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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



House passes Constitutional Amendment for ranked-choice voting

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:25:57 EDT

AUGUSTA - The Maine House on Thursday gave initial approval to legislation to amend Maine's constitution to allow for the implementation of Ranked-Choice Voting in 10 state and federal elections and primaries. As a constitutional amendment, LD 1624 must be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature at final enactment. It would then be sent to the voters for approval or rejection.
Speaker Sara Gideon 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, the House took the first steps in amending the constitution to allow full implementation of ranked choice voting. While this process is ongoing and we still have many votes to take, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and send it to voters for approval.
" ">http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_128th/billtexts/SP057702.asp"> 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 amend 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.



House overrides veto of McCrea's bill to amend teacher evaluation requirements

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:21:39 EDT

AUGUSTA - The Maine House Wednesday overrode Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill by Rep. David McCrea to amend teacher evaluation requirements to provide more autonomy and local control to school districts as they develop and implement their teacher evaluation systems. The vote was 131 to 12.


"A one-size-fits-all approach to teacher evaluations does not work with every school district in the state," said McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield. "Giving local districts control over the teacher evaluation process will help make schools and teachers more effective."


">http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP0449&item=1&snum=128"> L.D. 633 removes the requirement that student learning and measures of growth and state assessment results must be used to measure educator effectiveness. As ">http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP0449&item=2&snum=128"> amended, the bill clarifies the use of student learning and growth data be used to inform instruction.

The bill faces a final vote in the Senate.

McCrea is serving his first term in the Legislature. He represents Caswell, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Hamlin, Limestone, part of Presque Isle, Stockholm and Cyr Plantation, plus the unorganized territory of Connor Township.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [McCrea] c. 231-1442



DON'T BE SWAYED BY BIG PHRMA

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:16:52 EDT

We are proud of the work done on LD 1280, "An Act Regarding Generic Drug Pricing," by the committee on which we sit, the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. This important bill passed through our committee by a vote of 11-2. Generic drugs are on average 75 percent less than their brand name counterpart and, when they are available, generic drugs are prescribed 90 percent of the time. In fact, generics saved Maine $954 million in 2015, according to a 2016 study conducted by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.LD 1280 would stop big PhRMA companies from illegal practices they regularly engage in. Through various tactics, PhRMA companies prevent the sale of their brand name drug samples to generic drug companies. This sale is required so generic drug companies can perform FDA required testing before they are released on the market. Often, PhRMA companies withhold these critical samples to prevent generic manufacturers from even filing an application with the FDA to get approval. This keeps generic versions of PhRMA's products off pharmacy shelves for years - all while Mainers struggle to pay for the medicines they need. We all know someone struggling to make the tough decisions between paying for heating oil and paying for their prescriptions. That's why this bill is so critical. Generic drugs save patients billions of dollars each year. That's right: billions.To fight this, PhRMA has turned the issue on its head and is putting out information that is simply untrue, trying to confuse Maine legislators.But we are smarter than you think, PhRMA.PhRMA alleges that generic drug company laboratories are not as safe as their labs. This is simply false. In fact, generics companies are regulated by the FDA with the same levels of safety standards as brand name companies. They also claim that LD 1280 is preempted by federal law. Federal law clearly prohibits brand name companies from using federal safety standards to block generic competition. LD 1280 is absolutely compatible with federal law and simply creates a penalty for companies who do not comply with laws that already exist. The misinformation continues. PhRMA also claims that LD 1280 shifts liability to brand companies. The truth is, LD 1280 does nothing to change state civil or criminal liability laws. Perhaps the best of the bunch is that PhRMA claims we Mainers don't understand federal patent law. They go as far as to say that LD 1280 infringes on patents. LD 1280 does absolutely nothing to change federal patent law. Generic drugs can only come to market after a patent has expired. What is the truth? PhRMA companies are abusing the lack of a penalty in federal law to artificially extend their monopolies after the patent has expired. Maine legislators take pride in the laws that we write and always put the people of Maine as our first priority. PhRMA has their business interests as their first priority. Their well-armed and well-funded massive political reach has protected their illegal monopoly for decades, at the expense of our constituents. Drugs should simply not cost us all as much as they do. We are about to change that by requiring PhRMA companies to play by the rules. I encourage my colleagues to join this bipartisan effort, supported in both bodies, and vote "Yes" on LD 1280. It's time to tell big PhRMA that Mainers matter more than their illegal profits.Rep. Karen Vachon is a Republican who represents House District 29 in the Maine Legislature which encompasses part of Scarborough. Rep. Jim Handy is a Democrat who represents House District 58 in the Maine Legislature which encompasses part of Lewiston. Both Representative Vachon and Representative Handy serve on the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Resear[...]



Gardiner teen sings national anthem at State House

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:50:53 EDT

Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, welcomed Kristen Pooler of Gardiner to the State House Tuesday. Pooler sang the national anthem on the floor of the Maine House of Representatives during the opening ceremonies.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Grant], c. 231-1442



House Majority Leader Herbig to House Republicans and Governor LePage:

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 14:51:39 EDT

AUGUSTA | In a video message posted on the Maine House Democrats Facebook page Friday, House Majority Leader Erin Herbig again called on House Republicans, Minority Leader Ken Fredette and Governor LePage to come to the negotiating table to pass a state budget and avoid a devastating state shutdown.
"Every Mainer, every community will feel a state shutdown. So what I have to say right now to Ken Fredette and Governor LePage is please come to the table to work with us, to come to a reasonable compromise so we can keep this state up and running," said Rep. Herbig, D-Belfast. "It is the single most important thing that we are all elected to do and it's the responsibility we took when we ran for office."
You can view the full video ">https://www.facebook.com/MaineHouseDemocrats/videos/10155367562403058/"> here.
While Senate Republicans and House and Senate Democrats have continued to find consensus in the hopes of passing a balanced budget, House Republicans led by Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport and Governor LePage have yet to seriously participate in negotiations. Until the House Republican caucus decides to negotiate in good faith, Committee of Conference work has stalled.
The legislature has until June 30 to pass a budget. However, given Governor LePage's history of waiting the full 10 days to veto a budget, additional time is necessary in order to continue the operations of government.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Herbig], c. 231-1442



Rep. Doore welcomes honorary page to the State House

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 14:46:17 EDT

Rep. Donna Doore, D-Augusta, welcomed Zuri Voorhees, a student at the Lincoln School, to the State House Wednesday. Zuri served as an honorary page, delivering messages and legislative documents to legislators during a regular session of the Maine Legislature.


Rep. Donna Doore is serving her second term in the Maine House representing part of Augusta.


Contact:


Lindsay Crete [Doore], c. 231-1442


Photo: Rep. Donna Doore welcomed Zuri Voorhees, a student at the Lincoln School, to the State House.