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Preview: News from Maine Senator Ethan Strimling--District 8

News from Maine Senator Ethan Strimling--District 8



Official press releases and news from Senator Ethan Strimling, Maine State Senator, District 8



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Maine Legislature Enacts Minimum Wage Boost

Fri, 18 Apr 2008 20:15:28 EDT

Women supporting families to benefit most from increase

AUGUSTA-The Maine Legislature Tuesday night gave final approval to a bill to increase Maine's minimum wage by 50 cents. State Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, said that the amended version of the bill he proposed would increase the minimum wage from its current rate of $7.00 to $7.50 over a two-year period.

During an earlier floor speech, Senator Strimling said, "For folks who are on the edge, for folks making minimum wage, for the women who are supporting their families and children-$500 a year-which is what this equals, means a lot."

Senator Strimling added, "We know that throughout the history of Maine that when you raise the minimum wage, you close the gap between the wealthiest and everyone else. That gap is at its widest point in our history since 1929. When you raise the minimum wage, you raise incomes and help families." Senator Strimling concluded, "The evidence is clear." Senator Strimling also pointed out that this increase is important for Maine businesses as well. "Maine workers work hard to support their families and deserve this increase. This increase is also important for our businesses as well who must compete for good workers against other neighboring states who are also increasing their minimum wages."

Senator Strimling added that an estimated 26,000 workers in Maine are earning the minimum wage in Maine right now. He said women comprise 63 percent of those earning at or below the minimum wage, and three-quarters of those earning the minimum wage are over the age of 19. Senator Strimling added that the vast majority of the people on minimum wage are women-many of whom are supporting families.

The bill now goes to Governor Baldacci for consideration.




Labor Committee Votes for Minimum Wage Increase

Fri, 07 Mar 2008 15:31:26 EST

AUGUSTA-State Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, said that an amended version of a bill he has proposed to increase the state's minimum wage yesterday won approval from the Legislature's Labor Committee by a vote of eight to two. Three other committee members have yet to file their vote.

Senator Strimling, who is also the senate chair of the Labor Committee, said that the bill would increase Maine's minimum wage from its current rate of $7.00 to $8.00 over three years. After that, future increases would be tied to the Consumer Price Index.

"The gap between the wealthy and average working people is big and getting bigger. Indeed, the gap between the VERY richest and poorest in America has grown so wide in the past six years that it is now wider than it has been since 1929, and we all know what happened that year," said Senator Strimling.

"This legislation will help shrink that gap, and improve the lives of thousands of Mainers," added Senator Strimling.

The three-step increase would begin on October 1, 2008 with a 35-cent increase. Another 35-cent increase would follow in October 1, 2009. On October 1, 2010, a 30-cent increase would bring the minimum wage to $8.00 an hour. After that, subsequent increases would be calculated by the consumer price index, which could increase the minimum wage again in 2011. Senator Strimling pointed out that some opponents of the bill say that an increase in the minimum wage will cause layoffs or slow job growth. He said, nothing could be further from the truth. Studies show there is no significant effect on job loss or job gain when the minimum wage increases. Studies also show that a $1 increase in the federal minimum wage alone could lift an estimated 900,000 people out of poverty. Opponents, he added, also argue that teenagers might benefit most from a hike in the minimum wage. The fact is 71 percent of minimum wage workers are adults, and most of them are women working to provide for their families, not themselves.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate and House for consideration.

For more information about LD 1697, An Act To Ensure Fair Wages, please go to http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280024574.



Labor Committee Votes Unanimously to Divest State Retirement Funds from Iran

Fri, 07 Mar 2008 15:24:02 EST

AUGUSTA-The Legislature's Labor Committee Thursday afternoon voted unanimously to support a bill sponsored by Senator Ethan Strimling that would divest Maine State Retirement Funds from companies that do business with Iran. Among the nine committee members who voted, five Democrats and four Republicans supported the bill.

"Many people are alarmed to discover that the Maine State Retirement System has a minimum of $50 million, and possibly much more, invested with companies that do business with Iran, a country that has been identified as a sponsor of terrorism in the region and around the world," said Senator Strimling, D-Cumberland County during his testimony before the committee.

