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Consumer Agency Urges Responsible Use of "Plastic" During Holiday Gift-Giving Season

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 13:38:59 EST

. . . . . . NEWSMAINE BUREAU OF CONSUMER CREDIT PROTECTION 35 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333 Phone: 207-624-8527 Fax: 207-582-7699 Consumers-only toll-free: 1-800-DEBT-LAW (1-800-332-8529)Contact: David M. Leach, Principal Consumer Credit Examiner State Consumer Agency Urges Responsible Use of "Plastic" During Holiday Gift-Giving Season November 20, 2017 Maine's Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection is offering a free, updated consumer protection publication, The Downeaster Common Sense Guide: Credit Cards, Paper or Plastic in advance of the 2017 holiday shopping season. The booklet is available without charge to Maine residents by calling 1-800-332-8529."The Black Friday and winter 2017 holiday shopping season is nearly upon us, and Mainers, like others across the United States, are faced with many buying decisions in a relatively short five-week gift-buying period," said Dave Leach, who handles outreach and education for the state agency and who co-authored the booklet. "This ‘Common Sense Guide to Credit Cards' reminds consumers that while they should certainly participate in the holiday traditions of gift-giving, they should also try to avoid overspending with their credit cards, which can result in overwhelming debt in their January card statements.""The holiday shopping season is an exciting time for consumers and retailers," continued Leach, "with many Maine businesses making a large percentage of their annual sales during that important shopping period between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Good personal economic choices made by consumers utilizing credit cards will allow those consumers to begin 2018 on a positive economic note." Leach explained that this Downeaster guide provides the following helpful advice on consumer shopping topics including:• Recognizing when it makes more sense to use cash, a debit card, or even a charge card - the latter of which requires payment in full each month - rather than a credit card during the holiday season;• How purchasing a percentage of holiday gifts with cash, checks or a debit card helps avoid high January 2018 credit card bills or low checking and savings account balances.• How to comparison-shop for a credit card, find one with the lowest Annual Percentage Rate (APR), and switch to that lower APR card, saving interest;• Understanding the importance of striving to pay your credit card balance off in full each month, or at least paying more than the minimum monthly payment, and resolving to retire all card balances within a several-month period;• Understanding the consumer legal protections associated with credit card, charge card and debit card purchases, and how to deal with billing errors and theft or loss of cards;• Helpful tips for safe on-line shopping with credit cards, and the value of using a credit card, with its inherent consumer protections, for on-line gift purchases; and• The importance of checking credit card, charge card and bank account statements for illegal/unauthorized charges, considering the recent high profile data breaches which have occurred in the past few years. "This publication features a balanced approach to the use credit cards, debit cards and charge cards," Leach said. "Plastic, when used wisely, can be a useful financial tool for many people, but they can also cause serious problems for individual and families if not used responsibly. This guide can assist consumers to make careful use of bank and credit union credit, debit and charge cards."Online versions of the Downeaster Credit Card Guide, and all other Downeaster Common Sense financial literacy publications on topics such as Student Loans, Mortgage Loans, Auto Buying and Financing, and Elder Financial Protection, can be found at www.Credit.Maine.gov by clicking "Publications." Copies can also be ordered by calling the Bureau at 1-800-332-8529 (toll-free in Maine) or (207) 624-8527. The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection was established in 1975 to enforce a variety of credit-related consumer laws. The bureau licenses lenders, creditors and collectors;[...]



Bureau of Motor Vehicles to discontinue Limerick visits

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:23:09 EST

AUGUSTA - The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is discontinuing its Limerick mobile unit visits as part of a realignment of services that will result in better customer service and improved bureau efficiency.

The BMV's mobile units consist of two staff members who travel to 20 sites around the state that do not have a BMV office nearby. The units can process driver's licenses and identification cards during their monthly visits.

  • The mobile unit currently visits Limerick on the Monday preceding the third Tuesday of the month in the municipal building at 55 Washington St., Limerick. The final visit will be on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017.


The BMV will continue to serve customers at its 13 branch offices http://maine.gov/sos/bmv/locations/index.html#branches and 19 remaining mobile unit sites http://maine.gov/sos/bmv/locations/index.html#branches located throughout the state. In Limerick, customers are invited to visit the nearby BMV branch office in Springvale at 456 Main St. Several BMV transactions can also be completed online at http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/.

