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Report of the Attorney General on the Use of Deadly Force by State Police Trooper on August 15, 2016, in Jefferson

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:36:45 EDT

##SynopsisDuring the late evening of Monday, August 15, 2016, State Police Sergeant Jason Madore engaged in the use of deadly force when he shot at Shane Prior, 34, of Cushing. While none of Sgt. Madore's rounds struck him, Mr. Prior died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. ##DiscussionThe Attorney General has exclusive responsibility for the direction and control of any criminal investigation of a law enforcement officer, who, while acting in the performance of the officer's duties, uses deadly force. [1] The detectives in the Office of the Attorney General who investigate these incidents are independent of and unaffiliated with any other law enforcement agency. The purpose of the criminal investigation of the incident in Jefferson on August 15, 2016, which resulted in Sgt. Madore shooting at Mr. Prior, was to determine whether the facts reasonably generated a case of self-defense, including the defense of others, so as to preclude criminal prosecution of Sgt. Madore. Any such prosecution would require the State to disprove self-defense or the defense of others beyond a reasonable doubt. The investigation did not include an analysis of whether any personnel action might be warranted, of whether the use of deadly force could have been averted, or of whether there might be civil liability. Indeed, State law provides that conduct determined to be permissible under the Criminal Code does not abolish or impair any other remedy available under the law.There are two requirements with which any person, including a law enforcement officer, must comply to legally use deadly force in self-defense or in defense of a third party. First, the person must actually and reasonably believe that there is an imminent threat of deadly force against the person or against someone else; and, second, the person must actually and reasonably believe it is necessary to use deadly force to counter that threat. Whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is reasonable must be based on the totality of the particular circumstances and must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, allowing for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a given situation. The legal analysis requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each case, including the severity of the crime threatened or committed and whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of others.##Facts and CircumstancesDuring the late evening of August 15, 2016, State Police Sgt. Jason Madore and several other troopers were in Augusta when they received information that Shane Prior had shot his former domestic partner at the home of the partner's friend in Jefferson. The officers also learned that Mr. Prior was still at the residence armed with a .45 caliber handgun. The officers responded to Jefferson where they met about one mile away from the residence of the former partner's friend. At the same time that the officers were gathering, they learned that Mr. Prior had left the residence in a tan-colored pickup truck. Within minutes, the officers saw a vehicle matching the description drive by them.Sgt. Madore and the other officers followed the vehicle a short distance. One of the officers activated the emergency blue lights on his cruiser, and the vehicle pulled to the side of the road and stopped. The officer shouted commands for the driver, later determined to be Mr. Prior, to show his hands and get out of the vehicle. Within seconds, there was a gunshot from within the vehicle. Sgt. Madore was outside his cruiser, which was behind and to the left of Mr. Prior's vehicle. Hearing the sound of a gunshot, observing muzzle flash, and hearing a round going through a wooded area, he believed that Mr. Prior was firing at him and/or the other officers. Sgt. Madore fired several rounds at Mr. Prior.No further activity came from Mr. Prior's vehicle. After failed attempts to persuade Mr. Prior to get out of the vehicle, members o[...]



Report of the Attorney General on the Use of Deadly Force by State Police Trooper on August 15, 2016, in Jefferson

