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HHS Chair Requests Answers on DHHS Treatment of Developmentally Disabled Patients

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:36:03 EDT

AUGUSTA -- A ">https://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region1/11600001.pdf"> recent report published by the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services prompted frustration and outrage from members of the Maine Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee. The report outlines significant abuses against adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in group homes across the state. It also outlines egregious lapses in oversight and management from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services - specifically the Office of Aging and Disability Services - formerly headed by current Acting DHHS Commissioner, Ricker Hamilton.

As the committee of jurisdiction over the DHHS, members have a responsibility to understand what circumstances caused this lack of oversight and whether the report will result in a loss of federal funding. The committee will be submitting questions in writing to the DHHS and will take further actions as necessary.

Health and Human Services Chair Rep. Patty Hymanson, MD issued the following statement:

"I am very troubled by the Inspector General's report. The fact that so many incidents of concern, including untimely and unexplained deaths, went unreported, uninvestigated, and lacked response from the Maine's Department of Health and Human Services is atrocious. The Committee on Health and Human Services will be working with the Department to better understand how these incidents were allowed to happen without investigation, what will be done in the future to bring justice to these patients and their families, and significantly improve oversight of group homes."

Contact:

Mary Erin Casale | (207) 415-4965




Maine House wraps up work for the year

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:26:28 EDT

AUGUSTA -- Measures to invest in education, support small business, increase consumer protections and strengthen environmental stewardship marked the first regular session of the 128th Legislature that wrapped up for the year on August 2. Lawmakers also dealt with a number of issues as a result of the referenda passed in the 2016 election. Democratic and Republican lawmakers worked collaboratively to accomplish many of these key goals despite obstruction by Gov. Paul LePage and his allies in the House. “We made great strides to help improve the lives of Maine families,” said Speaker of the House Sara Gideon.  “Lawmakers came together to do right by our citizens, even in a time of divided government.  We made smart, targeted investments to grow our economy and increase prosperity for Maine families.  And most importantly, we capitalized on our most important resource - Maine people, investing in lifting children out of poverty and ensuring that they have access to the excellent education, from early childhood through higher ed, that will position them and all of us for a successful future.” Lawmakers considered approximately 1,650 bills this session, with 350 bills becoming law. Democrats, Republicans and unenrolled members came together to override 55 of 128 Gov. LePage vetoes. “My constituents in Waldo County and voters across our state expect us to work with everyone, regardless of their political party, to make life better for all of our families, “ said Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, House Majority Leader. “This session Democrats, Republicans and Independents came together to empower rural Maine turnaround, strengthen our economy and support working families. I’m proud of the work we accomplished together.” Democrats rejected measures to roll back women’s rights, worker’s rights, and voting rights, while fighting to harness clean, renewable energy and safeguard our environment. “While politics as usual in DC might mean gridlock, this session we proved that Maine knows how to get things done, “ said Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden. “From strengthening health care services for first responders and veterans to investing in our kids and communities through better education funding statewide, we worked hard this session and achieved real progress for all Mainers. “ The Legislature will reconvene for the Second Regular Session of the 128th Legislature in January 2018.    Key New Laws from the First Regular Session of the 128th Legislature Measures sponsored by House Democratic members and unenrolled members who caucus with Democrats: Public Safety An Act To Allow Hunters Whose Religion Prohibits Wearing Hunter Orange Clothing To Instead Wear Red An Act To Require State Compliance with Federal REAL ID Guidelines An Act To Delay the Implementation of Certain Portions of the Marijuana Legalization Act An Act to Combat Human Trafficking by Requiring Prevention Training for Commercial Drivers Education An Act To Improve Safety and Traffic Efficiency near School Grounds An Act To Revise Certification Statutes for Educational Personnel An Act To Protect Students from Identity Theft An Act To Provide Youth Mental Health First Aid Training to Secondary School Health Educators Resolve, To Establish the Task Force To Identify Special Education Cost Drivers and Innovative Approaches to Services Economy and Small Business An Act To Provide Support for Sustainable Economic Development in Rural Maine An Act To Extend the Legal Hours for Harvesting Lobster An Act To Support Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Maine's Economic Future An Act Regarding Transfers of Liquor between Licensed Manufacturers' Facilities An Act To Provide Support for Sustainable Economic Development [...]



