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Preview: News from Senator Dennis Damon-District 28

News from Senator Dennis Damon-District 28



News from Senator Dennis Damon



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Damon Completes Session With 100% Attendance

Tue, 28 Jul 2009 09:10:36 EDT

AUGUSTA- Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Hancock County) of Trenton has recently completed the First Regular Session of the 124th Legislature with a 100% voting attendance record. Senator Damon was present and voting on all 214 recorded votes.

Six out of his seven years in the Maine State Senate have resulted in a 100% record; he has only been absent for two votes in his entire Senate career, which occurred while he was chairing the Legislature's Transportation Committee as they were addressing the Highway Fund Budget.

"I was elected to the Maine State Senate to serve the people of my district," said Senator Damon. "It is my duty to be in attendance for every vote cast, and I strongly believe that this is a responsibility I simply cannot shirk."

A roll call vote is a registered, recorded vote in which the votes of each member are documented and entered into the public record. Any member may request a roll call vote, and in order for the chair to order a roll call, one-fifth of the total members present in the Senate must give their consent.

"It is an honor, privilege and my duty to cast my vote in the Maine State Senate," said Senator Damon. "I was able to cast my vote in support of issues ranging from marriage equality to the state budget to repealing Real ID, and I was able to vote in opposition of a number of ideas that simply were not right for the people of Maine. I look at my position as being hired by the voter's of my district. The very basic expectation of any employer is that the employee shows up for work every day. I have done that and I am proud of my work ethic."

The Legislative Document Room maintains copies of all roll votes and they are available to the public. For more information, or to obtain a record of a roll call vote, please contact the Document Room at 287-1408.

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Free Access to Acadia National Park

Thu, 18 Jun 2009 15:42:04 EDT

Augusta-Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Hancock County) of Trenton is encouraging Maine residents to visit Acadia National Park this summer during the three fee-free weekends being offered by the National Park Service. The first such free weekend is this weekend, June 20-21, followed by July 18-19, and August 15-16, 2009.

"Acadia National Park is the 10th most visited National Park in the county yet far too many Mainers don't take advantage of all it has to offer," said Senator Damon. "These free weekends, starting this weekend, is the prefect time to explore the Park and enjoy its beauty."

In addition to encouraging park visitation, National Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar hopes that the free weekends will provide a boost to communities and local business in or near national parks.

"The fee-free weekends are a great way for families to try hiking, bicycling, bird watching, fishing, or to attend Acadia's ranger programs," said Stephanie Clement, Conservation Director for Friends of Acadia. "If folks enjoy these activities, we encourage them to come back many times and to establish a lifelong relationship with the outdoors here." Clement adds that the $40 annual entrance pass to Acadia is an outstanding value for Maine's families, granting multiple entries to the park throughout the year. She also stated, "Our hope is that these fee-free weekends will develop a whole new generation of good stewards of our national parks." Friends of Acadia and the National Park Service offer volunteer, interpretive, and family programs to encourage enjoyment and protection of Acadia National Park. For more information, go to www.friendsofacadia.org or www.nps.gov/acad.

"I am proud to represent Acadia in my senate district and I am pleased to welcome over 2 million visitors to the park each year," said Senator Damon. "These three fee-free weekends will certainly ensure that Maine residents are counted amongst this year's visitors." ###



Damon Comments on Signing of Marriage Equality Legislation

Wed, 06 May 2009 15:23:03 EDT

Augusta - Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Hancock County) of Trenton, sponsor of LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom, released the following statement following the signing of the bill into law by Governor Baldacci:

"I am truly overjoyed today. The government of the State of Maine has certainly come down on the right side of civil rights, equality and ending discrimination today. I am very proud to be a member of the Legislature. And I am extremely proud to be a Mainer. This has been a long and at times difficult process. Today will stand forever as one of the most historic days in our grand and glorious history.

"I pray that as Maine goes, so will the rest of the nation. For far too long people have been denied this basic right that so many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted. Today, in Maine, we have said that same-sex couples are not second class citizens, that separate is not equal, that justice and fairness ultimately prevails over fear and hatred. It's a great day in Maine."

###



Senator Marraché Announces Franco-American Day Plans

Fri, 14 Mar 2008 15:16:48 EDT

AUGUSTA-Senator Lisa Marraché (D-Kennebec County) of Waterville is pleased to announce that the seventh annual Franco-American Day will be held at the State Capitol in Augusta next Wednesday, March 19. Once again the day long celebration is scheduled during International Francophone Week, celebrated worldwide during the week of March 16-22.