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:36:38 EDT

##SynopsisDuring the late evening of Monday, August 15, 2016, State Police Sergeant Jason Madore engaged in the use of deadly force when he shot at Shane Prior, 34, of Cushing. While none of Sgt. Madore's rounds struck him, Mr. Prior died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. ##DiscussionThe Attorney General has exclusive responsibility for the direction and control of any criminal investigation of a law enforcement officer, who, while acting in the performance of the officer's duties, uses deadly force. [1] The detectives in the Office of the Attorney General who investigate these incidents are independent of and unaffiliated with any other law enforcement agency. The purpose of the criminal investigation of the incident in Jefferson on August 15, 2016, which resulted in Sgt. Madore shooting at Mr. Prior, was to determine whether the facts reasonably generated a case of self-defense, including the defense of others, so as to preclude criminal prosecution of Sgt. Madore. Any such prosecution would require the State to disprove self-defense or the defense of others beyond a reasonable doubt. The investigation did not include an analysis of whether any personnel action might be warranted, of whether the use of deadly force could have been averted, or of whether there might be civil liability. Indeed, State law provides that conduct determined to be permissible under the Criminal Code does not abolish or impair any other remedy available under the law.There are two requirements with which any person, including a law enforcement officer, must comply to legally use deadly force in self-defense or in defense of a third party. First, the person must actually and reasonably believe that there is an imminent threat of deadly force against the person or against someone else; and, second, the person must actually and reasonably believe it is necessary to use deadly force to counter that threat. Whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is reasonable must be based on the totality of the particular circumstances and must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, allowing for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a given situation. The legal analysis requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each case, including the severity of the crime threatened or committed and whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of others.##Facts and CircumstancesDuring the late evening of August 15, 2016, State Police Sgt. Jason Madore and several other troopers were in Augusta when they received information that Shane Prior had shot his former domestic partner at the home of the partner's friend in Jefferson. The officers also learned that Mr. Prior was still at the residence armed with a .45 caliber handgun. The officers responded to Jefferson where they met about one mile away from the residence of the former partner's friend. At the same time that the officers were gathering, they learned that Mr. Prior had left the residence in a tan-colored pickup truck. Within minutes, the officers saw a vehicle matching the description drive by them.Sgt. Madore and the other officers followed the vehicle a short distance. One of the officers activated the emergency blue lights on his cruiser, and the vehicle pulled to the side of the road and stopped. The officer shouted commands for the driver, later determined to be Mr. Prior, to show his hands and get out of the vehicle. Within seconds, there was a gunshot from within the vehicle. Sgt. Madore was outside his cruiser, which was behind and to the left of Mr. Prior's vehicle. Hearing the sound of a gunshot, observing muzzle flash, and hearing a round going through a wooded area, he believed that Mr. Prior was firing at him and/or the other officers. Sgt. Madore fired several rounds at Mr. Prior.No further activity came from Mr. Prior's vehicle. After failed attempts to persuade Mr. Prior to get o[...]



Maine Unemployment Rate 3.5 Percent in June

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:50:58 EDT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 21, 2017 Contact: Glenn Mills, 207-621-5192*Maine Unemployment Rate 3.5 Percent in June*AUGUSTA - Unemployment remained at historically low rates and payroll job growth continued through the first half of 2017.**Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data**Household Survey Estimates - The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.5 percent for June was up from 3.2 percent in May and down from 3.9 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed was down 2,500 over the year to 24,700. The unemployment rate has been 4 percent or less for 21 consecutive months.The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.4 percent for June was little changed from 4.3 percent for May and down from 4.9 percent one year ago. The New England unemployment rate averaged 4.1 percent.June unemployment rate estimates for other states in the region were 2.9 percent in New Hampshire, 3.2 percent in Vermont, 4.3 percent in Massachusetts, 4.2 percent in Rhode Island, and 5.0 percent in Connecticut.The employment to population ratio estimate of 61.8 percent remained above the U.S. average of 60.1 percent.**Payroll Survey Estimates -** The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate was up 6,900 from one year ago to 623,300 in June. The largest job gains were in the healthcare, hospitality, and construction sectors.**Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data**The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.6 percent for June was down from 3.8 percent one year ago. The lowest rate was 3.0 percent in Cumberland County and the highest was 5.6 percent in Aroostook County.The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland (3.0 percent) metro area and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (3.5 percent) and Bangor (3.8 percent) metro areas.July estimates will be released on Friday, August 18 (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 http://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 http://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, the beginning and ending of school semesters and holidays, and other events do not always occur with the same timing, which can exacerbate monthly volatility. Users should look to the trend over multiple months rather than the [...]



State Officials Caution the Public about Scams Related to Tax Collections

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:30:10 EDT

Acting on authorization from Congress, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently hired four private debt collection agencies to pursue overdue federal taxes. Unfortunately, this new activity has prompted some scammers to contact taxpayers, including Maine residents, pretending to be collectors working on behalf of the IRS, and demanding immediate payment.