Wrapping up the first session of the 128th Legislature

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 15:26:19 EDT

The Maine Legislature has adjourned for the session. It was a busy and productive year with many victories and also some disappointments. One of the greatest challenges of this session was passing a balanced biennial budget. The process was contentious at best and did not go as planned, but ultimately we passed a budget that we can all be proud of. One of the major accomplishments of the budget was securing a record amount of education funding. This means that our school district, RSU 14, will get $664,219.42 more in school funding than what was proposed in the governor's original budget. This direct benefit will be seen by all Windham property taxpayers, our students and classrooms.Other highlights of the budget include rejecting the governor's proposed elimination of the Homestead Exemption for most families. By ensuring the Homestead Exemption stays in place we continue to provide more relief to Windham property taxpayers. The budget also secures $14.25 million in additional funding for the direct care workforce which serves seniors and Mainers with disabilities, rejects cuts to reimbursement rates for Critical Access Hospitals and establishes a moratorium on reimbursement rate cuts for behavioral healthcare services. In the Legislature, we recognize the great service our veterans have done for this country and our state. To that end, we have worked hard to pass legislation that supports our veterans and service men and women. Currently, there is no inpatient mental health care in Maine specifically for veterans. Those requiring care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, are sent out of state. Of the roughly 30,000 veterans in Maine who don't use VA health care services, it is estimated that more than 10,000 are in need of mental health services.This year, we passed a bill that will gather data on mental health admissions to determine if the person seeking help is a veteran and whether they qualify for veteran's services. It also sets up a pilot program to provide case management for veterans requiring mental health care. We also passed a bill to help veterans use their military training to transition to the civilian workforce. This law grants the director of the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation the authority to modify licensing requirements of professional licensing boards for veterans on a case-by-case basis.Many areas in Maine still lack access to broadband. While legislation to expand broadband in Maine has been carried over until next year, we were able to pass a bill to keep access to high-speed internet at Maine schools and libraries. The law protects the Maine School and Library Network by simplifying and modernizing its funding structure.I was especially proud of the work we did to pass two bills important to our firefighters and first responders. The first ends the sale of furniture containing fire retardant chemicals. Flame retardant chemicals have not been shown to be effective at preventing or slowing down house fires and instead are dangerous chemicals that can make house fires more hazardous to firefighters and anyone else caught in the fire. The second bill will ensure emergency responders get the help they need when diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The new law says that, due to the nature of emergency response work, if PTSD is diagnosed in one of these professionals, it can be presumed that the diagnosis is work-related, which means the diagnosis qualifies under workers' compensation.It continues to be an honor to serve as your state representative. If you have any questions about the work we've done in the Legislature or anything regarding state government, please feel free to write to me at 166 Albion Road in Windham, call me at 892-6591 or email anytime at Rep. Mark Bryant. Rep. Mark Bryant serves in the Maine House and represents part of Windham. He serves on the Committee on State and Local Government and the Committee on Transportation.[...]



Rep. Blume joins legislators from 36 states to work on bipartisan solutions to environmental challenges

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 15:21:41 EDT

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York, joined 128 state legislators from 36 states at the 2017 National Issues Forum organized by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators last week. The event offered opportunities for attendees to collaborate on policy solutions to combat climate change, remove toxins from drinking water and consumer products, and conserve water, public lands, and endangered species."Serious environmental issues, such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, environmental toxins and habitat restoration are not unique to Maine," said Blume. "Meetings like this are an excellent way to share ideas and tested solutions."The forum agenda featured a keynote address from former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who spoke about the ability of states to innovate and create environmental models for the federal government to adopt. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also keynoted the event. He highlighted the fact that states had already passed legislation that proves it is possible to simultaneously protect the environment and support economic growth, and noted that such efforts are now more important than ever. Schwarzenegger underscored the need for bipartisanship cooperation and state and local action on climate and the environment."I don't see the environment as a political issue. There is no Republican air or Democratic air, we all breathe the same air. There is no Republican water or Democratic water, we all drink the same water, so let's work together on this," he said. "States, provinces, cities, and neighborhoods have tremendous power, and we should wield that power… This is why it's so important that we fill the vacuum - where the federal government has fallen short, we are going to step in and we are going to do the work."Schwarzenegger also introduced the http://envirolaws.org/"> Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook (envirolaws.org), a joint project between NCEL and the Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the University of Southern California. The online resource is a searchable database of impactful environmental legislation to support legislators on issues including climate change, air quality, human health, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The handbook is in its first phase and is designed to grow as legislators submit their suggestions and more issue topics are added. Some of the most impactful policies featured in the handbook are authored by former California State Senator Fran Pavley, who helped introduce the handbook at the forum and was recognized by Schwarzenegger and the NCEL Board of Directors for crafting a far-reaching array of environmental policies that had been replicated in other states.NCEL Executive Director Jeff Mauk believes that there is an appetite for state action on environmental issues unlike anything he has seen before, especially in the wake of President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement."Regardless of what's happening in Washington, America will continue its leadership on combatting climate change because of the great work of states and cities," said Mauk. "State legislators from both parties know that reducing carbon pollution and eliminating toxins are good for the economy and for the health of their constituents. We are excited to partner with the Schwarzenegger Institute to provide more tools for state legislators working on environmental policies in their states.""Finding out about what has worked and what hasn't in other places, both in terms of specific legislation and overall strategies, saves a lot of time and effort," Blume said.Blume is serving her second term in the Maine House and represents the coastal section of York. She serves on the Legislature's Marine Resources Committee.Contact:Lindsay Crete [Blume], c. 231-1442[...]



