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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LePage, Portland, Homeless Advocates Battle Over General Assistance

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

Sen. Justin Alfond, Sen. Anne Haskell, Rep. Mark Dion, Rep. Diane Russell, Rep. Drew Gattine , Rep. Peter Stuckey, Rep. Erik Jorgensen, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, Portland City Council Ed Suslovik, Preble St ED Mark Swann, and many others at 2/27/15 Oxford St Homeless Shelter press conference.

Sen. Justin Alfond, Sen. Anne Haskell, Rep. Mark Dion, Rep. Diane Russell, Rep. Drew Gattine , Rep. Peter Stuckey, Rep. Erik Jorgensen, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, Portland City Council Ed Suslovik, Preble St ED Mark Swann, and many others at 2/27/15 Oxford St Homeless Shelter press conference.

At the end of the coldest February on record in Maine, political leaders and homelessness advocates held a press conference in Portland to discuss the needs of some of the region’s most needy and address the attacks by the LePage administration regarding the city’s spending of General Assistance monies.

A reminder: this is part of an ongoing legal battle between Portland/ Westbrook and the state over GA funds.

    Alfond, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and others on hand at the shelter Friday said they can explain why Portland seems to have an outsized share of the state’s General Assistance allocation, but that they can’t get a prompt audience with LePage or DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew to discuss it.

    “We want the coordinated attacks on Portland to end, and the work to make our social services better to begin,”
    Alfond said, pointing out that Portland is not only an “outlier” in its distribution of General Assistance funds but also in that it represents an outsized share of the state’s economy.

    Alfond acknowledged Friday the audit was “troubling” and that Portland’s city officials and state representatives were eager to meet with the administration to discuss ways the city could better administer General Assistance. Brennan said he called the governor’s office on Monday to set up an appointment to discuss the audit.

    “I thought it was urgent, but the first date they gave me [for a meeting] was the end of March,” Brennan said Friday. “Obviously, it’s not as urgent to them as it is to us.”

Governor LePage immediately fired back and issued the following statements via a press release:

    “My quarrel is not with the people who stayed at the shelter,” said Governor LePage. “Mental illness often plays a role there. It’s a matter of who pays. The City of Portland knew these people had this money in the bank, but they decided to bill the taxpayers anyway for years’ worth of welfare reimbursement. Municipalities complain about losing revenue sharing, but then I see abuse like this. When municipalities set priorities that unfairly burden Maine property taxpayers, it’s hard to have sympathy for them. Tax relief should go directly to the property taxpayer, not to fund more government. That’s why my tax reform plan gives money directly to the Maine people by tripling property tax fairness credits, doubling the homestead exemption for those over 65 and significantly lowering income tax rates. The most recent news out of Portland shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it serves as an example of why Maine needs real tax reform.”

This weekend, State Senator Anne Haskell (D-Portland) responded to the governor and administration via the Democratic radio address:

    At 8 p.m. last night it was 12 degrees. And it’s March–not January. Together we’ve experienced one of the longest, most frigid, and snowiest winters in history.

    Good Morning. This is State Senator Anne Haskell of Portland. And, I don’t really want to talk about the weather. But I do want each of us to stop for a second and think about a time this winter: Think about the ten minutes it took you to walk from your office to your car on a blustery cold day. Your cheeks froze. Your fingers and toes hurt and you couldn’t wait to seek shelter from the wind.

    What if you didn’t have a home. If you didn’t have a place where you could crank the heat, pull up the blankets, and settle in with a cup of tea.

    What if, at sun down, you had stand in line for hours with the hopes–not the guarantee–that you could get a mat to sleep on at a shelter. A mat, by the way, that is only three inches thick. A mat that is placed in an open room–flanked on each side by strangers–only five inches from you. Clutching all that belongs to you, in a bag or a backpack.

    Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street Homeless Shelter: We are just trying to keep people alive

    Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street Homeless Shelter: We are just trying to keep people alive

    Mark Swann, the executive director at Preble Street in Portland, said, one day this winter, there were 282 people who showed up for one of the 142 mats. The math on this one is easy: 140 people were left to find shelter elsewhere that night. Some slept on the floor of the soup kitchen down the street. Others, had to sit up in chairs all night at city offices. And, a few others waited at the shelter–hoping a mat would open up. One person waited 11 hours; only to lay his head for two hours before the morning came, and the shelter closed for the day.