"Our French heritage is very important in Maine, and it has played a critical role in making our state what it is today," Senator Marraché said. "It is vital that we recognize and celebrate that heritage."

As she has done for the every year, twelve-year old Melanie Saucier of Fort Kent will sing the U.S. and Canadian national anthems in French and English in the House Chamber. The fiddlers from the Lewiston High and Middle School Strings will also be performing prior to the session in the Hall of Flags. The Hall of Flags will also have displays from Franco-American cultural organizations from across the state.

Three new inductees to the Franco-American Hall of Fame will be recognized by the legislature. They are author and historian Julie Daigle Albert of Madawaska, museum director Rachel Desgrosseilliers of Minot and promoters of French culture Perley and Alice LaChance of Waterville. A special posthumous award will go to Professor Madeline Giguere, who established Franco-American Studies as a legitimate part of college curriculum at USM.

There will also be Franco-American foods in the Cross Cafeteria in the State Office Building, including ploys for breakfast and tourtieres for lunch. A press conference will be held in the Hall of Flags at noon to announce the nominees to the Hall of Fame, recognize the visiting dignitaries from France, Canada and Quebec Province and to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.

For more information call Senator Marraché's office at 287-1515.



Senator Dennis Damon Calls on Congress to Support Freight Rail Expansion

Fri, 14 Mar 2008 15:15:49 EDT

AUGUSTA, March 14, 2008-Senator Damon (D-Hancock County) joined 30 other individuals from around the country in Washington on Thursday to talk with members of Congress about the importance of supporting legislation to increase the nation's freight rail capacity.

The individuals are members of Go21, a national public interest organization advocating increased freight rail hauling capacity because of the public benefits associated with shipping more freight by rail.

Senator Damon is the Senate Chair of the Joint Standing Committees on Transportation and Marine Resources. Senator Damon is a leader on transportation policy, working with his colleagues to improve transportation funding and increase rail opportunities.

"Maine is making significant progress on increasing rail opportunities through public and private partnerships. Expanding freight rail is good for our economy and environment. Without freight rail expansion more and more trucks will pile onto our already congested highways adding to fuel waste and air pollution. It is important that federal legislation does not take Maine backwards. It should help us move forward," said Senator Damon.

The Go21 members were in Washington to take part in "Railroad Day on the Hill," an annual event in which representatives of the nation's freight railroads and the railway supply industry visit with members of Congress to talk about issues critical to the health of the freight railroad industry.

The key issue addressed by participants this year is expansion of the nation's rail freight capacity. With freight rail demand expected to almost double by 2035, a recent study found that $146 billion should be invested in expanding freight rail capacity in order to handle that increase.

One way to do that would be for Congress to pass the bi-partisan Freight Rail Infrastructure Capacity Expansion Act (S. 1125 and H.R. 2116), which would provide a 25 percent tax credit for any business investing in new rail track, intermodal facilities, rail yards, locomotives or other rail infrastructure expansion projects.

"It's also important that Congress reject attempts to reregulate the railroad industry," said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), one of the sponsors of Railroad Day on the Hill. "The result of that would be to deprive railroads of the money needed to expand rail capacity to meet the increased demand from all rail shippers."



Newly Created Prosperity Committee Holds First Meeting

Wed, 26 Sep 2007 15:27:12 EDT

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Senator Dennis Damon

"Why Not Maine?"

AUGUSTA- Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Hancock County) and Representative John F. Piotti (D-Unity) convened the first meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Future Maine Prosperity today. The 16 member Committee has been formed in order to examine methods that the state of Maine may pursue for long-term strategies to grow the Maine economy and preserve Maine's high quality of life.

Several recent studies on Maine's economy and factors relative to the state's quality of life have suggested that Maine needs to have a broader long-term strategy and to focus to its economic development efforts and growth patterns. The Prosperity Committee aims to draw on the expertise of disparate members in order to bring a wide range of views together to provide necessary focus.

"There has been much concern by Committee members about the enormity of our task and the narrow time-frame within which to accomplish it," said Senator Damon. "I have felt the same concerns. However, the significance of our work as it pertains to Maine's economic future is too important not to try."

The Committee engaged in a roundtable discussion on their long-term goals and objectives as well as the legislation in place to guide the committee. Laurie Lachance, President and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation, and Peter Vigue, President Cianbro Corporation addressed the Committee, outlining what has worked in the past, what has failed, and what must be accomplished.