US law currently prevents direct investments in Iran, but companies that do business with Iran are lawful investments for state pension funds, including the Maine State Retirement System.

Senator Strimling stated, "Economic pressure and diplomacy are the best ways to avoid direct military action against countries like Iran."

"It's outrageous to think that six years after the tragic events of 9/11, US investors, including Maine taxpayers, are helping to underwrite the economy of a country that is a sworn enemy of the US and its allies. Iran is using our money to buy the bombs and bullets that are killing US soldiers and civilians today in Iraq. The Bush Administration's ‘War on Terror' is just hollow rhetoric if we fail to use one of our most important weapons, economic pressure," added Senator Strimling.

Nearly two years ago, Senator Strimling successfully sponsored and passed legislation that divested state retirement funds from countries doing business in the Darfur region of Sudan. In previous legislative sessions, the Maine Legislature divested state funds from companies doing business with South Africa and from Northern Ireland when human rights issues were called into question.

The bill, LD 1934, An Act To Require the State To Divest Itself of Funds from Companies Doing Business with Iran, now goes to the Senate and House for further consideration.



BAN THE BULB: STRIMLING INTRODUCES BILL TO BAN ENERGY-HOGGING LIGHT BULB

Fri, 08 Feb 2008 10:31:55 EST

PORTLAND - How many legislators does it take to change a light bulb?That's a question that Maine Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Portland, is asking today as he introduces legislation to get rid of the traditional incandescent light bulb in favor of new bulbs that produce far less energy and save consumers money on their light bills.Strimling said his bill to end the use of ordinary incandescent light bulbs by 2010 in Maine is a common-sense response to rising energy costs and global warming. Federal legislation that phases out traditional bulbs over the next 12-years is inadequate, Strimling said."We are in the midst of an energy and environmental crisis," said Strimling. "It's going to take bold action and a break from the past in order to confront it. The ordinary light bulb has been around for 125 years with almost no changes. Yet, new compact florescent bulbs require far less energy to produce the same amount of light, and they last longer and save people money."Strimling said one compact fluorescent light bulb saves an average of $35 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. That means that if you change 30 light bulbs in your home, you can save over $1,000. Additionally, a compact fluorescent light bulb uses up to 75% less energy, lowering our dependence on foreign oil and cutting greenhouse gas emissions."The average home is responsible for twice the greenhouse gas emissions than the average automobile, and lighting makes up about 20% of a household's electrical bill," he said. "So switching to more efficient lighting is the easiest way to cut your energy bills and the quickest way to achieve lower emissions of greenhouse gases."Strimling's bill would also include a 25-cent deposit on all fluorescent bulbs, which contain a small amount of mercury, to ensure their proper disposal. Although an old-fashioned thermometer contains 100 times more mercury than the new florescent bulbs, Strimling said it's important that the bulbs are recycled to prevent harm to the environment.Banning the energy-hogging incandescent bulb would also spur industry to make even further advancements in the efficiency of light bulbs."The scientists have made it clear that climate change is a worldwide crisis," he said. "But the Bush Administration's response is to go slow. Well, we can't afford to wait. Time is running out and we need to take action now."-- 30 --FAQ: Banning the BulbWhat will Ethan Strimling's bill do: It will ban the sale and distribution of incandescent light bulbs after 2010. It also places a 25-cents deposit, like a bottle deposit, on compact fluorescent bulbs to ensure they are properly recycled or disposed of.Why is he taking away my light bulbs? Moving to more efficient lighting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways for Maine and the nation to reduce electricity use and greenhouse gases. In fact, it actually will save households money because of lower electricity bills. Ninety percent of the energy that an incandescent light bulb burns is wasted as heat. And yet, sales of the most common high-efficiency bulb available-the compact fluorescent (CFL)-amount to only 5 percent of the light bulb market. Earlier this year, Australia became the first country to announce an outright ban by 2010 on incandescent bulbs. Ireland has banned them starting in 2009. While Congress has passed legislation to phase out the bulbs in 12 years, Ethan believes we need to do it sooner given the grave crisis of global warming. How do I save money, when a CFL costs six times as much as an old-fashioned bulb? Each CFL costs about $3, compared with 50 cents for a standard bulb. But a CFL uses about 75 percent less energy and lasts five years instead of a few months. A 60 to 70 percent reduction in light bulb energy use nationally will save as much energy every year as that used by all the homes in Texas last year. A household that invests $90 in changing 30 fixtures to CFLs will save $440 to $1,500 over the five-year life of the bulbs, depending on your cost of el[...]