    Who chooses this?

    The answer is, nobody.

    Nobody chooses to be homeless. Nobody chooses to be mentally ill. Not one of the 282 people who lined up at the Oxford Street Shelter that night was trying to get away with something. Nobody working at the shelter or the city who is trying to provide life-saving shelter is trying to get away with something.

    At its core, this service of providing EMERGENCY shelter is serving the most basic and fundamental and crucial needs of humanity.

    Yet, in recent weeks, it’s become a political football. The LePage administration has attempted to garner salacious headlines by vilifying the people who utilize the shelter, and also those who provide the service.

    It’s not an easy story to tell. Why? Because we are talking about mental illness. We are talking about diseases like Schizophrenia.

    Recently the City of Portland studied 30 of the so-called “long stayers” at the shelters. What did they find? All of them, 100% had serious and persistent mental health issues–often untreated. Some had money in the bank. Some even had thousands of dollars in the bank.

    What does this mean?

    It could mean many things.

    For some, it means that perhaps a special account was set up by family members to put money aside for them. Perhaps intended to pay for things like dental and medical care.

    For some, it could be the remnant of another time in their life–before they got sick.

    For all, it is money that–because of their psychosis, they are unable or unwilling to use.

    DSC_0132They are not staying at homeless shelters to save a buck. They are staying there because they believe staying at a shelter is the best option available to them.

    And…most importantly, they are not numbers on someone’s spreadsheet. They are our brothers and sisters, our parents, our aunts and uncles. They are our fellow human beings–living much more difficult lives than we can imagine.

    Mental illness is not easy to understand. But it is something that we all need to take a closer look at. We can’t be afraid of it. And most of all, we can’t play the blame-game–that serves no purpose other than to distract and delay from a meaningful solutions-based dialogue.

    Long before this administration, the mental health system in Maine has been broken. The overflowing shelters in our state is one symptom of that–as are our jails–that are also overflowing with people who would benefit more from mental health intervention and treatment.

    As a member of the Health and Human Services Committee and a former member of the state’s Criminal Justice Committee, I can tell you that there are dozens of lawmakers who are interested in solving this problem and helping our fellow Mainers who are suffering. But the first step toward a solution has to be one that is honest.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Mark Dion (Portland): LePage tries again to distract from poor economic performance

Posted on August 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Rep. Dion: LePage tries again to distract from poor economic performance
TANF announcement follows news that Maine’s economy 47th slowest in nation

The best anti-crime program is a job. That’s something we should all agree on. Reducing the need for welfare is also best accomplished by growing jobs. Real jobs with real wages.

The problem for Governor Paul LePage is that he’s failed to live up to his own promises!

mark dionGood morning. I’m Representative Mark Dion of Portland, former sheriff of Cumberland County. And thank you for tuning in.

The governor is reaching into the same old bag of scapegoat politics to once again distract Maine people from his poor performance on jobs and the economy.

You probably just heard the governor use his radio address to announce he’ll finally enforce a law to drug test convicted drug felons whose families rely on TANF.

He probably doesn’t want you to know that many of these felons were guilty of possessing only small amounts of drugs and not members of some massive drug trafficking cartel.

But facts like these destroy the distraction he’s trying to create.

My question to the governor is: “Where have you been?”

The TANF law has been on the books for three years. Three years with no action by the governor’s administration.

But this isn’t really about fixing a problem. It’s about finding someone to blame.

When it comes to scapegoating public assistance, the governor’s never been concerned that his decrees are only loosely connected to the facts.

So why wait until an election year to make these executive decisions?

The governor’s record on the economy makes the answer all too clear.

  • Maine has been scraping along the bottom with each new set of economic figures.
  • We’ve recovered only 63 percent of the jobs lost in the recession.
  • The nation as a whole and New England as a region have recovered all their lost jobs – and added even more on top of that.
  • Employment levels for Mainers of prime working age have not improved since the recession.
  • And earlier this week, Business Insider ranked Maine as the nation’s 47th slowest economy.

