affects thousands of people, no matter their age, race or economic background.

    DSC_0112Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

    Most domestic violence victims are women, but this is not just a women’s issue. Men must be part of the solution to end the pattern of abuse.

    Recently, the National Football League has taken heat for how it sanctions players who commit a domestic violence crime.

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a mere two-week suspension to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. This man knocked his fiancée unconscious, then dragged her out of an elevator. Rice pled not guilty, but the video doesn’t lie. Sadly, his fiancée is now his wife.

    If a two-week suspension is the “punishment” for knocking a woman unconscious, then there is something very wrong with the NFL culture.

    This week in a letter to Goodell, I told him I’m appalled that he promotes permissive disciplinary procedures that could ultimately result in the death of innocent people.

    NFL quarterback Michael Vick served 2 years in prison for running a dog-fighting ring, but an NFL player who commits a violent crime against a woman gets a two-week suspension. The NFL mandates harsher penalties for players who violate the league’s personal-conduct policy or abuse drugs than those who commit domestic violence. This defies common sense.

    Taking thugs and wife beaters off the field may be bad for business, but the NFL is playing games with people’s lives.

    I don’t know if Commissioner Goodell is familiar with domestic violence or if it has affected his family personally. However, I can tell you firsthand that domestic violence is about a perpetrator having power and control over another individual. Too many times, it leads to murder.

    I have a zero-tolerance position on domestic violence. There is no excuse for this type of behavior in our society. Until all of us make an effort to end this abuse, the cycle will continue.

    NFL players are role models for young men, and many of them excel at that. But if some players are allowed to act violently toward women, then young men will think that behavior is acceptable. It tarnishes all players and gives the NFL a bad name.

    This is not about winning or losing. This is about life or death. The NFL has an opportunity to change the rules. We urge Goodell to do the right thing.

    Thank you for listening.

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