Maine's Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, which licenses debt collectors, is encouraging consumers to educate themselves in order to avoid falling victim to this scam. The four companies that have entered into contracts to collect back taxes for the IRS are:

• CBE Group, of Cedar Falls, IA; • Conserve, of Fairpoint, NY; • Performant, of Livermore, CA; and • Pioneer, of Horseheads, NY.

Hundreds of Maine consumers have contacted state officials at the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and the Attorney General's Office, to report that they have been called by scammers posing as debt collectors authorized to pursue overdue taxes.

Bureau Superintendent Will Lund emphasized that consumers can protect themselves by knowing the special rules under which legitimate collectors must operate.

"Individuals who owe overdue taxes will hear first from the IRS and not directly from the collector," said Superintendent Lund. "This initial contact will be a letter informing the taxpayer that the IRS is giving the account to one of the four legitimate collection companies. The letter will provide complete details about the collector."

Before attempting to contact a consumer by phone, the private debt collector must send a letter, setting forth information about the debt and offering to verify (prove) the debt upon the consumer's request. If the taxpayer agrees to pay a valid debt, that payment can either be transmitted electronically to the IRS, or it can be paid by check made payable to US Treasury. In both cases, payments must be transmitted or sent directly to the IRS, not to the collection agency.

"If a company contacts a taxpayer by phone without prior written notice from the IRS and from the collection agency, or if the caller demands immediate payment by phone, or by prepaid debit card, iTune or gift card, then it's a scam," Lund said.

Individuals with questions or concerns should call the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, to verify whether the collection agency is legitimate. The IRS has also set up a special hotline, at the office of the "Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration" (TIGTA) to enable consumers to file complaints about a private collection agency or to report misconduct by an employee. The TIGTA hotline number is 800-366-4484, or consumers can visit www.tigta.gov or write to:

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Hotline Post Office Box 589 Ben Franklin Station Washington, DC 20044-0589






Attorney General Mills calls for open internet in comments to the FCC

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:27:22 EDT

AUGUSTA - Attorney General Janet Mills is calling on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to maintain important consumer protections for internet service customers and an open internet by rejecting proposed rules. The FCC is considering rules that would allow Internet Services Providers to slow or block access to certain sites or mobile applications, upending the idea of "net neutrality" that has allowed ideas and commerce to flourish across the web.

"We access information, entertainment, educational opportunities, do our banking and shopping all online," said Attorney General Mills. "We can't allow some information or some sites to be available on one network to one customer, but not another. ‘Net neutrality,' the idea that we can all access the same parts of the web and use any application, without interference from a provider, is critical to the free exchange of ideas so important to our society. The FCC needs to reject these proposed rules, in favor of free speech for all Americans."

The comments submitted by the attorneys general state: "The current Open Internet rules were based on the premise that consumers expect and deserve an open and transparent Internet and that their right to access their chosen content without interference from their service provider should be protected. The existing rules recognize that the Internet has become an essential service in our society, and that role could be compromised by allowing private companies, many of which have conflicts of interest, to dictate the terms of consumers' access to and use of the Internet. Consumers expect transparency and fairness from their Internet service when they go online, and those expectations should be reflected in the FCC's rules."

Attorney General Mills, along with 13 other attorneys general, submitted these comments to the FCC in opposition to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making.



###



Blueberry Rakers' Center to Open in Washington County

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:09:19 EDT

*Will be at Narraguagus High School in Harrington.*

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2017 Media contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

AUGUSTA-With the blueberry harvest set to begin the first week in August, Maine Department of Labor staff are again partnering with other governmental and community service organizations to host the Rakers' Center in Washington County. The official opening is July 30 and the hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with hours of operation varying over the following week and a half. The center will close on August 11, 2017.

For the third year in a row, the Rakers' Center will be located at Narraguagus High School, 1611 Main Street in Harrington. For more information, workers are encouraged to call Jorge Acero, migrant farm worker monitor advocate, at 207-623-7928.

