(UPDATED) Maine Reacts to Trump Inauguration

Posted on January 22, 2017. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

(UPDATED, 1/22/17) MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Show aired the following as a quick review of the weekend’s events in Washington DC and nationally:

 

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On Friday, as Donald J. Trump was sworn into office as the country’s 45th President, Mainers gathered in the State House’s Hall of Flags to read the U.S. Constitution. Here is full video of the event, hosted by ACLU of Maine:

 

Saturday saw the largest number of protesters ever gathered outside the State House complex as part of the over 600 international location rally/ #WomensMarch event, protesting President Trump. Numbers for participation are still being totaled, but event organizers are claiming over 10,000 participants at the Augusta site.

A quick video from within the crowd. State Senator Shenna Bellows (D-Kennebec) can be heard speaking in the background.

Here are photos that better illustrate the strength of numbers (link to more photos here).

Via Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills’ offices in the Cross Building:

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A Facebook photo shared by Maine Senate Democratic press secretary Mario Moretto from the State House shows Senator Bellows looking down at the crowds:

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MPW’s Top 13 of 2013

Posted on December 31, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(As every other site seems to being doing a year in review round up, it seemed appropriate to take a look back at what stories hit your fancy. So here is the list- enjoy the trip in the WayBack Machine! ~AP)

1. May: Apportionment Committee Unanimously Approves Redistricting Compromise Senate and House District Maps

    house final 5_31

      The commission’s unanimous vote was seen as a victory in the redistricting process. Decisions often have been left to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, including in 2003, when lawmakers couldn’t settle on a Senate map.

      We have reached a map that I think is reasonable and fair to both sides,” said David Emery, a consultant for Republicans who has been involved in redistricting debates in Maine dating to 1973. “It’s impossible to make everyone happy in a negotiation of this kind, but both caucuses should be congratulated for their work.”

      Greg Olson, a Democratic consultant, agreed.

      “Overall, this is a true compromise,” Olson said Friday of the new House map. “This is a map both sides and the people in the state can be proud of. This represents the first time in many decades that we’ve come to an agreement on both chambers of the Legislature as well as the county commissions.”

      Maine law requires legislative district and county commission maps be updated every 10 years based on population changes. The new maps are based on the 2010 census, which shows a shift in population from Northern to Southern Maine.

2. June: Troy Jackson’s Heart (Now featured on the Troy Jackson for Congress “News” page of the campaign website)

      Expounding on the theme of the “ladder to success,” Jackson said that LePage had “pulled the ladder up behind you once you climbed it,” and that:

      Senator Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) speaking in support of Medicaid expansion bill.

      Senator Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) speaking in support of Medicaid expansion bill.

        “We will do better. THAT is why we are Democrats!

        Because, Brothers and Sisters, we are the party of Allagash’s proud loggers, just as we are the party of the entrepreneur in the renovated mills of Biddeford. We are the party of the creative economy on Congress Street in Portland, just as we are the party of the tireless mill workers in Rumford. We are the party of the lobstermen in Rockland and the Maine Guide in Jackman.

        It is we who are, the party of the potato farmer in Caribou and the teacher in Waldoboro. It is we who are, the party of the HARD WORKING state employees here in Augusta and the abused Decoster workers a few miles north. We are the party of children, whether they’re in Jay or Machias, and we are the party of the elderly whether they’re in Greenville or Belfast.

        Brothers and Sisters – we are going to go forth together and win in November. And when we do we will make damn sure that the ladder of success is there for every Mainer. We are on the right side of this fight, we are on the right side of history, we are the party of the people of Maine – we are the Democrats AND we have your back!”

    Compare that with, at the Maine Republican Convention weeks’ prior, we heard this from Governor LePage:

      “This November represents a real choice at the ballot box. Do you want to remain a sinking welfare state? Can we revive the American dream? Remember Eliot Cutler? He’s still running for governor. He mocked me. He said I was pandering. But we did what Eliot Cutler and the liberal media said wasn’t possible: We passed the largest tax cut in Maine’s history… I understand welfare because I lived it. I understand the difference between a want and a need. The Republican Party promised to bring welfare change. We must deliver on this promise. Maine’s welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government.

