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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(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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LePage Office Issues Hasty Statement on Mural Removal

Posted on September 28, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

They are clearly scrambling in the Governor’s office today to come up with a plausible explanation for LePage’s comments to host Brian Williams during NBC “Education Nation” gubernatorial forum.

LePage’s words contradicted his earlier statements  regarding the mural’s removal, as well as testimony presented on his behalf.

Here is the text:


Statement on Mural

September 28, 2011
Governor’s Office

“The Administration originally removed the mural because of its messaging. The mural portrays only one party that the Department of Labor serves – workers not job creators. In order to change the culture the decision was made to find a more appropriate location for the mural. It was then discovered how the mural was funded and that these funds could have been put into the Unemployment Trust Fund for Mainers to benefit from. When the Governor learned of this it further supported the decision

“The Administration originally removed the mural because of its messaging. The mural portrays only one party that the Department of Labor serves – workers not job creators. In order to change the culture the decision was made to find a more appropriate location for the mural. It was then discovered how the mural was funded and that these funds could have been put into the Unemployment Trust Fund for Mainers to benefit from. When the Governor learned of this it further supported the decision.

The Governor took part in this panel discussion to speak about education; however, it is clear that NBC had an entirely different agenda for Governor LePage. With limited time to answer the question the Governor chose to speak about the most disturbing aspect – that this money could have been put into the Unemployment Trust Fund rather than used on a mural. This information was underreported by media this spring.”

Adrienne Bennett
Press Secretary

(This is exactly as grabbed from the Maine.gov link- typos, double paragraphs and all.)

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