The realignment will allow for increased staffing levels at the BMV branch offices, which will lead to improved customer service. It will also result in cost savings by decreasing overtime and travel costs for mobile unit staff.



ReEmployME - New Unemployment Insurance Filing System Launching Early December

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:59:20 EST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2017Media Contact: Laura Hudson, Maine Department of Labor, 621-5009*Current filing systems will be down for the transition starting on November 30. *AUGUSTA-Maine Department of Labor is launching a new unemployment benefits filing system in early December. Known as ReEmployME (ME is pronounced "Maine"), the new system is a faster, more efficient way to file for unemployment insurance benefits. Claimants will find it easier to access information about their claims, update their account, file Weekly Certifications for benefits and enter their required Work Searches."This new system is the result of years of work in collaboration with other states to create a modern, efficient unemployment system," stated Governor Paul LePage. "The focus of unemployment is to get people back to work quickly in a permanent or a temporary bridge job. This system will not only do just that, but it will also save taxpayer money over time because of the ReEmployUSA partnership with other states. ReEmployME is a national model."The Bureau of Unemployment Compensation (BUC) has been communicating about the transition to current claimants and those who file cyclically this time of year. Claimants are advised of the upcoming timeline so they can prepare to access the new system after launch and plan for a slight delay in benefit payments.**Prepare for the Transition**All the current unemployment filing systems will be down at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 30 through ReEmployME's anticipated launch on December 6. Claimants are strongly encouraged to file claims for the benefit week ending November 25 before 4:00 p.m. on November 30. Direct deposit and MAP/EPC card benefit payments should appear within 48 hours of processing. Claimants who don't file by this time must wait until ReEmployME launches to file.Whether filing a claim online or through the automated phone filing system, claimants must enter their required weekly Work Search online through ReEmployME for the claim to be processed. Maine CareerCenters and state libraries have high-speed Internet and computers available for free use. CareerCenter staff can help claimants sign up for a free email address, register for Maine JobLink, learn how to create a resume and apply for jobs online.Find a Maine CareerCenter - http://www.mainecareercenter.gov/locations/index.shtmlFind a state library - http://www.maine.gov/msl/findlibs.htm**ReEmployME Launch**The department anticipates ReEmployME will launch on December 6. Claimants must visit http://www.maine.gov/reemployme after launch to create an account with a valid email address. Do not use a shared or fake email account. Free email addresses are available online through Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! mail, to name a few.Claimants who need help creating a ReEmployME account after launch can call a Technical Support Representative at 207-623-6765 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday except state and federal holidays. Technical Support Representatives can only answer questions about creating a ReEmployME account. Claimants who need help filing a claim or to get information about a current claim can call a Customer Service Representative at 1-800-593-7660 between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday except state and federal holidays.Direct deposit and MAP/EPC card benefit payments should appear within three days of processing for claims filed within the first few weeks after ReEmployME's launch.Claimants can watch for updates about the transition at http://www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment ."Unemployment insurance provides temporary, partial wage replacement to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own," said Commissioner of Labor John Butera. "Support for claimants while they search for reemployment is the end goal of the unemployment insurance program. The new ReEmployME system will provide claimants with around-the-clock ability to file for benefits and provide more accurate information to reduce fraud."Maine Department [...]



Thanksgiving Holiday

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:24:33 EST

The lottery office will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving Holiday. The office will resume regular business hours starting Monday, November 27th at 8 AM. Have a safe and Happy Holiday weekend.



Bureau of Motor Vehicles to discontinue Kittery visits

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 16:24:37 EST

**AUGUSTA** - The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is **discontinuing its Kittery mobile unit** visits as part of a realignment of services that will result in better customer service and improved bureau efficiency.

The BMV's mobile units consist of two staff members who travel to 21 sites around the state that do not have a BMV office nearby. The units can process driver's licenses and identification cards during their monthly visits.

  • The mobile unit currently visits Kittery on the third Tuesday and following Wednesday of the month in the Naval Lodge, 11 Shapleigh Road, Kittery. The final visit will be on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.