      To all you able-bodied people out there: Get off the couch and get yourself a job.

3. July: Governor LePage’s Mulligan

    Yesterday after the House (114-34) and Senate (26-9) delivered crushing blows to Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1509, the FY 14-15 fiscal budget bill and in doing so avoided the first statewide government shutdown in over twenty years, the governor held a press conference in which he was a far, far more subdued man than just last week:

      “I’m very disappointed on this budget. Until we start understanding what makes an economy drive and why the southeast and the southwest and the Atlantic states have such good economies, until we emulate some of their behaviors we are not going to be anywheres but 50th place in the country for doing business.”

      “It’s a real sad day for the state of Maine. We took, I thought, with the 125th Legislature, that we took two steps forward for the state. Today, I think we took three steps back. I really feel bad for today.”

4. June: ME Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Re GOP LePage: “Governor Is Upper Management And I Am Working Class”

    While Governor LePage was speaking at an Americans for Prosperity rally in the Maine State House’s Hall of Flags threatening to veto the budget and shut down the Maine state government, Senator Troy Jackson was chairing the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee.

    As such, Jackson was unable to hear the Governor’s highly offensive comments about him, as reported by multiple local media sources (WARNING: Not safe for work). Via WMTW’s Paul Marrill:

      “Sen. Jackson claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.” LePage added, “He is bad. He has no brains, and he has a black heart.”

    Jackson, who serves in the Senate as Assistant Majority Leader, was joined after the conclusion of his 11 am meeting by Majority Leader Seth Goodall (D-Sagadahoc) for a 2pm press conference today.

    Troy Jackson:

      “I don’t know if it’s where I’m from or the way I speak or something, but it comes up that maybe I’m not the smartest guy. I don’t know if I am or not. Maybe I am the country bumpkin, but that doesn’t bother me. What’s in my heart is good and I feel comfortable about that. I’ll go back in the woods any time I have to. That’s where I made my name in my district. … I feel comfortable that my district supports that. He just keeps going on with things that don’t seem to be accurate and [are] delusional. When he talks about working class people, I think that I represent working class people because that’s who I am. People I know very well are concerned very much about what the governor’s budget is going to do to them.”

5. November: Eliot Cutler Confuses “Independent” With “Passive Aggressive” In Attacks Against Non-Supporters

    Some excerpts of Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos‘ share:

      evangelos“As the only independent in the Maine House of Representatives who does not caucus with either party, I am pleased to announce that I am supporting U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for governor. I plan on campaigning for Michaud during the 2014 election season.

      Mike Michaud will make a terrific governor of our state. He has the two characteristics that are sorely lacking in the current administration in Augusta: humility and common sense. He’s a good listener, thoughtful and respectful. It will be such a breath of fresh air when Michaud is elected as our next governor.

      Why am I throwing my support to Michaud rather than fellow independent Eliot Cutler? Cutler’s successes have come on the wrong side of the economy at the expense of common people. His relationship as a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud, and his employment and association with the Dallas-based international consultancy Akin Gump, where outsourcing jobs to China is part of the mission, disqualifies Cutler as a person who can lead Maine out of this serious recession Maine people are experiencing.

      Contrast this with Michaud, a paper mill worker who understands what it means to keep and develop good paying jobs in Maine.”

6. June: Maine State Senator Emily Cain (D- Penobscot) Announces 2 CD Bid Intentions

    emily cainORONO– State Senator Emily Ann Cain of Orono today announced her intent to run for U.S. Congress in Maine’s Second Congressional District following news that Congressman Mike Michaud is running for Governor.

    In her announcement Cain said that securing the economic future of the Second Congressional District is her reason for entering the race. Cain’s priority is to continue creating good-paying jobs across Maine.

    “During my nine years in the Legislature I have fought to protect and create jobs, make college more affordable, increase accountability in government, and support Maine workers and their families. I will take those same priorities with me when I go to Washington.”

    Cain has a track record of working across party lines to benefit Mainers.