Maine Senate Gives Initial Approval to Work Place Safety Rules

Thu, 24 Jan 2008 13:05:25 EST

AUGUSTA-Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, the Senate Chair of the Legislature's Labor Committee said today that the Maine Senate gave initial approval to new rules that will protect Maine construction workers who are working on state contracts over $100,000.

"This is a great step forward to protect workers of Maine. Everyday people in the construction trades risk injury on behalf of the people of this state. Each year in Maine, thousands of construction workers are injured on the job. I am very proud of my colleagues for passing this bill," said Senator Strimling.

"I know there will be many who will tell you that this bill is not needed and that they already train their employees at the job site, use tool box talks, say it is too costly, or will limit the ability to get qualified help. I would respond by saying they have a moral obligation that each and every employee is fully trained to do their job," said Representative John Patrick, D-Rumford, lead sponsor of the bill.

Both state and federal statutes make providing a safe workplace the responsibility of the employer; however, workers must be involved for it to be successful. The OSHA 10-hour training course is designed to give individual workers the background to do just that. Beyond a survey of the standards, the classes emphasize hazard identification, avoidance, control and prevention. The curriculum has three hours of mandatory topics, three hours of optional topics that can be chosen from a list of seven. The remaining four hours can be used to expand on any issue or additional topic suitable to the students' industry or trade.

LD 591, An Act Regarding Occupational Safety and Health Training for Workers on State-funded Construction Projects, now goes to the House for additional votes.



Proposal to Divest State Funds from Iran Moves Forward

Fri, 16 Nov 2007 17:40:48 EST

AUGUSTA-State Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, today said that the Legislative Council overwhelmingly accepted a bill he proposed for the coming legislative session, which directs the state to divest its holdings in companies that do business in Iran.

"The fact that Maine people's money is being invested in a country that supplies weapons that shoot our soldiers is a travesty that must end. The additional fact that Iran's leadership denies the holocaust happened, is actively developing nuclear weapons, and does not believe Israel has a right to exist makes it clear that this is a global issue and Maine must do its part," said Senator Strimling.

The Council, which is made up of legislative leadership, met Thursday to hear appeals for bills that were initially rejected for consideration in the second half of the 123rd Legislature that begins in early January.

Senator Strimling addressed the leadership council and convinced them of the importance of the bill. He pointed to a similar bill he successfully passed two years ago, which removed state funds and investments with the country of Sudan. The Sudan legislation directed the Maine State Retirement System to remove its holdings in companies that do business in Sudan because of human rights atrocities in Darfur. That legislation resulted in the divestment of more than $18 million in such companies with no impact on the state's retirement system's bottom line or the pensions of its members.

A public hearing will be scheduled on "An Act to Require the State to Divest Itself of Funds from Companies Doing Business with Iran" before the Labor Committee when the Legislature officially reconvenes in January.