The facility provides migrant farm workers and their families with access to a variety of resources including legal and employment advice, access to medical care, information on educational resources for children of migrant workers and guidance in applying for other services.

**Rakers' Center Schedule**

- July 30 to Aug. 1: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Aug. 2: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Aug. 3: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. (Fresh food available in the evening) - Aug. 4: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Aug. 7: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. (Fresh food from Gleaning Project) - Aug. 8 to 11: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Rakers' Center opens annually during the peak of the blueberry picking season and serves more than 1,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers who are employed in the blueberry harvest. It has been recognized nationwide as a model program because of the centralized services offered.

In addition, the Blueberry Harvest School (BHS) will open on July 31, 2017. The BHS is where raker families may enroll their school-age children during the harvest. The program responds to the unique needs of each student through project-based learning and helps prevent summer learning loss and school disruptions among students.

This year the Blueberry Harvest School will be located at Harrington Elementary School and will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The BHS program serves children ages 3 to 13.

The Department of Labor provides a resource guide for migrant workers on the Maine Monitor Advocate page on the department's website, http://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/maine_monitor_advocate.html .

For more information about migrant workers issues, contact the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7900 or visit the Maine Monitor Advocate webpage.

-end-




2017 Annual Renewal for Indigent Case Assignments

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:58:22 EDT

Pursuant to MCILS Chapter 2: Standards for Qualifications of Assigned Counsel, all rostered attorneys must complete an Annual Renewal of Registration to be eligible to continue receiving indigent case assignments.

The application must be signed by the registering attorney and be sent to MCILS by **August 25, 2017**. Completed applications can be submitted by email, fax, or mail:

- email: mcils@maine.gov

- fax: 207-287-3293

- mail: MCILS, 154 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333



Maine Department of Labor Announces Rulemaking under the Employment Security Act

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 16:08:22 EDT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 19, 2017 Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

AUGUSTA-The Unemployment Insurance Commission will be holding a hearing in Augusta in August for public comments on revisions to four chapters of rules governing the state's unemployment insurance program administered by the Maine Department of Labor.

"Over the next few months we'll be updating our rules to reflect changes in the ways people look for work today as well as system modernizations," stated Commissioner of Labor John Butera. "Unemployment insurance is there for people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and we must protect benefits for those who need them, especially in times of economic downturn. We must also do everything we can to help people who are out of work stay connected to the workforce and transition to a new job as soon as possible."

The state has proposed changes to four chapters.

Revisions to Chapter 9, Able and Available Requirements (proposed rule number: 2017-P084), clarify eligibility for claimants who are only available for part-time work; provide factors for consideration in determining whether a claimant has an acceptable means of transportation to get to a job or to an area in which there are sufficient job opportunities; and clarify the application of the able and available requirements to claimants who are absent from their labor market area.

Revisions to Chapter 16, Benefits Paid to Illegal Aliens (proposed rule number: 2017-P085 2017-P084), update references to federal agencies regarding immigration and add a provision to Section 2(A) permitting the use of other documentation as approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) so that the rule does not need to be updated to reflect each new piece of documentation that DHS approves.

Revisions to Chapter 19, Other Remuneration (proposed rule number: 2017-P086), simplify the allocation rules for "other remuneration" and modify the treatment of bonus payments to make it more consistent with the Employment Security Law.

Revisions to Chapter 20, Unemployment Fraud or Misrepresentation by Claimants (proposed rule number: 2017-P087), remove the certified mail requirement from Section 2(B) and remove Section 2(C), as it is not legally required and not appropriate in all circumstances. Instead, the agency will prepare a standard operating procedure or other policy as to the methodology for interviewing the claimant in a fraud or misrepresentation case.

The public hearing will be held Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, from 1 to 2 p.m., in the Frances Perkins Conference Room B at the Department of Labor offices at 45 Commerce Drive in Augusta.

Public comments may be submitted by noon on Friday, August 18, 2017, to Jeanne St. Pierre, director of legislative and constituent affairs, Maine Department of Labor, 54 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0054 or by email at Jeanne.StPierre@Maine.gov . The rulemaking notice is available at: http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/notices/2017/071917.html and link to the rules are posted below.