    “I believe government exists to make sure everyone is treated fairly and has a chance to succeed,” Cain said. “I believe it is the responsibility of our elected leaders to work together to create opportunity and make sure the playing field is level for hard-working Maine people.”

7. May: Governor LePage Angrily Attempts to Interrupt, Address Appropriations Cmte Hearing (VIDEO)

    The Senate chairwoman of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee spurned Gov. Paul LePage’s surprise attempt to speak Sunday during an emergency meeting called to address the governor’s recent claim that the Department of Health and Human Services won’t be able to pay MaineCare providers come May 28.

    LePage asked to address the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee as it was preparing to recess. Sen. Dawn Hill, D-Cape Neddick, told the governor that she didn’t want to inject politics into a meeting during which lawmakers had agreed that the shortfall could be fixed by the end of the week.

8. May: UPDATED: As Now 80 Maine Towns, Schools (5/29/13) Pass Resolutions Opposing LePage Budget, Gov Urges Towns “Work Together”

    lepage head 2At long last, Governor LePage has finally chosen to directly address the ever growing number of local municipal and school district voter passed resolutions against his administration’s biannual budget with its zero revenue sharing scheme- by essentially throwing his hands in the air and telling the towns to figure out the problems among themselves.

    What is going to be interesting to watch is how the GOP in the 126th Legislature react- as the governor insists on dragging them down with him.

      “The problem is there are only three large budget areas – education, welfare and revenue sharing,” wrote Governor LePage. “We cannot cut $200 million from debt service – the State must pay its bills. The Judicial Branch costs $100 million – courts are already behind, and I will not cut them further. Other core state functions – State Police, Corrections, our Natural Resource agencies – have been cut to the bone to feed continued growth in education and welfare spending, and they cannot be cut further without reducing public safety or our future economy. That leaves only the three large pots of money, and I chose revenue sharing.”

9. July: Veto Day Scorecard (UPDATED W/ FINAL RESULTS) : 2 Overridden, Rest Sustained

sine die11:30 AM UPDATE: One of the first votes in the House was on LD 1572, “An Act To Correct Minor Technical Errors and Inconsistencies in the Unified Budget Bill”. It failed to pass that chamber by a 92-50 total vote (9 absent); among those who flipped their vote was House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport).

It later passed the Senate (3 PM) by a 24-9-2 (Senators Craven and Millett are absent today) vote and will go back to the House this evening.

4:30 PM: So far, only 4 vetoes have been overridden: LDs 415, 1132, 1263 and 1390 (see below).

UPDATE: By the end of the evening and conclusion of the session, only LDs 415 and 1132 were overridden in both chambers, of the 31 vetoes taken up by legislators.

10. June: (UPDATED W/VIDEO) Maine’s First Mass Same Sex Marriage Ceremony Conducted At Southern Maine Pride Festival

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    As the country awaits SCOTUS’s decision regarding DOMA, ten happy couples decided to tie the knot before family, friends, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and thousands of their closest supporters at this past weekend’s 27th Annual Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival at Deering Oaks.

    The theme of this year’s event, “Marry Me”, was in honor of the 2012 marriage equality law that went into effect last December and the first same sex couple married in Maine, Portland’s own Michael Snell and Steven Bridges, were honorary marshals of the parade proceeding the wedding ceremony. The grand marshal for this year’s parade was Bethel resident Richard Blanco, who was the inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in last January.

    Rob Hopkins of Pennsylvania, who had been in a relationship with his fiance for 18 years, said the couple decided to travel specifically to Maine to exchange vows: “We came to get married because Maine recognizes gay marriage. Maine is a beautiful state.”

11. May: (UPDATED) Despite Hours’ of Administration Testimony with Appropriations Cmte, Governor LePage Insists on Injecting Self into Legislative Process

    UPDATED: Late Friday came word that the Governor now intends to be the one to testify before Appropriations in the future- and no one else from his administration:

    paul staring at camera

      Gov. Paul LePage has instructed state department commissioners to stop appearing before the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.

      If someone from the administration is asked to speak before the committee, according to the governor’s office, it will be LePage himself.