Senator Strimling Introduces Bill to Divest State Funds from Terror Nations

Tue, 11 Sep 2007 13:05:56 EDT

More Than $50 Million Invested in Companies with Ties to IranPORTLAND - Sen. Ethan Strimling (D-Portland) said today he will introduce legislation directing the state to divest its holdings in companies that do business in countries that support and finance international terrorism.At a news conference at the Portland International Jetport where the events of 9/11 began six years ago today, Strimling released a sampling of companies in the current investment portfolio of the Maine State Retirement System (MSRS) that are involved in major economic development projects in countries that have been identified by the US as sponsors of international terrorism. More than $50 million of state funds are invested in these companies, which are involved in the development of nuclear power plants, ship construction, oil and gas fields and other energy related projects in countries such as Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria."It's outrageous to think that six years after the tragic events of 9/11, US investors and taxpayers are helping to underwrite the economies of the very countries that want to kill us," Strimling said. "Most people are shocked to discover that their own retirement accounts include investments in companies that do business with Iran and other terror nations."The Bush Administration's ‘War on Terror' is just hollow rhetoric if we fail to use one of our most important weapons, economic pressure," he continued. "These countries are using our money to buy the bombs and bullets that are killing US soldiers today in Iraq."Strimling, the Senate chair of Maine's Homeland Security Task Force, is the sponsor of legislation that directed the MSRS to divest its holdings in companies that do business in Sudan due to the human rights atrocities in Darfur. That legislation resulted in the divestment of more than $18 million in such companies with no impact on the state's retirement system's bottom line or the pensions of its members."Now it's time to do more," he said. "We can hit these countries where it hurts, particularly Iran, which is behind much of the sectarian violence in Iraq."An analysis three years ago by the Center for Security Policy found that the Maine State Retirement System had $200 million - nearly 20 percent of its total portfolio - invested in companies with significant ties to terror nations. That amount may have come down with the passage of Strimling's bill to divest holdings of Sudan-related companies.But Strimling identified current investments by the state of more than $50 million in companies such as Dutch Royal Shell, Siemens AG, Repsol, Hyundia and others that do millions of dollars worth of business, mostly in the oil, gas and energy industries of Iran, Syria and North Korea."We suspect the total amount invested with similar businesses is actually much higher than the $50 million we've been able to identify," Strimling said. "That's why my legislation also calls for a full review of the retirement system's holdings, to identify all of the companies that should be added to the ‘do not invest list' and a full accounting of how much Maine has invested in these companies."While it is illegal for US companies to do business directly with countries identified as supporters of international terror, companies get around the ban through foreign subsidiaries. Other nations also have no such restrictions and their companies continue to attract millions of dollars from US investors.Strimling said several states have already begun divesting their pension funds from companies that do business with terror nations. If more do so, he said, it could bring significant pressure on these nations to end their involvement with terrorists."The best way to remember and honor the victims of 9/11 is for everybody to do all they can to ensure that it won't happen again," he said. [...]



Sen. Strimling to Introduce Bill to Divest State Funds from Terror Nations

Mon, 10 Sep 2007 11:51:17 EDT

News Conference Tuesday to Disclose State Investments in Companies with Ties to Terror Nations

PORTLAND - Sen. Ethan Strimling (D-Portland) will hold a news conference Tuesday to announce legislation directing the state to divest its holdings in companies that do business in countries that support and finance terrorism.

On the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Strimling will disclose a list of companies in the current investment portfolio of the Maine State Retirement System (MSRS) that are involved in major economic development projects in countries that have been identified by the US as sponsors of international terrorism. These companies have been involved in the development of nuclear power plants, ship construction. oil and gas fields and other energy related projects in countries such as Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria.

Strimling, the Senate chair of Maine's Homeland Security Task Force, is the sponsor of legislation that directed the MSRS to divest its holdings in companies that do business in Sudan due to the human rights atrocities in Darfur. That legislation resulted in the divestment of more than $18 million in such companies with no impact on the state's retirement system's bottom line or the pensions of its members.

The news conference will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Conference Room A at the Portland International Jetport.



Labor Chair Calls for Steady, Predictable Increases in Minimum Wage

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 09:53:35 EDT

"Maine families are struggling to make ends meet. We need to put more money in the family checkbook," says Senator Strimling

AUGUSTA - Although a new federal law taking effect today will increase the federal minimum wage to $5.85 an hour, the Senate Chair of the Legislature's Labor Committee said Tuesday that Maine families deserve an even higher increase and a stable system for determining their annual budget.

State Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, said that Maine's Labor Committee will be considering legislation this fall, LD 1697, that will increase Maine's minimum wage from its projected level of $7 an hour to $8.40 by 2009 (70-cents per year for two years), and eventually apply an indexing system to future increases.

"While it is promising to see Congress move ahead with an increase in the federal minimum wage after doing nothing for almost 10 years, this increase is still way behind what Maine families need to make ends meet," said Senator Strimling. "By increasing the minimum wage, the market puts pressure on wages all the way up the ladder, thereby benefiting many more than just the 25,000 Maine workers - mostly adult women - who currently earn the minimum.