"I believe that that committee is off to a great start," said Representative Piotti. "It is a challenge to get your hands around an issue such as this but we have a talented committee that is truly committed to meeting this challenge in a bipartisan way and presenting the full Legislature with solid recommendations that will move our state forward."

"Mr. Vigue and Ms. Lachance provided the Committee with data and examples of what is possible in Maine," said Senator Damon. "They both and inspired and challenged the Committee to continue to commit to their charge."

The Committee is scheduled to accomplish their work by January 4th, 2008. The next committee meeting is October 10th at 9:00 a.m.



Senate Enacts Family Medical Leave Act Bill

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 14:54:15 EDT

AUGUSTA-The Maine Senate, today, enacted a bill that would include domestic partners as part of Maine's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The bill now goes to Governor John Baldacci for final consideration.

Senator Dennis Damon, D-Hancock County, the bill's sponsor said, "This is a fairness issue. It is not about special rights or privileges. It is about families, and being there when a loved one needs you."

"I sponsored this bill because I believe it is only common sense that hard-working Maine people should be able to care for their families and loved ones in times of need without jeopardizing their jobs," added Senator Damon.

Maine's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993. It allows an employee to take up to twelve workweeks of unpaid leave during any twelve-month period to be with their family following the birth or adoption of a child, or when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition, or to care for an immediate family member facing a serious illness. Under FMLA, your job remains secure during the twelve week period and your health insurance benefits remain intact.

State insurance laws already define the term "domestic partner" in very specific terms. This definition would follow that law. A domestic partner means the partner of an employee who: is a mentally competent adult as is the employee; has been legally domiciled with the employee for at least 12 months; is not legally married to or legally separated from another individual; is the sole partner of the employee and expects to remain so; and is jointly responsible with the employee for each other's common welfare as evidenced by joint living arrangements, joint financial arrangements or joint ownership of real or personal property.



Senate Enacts "Opportunity Maine" Legislation

Wed, 20 Jun 2007 23:12:28 EDT

Bill now goes to Governor Baldacci for consideration

AUGUSTA-The Maine Senate Wednesday night voted 27-8 to enact legislation that would provide a tax credit to reimburse educational loan payments for any Maine resident who earns a college degree in Maine. Maine residents who live and work in Maine after earning their degree would be eligible to receive the tax credit.

Senator Peter Bowman, D-York County, who is the Senate Chair of the Legislature's Education Committee said, "The overwhelming support by the legislature for this initiative demonstrates our commitment to higher education in Maine." Senator Bowman added, "I am hopeful this education tax credit will have a powerful impact retaining our highly skilled graduates."

Senator Phil Bartlett, D-Cumberland County, who was a strong proponent of the proposal said, "Expanding access to higher education and encouraging college graduates is vital to our economic success." "The strong support for the bill in both chambers is a testament to the soundness of the proposal. We owe the students doing this bill our gratitude for bringing this issue to the forefront," added Senator Bartlett.

Senate Majority Leader Libby Mitchell, D-Kennebec County, who also serves on the Education Committee said, "I was blown away by the outpouring of support from the 73,000 Maine people who signed the petition to bring this issue forward."

The Opportunity Maine legislation was presented to the legislature as a referendum proposal, but legislators opted to enact the proposal after it became clear there was overwhelming support for the referendum.

The credit for loans payments may be claimed for each year that person lives and works in Maine. The graduate's employer can also choose to make the loan payments for their employee and take advantage of the credit themselves. The credit is limited to what the person actually pays in loan payments or to what would be necessary to pay for an education in the University of Maine System or Maine Community College System, whichever is less.

The bill now goes to Governor Baldacci for consideration.



Senator Damon Seeks Safe and Effective Migration of Diadromous Fish

Tue, 24 Apr 2007 16:37:16 EDT

Augusta-Senator Dennis Damon, D-Hancock County, will present a bill to the Marine Resources Committee (in conjunction with the Natural Resources Committee) that would provide for the safe and effective migration of diadromous fish. Diadromous fish are species that use both marine and freshwater habitats during their life cycle to and from the ocean.

This bill requires that dams in this State in all classifications of fresh and estuarine surface waters must provide safe and effective upstream and downstream passage for indigenous diadromous fish. Senator Damon sponsored the legislation in an effort to protect the fisheries resource.