      The administration’s order is in direct response to a clash last Sunday when the committee’s Democratic chairwoman refused to let LePage address the members.

        “I wanted to tell the Appropriations Committee that I sent a balanced-budget proposal to the Legislature that did not require supplemental budgets or increased taxes,” said the Governor. “I also submitted a bill to pay the hospitals, which could have saved jobs and put Mainers to work. But Democratic Legislative leadership and the Dems on the Appropriations Committee are playing games.

        “Instead of taking care of the 3,100 disabled and elderly Mainers on a waiting list for MaineCare services, Legislative leadership is trying to tie another expansion of welfare to paying the hospitals. They have rejected all of my proposals to crack down on welfare fraud, and they are pushing for a budget that will have to be paid for with tax increases. I told them months ago that the supplemental budget was not balanced, but they passed it anyway.

12. July: Theater at Monmouth: “Our Town” (REVIEW)

    “It goes so fast; we don’t have time to look at one another.” Hannah Daly, “Emily”

    Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town” opened on July 19th and is set in a fictional town called “Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire” in the early 1900’s.

    our townIt is impossible not to see striking similarities between that location and so many other small New England towns- in fact, the cast photo used for the play’s online promotion was taken in the large Monmouth Center Cemetery which borders Cumston Hall, the Theater’s home. Within that cemetery lie the remains of many generations of families eerily similar to the Gibbs, Webbs, Herseys, Crowells and Newsomes of Grover’s Corners, right down to those who served and died in the Civil War, and no doubt some of their lives mirrored those of the characters in this play.

    TAM’s exceptional cast and crew worked their magic with transforming the past back to life in the telling this simple tale; it was surreal during the intermission to step outside for those few minutes and into what appeared to be a future version of the tale currently being told inside.

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

    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!
    House Minority Leader Ken Fredette had the following reaction:
    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!

        “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.

      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!

Well, there it is- the 2013 wrap-up. Happy 2014, everyone!

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Maine House Floor Debate on LD 1509, Budget Veto Override (VIDEOS)

Posted on July 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

veto budgetSame as with their counterparts in the Senate, the House Republicans had nothing to say regarding the veto override vote (roll call).

Here are statements of House Democratic leadership and Appropriation committee member Rep. Peggy Rotundo (Lewiston), sent out via press release:

    “I thank the Maine lawmakers who worked tirelessly and came together to override this careless veto,” said House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “We put to rest the specter of a state shutdown that has loomed over the Legislature for months. We made the responsible choice to support a bipartisan budget that blunts massive property tax hikes, puts money back into our classrooms and helps our seniors and people with disabilities.”

    The House Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said the vote affirmed the “collaborative and responsible” work of the budget committee. “The bipartisan budget we again endorsed today will serve the people of Maine well. A government shutdown would not serve anyone,” said Rotundo.

    “I applaud lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for standing up to the governor’s reckless action and standing up for Maine people. The governor’s political games could have led to serious consequences: a shutdown of important services, property tax hikes, harm to workers and the health of our economy,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham.

    “No one got everything they wanted out of this compromise budget, but lawmakers were able to find common ground through hard work. They came together once again today for the well-being of our people and our state,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan.

Here is the order of speakers are the floor speeches from last week.

Floor speech of Rep. Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Lawrence Lockhart (R-Amherst) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. David Cotta (R-China) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Ben Chipman (I-Portland) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Stacey Guerin (R-Glenburn) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Paul McGowan (D-York) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Jarred Crockett (R-Bethel) on LD 1509

Floor Speech of Rep. Jethro Pease (R-Morrill) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Stanley Short (D-Pittsfield) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. James Campbell (I-Newfield) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Dick Campbell (R-Orrington) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Erik Jorgensen (D-Portland) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Asst Minority Leader Rep. Alex Willette (R-Mapleton) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Ray Wallace (R-Dexter) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Rep. Wayne Parry (R-Arundel) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Majority Leader Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Andrea Boland (D-Sanford) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette on LD 1509

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Michaud at Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) Celebration: Maine’s Public Libraries Doorways to Economic Opportunity

Posted on June 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

mslMaine state, congressional, business and community leaders gathered in the State House’s Hall of Flags last Friday to celebrate the completion of the Maine State Library’s $1.9 million Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) project which increased publicly available computer workstations at 107 public libraries by 40 percent and invested in a state-of-the-art video conferencing system that now links 14 public libraries across the state.