Golden's veteran mental health access bill becomes law

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 16:22:20 EDT

AUGUSTA - A bill sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, to help veterans get access to mental health care became law today.


"This law will cover the cost of inpatient and outpatient mental health care for veterans, help cut dangerous wait times for veterans in crisis and gather data about the number of veterans who need care," Golden said. "One of the goals of this new law is to use this data to help the state demonstrate to Washington the need for Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient beds here in Maine."


Of the roughly 30,000 veterans in Maine who don't use Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, health care services, it is estimated that more than 10,000 are in need of mental health services.


The bill, ">http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280064391"> LD 1231, will gather data on mental health admissions to determine if the person seeking help is a veteran and whether they qualify for veteran's services. It also sets up a pilot program to provide case management for veterans requiring mental health care. Golden's floor speech on the measure is available ">https://www.facebook.com/MaineHouseDemocrats/videos/10155407155208058/"> here.


There are currently no inpatient mental health care beds in Maine specifically for veterans. Those requiring care through the VA are sent out of state.


"It's unacceptable that we don't have long-term inpatient mental health care options for veterans in Maine," said Golden. "We need to push the VA to fix this so that our veterans don't have to go out of state for the care they need."


The bill will go into effect immediately as an emergency measure that received the support of more than two-thirds of the Legislature.


Golden is a Marine Corps veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where he served as an Infantry Assaultman. He is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents part of the city of Lewiston. He is the Assistant House Majority Leader.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Golden], cell 231-1442



Golden's bill to help emergency responders get help for PTSD signed by governor

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 14:18:50 EDT

AUGUSTA - A bill sponsored by Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, to help emergency responders get the help they need when diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was signed into law Monday by Gov. Paul LePage.


"Law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel put their lives on the line to protect and serve us and in doing so they are frequently confronted with tough experiences that many of us will never have to go through," said Golden. "These men and women always have our backs and we should have theirs. Making it easier to access assistance for PTSD is one way we can do that and I'm very pleased that the Governor agrees and signed this bill into law."


This bill, ">http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280063759"> LD 848, sets out a presumption that, due to the nature of emergency response work, if Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is diagnosed in one of these professionals, it can be presumed that the diagnosis is work-related. This means the diagnosis qualifies under workers' compensation.


Golden is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents part of the city of Lewiston. He is the Assistant House Majority Leader.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Golden], cell 231-1442



Riley Statement on Verso Mill Machine Closure

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:24:23 EDT

In response to Verso paper mill's decision to permanently close its No.3 paper machine on Wednesday, local state representative Tina Riley released the following statement:
"I'm deeply disappointed that the mill has made this difficult decision," said Rep. Tina Riley, D-Jay. "I remain concerned for Verso's workers, both the 120 members of our community who had hoped to return to their jobs and the hundreds that remain employed at the mill. I will continue to do everything I can to protect and create good-paying jobs in Jay and across our state so no family has to struggle to make ends meet."


The No.3 paper machine located at Verso's Androscoggin mill has been idle since January, reducing annual paper production by approximately 200,000 tons. The permanent shutdown will result in the layoff of 120 employees.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Riley], 231-1442



McCreight's youth mental health first aid bill becomes law

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:36:03 EDT

AUGUSTA - A bill to ensure health educators in secondary schools receive youth mental health first aid training became law Wednesday without the Governor's signature.