Unemployment insurance provides a temporary source of income to individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance is funded solely by unemployment taxes paid by employers; employees do not pay into the unemployment system.

The Maine Department of Labor is an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

-end-



Rapid Response Session Scheduled for Employees Affected by the Fire at Waterboro Strip Mall

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:08:23 EDT

For Immediate Release: July 19, 2017

Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Department of Labor, 621-5009

WATERBORO-The Maine Department of Labor has scheduled a Rapid Response session for workers at three companies affected by a Sunday fire in Waterboro. Workers of Ace Hardware, Family Dollar and Asian Taste at the damaged strip mall may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits and for other services.

"The department's Rapid Response program assists workers facing job loss due to downsizing or closures," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "The Rapid Response team is reaching out to help these workers."

The Rapid Response session will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 20, at the Waterboro Town Hall, 24 Townhouse Road, East Waterboro. Affected workers may also contact the York County CareerCenter at (207) 324-5460 or 1-800-343-0151. TTY users call Maine Relay 711.

The Rapid Response session will offer information about health insurance options and re-employment assistance, in addition to answering questions about unemployment benefits.

To find out more about the Rapid Response program, contact your local CareerCenter. The Bureau of Employment Services provides a variety of employment and training services for Maine workers, businesses and jobseekers through the Maine CareerCenter network, http://www.mainecareercenter.gov .

Maine CareerCenters are an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

-end



Padebco of Round Pond Earns Safety Award

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 12:16:45 EDT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 14, 2017 Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

**Acceptance into SHARP by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes this worksite as a model for safety and health standards. **

ROUND POND-Commissioner of Labor John Butera announced that Padebco, of Round Pond, has earned the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program Award (SHARP) in recognition of its rigorous safety achievement program. Padebco has been a custom boat builder and a full service boatyard serving Mid-Coast Maine for close to 60 years. Their boat building process combines modern production methods with traditional craftsmanship.

"Employers earn SHARP recognition by operating their facility under strict safety and health management standards," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "We congratulate Padebco for earning SHARP certification. They demonstrate to their industry that making safety a priority pays off."

Acceptance into SHARP by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes this worksite as a model for safety and health standards. A banner and certificate was presented by the Bureau of Labor Standards in a ceremony at Padebco on July 12, 2017.

"Padebco is committed to workplace safety and we are very proud to attain SHARP certification," said Leon and Sara MacCorkle, owners of Padebco. "We value our crew, and their workplace safety and health is paramount to Padebco Full Service Boatyard & Custom Boat Builder. We are grateful for the assistance of SafetyWorks!, Maine's Department of Labor on-site consultation services."

"We want to help Maine businesses succeed," Commissioner Butera stated. "SHARP companies know that a safer facility is not only good for Maine workers, but also good for their businesses. Better safety means less lost time due to injury and illness as well as lower workers' comp costs."

Fewer than 2,000 worksites in the United States have earned SHARP certification. Maine currently has 60 SHARP worksites.

To qualify for SHARP, companies must undergo a comprehensive audit, correct all hazards identified during an onsite health and safety consultation, demonstrate that effective safety and health programs are in place and maintain injury rates below the industry average for the last year of completed data. After awarding the SHARP designation, OSHA removes the worksite from its general scheduled inspection list for two years. If the company continues to meet all conditions of the program, the SHARP designation may be renewed for another two years.

Employers interested in learning more about the SHARP designation should contact SafetyWorks! at 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or http://www.safetyworksmaine.com . SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs.

SafetyWorks! is not OSHA and cannot issue fines or citations to private businesses. While SafetyWorks! helps businesses of any size, priority is given to small businesses. The program trains about 8,000 people and consults at nearly 1,000 worksites in Maine each year.

-end-




Maine Open Farm Day is July 23!