Map of 107 Public Libraries Who Built Out Broadband Technology Under the Maine State Library BTOP Grant

Map of 107 Public Libraries Who Built Out Broadband Technology Under the Maine State Library BTOP Grant

Maine is the nation’s second most rural state with 59.9 percent of the population liveingin rural areas. While an increasing number of services and employment opportunities are available online, many Maine residents lack available or affordable high-speed Internet access.

100_5633Maine State Librarian Linda Lord introduced the speakers, thanking those assembled and commenting of her own regarding the importance of the project.

    “We are here today to say thank you to everyone who has supported Maine’s public libraries. We are grateful for your support and together, with librarians across the state, we are working hard to ensure Mainers know their local public library is a place where they can find a book, a video – and also get free access to high-speed Internet and good, practical help finding a job.”

    “National research tells us that at least 40 percent of American public library visits are for employment-related needs,” Lord said, referencing an American Library Association report released May 2, 2013. “Here in Maine, local librarians are absolutely committed to being on the front lines of economic recovery and opportunity, helping our neighbors access the tools, training and bandwidth they need to succeed in today’s economy.”

Patrick Therrien, flanked by GWI's Fletcher Kittredge and US Congressman Mike Michaud.

Patrick Therrien, flanked by GWI’s Fletcher Kittredge and US Congressman Mike Michaud.

Patrick Therrien, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran and the training and education specialist who developed state-of-the-art employment-related courses under the BTOP initiative, spoke of his own experiences of being unemployed and working with MSL to develop the very tools and programs of online, video and in-person training courses being utilized in now over 100 libraries statewide.

“The reality is that the old system of searching for opportunities – “Click, Review, Apply and Pray,” does not work anymore,” said Therrien. “What the Maine State Library created with the Information Commons project and Learning Express is a state-of-the-art, easy-to-access, easy-to-use ‘one-stop shop’ of common sense tools that can help any Mainer, in any part of the state, finding and landing employment and career opportunities.”

Statements of congratulations and support for the program were shared by staff of Maine’s Congressional delegation. U.S. Representative and possible 2014 Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud was in attendance and spoke to those assembled.

    “Libraries have always been places of study, community, and creativity. Now, thanks to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the hard work of the Maine State Library, public libraries across our state are also doorways to economic opportunity. I am particularly pleased to see the special attention that has gone into reaching out to serve our Maine Veterans. We must do everything we can to help those who have served our country so honorably.”
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Apportionment Committee Unanimously Approves Redistricting Compromise Senate and House District Maps

Posted on May 31, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

house final 5_31
A bipartisan commission appointed to redraw Legislative district lines on Friday unanimously approved a compromise map for the Maine House of Representatives. The vote follows unanimous approval of a compromise map for the State Senate and county maps last Friday.

The commission’s unanimous vote was seen as a victory in the redistricting process. Decisions often have been left to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, including in 2003, when lawmakers couldn’t settle on a Senate map.

We have reached a map that I think is reasonable and fair to both sides,” said David Emery, a consultant for Republicans who has been involved in redistricting debates in Maine dating to 1973. “It’s impossible to make everyone happy in a negotiation of this kind, but both caucuses should be congratulated for their work.”

Greg Olson, a Democratic consultant, agreed.

“Overall, this is a true compromise,” Olson said Friday of the new House map. “This is a map both sides and the people in the state can be proud of. This represents the first time in many decades that we’ve come to an agreement on both chambers of the Legislature as well as the county commissions.”

Maine law requires legislative district and county commission maps be updated every 10 years based on population changes. The new maps are based on the 2010 census, which shows a shift in population from Northern to Southern Maine.