"I appreciate the bipartisan support this bill has received," said Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, the bill's sponsor. "It makes sense to make sure our secondary school health teachers, who are already teaching a mental health curriculum, have access to training that provides them with the most up-to-date, non-judgmental information about mental health and substance use disorders."


Youth Mental Health First Aid, or YMHFA, is a national and best practice, evidence-based certification course that empowers people with the information they need to recognize, respond to and have the information to guide someone with mental health needs to the appropriate help. The standards for the program have been set by the National Council for Behavioral Health and target youth ages 12 to 18.


Providing training in Youth Mental Health First Aid for educators who teach health education to secondary school students would ensure that they have access to accurate, stigma-free information about what mental illness is and what resources and supports are available locally.


During the public hearing, McCreight cited data from the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, the annual self-report tool used in public schools to track trends in student behaviors and functioning.


"Only 22 percent of Maine youth report having support from an adult," said McCreight. "However, one proven way to help youth who are struggling with mental health issues is a relationship with at least one adult who understands what mental illness really is and who can provide adequate support that connects them with help."


Funding for YMHFA training would be available through Now Is The Time federal grant monies through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration administered by Maine's Public Health Regional System, Project Aware grant. The grant would provide for trainers, materials, payment for substitute teachers and subsidies for teachers who do the training on their own time. National Alliance on Mental Illness, Maine is currently receiving funding through the federal grant until 2018 and has already trained 105 health educators of the estimated 380 health educators statewide.


"The goal of ">http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP0929&item=1&snum=128"> LD 1335 is to make sure that every health educator in our secondary schools, and all of their students, have access to the benefits gained by this training," said McCreight.


McCreight, a member of the Legislature's Judiciary and Taxation Committees, is serving her second term in the Maine House and represents Harpswell, West Bath and part of Brunswick. She is also the House chair of the Task Force to Address the Opiate Crisis.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [McCreight], c. 231-1442



Colorado Marijuana Czar Testifies before Maine Committee on Implementation

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:10:27 EDT

AUGUSTA - Andrew Freedmen, Colorado's "Marijuana Czar" testified today before Maine's Joint Standing Committee on Marijuana Legalization and Implementation.


"We are very fortunate to have someone with the unique background of Mr. Freedmen here before us today," said Rep Pierce, the House Chair of the committee. "We are committed to passing legislation that successfully integrates the legalization of marijuana into Maine law while ensuring the safety of our citizens."


Freedmen, who has been described as the most knowledgeable person in the United States in terms of creating a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana, is charged with the efficient and effective regulation of Colorado's recreational and medical marijuana industry while promoting public health and maintaining public safety.


He was invited to share his expertise as the committee prepares to pass legislation to fully integrate legalized marijuana into Maine statute in the wake of a citizen's referendum approved by voters last fall.


"I'm pleased to offer any assistance that my experience can provide to the Committee on Implementation here in Maine based on my work as the Director of Marijuana Coordination in Colorado" said Freedmen Co-Founder of Freedmen and Koski Inc.


Rep. Teresa Pierce is a resident of Falmouth, which she represents in the Maine State House. She is serving her second term in the Maine House. She serves on the Legislature's Education Committee and Chairs the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization and Implementation.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Pierce], 231-1442



In the Legislature, compromise is key

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 11:16:55 EDT

As the clock struck midnight on July 4, we were in the final stages of passing Maine's biennial budget. This ended our three-day government shutdown.


It was no small feat to reach an agreement due to our divided government, and I was proud to vote for a budget that ended the government shutdown and ultimately garnered a unanimous vote in the Senate and just two dissenting votes in the House.


This budget was not everything I hoped for, but it includes a record amount of education funding and works to increase jobs in Maine, reduce property taxes and protect our rural communities.


Through compromise, we eliminated the three percent surtax but were able to get an additional $162 million in K-12 education funding. We would not have been able to successfully negotiate and get this funding into the budget if Maine voters hadn't said that they wanted the state to better fund our education system. We heard you.


This means that our school district, RSU 14, will get $664,219.42 more in school funding than what was proposed in the governor's original budget. This is huge for Windham and will benefit property taxpayers, our students and classrooms.