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 15:30:12 EDT

*Participating farms will open their gates to the public*

AUGUSTA - Over 80 Maine farms will be open to the public on Sunday, July 23, for the 28th annual Open Farm Day. Open Farm Day is an opportunity for consumers to learn about Maine food producers and for farms to show the public their products. Participating farms are generally open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"This is an exciting time for Maine-made products and Maine agriculture," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "Maine's 8,200 farm operations provide wholesome foods, thousands of jobs and over $740 million in farm receipts, not including direct sales at farms or farmers markets. The recent success of Maine farms, as well as the hard work that produces locally-grown food, can be experienced firsthand on Open Farm Day."

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged families to visit local farms on Open Farm Day. "Maine farm families have a history of agricultural productivity and provide a rich diversity of agricultural crops not seen on a commercial scale in the rest of New England," said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. "Our state is notable for the number of farms, new farmers, artisanal cheesemakers and its support for farmers markets and agricultural fairs."

Open Farm Day is an annual family event that connects consumers with the men and women who help produce their food. Farms throughout Maine will open their gates to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the business of agriculture. Many farms will have demonstrations, displays, animals, crops and farm-raised products for sale.

Activities may include: barn and field tours, milking, hay rides, nature trails, beautiful scenery, samples for tasting, refreshments and animals to view.

For more details on participating farms visit:

http://www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.detail/event_id/318/index.htm



Governor LePage Announces Nick Adolphsen to Serve as Senior Health Policy Advisor

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 15:22:23 EDT

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 13, 2017 Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA - Governor Paul R. LePage today announced Nick Adolphsen has joined the Office of the Governor as his Senior Health Policy Advisor. As Senior Health Policy Advisor, Adolphsen counsels the Governor on health care and health insurance-related legislation and regulation.

"I have been very pleased with the expertise Nick has brought to our office already and expect him to continue to play a significant role in health care policy moving forward," said Governor LePage.

Adolphsen previously served as Director of Government Relations and Policy for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), where he worked from 2011 managing and developing legislation, budget proposals and implementing newly approved public laws. Adolphsen replaces David Sorensen, who now serves as speech writer for President Donald J. Trump in Washington, D.C.

Adolphsen will assist Governor LePage as he continues to be engaged in health care policy on a national level during debate in Congress over the American Health Care Act. Of particular importance to the nation and Maine is a proposed prohibition on further expansion of Medicaid. "If Maine were to choose to expand Medicaid today, it would cost an estimated $375 million over the next 5 years, saddling Maine's taxpayers with a significant increase to our General Fund budget," said Governor LePage. Prior to his work at the Department of Health and Human Services, Adolphsen served the Maine House of Representatives Republican Office, where he worked on behalf of 13 State Representatives as a point of contact for constituents, resolving constituent matters involving various state agencies and local government officials, and provided detailed information on legislation. Adolphsen also was campaign manager for Maine State Senate candidates in 2010.

Adolphsen has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Maine, Orono.



Attorney General Mills calls on US Department of Education to uphold student protections

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 12:23:39 EDT

AUGUSTA - Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills is calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reject a move by the U.S. Department of Education to replace existing student protections - calling them a "waste of resources and a betrayal of students."

The comments, submitted Wednesday night to Secretary DeVos, follow the abrupt rescinding of the Borrower Defense Rule - set to go into effect on July 1 - which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans. On June 14, the Department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Rule without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comment from the public.

According to the attorneys general, the Borrower Defense Rule was created in large part as a result of state and federal investigations into for-profit schools like the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, and finalized after robust and thorough negotiated rulemaking with input from numerous stakeholders.

Under the Borrower Defense Rule, a successful enforcement action against a school by a state attorney general entitles borrowers to obtain loan forgiveness, and enables the Department of Education to seek repayment of any amounts forgiven from the school. It also prohibits schools from using arbitration agreements and class action waivers to stop students from bringing claims either individually or collectively against their schools in court.

"We are dismayed by the Department's decision to cast aside all the hard work and progress achieved during its previous rulemakings, and disheartened that the Department has decided to turn its back on the critical protections it promised to borrowers. This is both a waste of resources and a betrayal of students who count on the Department to protect them from abuse at the hands of predatory schools," the letter states.

In their comments, the attorneys general also oppose the Department's efforts to replace the Gainful Employment Rule, which empowers students to make informed decisions about their education and protects students from programs that will leave them with burdensome debt and poor job prospects.