The ideal House district size is 8,797 people, while the ideal Senate district is 37,953. The 151 House districts and the 35 Senate districts are all within plus or minus 5 percent of that ideal population size.

full senate compromiseThe Maine Constitution requires the plan to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the legislature by June 11. If a two-thirds vote cannot be achieved, redistricting proposals are sent to the State Supreme Judicial Court for resolution.

100_5608

Reactions of some lawmakers who served on the committee are below.

Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan), Assistant House Majority Leader:

    “These comprise maps demonstrate that the two parties can work together even on tough issues.”

Senator Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), Assistant Senate Majority Leader:

    “We worked together to get the job done. It was a good example of bipartisan work happening in the Legislature.”


Senator Emily Cain (D-Penobscot):

    “The maps are a fair and deliberate compromise that we believe is in the best interest of the state of Maine. This compromise bodes well for the vote in the House and Senate.”

Rep. Joan Welsh (D-Rockport):

    “We are proud to recommend a compromise map to the full Legislature.”

Here are the released changes (PDF):

Senate:

House:

The maps face further votes in the House and Senate.

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ICYMI: Maine Speaker of the House Mark Eves Urges Passage of Medicaid Expansion Bill LD 1546 (Video; Text)

Posted on May 28, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

(On Wednesday (5/29/13), the House is expected to take up LD 1546 again in an evening session. Here again is the floor speech of Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick), urging his colleagues in the House join him in supporting this important bill. ~AP)

(Over 50 clips of individual House members rose to deliver testimony both in support and in opposition last night, as the bill LD1546, “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract” got its first reading and roll call votes in the House. More to follow. ~AP)

Below is the full text of Speaker Eves’ remarks as prepared and released to media. Note: House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D- Bowdoinham) served as Speaker Pro Tempore. Video link here.

    “Thank you Mr. Speaker pro-tem.

    Ladies and gentlemen of the House, I rise this evening to speak to an issue of great importance to me, and to the people of the state of Maine.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves gives a rare speech from the floor, urgung members to join him in support of LD 1546, "An Act To Strengthen Maine's Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract"

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves gives a rare speech from the floor, urgung members to join him in support of LD 1546, “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract”

    I rise to speak in favor of the pending motion to accept the majority ought to pass as amended report, and by doing so, accept a comprehensive measure that would make a final payment on Maine’s hospital debt and reduce future hospital costs by accepting federal health care dollars to cover tens of thousands of Mainers.

    Today lawmakers have an opportunity to pay back the debt owed to our hospitals and contain the rising costs of health care for our people and our hospitals.


    We have an opportunity together to do three things in one bill:

    Help our hospitals, help working Mainers who need health care, and help our economy.

    For 4 years, I served on the Health and Human Services Committee where we would consistently hear about the amount of charity care and bad debt the hospitals absorbed and then shifted onto working families with insurance and onto Maine businesses.

    When people without insurance get sick, they often end up getting care in the emergency room — where it is the most costly, least efficient way of providing care. Just last year, the Maine Hospital Association reported that Maine hospitals provided $450 million dollars in charity care and bad debt.


    The hospitals can not afford this and neither can we!

    In the proposal before us, not only do we pay back our hospitals, but we also ensure that thousands of Mainers can see a doctor when they are sick. By doing so, we reduce the charity care costs and bad debt that are cost drivers for our hospitals. This is a win for our hospitals and for every family in Maine who has insurance today.

    For several months, we’ve talked about the nearly 70,000 Mainers, many of them who are working but can’t afford health insurance, who would be eligible for coverage under this legislation.

    The number is so large and has been repeated so often, it’s easy to forget what it actually means.

    We could cut the number of people in Maine without health insurance in half.

    Seventy thousand people: That’s equivalent to the population of Aroostook County. Or Somerset and Piscatiquis counties together.

    The county by county numbers are compelling.

    Residents and hospitals in Maine’s most rural counties have the most to gain.