The BMV will continue to serve customers at its 13 branch offices http://maine.gov/sos/bmv/locations/index.html#branches and remaining mobile unit http://maine.gov/sos/bmv/locations/index.html#branches sites located throughout the state. In Kittery, customers are invited to visit the nearby BMV branch office in Kennebunk at 63 Portland Road. Several BMV transactions can also be completed online at http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/ .

The realignment will allow for increased staffing levels at the BMV branch offices, which will lead to improved customer service. It will also result in cost savings by decreasing overtime and travel costs for mobile unit staff, as well as eliminating lease fees paid to mobile unit host sites.



Fedcap Partnership is Producing Results for TANF Participants

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 15:34:44 EST

AUGUSTA - On January 30, 2017, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) partnered with Fedcap Rehabilitation Services to officially launch the "Breaking the Cycle" program in Maine, to provide sustainable employment education and training for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) recipients within the Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment (ASPIRE) program. In just nine months, the TANF workforce participation rate has jumped to 50 percent-a significant increase from 16 percent prior to the partnership with Fedcap.

Fedcap has since opened the doors to 16 community-based Opportunity Centers statewide, and has recruited, hired, and trained 140 staff members and Employment Specialists to serve TANF recipients statewide. Through the program, individuals receive educational training and worksite experience to become professionally prepared job seekers in Maine's workforce. Fedcap emphasizes education, workforce development, occupational health and economic development as its program's four main areas of focus-offering personalized case management services and employment plans to aid participants in their training and development.

"Through immediate engagement, accountability, and comprehensive case management, TANF recipients are able to move quickly back into the workforce," said DHHS Commissioner, Ricker Hamilton. "Our partnership with Fedcap has enabled our participants to rapidly gain the necessary skills needed to begin their pathway toward economic stability."

In its services, Fedcap offers participants opportunities to overcome barriers to economic success, and gives participants the confidence and independence necessary to take on vocational responsibilities. Maine's partnership with Fedcap highlights the State's longstanding philosophy that self-sufficiency through employment is critical in breaking the cycle of poverty.

EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES: The number of cases closing due to employment each month has more than doubled since January. On average, participants are moving to employment within nine weeks of entering the program.

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WORK REQUIREMENTS: The number of TANF recipients meeting the required work hours has quadrupled.

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Commissioner Hamilton is scheduled to visit the Augusta Fedcap Opportunity Center this coming Monday for a tour of the facility with legislative members of the Committee on Health and Human Services. The visit will highlight the exceptional work and services Fedcap continues to provide for the State's ASPIRE program, and recognize the dedicated staff members and specialists serving participants in the Augusta area.




Maine Unemployment Rate 3.5 Percent in October

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:18:06 EST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2017 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192 AUGUSTA - Unemployment remains historically low in Maine.**Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data** Household Survey Estimates - The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.5 percent for October was down slightly from 3.7 percent for September and 3.9 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed was down 2,200 over the year to 25,000. The unemployment rate has been at or below 4.0 percent for 25 consecutive months.The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.1 percent for October was little changed from 4.2 percent for September and down from 4.8 percent one year ago. The New England unemployment rate averaged 3.8 percent.October unemployment rate estimates for other states in the region were 2.7 percent in New Hampshire, 2.9 percent in Vermont, 3.7 percent in Massachusetts, 4.2 percent in Rhode Island, and 4.5 percent in Connecticut.The employment to population ratio estimate of 61.8 percent remained above the U.S. average of 60.2 percent.**Payroll Survey Estimates -** The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate was up 5,200 from one year ago to 621,200 for October. The private sector gained 5,700 jobs, with the largest gains in the healthcare, hospitality, professional and business services, and construction sectors; governments shed 500 jobs, spread across all three levels - federal, state, and local.**Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data** The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.0 percent for October was down from 3.4 percent one year ago. Around the state, the lowest rate was 2.4 percent in Cumberland and Sagadahoc counties and the highest was 4.8 percent in Washington County.The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland (2.4 percent) metro area and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (2.8 percent) and Bangor (3.0 percent) metro areas.November estimates will be released on Thursday, December 21 (Data Release Schedule: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html ).This release is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html .Labor force and unemployment data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html .Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html .Monthly workforce estimates are cooperatively produced and released by the Maine Department of Labor, Center for Workforce Research and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.NOTES1. Preliminary labor force estimates, including rates (labor force participation, employment, and unemployment rates), and levels (labor force, employed, and unemployed) tend to move in a direction for several months and then reverse course. Those directional trends are largely driven by a smoothing procedure and may not indicate a change in underlying workforce conditions. Annual revisions (published in March each year) tend to moderate or eliminate those directional patterns. A comparison of 2016 preliminary and revised unemployment rate estimates is available at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2016_workforce_data_revisions.pdf.2. The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2017 is 0.7 percentage points above or below the published estimate each month.3. To assess employment growth, we recommend looking at nonfarm jobs from the payroll survey rather than resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger, has smaller margins of error, and is subject to smaller revisions. More on the differences in accuracy of the two measures is at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/imprecise_data.pdf .4. Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month because there is variability in the sample of reporting employers and their representativeness for the universe of all employers. Additionally, seasonal adjustment is imperfect because weather, t[...]



Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Deploys Preliminary Damage Assessment Teams to Assess Damage from Wind Storm 2017

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:26:10 EST

AUGUSTA, MAINE - Maine Emergency Management Agency continues to work through the recovery process after the October 29 Wind Storm that caused nearly 500,000 power outages, more than any other storm in Maine's history. Last week, the Maine Emergency Management Agency received authorization from Governor Paul R. LePage to request a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Public Assistance for the 14 counties affected by severe storms that occurred between October 29 and November 1. MEMA immediately forwarded this request to FEMA Region I in Boston and they arrived Wednesday and began working with MEMA. Seven PDA teams consisting of FEMA, MEMA, County EMA and local officials will deploy today (Thursday, November 15, 2017) to each affected county, which includes all but Aroostook and Washington Counties. This process will help verify whether Maine reaches the threshold required to formally request a Federal Disaster Declaration, and may take several weeks to complete. ###What are PDA TeamsFollowing a disaster, the Governor requests PDAs as the first step in the declaration process. Federal representatives join state, tribal, and local officials to form what we call "PDA teams." They are responsible for surveying damages in designated counties, and they do this by going to each county and visiting areas heavily impacted by the storm and verifying the reported damage to public infrastructure. This includes the cost of emergency measures, such as debris removal, and repair or restoration of public facilities such as roads and buildings.Once assessments for a county are completed, the team moves onto the next. The goal is to complete the job efficiently and thoroughly to ensure the teams have captured the total impact to the communities and area of the state affected by the disaster.###The Next StepOnce all of the data has been compiled, it is turned over to the Maine Emergency Management Agency.It is important to remember that PDA teams do not determine whether a major disaster declaration will be issued.The information that is collected is provided to the state for the Governor to determine if he will request federal assistance. If the Governor believes the damages "are beyond state and local capabilities," he will submit the written request to the President and specify the type of assistance needed and which counties are affected. It is important to remember that FEMA assistance is supplementary in nature and will only be authorized when a disaster is of the severity and magnitude to be beyond the effective response of the state and affected local governments. FEMA cannot duplicate assistance received through any other source including insurance or other federal programs.###What is a Major Disaster Declaration?If the President approves the request, the declaration will specify what forms of assistance are available. If the Presidential declaration includes Individual Assistance, then individuals can apply if their county was part of the declaration. Even if you have already reported your damage to the Red Cross, local, or state officials, and the PDA team stopped to talk with you - this IS NOT THE APPLICATION for FEMA assistance.If a Major Disaster is declared, additional information will be communicated at that time. ###What Should Individuals Be Doing Now?Public Assistance is different than Individual Assistance and will be categorized differently.As soon as possible, individuals should notify their insurance company and file a claim. Keep receipts of any disaster-related expenses such as lodging, medical, repair and cleaning supplies, etc. and make a list of the major items that have been damaged such as utilities, appliances, furniture, and personal property. This damage should also be reported to 2-1-1 Maine to help determine the extent and location of individual dam[...]