"Here in Maine, families are struggling to make ends meet. Increasing the minimum wage is one small but important step toward raising all our boats," Strimling continued. "That's why I submitted legislation last year to increase Maine's minimum wage to $8.40 and to index it thereafter to inflation. By automatically indexing the minimum wage in the future, Maine families will no longer be at the mercy of political will each and every Legislative session, and continue to see the wage gap get wider and wider."

The federal minimum wage is set to increase to $5.85 on July 24th, from the current $5.15 an hour where it has stood for nine years. Meanwhile, in that time, Congressional pay has increased $30,000 a year. A $1 increase in the minimum wage has been estimated to lift 900,000 people out of poverty.

Maine's minimum wage will increase to $7.00 in October 2007. The federal minimum wage will ultimately increase to $7.25 by July 24th 2009.



Senator Strimling, Author of the 2003 Iraq Resolution, Applauds Legislative Letter Opposing Troop Escalation

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 14:27:28 EDT

"Sponsor of 2003 Resolution Against Iraq War Opposes Surge"AUGUSTA-State Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, today applauded the efforts of more than 90 House and Senate Legislators who signed a letter urging Maine's Congressional Delegation to oppose troop escalation proposed by President Bush in January. "I applaud my legislative colleagues for sending a clear message to our congressional delegation," Senator Strimling said. "The Iraq War has put an incredible toll on our country, and escalating our military presence is the wrong direction," Senator Strimling added. In 2003, Senator Strimling authored a Joint Resolution in the Maine Legislature urging the President to pursue a diplomatic course of action instead of a unilateral invasion."I am proud of the fact that four years ago we were the first state to go on record opposing the war, even before the bombs fell," Senator Strimling said. Senate President Beth Edmonds, D-Cumberland County, who signed onto the current letter and co-sponsored the Iraq Resolution four years ago said, "I am proud that the Maine Senate went on record in 2003 against the war, thanks to the resolution sponsored by Senator Strimling. We were right then, and we are right now."-- 30 --Below please find the text of the 2003 resolution sponsored by Senator Strimling.STATE OF MAINEIN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD TWO THOUSAND AND THREEJOINT RESOLUTION MEMORIALIZING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO SUPPORT THE FULL PURSUIT OF DIPLOMATIC RESOLUTIONS AND WEAPONS INSPECTIONS WE, your Memorialists, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-first Legislature of the State of Maine now assembled in the First Regular Session, most respectfully present and petition the President of the United States, as follows:WHEREAS, there is an urgent need for genuine multilateral action to eliminate weapons of mass destruction worldwide; andWHEREAS, most governments around the world oppose unilateral action regarding Iraq and support the full pursuit of diplomatic resolutions and weapons inspections before any further military action is taken against Iraq; andWHEREAS, a war with Iraq will jeopardize the lives of American soldiers and will kill many innocent Iraqi civilians who have already suffered enormously under Saddam Hussein's rule and sanctions of the United Nations; andWHEREAS, a United States military attack on Iraq threatens the stability of the Middle East region; and WHEREAS, military action will likely result in a long-term United States military presence; andWHEREAS, conflict in the area may result in the widespread destruction of the environment and the civilian infrastructure of Iraq; andWHEREAS, military expenditures will cause ballooning federal budget deficits, further weakening an already sluggish economy and ensuring reductions in federal aid to the State; andWHEREAS, the State of Maine is suffering from a fiscal crisis such that its ability to stabilize the taxes of the people of the State is being threatened, and programs that benefit working people and the poor are being threatened by severe budget cuts; andWHEREAS, it has been estimated that a war in Iraq would likely cost the United States taxpayers over $100 billion which would include $267,000,000 from Maine taxpayers, an that could go a long way to meeting our health and education needs; andWHEREAS, if the country does go to war, this resolution should in no way be interpreted as not supporting the troops, and We, your Memorialists, stand in full and unwavering support of our brave young men and women of the Armed Forces whenever they are called to action; now, therefore, be itRESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, respectfully urge and request that the President of the United States support the full pursuit of diplomatic resolutions and weapons inspections; and be it furtherRESOLVED: That su[...]



