CJPS Committee Hold Public Hearings on LD652 “Constitutional Carry” (Concealed Weapons w/o Permit), 6 Other Firearm Bills (VIDEOS)

Posted on April 9, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The 127th Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety aka “CJPS” Committee, headed by Senator Kim Rosen and Rep. Lori Lister Fowle, conducted a six plus hour long session Wednesday on the forwarding bills:

    1. LD 415, An Act To Promote the Safe Use and Sale of Firearms
    Rep. Dion of Portland (SPONSOR)

    2. LD 535, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Concealed Handguns Permit Application
    Rep. Dunphy of Embden

    LD 653 lead sponsor Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) discusses bill with CJPS committee

    LD 653 lead sponsor Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) discusses bill with CJPS committee

    3. LD 548, An Act To Provide a Concealed Handgun Permit for Active Military Members
    Rep. Ward of Dedham

    4. LD 600, An Act To Conform Maine Law Regarding Persons Prohibited from Possessing Firearms with Federal Law
    Rep. Pickett of Dixfield

    5. LD 652, An Act To Authorize the Carrying of Concealed Handguns without a Permit
    Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

    6. LD 823, An Act To Upgrade the Concealed Handgun Permit Law
    Rep. Shaw of Standish

    7. LD 868, An Act To Remove Limitations on Reciprocity for Concealed Handguns Permits
    Sen. Davis of Piscataquis

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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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UPDATED x2: Maine House Votes Down Controversial Religious Discrimination Bill LD 1428, 89-52

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

Rep. Andrew McLean (D-Gorham) addresses colleagues during LD 1428 debate.

Rep. Andrew McLean (D-Gorham) addresses colleagues during LD 1428 debate.

12:45pm UPDATE: House just voted 89-52 to accept the Judicial Committee “ONTP” (Ought Not to Pass) recommendation moments ago, 89-52.

This was the final vote on LD 1428; it is now dead.

Roll call vote shows 5 GOP members broke with their party to join Democrats: Reps. Beaulieu of Auburn, Campbell of Orrington, Libby of Waterboro, MacDonald of Old Orchard Beach and Maker of Calais. 2 House Democrats voted for the bill: Rep. Stan Short (D-Pittsfield) and Steve Stanley (D-Medway).

Over 2 dozen rose to speak on the measure in a lengthy floor debate. Some quotes:

    Rep. Matt Moonen (D-Portland): “Please vote to end the war on gay people in our state.”

    Rep. Justin Chenette (D-Saco): “Religious freedom is important, but this bill makes me feel like a second-class citizen… Name me an issue in Maine — I still haven’t heard one. There isn’t an issue. This is a bill searching for a problem, rather than solving one. This wastes taxpayer money… It’s fiscally responsible to oppose it.”

UPDATE #2 (1:45pm): Maine House Democrats issued a press release with more quotes from legislators:

    “This is not a bill about religious freedom; it will only create religious discrimination,” said Rep. Charles Priest of Brunswick, who chairs the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. “Maine’s law and constitution has strong protections for religious freedom. This bill is not necessary.”

    “This fight will continue across the country. Many states still do not have a human rights law that covers sexual orientation. But in Maine our voters have settled this, ” said Rep. Matt Moonen of Portland, during the floor debate.

    “This bill moves Maine backwards on equality and women’s rights,” said Rep. Mattie Daughtry of Brunswick. “This is not religious freedom, it is legalized hate.”

National coverage here:

1. Breaking: Maine Rejects ‘Religious Freedom’ License To Discriminate Against Gays

2. Maine House Rejects ‘Right to Discriminate’ Bill

Reminder: The Senate voted down the bill 19-16 on Tuesday. The one Democrat who voted for the bill with the Republicans was Senator John Tuttle.

Link to House video here; session starts at 10 am. LD 1428, “An Act To Protect Religious Freedom” is listed as item 6-3 in the Divided Reports of the House Calendar.

Via press release this morning:

      Maine House to take up controversial religious discrimination bill
      Discrimination carve-out would undercut human rights, women’s rights

    Augusta — The Maine House today will take up a controversial bill that would undercut human rights protections and women’s rights by creating a loophole in the state’s strong non-discrimination laws.

    The religious discrimination bill, LD 1428, would carve out an exception for religious beliefs in the state’s non-discrimination laws, such as the Maine’s Human Rights Act.

    “Religion should never be used as a cloak to discriminate,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, whose father served as a pastor in the U.S. military. Eves attained his master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

    The Maine Senate rejected the GOP-sponsored measure earlier this week in a largely party-line vote of 19-16.

    “Maine has led the country with our anti-discrimination laws,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. “This bill is a big step backwards. There should be no exceptions or loopholes when it comes to discrimination.”

    Maine is one of 32 states that does not allow for religious exceptions in non-discrimination laws. In the last 10 years, only six states have enacted similar bills.