    · In Washington: 2,601 people would gain health care;$9.3 million in economic activity

    · In Somerset: 3,590 people would gain health care; $12.9 million in economic activity

    · In Waldo: 2,629 people would gain health care; $9.7 million in economic activity

    · In Oxford: 3,806 people would gain health care; 13.7 million in economic activity

    · In Aroostook: 4,615 people would gain health care; 16.8 million in economic activity

    · In Piscataquis: 1,067 people would gain health care; $4.0 million in economic activity

    · In Franklin: 1,878 people would gain health care; $6.9 million in economic activity

    · In Knox: 2,317 people would gain health care; $8.6 million in economic activity

    · In Hancock: 3,235 people would gain health care; $12.9 million in economic activity

    · In Lincoln: 1,817 people would gain health care; $6.6 million in economic activity

    · In Androscoggin: 5,829 people would gain health care; $20 million in economic activity

    · In Penobscot: 8,447 people would gain health care; $31.6 million in economic activity

    · In Kennebec: 5,997 people would gain health care; $20.8 million in economic activity

    · In Sagadahoc: 1,456 people would gain health care; $5.3 million in economic activity

    · In Cumberland: 12,018 would gain health care; $46.6 million in economic activity

    · In York: 8,196 would gain health care; $29.7 million in economic activity

    Now think of one of those 70,000 Mainers. Take Marie from Bangor. She has a part-time job that doesn’t provide health insurance. She also has a serious heart condition that doesn’t allow her to work full time. Without health insurance for her or her family, she is forced to choose between putting gas in her car and paying her medical and utility bills.

    This is not a hypothetical scenario. They are the hard facts for too many Mainers. And THIS is an ethical and moral dilemma for all of us.

    Unfortunately, Marie is one of tens of thousands of Mainers – many of your constituents – who are unable to afford health insurance.

    The personal stakes are high for thousands of people who could receive life-saving access to health care. But there is also a tremendous opportunity for our entire state.

    The Maine health care economy is the largest single job provider in the state of Maine. Healthcare jobs account for 1 in 4 jobs in Maine. By accepting these federal health care dollars we will inject $250 million dollars into our health care economy, creating more than 3,000 jobs.

    It is estimated that Maine hospitals would receive $163 million each year in additional revenue if we were to accept the federal dollars. This will help alleviate the current burden hospitals are facing and make sure we prevent future debt from accumulating so that we avoid a situation like this in the future.

    Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of our high health care costs.

    This comprehensive measure pays the debt and helps fix the underlying problem that contributes to high health care costs in the first place. We don’t just treat the symptom; we treat the problem.

    The federal government has agreed to fully cover the cost for health care for tens of thousands of Mainers for the next three years, and gradually lowers its payment to no less than 90 percent of the cost over a decade. There is no cost to the state — in fact, we will save money.

    Maine is projected to save $690 million in the next 10 years if we accept the federal dollars, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation. These numbers are also confirmed by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

    We are one of 10 states that will actually see our Medicaid expenditures go down!

    If we want to save money in our Medicaid account, which I believe we all do, we must accept these federal health care dollars.

    This could change the lives of tens of thousands of Maine people who fear getting sick because they can’t afford to see a doctor when they need it most.

    Accepting these federal funds to increase health care coverage for more working Mainers is morally and economically the right thing to. And it makes sense to do it as part of a comprehensive package that repays Maine’s hospital debt. It both addresses the costs of health care for our hospitals and our people. To do one without the other, would leave the job half done.

    It’s a good deal. One we cannot walk away from!

    That’s why Republican governors across the country have sized up the proposal and have decided to accept the funds.

    Republican Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona has said turning away federal Medicaid dollars would increase human suffering and further cripple hospitals and other health care providers that care for the uninsured.

    Gov. Brewer recently said, “Being governor is tough — you have to make tough decisions and you have to look at the whole state, you have to do what’s right. Without expansion, “we would’ve had to go in and get people off of Medicaid, they would still be in our hospitals, you would still be paying for them.”

    Gov. Brewer’s bill to accept these federal dollars is accurately called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Measure. Gov. Brewer gets it!

    In New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie has made a similar case:

    He said in a speech before the legislature unveiling his budget. “It’s simple. We are putting people first.”

    “Expanding Medicaid is the smart thing to do for our fiscal and public health” and will “ensure New Jersey taxpayers will see their dollars maximized.”