Portland Press Herald Column: Why Net Neutrality Matters

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 14:21:20 EDT

Imagine, if you will, that you have two newspapers in front of you. The New York Times and the Portland Press Herald. When you pick up the Times to read about how bad the Yankees are this year, you are able to read at your own pace and flip back and forth easily between articles. It's enjoyable and relaxing.However, when you pick up the Herald to read about the first-place Red Sox, your world enters slow motion. You are unable to turn pages at the pace you desire. Your eye is slowed as it tries to get across the page and the whole experience becomes frustrating. Or even worse, you go to pick up the Herald at your local newsstand and they say "Sorry, you can't have that paper."The next time you choose a paper to read, inevitably you will pick the Times.This is exactly the world the big telecoms are looking to create. A world where those who have the money can slow down your ability to get to a rival site.Earlier this legislative session, I submitted a bill that would prevent big telecom providers from barring or slowing down access to the Internet. The driving force for the bill is a result of certain regulatory and policy changes that have been systematically taking place at the federal level that could, if unwatched, create discriminatory barriers to the World Wide Web.Over the past ten years, the federal government through law and regulatory change has allowed for the consolidation of media conglomerates, which have reduced different voices and viewpoints. Similarly, many of these same rule changes have helped large telecommunications giants get larger. These big telecom companies are the ones that all our news, entertainment, and commerce travel across when we access the Internet. Net Neutrality levels the playing field by guaranteeing equal access to services and content. While some consumers may have slower access to sites based on the type of Internet they have like DSL, Cable, or Dial-up, many telecom companies want to charge more for a faster ride when you "knock on the door" of the site you want to access. In short, without Net Neutrality, giant telecommunications providers could charge higher premiums for the bandwidth used to open your Web site door to the retail public-a cost a larger business or corporation can absorb.With 96 percent of Maine businesses being small businesses, it does not seem like Maine would benefit from a "class system" on the Internet. Mainers and the free market should decide who are the winners and losers on the Internet.Another important point about Net Neutrality is that it prevents censorship. It allows Mainers to access the Web sites of their choice and to post content free from discrimination by network providers.To highlight the importance of Net Neutrality, take the example of a recently reported story of two Virginia Internet Service Providers back in 2000 who blocked access to certain Web sites for over a year. The early suspicion had been that the sites were blocked due to a technical problem, but it was later found that the sites were blocked because the management of the two telecom companies did not care for certain Web sites using their Internet backbone. In another example, E-Bay, the popular online auction Web site, has blocked Google's online payment service "Google Checkout" from aiding customers in their transactions. E-Bay owns payment giant Paypal.com and has a vested interest in stifling competition. You could easily argue that Google, the world's most popular search engine, could take a retaliatory approach by blocking E-Bay on its search engine, but it has not. Google, instead supports Net Neutrality.While these examples may be small and isolated, it is important to remember that there is no real safe guard to protect, the Web consumer, the small business, and the overall fr[...]



Senate Gives Support to Constitutional Amendment Proposal Limiting Increases or Decreases on Spending

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 14:01:43 EDT

First piece of fundamental tax reform gains strong bipartisan support

AUGUSTA-Senator Richard Nass, R-York County, and Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, today said they were pleased with a strong show of bipartisan support for a proposed amendment to Maine's Constitution that would limit increases or decreases on certain spending decisions.

The bill, LD 1819, RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Restrict Tax Increases, received two-thirds support from Republicans and Democrats in the Senate following two Senate votes Friday.

After the floor debate, Senator Joe Perry, D-Penobscot County, and chairman of the Taxation Committee stated, "Senator Strimling and Senator Nass put the entire tax reform process on a bipartisan path when they began work this summer. I am very proud the Senate has followed in their footsteps, and I hope tax reform continues in this bipartisan way."

"The principal of limiting the legislature's ability to increase taxes is an essential component for Republicans to support overall tax reform. I am pleased that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle recognize how important this was to my party. I hope this spirit will continue in the House," commented Senator Nass.