    The governor’s strategic response to this sorry financial evaluation? Drug testing.

    C’mon, Governor. We both know Maine’s economy deserves a better solution than that.

    After all, you’ve never missed an opportunity to tout your business savvy.

    You’ve told the people of Maine: “I know what it takes to grow an economy.” You have reminded us countless times that you made your mark as a “turnaround specialist.”

    But an economic turnaround requires more than running over families struggling with addiction and unemployment.

    Maine deserves better than that!

    Maine needs a leader who promotes opportunity and works for solutions – solutions like workforce training, college affordability and support for small business innovators.

    We need a leader to move our economy, boost our middle class and who knows that being poor is not a crime. We need an effective CEO, who relies on the facts – now more than ever.

    Thank you for listening. I’m Representative Mark Dion of Portland.

    ###

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  • (UPDATED x3) Maine Gov Paul LePage To Reintroduce LD 1811, War on Drugs Bill, as Emergency Measure on Veto Day (May 1)

    Posted on April 30, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    (UPDATED x3) Governor LePage has just announced that he plans to reintroduce LD 1811, “An Act To Appropriate and Allocate Funds To Strengthen the State’s Efforts To Investigate, Prosecute and Punish Persons Committing Drug Crimes”, tomorrow as an emergency bill. Here is the press release:

        Governor Finds Funding to Pay For New Drug Enforcement Agents, Judges, Prosecutors
        Bill will go to Legislature on Thursday

      AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage will propose emergency legislation to fund his initiative to fight drug crime by adding Maine Drug Enforcement Agents, judges and prosecutors, which was a major initiative he outlined in his State of the State Address.

      Governor LePage takes media questions on LD 1811 during March 2014 press conference.

      Governor LePage takes media questions on LD 1811 during March 2014 press conference.

      “Although my proposal was widely supported, it died when the Appropriations Committee failed to fund it,” said the Governor. “But this issue is much too important to let die. I am pleased that we have found the funding to help combat the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state. We cannot wait any longer. We must act now to crack down on drug dealers and make our streets safe for Maine families.”

      The Governor will propose using revenue in the Unclaimed Property Fund account to pay for LD 1811, “An Act to Appropriate and Allocate Funds to Strengthen the State’s Efforts to Investigate, Prosecute and Punish Persons Committing Drug Crimes.” LD 1811 would add 10 new MDEA agents, two new District Court judges, deputy marshals and assistant clerks, and two prosecutors in the Attorney General’s office.

      In addition, the bill would provide $750,000 to augment existing drug addiction treatment programs. The total cost of the proposal is about $2.5 million.

      The proposal initially had broad bipartisan support in the Legislature, and it won endorsement from the judicial branch and law enforcement agencies across the state.

    —–

    (UPDATED x2) On April 4, NBC Nightly News ran an in-depth story by national correspondent Kate Snow on the FDA approving opiate antidote Evzio. It featured paramedics in Portland, discussing using life-saving heroin antidote Nalaxone, also known as Narcan to save lives. A portion of that story focused on Maine Governor Paul LePage’s opposition to non-medical personnel having access to Narcan, with a clip from the press conference seen below.

    NBC reporter Kate Snow asks Governor LePage about his opposition to Nalaxone.

    NBC reporter Kate Snow asks Governor LePage about his opposition to Nalaxone.

    One quote from Governor LePage on the topic has drawn much attention and summarized his views:

      “I think we need to treat, Let’s deal with the treatment, the proper treatment and not say, Go overdose, and oh, by the way, if you do I’ll be there to save you. I think we need to deal with the bigger, basic problem of drug addiction, drug trafficking and drug abuse in the state. That’s all I’m interested in.”

    This morning, NBC’s Today Show again featured quotes from the same press conference as part of Snow’s ongoing report on heroin addiction:

      Not everyone is so enthusiastic about the medication. At a press conference on Maine’s drug problem, the governor was adamant that only medical professionals should have access to Narcan.

      “It’s an escape,” Gov. Paul LePage told NBC News. “It’s an excuse to stay addicted. I think we need to deal with the treatment, the proper treatment and not be saying, “go overdose and oh, by the way, if you do, I’ll be there to save you.”