Maine CDC Encourages Screening During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:29:41 EST

AUGUSTA - As the nation recognizes November as National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages current and former smokers who are at high risk of developing lung cancer to talk with a health care provider about being screened for the disease. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in Maine, and in 2013, nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths in Maine were due to lung cancer.

"Statistics show that new cases of lung cancer are consistently higher in Maine than the U.S., and approximately 75 percent of new lung cancers in Maine are diagnosed at a late stage," said Maine CDC Director, Dr. Bruce Bates. "I urge people who smoke or who have smoked in the past to speak with their doctor about screening. This deadly disease can often be easier to treat if it is diagnosed early."

Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, being linked to 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancers in the United States. The U. S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends adults age 55 to 80 be screened for lung cancer if they have a history of heavy smoking, currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years. A history of heavy smoking is defined as smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or more.

It is important to talk with a health care provider about your medical history and the risks for all cancers. Quitting smoking at any age can reduce the risk of lung cancer. For those who continue to smoke, remember that quitting is beneficial at any time. The Maine Tobacco HelpLine (800-207-1230) is available to help you quit using tobacco. For more information and resources on lung cancer visit: www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/.




Secretary Dunlap seeks preliminary injunction in lawsuit against election commission

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:06:56 EST

AUGUSTA, ME - Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap today asked a federal court for an injunction to force the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI) - on which Dunlap serves as a member - to stop withholding key information.

"I had hoped filing the complaint would convey to the commission that I'm serious about fully participating in the work awaiting us," said Sec. Dunlap. "Unfortunately, that intention has not been met, and instead I see media reports filled with attacks and recriminations directed at me for asking for our working papers and work schedule. I'm left with the regrettable choice to push the matter further in the courts."

Having repeatedly been denied access to commission documents and information, Secretary Dunlap filed a lawsuit on November 9, 2017 https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4178296-Dunlap-V-Presidential-Advisory-Commission-on.html to force the commission to share records to which he is entitled, such as meeting materials, correspondence between commissioners and communications with witnesses. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requires that all commissioners have access to the same level of information used by the commission, but Sec. Dunlap's repeated requests for this information have been rebuffed.

In response to the lawsuit, rather than pledging to work in good faith to facilitate Sec. Dunlap's participation, the commission's Vice Chairman Kris Kobach called the lawsuit "baseless and paranoid," and commissioner Hans von Spakovsky said Sec. Dunlap "should be sanctioned for filing a frivolous lawsuit and should resign from the commission."

The motion filed today https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4248273-Motion-for-Preliminary-Injunction-Dunlap-v-PACEI.html asks the U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to order the PACEI to immediately provide the requested documents, enable Sec. Dunlap to participate in PACEI business.

By filing for a preliminary injunction, Sec. Dunlap foreshortens the time frame for the government to respond to the complaint from two months to one week. This will ensure Sec. Dunlap is properly informed about upcoming commission activities. A mailer from the Minnesota Voters Alliance indicated, for example, that a commission hearing was planned for December, but Sec. Dunlap has received no notice of any such meeting.

Sec. Dunlap's suit is based on the 1999 D.C. Circuit Court decision Cummock v. Gore, in which the court held that commissioners may not be denied access to information. Sec. Dunlap is represented by nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight and the law firm of Patterson Belknap, based in New York City.



Silver Collar Awards presented to Associates for Training and Development, Care and Comfort, Community Health Options, and Moody's Co-Worker Owned, Inc.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:20:58 EST

*Lewiston, Gorham and Waterville-based businesses recognized as senior-friendly employers.*

For Immediate Release: November 16 2017

Media Contact: Laura Hudson, Maine Department of Labor, 621-5009

AUGUSTA - The State Workforce Board's Older Worker Committee presented the Silver Collar Award in October to 2017's best employers for workers over the age of 50 in Maine. The awardees are Care & Comfort, Community Health Options, Moody's Co-Worker Owned, Inc., and Associates for Training and Development.

"I congratulate this year's winners for recognizing the value that different employees bring to our workforce," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "Our state needs and values the contributions of all members of our workforce, no matter their age, and the Silver Collar Awards recognize businesses who put these values into action."

The Silver Collar Employer Award honors employers whose policies and practices match the needs of mature employees, capturing their skills and experience, strong work ethic, flexibility, and enthusiasm.