Senator Strimling said, "Now that we have moved this important legislation through, I hope we can focus on LD 1925 and build support for that dramatic piece of legislation. This bold plan will reduce taxes on Maine People by $140 million."

Specifically, the bill would require a two-thirds vote of the members of the House and Senate in order to increase or decrease the sales tax rate, income tax rate, or motor vehicle excise tax rate. The amended constitutional question would need to be finally approved by Maine voters in an upcoming election.

The amended bill now goes to the House for additional votes.



Nass and Strimling Applaud Work by Tax Committee

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 13:59:23 EDT

AUGUSTA-Senator Richard Nass, R-York County, and Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, today congratulated the Legislature's Taxation Committee on the strong bipartisan support for a bold tax reform package designed to lower taxes for an overwhelming number of Maine people and restrict future tax increases.

Commenting on the committee's plan, Senator Strimling said, "I am pleased that the tax reform package endorsed by the committee meets the fundamental tenets Senator Nass and I outlined this summer: relief for Maine People, rebalancing for stability, and restraint on future revenue increases. The committee work has fundamentally strengthened our original proposals."

Senator Nass pointed out that the committee plan "Offers the opportunity for great prosperity for Maine. Maine people on average will see a $400 reduction in their overall tax burden. This tax package and the corresponding constitutional amendment limiting tax increases make sure that tax relief goes directly to the people who need it the most."

"This is perhaps the single biggest restructuring of our tax code since its creation," added Senator Nass.

Senator Joe Perry, D-Penobscot County, who is the Senate Chair of the Committee, pointed out that, "Senator Nass and Senator Strimling set the tone for this truly bipartisan effort. Their plan gave us a really good place to work from and the final product is something I believe Maine Taxpayers can really get behind," said Senator Perry.



Senate Gives Final OK to Term Limit Extension Question

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 10:35:44 EDT

AUGUSTA-The Maine Senate Thursday gave final approval to a bill that could extend term limits from eight to 12 years. The extension would ultimately have to be approved by Maine voters in an upcoming election.

Senator Lisa Marraché, D-Kennebec County, who co-chairs the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee (LVA) where this issue was debated said, "More and more we are finding that term limits is an experiment that has had a weakening effect on our representative democracy."

"Since term limits have been enacted, many observers to the legislative process have said that the institutional knowledge of the legislature has deteriorated, and that lobbyists and executive branch officials have increased their power over committee chairs and legislative leadership. Expanding the time that lawmakers can serve can restore that balance between our three branches of government," added Senator Marraché.

Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, who proposed legislation that was ultimately adopted by the LVA Committee, said, "I would like to commend the committee for reconsidering my original bill. I have said all along that term limits are an experiment that has failed, and I believe Maine voters understand this. This revised version still gives Maine people the final voice on this important issue, and I think that is important."

"True term limits occur at the ballot box. If we aren't doing our jobs, the people will let us know," added Senator Strimling.

The bill now goes to Governor John Baldacci for final consideration.



Senate Enacts Net Neutrality Resolve

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 10:27:57 EDT

AUGUSTA-The Maine Senate Tuesday enacted an amended version of a "Net Neutrality" bill, which directs the Maine Office of the Public Advocate to monitor state and federal activity relating to full and fair access to the Internet.

Net Neutrality prevents Internet network providers from barring access, providing slower access, or charging higher premiums to small companies.

Senator Ethan Strimling, D-Cumberland County, the bill's sponsor said, "This is an important step forward in protecting consumers from Net discrimination and preventing providers from regulating content on the Web. I'm very proud of the bipartisan support this bill has received."

"Maine is the first state in the nation to stand up for its citizens' rights to a nondiscriminatory internet," added Senator Strimling. "The rest of the nation should follow suit and study what can be done to protect net neutrality."

The Public Advocate's Office will submit a report summarizing the results of its findings to the Utilities Committee by February 1, 2008. More information about the amended bill, LD 1675, Resolve, Regarding Full, Fair and Nondiscriminatory Access to the Internet, is available online at:

http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/externalsiteframe.asp?ID=280024544&LD=1675&Type=1&SessionID=7

The bill now goes to Governor John Baldacci for consideration.