Who: Senator Dennis Damon

What: LD 1528, An Act To Protect Native Diadromous Fish during Their Migration

When: Wednesday, April 25th @ 1:00 p.m.

Where: Marine Resources Committee

Listen to the committee online at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/audio/marine_res_cmte.html

More information about this bill is available at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280024379




Safety - It's no Accident

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 16:12:36 EDT

We see them tied up at our slips. We see them gracefully sailing or cruising out in our waters. We recognize their logo from a distance and a quick glace. And admit it; we might even envy those who own them. They are Hinckley yachts - world renowned and respected; sailed by some of the country's wealthiest and made right here in our backyard. They are crafted by Maine boat builders, some who have been doing this for generations. Not only are the Hinckley boat builders experts in their craft they have also been recognized as some of the safest employees in the state.

Hinckley Yachts is celebrating over 230 days without a lost time accident - a truly remarkable feat given the nature of work on a production line. Over 200 workers are employed at the Trenton site, which opened in 2000, and this week they were recognized by the Maine Department of Labor's SafetyWorks! program for making safety a priority.

Department of Labor officials have presented the company with a Safety and Health Award Recognition Program (SHARP) certificate of achievement. The SHARP program offers incentives to private sector employers that take a proactive approach to workplace safety, as they have done at Hinckley. In order for employers to be granted a certificate they must demonstrate exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health by receiving a comprehensive safety and health consultation visit, correcting all workplace safety and health hazards, adopting and implementing effective safety and health management systems, and agreeing to request further consultative visits if major changes in working conditions or processes occur that may introduce new hazards.

SafetyWorks! has a number of free programs and services geared to helping Maine businesses and organizations improve workplace safety. Last year, the program provided safety and health training to over 10,000 Maine workers and consultation services to hundreds of employers. SafetyWorks! services are voluntary and offered free of charge. More information on SafetyWorks and the SHARP program can be found online at: www.safetyworksmaine.com.

But this is about more than receiving state recognition and a certificate - it is about putting your employees first, and it doing so, putting their well-being and safety ahead of all else. These 200 or so employees really stand out among Maine workers. In 2005 (the most recent statistics currently available) over 7,100 workers had a recordable injury on the job. And while work places in Maine are becoming increasingly safe, fifteen work related deaths occurred in Maine in 2005. So, 230 days without a single employee having a work related injury that resulted in loss time is pretty remarkable. I sincerely hope you will join me in applauding Hinckley Yachts on this accomplishment - we would expect nothing less from one of the best.

In closing, if I can ever be of any assistance to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at home in Trenton at 667-9629, or in Augusta at 287-1515, or toll free, 1-800-423-6900. I look forward to hearing from you.



Damon to Present Transportation Restructuring Bill

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 16:10:44 EDT

AUGUSTA- Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Hancock County) of Trenton will present LD 1790, An Act to Secure Maine's Transportation Future, tomorrow to the Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Transportation.

LD 1790 will deliver a comprehensive, transportation capital improvement program that is geographically balanced and addresses urban and rural needs. Under the goals established in this bill, within 20 years 1,900 miles of state highways that have not been reconstructed in over 50 years will be modernized and roughly one-third of the State's aging bridge inventory will be replaced or substantially rehabilitated. All principal and minor arterials will be reconstructed to nationally accepted design standards by 2011, and all major collectors will be reconstructed by 2027 at least to the Department's State Design Standard (about 195 miles not yet up to standards).

"Our current funding, the fuel tax, is not sufficient to meet our roads and bridge needs and this bill is the only thing that offers any hope that will have lasting effect," said Senator Damon. "LD 1970 is the first major re-crafting of the Highway Fund in thirty years."

In order to accomplish the goals outlined, a restructuring of the Highway Fund revenue is necessary and contained within LD 1790. The legislation would establish two funds: the Bridge Investment Trust Fund and the Transportation Investment Trust Fund. Each fund would be maintained by the Maine Municipal Bond Bank.

The Bridge Investment Trust Fund will be capitalized by having the Treasurer of State annually deposit 7.5% of motor fuel taxes (about $18 million/year) into the Fund. Also, the Bond Bank would be empowered to issue federal GARVEE bonds supported by unobligated portions the Federal Bridge Program dollars (presently about $27.8Million/year).

The Transportation Investment Trust Fund will be capitalized by contributions from a five year phase in of sales tax receipts on vehicles and transportation related items not to exceed 20% that match a similar five year phase in of contributions of motor vehicle excise tax receipts from urban compact communities and again not to exceed 20%. All matched funds stay in the name of the contributing municipality and if unmatched, the municipality retains the right to withdraw its contribution.