Associates for Training and Development provides training and employment services to workers age 55+. Associates for Training and Development adjust duties and responsibilities when appropriate to make the most of each person's talents, and offer a mentoring program and flexibility in the workplace.

Care & Comfort has been providing professional home health and mental health services to Maine residents since 1991. Care & Comfort provides an excellent benefit package, such as flexibility, training and on-the-job coaching for older workers.

Community Health Options is a non-profit, member-led health insurance plan providing comprehensive health insurance benefits to individuals, families, and businesses. Community Health Options provides a Workplace Flexibility and Transition program.

Moody's Co-worker Owned, Inc., is a technically-advanced company using computer software and tools that are cutting edge for the automotive industry. Thirty-three percent of Moody's company is over the age of 50; they pride themselves on a very diverse group from 18-70 years old.

Maine is the oldest state in the nation, with a median age of 44.5 years. Today, workers age 55 and over comprise one quarter of the labor force. That share is expected to rise over the next decade as the large baby boom generation advances in age.

The State Workforce Board (SWB) is responsible for assisting Governor LePage in improving the state's business climate by designing and implementing strategies that help Mainers enter the workforce as well as advance by increasing their skills. For more information about the SWB or workforce development, visit http//www.maine.gov/swb.



-end-



Attorney General Janet Mills urges repeal of a federal law in order to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for opioid oversupply

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 16:23:03 EST



OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells Telephone: (207) 626-8887

Attorney General Janet Mills urges repeal of a federal law in order to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for opioid oversupply



AUGUSTA - Attorney General Janet Mills joined the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to repeal a 2016 federal law so as to hold drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for the nation's oversupply of pain killers (opioids).

"We are averaging a drug overdose death every day in Maine and the over prescription of these addictive opioids is one of the root causes of our current crisis," said Mills. "My office is fighting to hold the manufacturers and distributors who encouraged the overuse of these drugs accountable. The federal government must not tie our hands in this effort."

The "Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016" (P.L. 114-145) has severely limited the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) response to the opioid crisis. In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.

Maine leads the nation in the rate of long-acting opioid prescriptions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 66.9 opioid prescriptions per 100 Maine residents in 2016. This number has slowly declined since 2011 when the rate reached a peak of 93.1. The CDC estimates 75 percent of patients that abuse heroin started with prescription medications.

In June AG Mills announced that she is working with a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the country in investigating the practices of manufacturers of opioids, including the role opioid manufacturers played in creating or prolonging the opioid epidemic.

Additionally, in September Mills joined a coalition of attorneys general from 37 states and territories urging America's Health Insurance Plans to examine the financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Maine and across the nation. The attorneys general noted that the number of opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999. They encouraged the health insurance companies to pay for alternative pain therapies that may be more effective than opioid prescriptions.

"In the midst of this deepening public health crisis - at a time when our nation needs every available weapon at its disposal to combat the opioid epidemic, the Act effectively strips the Drug Enforcement Administration of a mission critical tool, namely, the ability to issue an immediate suspension order against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct poses an immediate danger to public health or safety," reads the NAAG letter sent yesterday to U.S. Senate and House of Representative leaders and signed by 44 attorneys general in the states, District of Columbia and Virgin Islands. "We urge you to repeal the Act so that the public is protected and drug manufacturers and distributors may be held accountable for their actions."

Nationally the attorneys general have been combatting the opioid crisis on many fronts, including lawsuits, investigations and disruption of trafficking networks and pill mills.

# # #




Consumers impacted by scams utilizing Western Union may now seek compensation from $586M fund

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 15:52:43 EST

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells Telephone: (207) 626-8887

Consumers impacted by scams utilizing Western Union may now seek compensation from $586M fund

Attorney General Mills encourages fraud victims to file claims

AUGUSTA - Mainers who were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union's wire transfer service between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 may now apply for compensation from a $586 million fund administered by the Department of Justice's Victim Asset Recovery Program. This fund is related to a multi-state settlement with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and 49 other states, the District of Columbia, and Western Union that was first announced in January.