    Nationally laws like LD 1428 have been used to infringe upon women’s access to health care. In Texas a municipal bus driver refused to drive a woman to a reproductive health clinic on his bus route. At the federal level, corporations are trying to use the religious exception or loophole to avoid providing employees with health care that covers reproductive health.

    “This measure would take Maine backwards on women’s rights and equality,”
    said Rep. Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan the Assistant Majority Leader. “The Maine legislature and courts have a track record of being careful and deliberate about protecting religious liberty while balancing other rights. This bill is not necessary. ”

    During the public hearing on the bill, one survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, spoke about his experiences coming to America to escape persecution and asked the committee to oppose the bill.

    The bill has met with strong opposition from a broad group of organizations, including ACLU of Maine, Coalition for Maine Women, Equality Maine, Family Planning Association of Maine, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Choice Coalition, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Maine Education Association, Maine LGBT Coalition, Maine Medical Association, Maine People’s Alliance, Maine School Management Association, Maine State Employees Association, Maine Women’s Lobby, Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, Secular Coalition.


*Related: Maine Senate Votes 19-16 Against LD 1428, “An Act To Protect Religious Freedom”

*(UPDATED) Maine Takes Up LD 1428, “An Act To Protect Religious Freedom”

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Guest Post by Rep. Justin Chenette (D-Saco): Saving Saco’s Culture

Posted on August 22, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

(Many thanks to Rep. Justin Chenette for informing us about this important effort to save a vital part of not just his community’s economy but a Maine and American icon. ~AP)

Link here to vote for Saco via Project Drive-In.

justin chenetteWhat if I told you that you could save a business from going under, save local jobs, and save a piece of our culture in the time it takes you to read this column?

Like most drive-in theaters across the country, the Saco Drive-In might have to close it’s doors after this season unless they convert from film to digital technology. The movie industry has basically told drive-ins that this is the last year they will be distributing film reels and moving entirely to digital distribution before next year. This is clearly in an effort to save millions of dollars on their part, but without assistance most theaters cannot make the switch and will have to close their doors. The cost for digital conversion aka the purchase of a digital projector is around $75,000. Not many people let alone business owners have that kind of cash lying around.

Back in December, owner Ry Russell, approached me with this dilemma and ever since we’ve been brainstorming ideas for how to save this place. We’ve raised cash through online donations, sold t-shirts and bracelets, held fundraisers including a massive yard sale, and now we need to ask for votes.

“A vote for the Saco Drive-In is as American as apple pie,” says owner Ry Russell, who hopes to use social media to mobilize support. “We have one of the largest followings on Facebook for drive-ins in the country.”

The Honda Motor Company has launched a national contest where drive-ins compete to receive a digital projector. The top 5 vote-getting theaters will receive one. Voting is taking place online through their Project Drive-In website as well as via text. People can vote once per day, every day through Sept. 9th. Honda even came out and filmed part of their official informational commercial here in Saco over the summer with interviews from myself, Ry Russell, and Camille Smalley of the Saco Museum.

From an economic perspective, Saco can’t afford to lose another local job creator. The Saco Drive-In employs many high school and college students. Much like Funtown, the drive-in is an attraction that helps draw tourists to our community which in turn drives up needed revenues to pay for essential services. If we are serious about that sign out by the highway that says open for business, then we have to, as a state, support our small businesses in a hands-on way.

SacoDriveIn_Cover1The drive-in is a quintessential piece to Saco’s rich dynamic culture and brings out the spirit of this community that makes it so special. I have fond memories as a kid of going to the Saco Drive-In with my family. Now I’m proud to represent the district that includes it as a State Representative. It’s really all about doing something with the whole family together; pulling up the car, opening the back, lying on blankets or lawn chairs and experiencing great cinemagic fanfare. I hope it’s around for many generations to come as it represents a bridge to an earlier time in our community’s history. The Saco Drive-In was built in 1939 and has been in business for 74 seasons. It is the second oldest still-operational drive-in in the entire country. Together, with your help, we can save this place.

Go online to thesacodrivein.com to learn more and vote everyday or text VOTE7 to 444999.


Justin Chenette is the state representative for Saco. Follow him online at Facebook.com/JustinForSaco, Twitter.com/JustinChenette, & http://www.justinchenette.com.

History of the Saco Drive-In:

    A Saco, Maine attraction since 1939, the Saco Drive-In (originally the Motor-In Theatre) celebrates its 74th season this year. Since its inception, the Saco Drive-In has been a local, family owned business, originally operated by Italian immigrant Eugene V. Boragine. In 1909, Boragine immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island, and followed his American Dream from New York to Saco and started Maine’s first open air theatre on the “Avenue of America” known as Route 1. America’s second oldest still-operational drive-in entertains sold out crowds of film fans from May through October, a vote for the Saco Drive-In is as American as apple pie!
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