Education funding isn't the only victory in this budget. We preserved the expansion of the Homestead Exemption that we had passed in the previous biennial budget. We also rejected the proposed cuts to the program for people under 65. This protects Maine property taxpayers.


Through negotiations, we were able to secure $1.15 million for Head Start and we implemented a two-year moratorium on additional reimbursement rate cuts for a behavioral health MaineCare program. Both of these items will help some of Maine's most vulnerable citizens.


Our budget also makes investments in our career centers, community colleges and the University of Maine System. By funding these programs and schools we ensure that Maine's workforce has access to job training and higher education. This strengthens our economy, creating a better life for all Mainers.


This budget also invests in better care for our seniors and Mainers with disabilities for the first time in over a decade, which I was very proud to vote for. Our budget also provides additional funds to our rural hospitals. Maine's rural hospitals provide critical services to thousands of Mainers, and without this investment many hospitals could have faced closure.


As I said, this budget isn't perfect. But ultimately it was something I could support in order to help move Maine forward.


My colleagues and I fought hard for Maine people and I think this budget reflects that. With record education funding, preserving the Homestead Exemption, investing in workforce trainings and higher education and protecting Maine's most vulnerable citizens, we created a budget that works for Maine families.


If you have any questions about the budget or anything regarding state government, please feel free to write to me at 166 Albion Road in Windham, call me at 892-6591 or email anytime at Rep. Bryant.


Rep. Mark Bryant serves in the Maine House and represents part of Windham. He serves on the Committee on State and Local Government and the Committee on Transportation.



Rep. Golden's bills approved for funding

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 11:31:42 EDT

AUGUSTA - Two bills sponsored by Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, were among the 35 chosen by the Legislature's Appropriations Committee for funding when they met Wednesday.


Both measures are focused on making sure people get appropriate service-related mental health care. ">http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280063759"> LD 848 improves funding for emergency responders, such as police officers, firefighters or emergency medical personnel, who are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, and ">http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280064391"> LD 1231, will help veterans who are seeking mental health services.


"Our veterans and first responders put everything on the line to protect us, and we owe them all the support we can offer when they need our help," said Golden.


LD 848 sets out a presumption that, due to the nature of emergency response work, if PTSD is diagnosed in one of these professionals, the diagnosis is work-related. This means the diagnosis qualifies under workers compensation.


LD 1231 will gather data on mental health admissions to determine if the person seeking help is a veteran and whether they qualify for veteran's services. It also sets up a pilot program to provide case management for veteran's requiring mental health care. There is currently no inpatient mental health care in Maine specifically for veterans. Those requiring care through the VA are sent out of state for treatment.


"I'm hopeful that both of these important bills receive the support of the Senate to get them on the governor's desk so he can sign them into law," Golden said.


Both bills will face a further vote in the Senate when they meet next Thursday.


Golden is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents part of the city of Lewiston. He is the Assistant House Majority Leader.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Golden], cell 231-1442



Budget Negotiations Continue, Committee of Conference Reconvenes

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:07:57 EDT

AUGUSTA - Despite asking for a vote on their budget proposal, House Republicans reversed course yet again Tuesday morning, holding up negotiations. Shortly after 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the Committee of Conference reconvened with the intention of taking a procedural vote to move forward a proposal from the House Republican caucus for the 2017- 2019 biennial budget. The proposal would then go to the floor of the House and the Senate, where it would have the opportunity to either garner the two-thirds support necessary to pass, or it would fail.


Over the past four days, the very same House Republican caucus has said that they would not support any other proposal but their own. However, when it became clear that their proposal did not have the bipartisan support needed, mere hours before the meeting House Republicans said they would not be voting for their own proposal and refused to vote it out of committee. Lawmakers have until midnight on June 30 to pass a state budget or there will be a government shutdown.


House Majority Leader Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, released the following statement:


"It is unconscionable that we don't have a budget. Democrats have been on the record time and time again and remain clear that this budget must fully fund the state's share of public education and provide much needed property tax relief, because that is what Mainers have demanded. We have also been clear that we are ready to find consensus, we are ready to compromise and we are ready close this budget. This will end when that same consistency and that same dedication to honest negotiations happen from all four caucuses and Governor LePage. Mainers deserve nothing less."


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Herbig], c. 231-1442



Golden's veteran mental health access bill enacted by Maine House

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:01:17 EDT

AUGUSTA - A bill sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston to help veterans get access to mental health care was enacted by the Maine House of Representatives today. The vote in the House was 136-1.