    But in a stunning move, NBC is reporting the governor’s office told them yesterday that LePage is reversing course and no longer opposing access to the antidote:

    ———-

    9am UPDATE: Via Sun Journal’s Scott Thistle is a clip of former Cumberland County Sheriff Rep. Mark Dion, speaking in more depth to the issues raised by the governor during the press conference and elaborating on his own remarks found below.

    ———-

    (Originally posted 3/12/14)

    DSC_0032Governor Paul LePage yesterday held a press conference in his Cabinet Room to announce that he has submitted legislation to provide funding for 22 new state employee positions to fight Maine’s drug addiction and trafficking problems: 4 new hires within the Judicial Branch, 14 for the Department of Public Safety and four additional Assistant AGs. The move is part of his State of the State address promise to toughen up on Maine’s drug laws and enforcement.

    With Attorney General Janet Mills, Cumberland County DA Stephanie Anderson, MDEA head Roy McKinney and law enforcement officers from around Maine in attendance, the governor spoke to and again listed statistics regarding the large number of Maine babies that are born addicted, criticized the state’s methadone clinics and called marijuana a “gateway drug”, a claim supported and expanded upon by DA Anderson when it was her turn at the podium.

    Some quotes of LePage:

      “The methadone clinics in the state of Maine are an absolute dismal failure.”

      “I’m not here to say that eradicating the drug trafficking trade is a silver bullet. We still have the addiction efforts. This is a full-blown business activity, and we’ve allowed it to go from a little bit of heroin for your buddy to a commercial enterprise. We need to break the commercial enterprise. This is, we want to get the people who bring the poison into the state, we want to get them off the streets.”

    The governor also managed to get in a few political digs regarding Medicaid expansion:

      “We must confront this troubling epidemic. While some are spending all their time trying to expand welfare, we are losing the war on drugs.”

    LD 1811, “An Act To Appropriate and Allocate Funds To Strengthen the State’s Efforts To Investigate, Prosecute and Punish Persons Committing Drug Crimes” is sponsored by Sen. Gary Plummer (R-Cumberland) and while it beefs up enforcement and the drug courts, there are no provisions or mention within the bill as will be presented to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee in regards to medical treatment for addicts, education or counselling.

    Some Democrats voiced their opinions on LePage’s approach:

    Asst Majority Leader Senator Anne Haskell (D-Cumberland):

      “There are Mainers who today, are living drug-free lives — and the reason for that is the treatment required by the oversight of the drug court. I am pleased to see more resources allocated to the drug courts. However, they are only half the answer. We simply are not going to arrest our way out of drug addiction.”

    Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) agreed:

      “The governor does not have a track record of supporting prevention and treatment. We want to hear about what he will do on those fronts. We should all be able to agree that we cannot arrest or incarcerate our way out of Maine’s drug problems.”

    Rep. Mark Dion (D-South Portland), a former Cumberland County Sheriff and House Chair of the CJPS Committee:

      “Where we part ways is he’s offering part of a solution. Judges and prosecutors that don’t have the resources to intervene in the addiction cycle will only guarantee more arrests and more detentions at our correctional facilities, which are already under stress.”

    Maine Gov Paul LePage Presents LD 1811, War on Drugs Bill, in Press Conference

    Roy McKinney, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Director, Speaks in Support of LePage Plan

    Cumberland County DA Stephanie Anderson Speaks in Support of LD 1811, Gov LePage War on Drugs Bill

    Conclusion of LePage War on Drugs Press Conference; Q&A with Press

    ———-

    Some parsed out moments:

    1. ME Gov Paul LePage: Marijuana a “Gateway Drug”

      Reporter: “Governor, can you talk about how the push to legalize marijuana in Portland and possibly statewide affects this? Is it a separate issue?”

      LePage: “Yeah, it’s a separate issue. I think what they are doing in Portland is against federal law and the state law- I don’t condone it. I think… I will tell you, I’m not a user, so I don’t know what it does… but everybody that has experience with it is telling me it is a gateway drug. If it is a gateway drug, it’s certainly not helping the situation.”