Mainers who reported to the Maine Office of the Attorney General that they had been the victim of a scam using Western Union will receive a claim form in the mail in the coming weeks, which will contain instructions explaining how to file a claim for compensation. If you do not receive a claim form in the mail but believe you may have an eligible claim, visit http://www.westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124.

"I ask all Mainers who have been scammed out of money and were asked to use Western Union to make these fraud-induced payments to file for reimbursement from this fund," said Attorney General Mills. "I realize some may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam. You are not alone. Do not be embarrassed, please take this opportunity to get some of your money back. If you ever wire money, keep in mind that it's illegal for a telemarketer to ask you to pay with a money transfer. Scammers love using money transfer services because once you send the money, it's gone forever. So, if a telemarketer asks you to wire money, already you know they're a crook."

In order to receive restitution under the settlement claims forms must be mailed back to the settlement administrator by February 12, 2018. Attorney General Mills encourages consumers to reach out to the Consumer Protection Division if they have questions or concerns at consumer.mediation@maine.gov , (207) 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131.

###



Maine State Archives to host Nova Scotia ‘Tree for Boston' event

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 14:33:03 EST

AUGUSTA - The Maine State Archives and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap will host representatives of Halifax, Nova Scotia during a World War I commemoration ceremony in Augusta on Monday, Nov. 20, to recognize Mainers' response to the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

The maritime disaster occurred on Dec. 6, 1917, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship bound for Bordeaux, collided with the Norwegian SS Imo in Halifax Harbor. The Mont-Blanc was carrying explosives for the war effort. The cargo ignited during the collision, resulting in a destructive explosion that caused more than 2,000 deaths and 9,000 injuries.

Each year, the City of Halifax chooses a Christmas tree to present to the City of Boston as a symbol of appreciation for the humanitarian aid that Boston residents provided after the explosion. As we mark the centennial of World War I this year, the tree will be making a special stop in Augusta for a Halifax Explosion Centennial Commemoration public ceremony in Capitol Park at 10 a.m. on Nov. 20, to recognize the Mainers who also went to their Canadian neighbors' aid.

This year's Tree for Boston, which hails from Cape Breton, will serve as the backdrop for this brief ceremony in Capitol Park. Several dignitaries will take part, including Minister Leo Glavine of Nova Scotia, Augusta Mayor David Rollins, Sec. Dunlap and State Historian Earle Shettleworth. The Cony High School Madrigal Singers will perform the national anthems and the Maine Army National Guard will present the colors.

A light lunch reception will follow in the lobby of the Maine State Archives in the Cultural Building, where visitors can view the WWI exhibits of not only the Archives but also the adjacent Maine State Museum and Maine State Library.

Follow @Tree for Boston on Twitter /TreeforBoston at https://twitter.com to track the tree's path through Maine to its destinations, and visit the Maine State Archives social media accounts, @MEArchives on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MEArchives or "Maine State Archives" on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MaineStateArchives/ for updates on the event.



Treasurers Cash Pool Investment Yield at 8-Year High

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 11:25:14 EST

AUGUSTA- November 13 - The investment yield on the State's Cash Pool is at an 8-year high, reaching 1.24% in October. In addition, total cash pool earnings of $3.37 Million earned during the 1st quarter of Fiscal Year 2018 have more than tripled since the 1st quarter of fiscal year 2016.

State Treasurer Terry Hayes believes that adapting to changing market conditions has allowed the State to improve the return on investment for its residents. "These earnings play a critical role in reducing the cost of state services to the residents of Maine. Every dollar earned is a dollar that does not need to be paid for by Mainers. At the same time, the Cash Pool retains a strong emphasis on safety, liquidity and diversification."

The State Treasurer oversees management of the Cash Pool, which has adapted to changing market conditions and opportunities, while utilizing only those high-quality investments permitted by state statutes and the Treasurer's conservative Cash Pool Investment Policy.

At present, the Treasurers Cash Pool is approximately valued at $1.191 Billion, consisting of Certificates of Deposit, Money Market Deposit Accounts, Federal Agency Securities, U.S. Treasury Notes, Corporate Bonds and Commercial Paper. For up-to-date information on the Cash Pool visit the Treasurer's website http://www.maine.gov/treasurer/cash_management/investments.html target="_blank"> here.