    Gov. Christie gets it!

    This should not be a political issue. We all agree we should pay the hospitals.

    But we are at an impasse over health care for tens of thousands of Maine people.

    The members of this body have a choice to make. Will you support a plan that pays the hospitals and accepts federal health care dollars to cover more Mainers? Or will you chose to deny and delay health care for tens of thousands of Maine people — putting politics ahead of the people’s health and our hospitals?

    I urge you to see this for what it is — a compromise that would benefit the state as a whole.

    This is how state government should function.

    In a divided government, neither party can get anything done by demanding all or nothing.

    I urge you to join me in supporting the pending motion. Now is the time to act.

    Thank you.”

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Rep Diane Russell (Portland): Maine must lead marijuana regulation (Video, Text, Pix)

Posted on February 23, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Link to full press conference conducted 21 Feb 2013. Speakers included: Rep. Russell, Shenna Bellows of ACLU of Maine, Denny Gallaudet (retired bank president and retired superintendent), David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project and Rep. Aaron Libby (R- Waterboro).

Representative Russell’s full address, as prepared:

“Maine is a remarkable case study in how a state can regulate marijuana in a controlled, responsible manner that balances the broad interests of public safety, substance abuse and parents. We have retail establishments that grow and supply marijuana to responsible customers.

We have proven that this can be done for medical purposes, and now it is time to institute that same strict regulatory infrastructure for responsible adult recreational consumers.

IMG_2464When was the last time you heard of a drug dealer carding a kid? It doesn’t happen. Responsible Maine business owners who sell alcohol do it all the time. It is time we let business owners who card their consumers earn the profits and not the drug dealers or drug cartels.

Two years ago, I introduced legislation to tax and regulate marijuana. I introduced it because I realized that the trends were shifting and public policy was going to have to shift to meet this new culture shift. What I did not realize was just how quickly that change would come.

Historically, the end of alcohol Prohibition began the day New York decriminalized its production. In our generation’s prohibition, Washington and Colorado were the tipping points. The question of whether to legalize or not was answered for history in November when voters in two states voted to allow marijuana to be taxed and regulated.

Over 1200 online viewers of the press conference, live streamed by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland)

Over 1200 online viewers of the press conference, live streamed by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland)

Most people have been remarkably supportive of my efforts and many share my concern about preventing young people from having access to marijuana. 85% of high school seniors are telling us that they have easy access to it. That number has not dipped below 82% since 1975. The War on Drugs began in 1971. If the metric by which we measure this program is the success we have had in getting it out of the hands of young people, then we have failed. Prohibition did not work with alcohol and it has not worked with marijuana, either.

Today, I join my colleagues in asking the legislature to do the responsible thing and to set up a regulatory infrastructure that takes into account the broad spectrum of interests: from law enforcement, from substance abuse counselors and especially from parents and teachers. Let us not bury our heads in the sands, hoping this issue will simply go away. We have been doing that for far too long as it is, and now we can see the trend is coming.

My bill would set up a strong regulatory infrastructure for the in-state cultivation and sale of marijuana to adults over the age of 21 by licensed retailers. It gives preference to Maine-based business owners, dispensaries and caregivers in the application process to do what we can to ensure we are creating Maine jobs.

IMG_2505

  • The bill taxes it at $50 per ounce, bringing in an estimated- and probably conservative- $13 million new dollars to the state.
  • 75% of that will go to the General Fund to offset education costs.
  • 10% will go to help law enforcement.
  • 10% will go toward substance abuse and prevention.
  • 5% would be set aside for research grants so that we can study the effects of marijuana use as well as THC potency.
  • This bill provides lawmakers an opportunity to have an open and transparent process to refine the regulatory framework of the current bill to ensure Mainers can be confident in the end result. If approves by the Legislature and Governor, the bill would go to the people for ratification by referendum.

    Maine has been a model state in how we regulate medical marijuana. We have been smart, conservative and responsible, proving that our state has the knowledge and ability to regulate properly. Our state motto, Dirigo, reminds us that we must lead. I’m asking my colleagues to do just that.

    Thank you.”

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