    2. LePage: Narloxone in home is “excuse to stay addicted”

    3. Medicaid Expansion Question/ Drug Abuse Tie In Question by Susan Alexa

    4. Press sings Happy Birthday to LePage press secretary Adrienne Bennett

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    Cathy Breen Announces State Senate District 25 Campaign Run, Earns Early Endorsements

    Posted on February 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

    From a press release:

      FALMOUTH, Maine- Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, former two-time chairwoman of the Falmouth Town Council, recently announced she is running for the State Senate seat currently held by Dick Woodbury. Woodbury has announced he is not seeking re-election. Senate District 25 encompasses the municipalities of Gray, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Cumberland, part of Westbrook, Chebeague Island, and Long Island.

      cathy breen sd 21“It’s an exciting time to enter state government because Maine faces so many challenges and opportunities. I hope to bring my practical experience and passion for public service to Augusta. I’d be honored to represent the citizens of Senate District 25,“ said Breen in a press release.

      “Cathy is a passionate public servant who has experience advocating successfully for her community,” said Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said in a press release. “Her voice and her values would make her a welcome addition to the Maine Senate.”

      Breen was a strong proponent of controlled growth and conservation of open space on the Falmouth Town Council from 2005-2011. She shepherded the passage of the 2007 Open Space referendum, one of the most successful local land and wildlife habitat conservation efforts in Maine history. In addition, Breen consistently championed low property tax rates.

      Breen promoted improved efficiency in local and regional services during her six years as Falmouth’s representative on the Greater Portland Council of Governments. A strong advocate for public transit including Metro bus service in Falmouth, Breen participated in long-term transportation planning with the Coastal Corridor Coalition composed of Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth, North Yarmouth and Freeport.

      Breen brings traditional Democratic values to the issues, supporting high quality public education, economic growth that respects Maine’s natural resources, open and efficient government, increased access to quality health care, marriage equality, and economic security for Mainers of all income levels. She supports the expansion of Medicaid to all eligible Mainers and the restoration of state revenue sharing with municipalities.

      She serves on the Board of Directors of Spurwink Services, a statewide organization that serves children and adults with behavioral and mental health needs and developmental disabilities.

      Breen has lived in Falmouth since 2000. She received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s of education from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is married to attorney Jay S. Geller and has two teen-aged children.

    Via Cathy Breen for State Senate Facebook page:

    The Cathy Breen for State Senate Campaign was honored to earn the early endorsements of State Representatives Mark Dion, Ann Peoples, Mary Nelson and Anne Graham.

    ****

      In an unusual move in a contested Democratic primary, four state legislators have endorsed Cathy Breen for State Senate now that her candidacy is official. She filed her petitions last week.

      The legislators represent municipalities in District 25, which encompasses Falmouth, Yarmouth, Cumberland, Gray, Chebeague Island, Long Island and northern Westbrook.

      Breen was a Falmouth Town Councilor for six years, two of them as chair.

      She is opposed by Stephen Woods, who ran as an independent for U.S. Senate in 2012 and withdrew shortly before Election Day. Within a month, he announced as a Democratic candidate for governor but later pulled out when U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud entered the race.

      “I support Cathy Breen’s candidacy for the State Senate because we need someone who is smart, experienced and sensitive to the needs of Maine’s working families,” said Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland. “Cathy will add vision, value and insight to Democratic leadership in our Statehouse.”

      “I enthusiastically endorse Cathy,” said Rep. Mary Nelson, D-Falmouth. “As a Town Councilor, she helped ensure that Falmouth has high-quality public schools and built partnerships between government, the private sector, and community organizations. I know she will listen, carefully evaluate, and work tirelessly to expand economic opportunity and make state government work for her constituents.”

      “I’m endorsing Cathy Breen because of her leadership in support of mass transit which saves energy and cuts transportation costs for riders,” said Rep. Ann Peoples, D-Westbrook, who serves on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. “She advocated for the Metro bus in Falmouth for six years and participated in regional long-term transportation planning along the coast, from Falmouth to Freeport. We need her expertise in the Senate.”

      Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, also strongly supports Breen. “She will work for health care for all and particularly for families who struggle to make ends meet. Cathy will hit the ground running and will work for all the people in her district as she did when she was a Town Councilor.”

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