"These rules are the products of a significant amount of time and effort on the part of numerous stakeholders and the Department. Simply abandoning them is both a waste of Departmental resources and an injustice for the students these Rules were designed to protect," the letter states.

The coalition of attorneys general involved in today's letter includes California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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Addison Volunteer Fire Department Receives SHAPE Award for Safety

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:52:29 EDT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 13, 2017

Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

*Award honors public-sector employers*

ADDISON- Addison Volunteer Fire Department has earned the Safety and Health Award for Public Employers (SHAPE) award in recognition of their rigorous safety achievement program. SHAPE recognizes public-sector organizations that voluntary undertake a rigorous safety achievement program for their workers; Monday's award brings the total number of SHAPE certified worksites in Maine to 82.

"We congratulate Addison Volunteer Fire Department on earning the SHAPE award," Governor Paul R. LePage said. "They know that keeping their people safe is not only good for the citizens of Maine, but also good for their communities and their taxpayers. Better safety means less lost time due to injury and illness as well as lower workers' comp costs."

The SHAPE award was conceived in 2005 as a way to recognize public-sector employers and employees who are striving to provide a safe and healthful workplace. It is given only to exemplary public-sector employers after a thorough review and inspection of the employer's safety and health policies and procedures by a SafetyWorks! consultant.

Any state, county, municipal or other public-sector employers interested in learning more about the SHAPE designation should contact SafetyWorks! at 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or http://www.safetyworksmaine.gov . SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with regulations and identifying training needs.

The Maine Department of Labor has enforcement authority of health and safety standards for public-sector employers in Maine and is responsible for inspecting workplace injuries or fatalities suffered by public employees.

The State of Maine is an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available to individuals with disabilities upon request.

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It's Mosquito Season in Maine

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:39:46 EDT

AUGUSTA - Summer is here, which means the arrival of mosquito season in Maine. Following recent identification of a case of Jamestown Canyon virus in the state, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) wants to raise awareness about arboviral diseases, including Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and West Nile virus (WNV), which are serious infections that are transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Although rare, these diseases have potentially severe and even fatal consequences for those who contract them.

Jamestown Canyon virus is a relatively rare disease that can be carried by multiple mosquitoes including mosquito species that are present here in Maine. The case involved a mature adult from Kennebec County who had symptom onset in early June. The case required hospitalization but the individual is recovering at home. Symptoms of arboviral illnesses include fever and flu-like illness, and can result in encephalitis or meningitis. Jamestown Canyon virus as well as the two more well-known diseases-West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis -are viruses transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. They cannot be transmitted from human to human or animal to human.

"This case reminds us all that mosquitoes are more than a nuisance, but they can also carry disease," said State Epidemiologist, Dr. Siiri Bennett. "Prevention is key if Mainers are going to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases."

Steps Mainers can take to protect themselves from mosquito bites include:
• Wear long sleeves and long pants
• Use an EPA approved repellent on skin and clothes - always follow the instructions on the label
• Take extra precautions at dusk and dawn
• Use screens on your windows and doors
• Drain artificial sources of standing water where you live, work, and play

The risk for being bitten by a mosquito is highest from dusk to dawn and when temperatures are above 50 degrees (and especially above 60 degrees). These are the conditions when mosquitoes are most actively biting.

The mosquitoes that carry EEE and WNVs pick it up from infected wild birds. The virus replicates in birds, which act as natural reservoirs for the disease. Maine tests mosquitoes for EEE and WNV starting in July and continuing through the summer months.

Maine CDC provides information on mosquito-borne disease surveillance in Maine on a weekly basis. These reports are posted every Monday beginning July 17th through mid-October at www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/arboviral-surveillance.shtml

For More Information:
• Maine CDC's vectorborne disease website: www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/index.shtml
• Information on pesticides and repellents is available at the Maine Board of Pesticides Control website at: www.maine.gov/agriculture/pesticides/public/index.htm#mosquito
• Check out our videos on mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases at Maine CDC's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/MainePublicHealth