"There are an estimated 30,000 veterans in Maine who don't use VA health care services," said Golden, who is a Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. "Of those 30,000, there are more than 10,000 in need of mental health services."


The bill, ">http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280064391"> LD 1231, will gather data on mental health admissions to determine if the person seeking help is a veteran and whether they qualify for veteran's services. It also sets up a pilot program to provide case management for veteran's requiring mental health care.


There is currently no inpatient mental health care in Maine specifically for veterans. Those requiring care through the VA are sent out of state.


"This bill would cover the cost of inpatient care for veterans, cut dangerous wait times for services and gather data about the number of veterans who need care," Golden said. "This will prove a useful tool to demonstrate to Washington the need for VA beds here in Maine."


The bill faces further votes in the Senate.


Golden is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents part of the city of Lewiston. He is the Assistant House Majority Leader.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Golden], cell 231-1442



Solar legislation earns initial support in Maine House

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 15:04:34 EDT

AUGUSTA - In a breakthrough for solar legislation in Maine, the House today gave strong support to a bill to protect solar net metering.


With a vote of 105 to 41, the House supported an amended version of the bill to overturn a recent rule of the Maine Public Utilities Commission set to take effect in January.


"While this compromise bill does not live up to Maine's full potential for solar jobs and for control of our energy future, it is a step in the right direction," said Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, House chair of the Legislature's Energy and Utilities Committee. "At a time when we are in danger of falling even further behind, I am pleased that my committee was able to reach a reasonable compromise and to work across the aisle to get the job done."


As amended, ">http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280064993"> LD 1504 would prohibit the PUC from going forward with its replacement to net metering, called "gross metering." Instead, it would allow all owners of rooftop solar to continue with net metering for 15 years, provided they have applied by December 31 of this year. For those applying in 2018, net metering would continue but with a 10 percent reduction in the credit for the transmission and distribution portion of the ratepayer's bill. For 2019, this reduction would be 20 percent.


In 2019, the PUC would also be required to report back to the 129th Legislature with a complete cost-benefit analysis of net metering, as well as a replacement for net metering that would be based on current market prices and time of use pricing.


In a major change to community solar policy, a cap of no more than 10 meters sharing in any community solar project would be lifted to no more than 100 meters.


"This tenfold increase in the number of meters that can share in a solar farm represents a major step forward, and allows many more Mainers the opportunity to share in the benefits of solar," added Berry.


Berry represents House District 55: Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Swan Island, and most of Richmond. He previously served from 2006-2014, the final two years as House Majority Leader. Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Berry], 231-1442



House GOP Blocks Constitutional Amendment for Ranked-Choice Voting

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:29:27 EDT

AUGUSTA - The Maine House on Friday failed to enact legislation to amend Maine's constitution to allow for the implementation of ranked-choice voting in state and federal elections and primaries. As a constitutional amendment, ">http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_128th/billtexts/SP057702.asp"> LD 1624 needed approval by two-thirds of the Legislature for final enactment, but was blocked on a party line vote of (78-68) in the House. Had it passed, it would have been sent to the voters for approval or rejection.
House Majority Leader Erin Herbig, D-Belfast and Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, released the following statement:
"Mainers asked for election reform and it is our responsibility to respect their wishes, while upholding our duty as legislators. Today, Democrats and every independent in the House voted to amend Maine's constitution to allow full implementation of ranked-choice voting. While Republicans blocked that effort, the process is ongoing and we still have many votes to take. I urge my colleagues to support implementation of ranked-choice voting and I hope Mainers keep up the fight."
LD 1624, "RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Implement Ranked-choice Voting" - as amended in the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, would have amended Maine's constitution to give authority over the form and structure of elections to the Legislature, to be determined in statute. The effect of that amendment would be to allow current statute, which implements ranked-choice voting, to stand. This bill will now go to the Senate for a final vote, but without a significant shift in votes, it is most likely to fail final passage.
">http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?ld=1625&PID=1456&snum=128&sec3"> LD 1625 "An Act To Repeal the Ranked-choice Voting Law" sponsored by Senator Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, has yet to be considered by the House or Senate. The bill was passed through the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee with the end result of three separate amended versions for the legislature to consider. Further votes will be taken next week.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Herbig, Golden] c. 231-1442