"LD 1970 is the most important piece of transportation legislation that has been developed in my legislative life," said Senator Damon. "I am very proud to be sponsoring it."

LD 1790 will be heard at 1:00 pm before the Transportation Committee (Room 126, State House), of which Senator Damon is the Senate Chair.



Legislature's bond package 'good step' to address growing transportation crisis

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 16:09:17 EDT

AUGUSTA - The co-chairs of the Maine Legislature's Transportation Committee today issued a statement praising Governor John Baldacci, party leaders and the Appropriations Committee for their bipartisan efforts in formulating a bond package that included $136 million in much needed funding for Maine's transportation infrastructure.

"The Governor and legislative leadership from both parties clearly understand that Maine is in the middle of a transportation crisis. Our highways and bridges are failing at an alarming rate, and this bond package offers a good short-term step. But we need to be working toward long-term solutions or the problem is only going to get worse," said Senator Dennis Damon (D-Hancock) and Representative Boyd Marley (D-Portland) in a joint statement.

"In the immediate term," noted Marley, "We have a problem with lacking funds for the maintenance paving program, which is critical to preserving and extending the life of roads." Recently, some roads in southern and mid coast Maine were posted with weight restrictions for the first time ever due, in part, to a cash flow problem at MaineDOT. "This is bad for business and bad for the economy, and if we don't do something about it, it will cost taxpayers more in the future. We need to find a solution." Marley has been on the committee for seven years, and chaired it for three.

Senator Damon is the sponsor of LD 1790, "An Act to Secure Maine's Transportation Future," a bill that will the subject of a hearing of the Transportation Committee, Friday, April 6 at 1 p.m. in Room 126 of the State House. The bill has been co-sponsored by 25 members of the Legislature including many members of the Transportation Committee, as well as some members of leadership.



Bill Would Prevent Deadbeat Parents from Registering ATVs, Snowmobiles, and Secondary Cars

Tue, 10 Apr 2007 10:04:27 EDT

Augusta-The Legislature's Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, will hold a public hearing on a bill by Assistant Senate Majority Leader John Martin, D-Aroostook County, that would prevent a person who defaults on child support payments from registering a snowmobile, ATV, or subsequent motor vehicle registration.

Who: Senator John Martin

What: WORK SESSION: LD 1011, An Act To Enhance Child Support Collections in Maine

When: Tuesday, April 10th @ 1:00 p.m.

Where: Judiciary Committee

More info about this bill can be found online at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280023696

Listen the hearing online at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/audio/judiciary_cmte.html



Ferry Service Providers and Island Communities May See DOT Help With Bill

Tue, 10 Apr 2007 10:02:10 EDT

Augusta-The Transportation Committee, Tuesday, will hold a work session to consider a bill sponsored by Senator Dennis Damon, D-Hancock County, that would allow that Department of Transportation to provide financial assistance to companies who provide year-round ferry service to island communities.

If approved, the bill will help sustain important transportation access to many year-round island communities.

Who: Senator Dennis Damon

What: WORK SESSION: LD 1164, An Act To Sustain Island Communities

When: Tuesday, April 10th @ 1:00 p.m.

Where: Transportation Committee

Listen Online: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/audio/transport_cmte.html

More info on the bill is online at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280023864



Senator Nutting Seeks Reforms to School Funding

Tue, 10 Apr 2007 10:00:47 EDT

Augusta-State Senator John Nutting, Tuesday, will present a bill to the Education Committee that would repeal the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act and related provisions. It establishes a new school funding formula that requires school administrative units to make a local education funding effort equal to .008 times the total valuation of taxable property within the unit. The State is required to fund education expenses that exceed this baseline. A local unit that does not meet this baseline-funding requirement is not eligible for any state subsidy. The bill requires the Department of Education to audit school administrative units' budgets and to compare the expenses of schools of closely similar size.

Senator Nutting says repealing EPS and would take approximately $50 million of school funding from the minimum receivers and put it into a new formula similar to those in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Who: Senator John Nutting

What: Public Hearing: LD 1506, An Act To Reform Maine's School Funding

When: Tuesday, April 10th @ 1:00 p.m.

Where: Education and Cultural Affairs Committee

Listen Online: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/audio/education_cmte.html

More info on the bill is online at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280024305