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Preview: News from Senator Barry Hobbins-District 5

News from Senator Barry Hobbins-District 5



News from Senator Barry Hobbins



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Journal Tribune: State Budget Concerns Shared with Senator Hobbins

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 09:57:14 EDT

State budget concerns shared with Sen. Hobbins

OLD ORCHARD BEACH - Concerns over suggested cuts in Gov. Paul LePage's proposed budget were aired by area residents at a public informational session Thursday night.

State Senate Democratic Leader Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, gave an overview of LePage's proposed state budget for the next two years and answered questions about the budget, during a meeting at Old Orchard Beach High School. Hobbins will also hold another question and answer session on Saturday at Thornton Academy, Room 55 from 10 a.m. to noon and hopes to hold another session in the Buxton/Dayton area in the future.

The governor proposes to spend $6.1 billion over the next two years. The budget is about 8 percent higher than the last biennial budget, according to Hobbins.

"We have a significant problem in the state of Maine," said Hobbins, in that the income does not match the demand for services. Any governor going into this budget would have to deal with this challenge, he said.

The budget proposes $524 million of cuts to state employees and teachers, including a reduction in pension benefits for both parties. As well, state employees would see health insurance benefits reduced and their merit increases and longevity pay would be eliminated. The budget also proposes to reduce the Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief Fund Program by 20 percent and the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement Program by 10 percent. Public assistance would be cut by $51 million.

For a few of the nearly two dozen participants in the meeting Thursday, emotions ran high as proposed cuts were discussed.

Old Orchard Beach resident Cheryl Gendell said the governor, in his proposed budget, was using poor people and state employees as "a whipping boy."

Biddeford resident Charlene Aubert said one major problem leading to the state deficit was that people were not buying as much, and there was less excise tax revenue.

"Who's going to pay for the deficit? It's going to be the people, as opposed to businesses," she said.

Aubert asked if the Democrats could work with Republicans to address concerns with the budget, and Hobbins later said that he hoped the two parties would work together.

"I'm hoping it will be a bi-partisan budget where we will weigh all of the programs and try to figure out whether or not there are any alternatives to those kinds of cuts," said Hobbins.

Old Orchard Beach resident Jerome Begert said he hoped the budget would be reviewed to point out where both parties "are exaggerating" and where "the math doesn't add up."

Hobbins said he has urged the Maine Educational Association and State employees to hire actuaries to make sure the figures add up.

LePage, in a budget testimony early this month, stated that reform needed to be made for teacher and state pensions or it will someday consume one in every four dollars of the state general fund revenue.

"If we let the problem get to this point, Maine's defined pension benefit program will cease to exist and our promises to retirees will go unmet," said LePage.

*Source: Journal Tribune, Liz Gotthelf, March 11, 2011*



Senator Hobbins Reminds Maine Residents about Tax Relief Program

Thu, 22 Jul 2010 14:12:00 EDT

Maine residents are encouraged to find out if they qualify for the Maine Property Tax and Rent Refund.

Augusta, Maine - State Senator Barry Hobbins is pleased to announce that applications for the Maine Property Tax and Rent Refund program, commonly known as "Circuit Breaker," will be available starting on August 1, 2010.

Over 200,000 Maine homeowners and renters may be eligible for a refund check. During the last application period 88,470 refunds totaling almost $40.5 million were distributed to Maine homeowners and renters. The average refund check to homeowners and renters was $456. Local communities saw the following tax relief refunds:

Biddeford had 1,945 qualified residents receive $936,005 in refunds; Buxton had 399 qualified residents receive $159,865 in refunds; Dayton had 104 qualified residents receive $53,974 in refunds; Old Orchard Beach had 885 qualified residents receive $409,812 in refunds; and Saco had 1,531 qualified residents receive $771,783 in refunds.

"This program is designed to help Maine people catch a break," said Senator Hobbins. "I know it is not the absolute solution, but it really makes a difference."

In order to qualify, applicants must be a Maine resident and lived in Maine for all of 2009. If one is married or has a dependent, then the 2009 household income must have been $86,600 or less. Or, if one is a single homeowner then the household income must be $64,950 or less. The other major requirement is that the 2009 property taxes must have been more than four percent of the 2009 household income.

If one is a renter, then one may qualify if the rent paid in 2009 was more than 20 percent of the 2009 household income. The maximum refund to eligible homeowners or renters this year is $1,600.

It is important to note that senior claimants age 62 and over (55 if disabled) do not need to meet this requirement if their household income is below $14,700 for those living alone or below $18,200 for those living with a spouse or dependent.

Senator Hobbins added, "The program does provide needed tax relief and it is important that people are aware of it and take the time to see if they qualify."

The program runs over a 10-month period from August 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011. Circuit Breaker applications can be found online and downloaded at the Maine Revenue Services website at: www.maine.gov/revenue/taxrelief. To receive an application by mail, call (207) 624-7894 to make a request.

To receive future notices about legislative/government matters, please sign up for email updates from Senator Barry Hobbins at: www.mainesenate.org.

Barry Hobbins is State Senator for District 5 and a practicing attorney in Saco. He represents the communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Buxton, Dayton, and part of Biddeford. Senator Hobbins is the Senate Chair of the Utilities and Energy Committee and serves on the Judiciary Committee.

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Video: Senator Hobbins Speaks in Support of Ocean Energy Legislation

Thu, 08 Apr 2010 16:47:59 EDT

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Senator Hobbins to Maine Residents: Check out the Unclaimed Property List

Tue, 09 Feb 2010 13:04:15 EST

AUGUSTA - State Senator Barry Hobbins is urging residents to search the unclaimed property database. The list is produced annually through the Office of the State Treasurer, which consists of money and other personal assets that are considered lost or abandoned when an owner cannot be located.

Last year, a total of $986,610 was claimed by 2,976 rightful owners throughout the state.

"It is important that the public is aware of any unclaimed property," said Senator Hobbins. "Any extra money would be very helpful in this economy."

Residents can go online to search for unclaimed property at www.maine.gov/unclaimed or call toll free at 1-888-283-2808. Senator Hobbins also has a list for Biddeford, Buxton, Dayton, Old Orchard Beach, and Saco and can be contacted at the State House at (207) 287-1500 for more information.

Senator Hobbins added, "I encourage all residents to browse the list and see if you have money coming your way."



Hobbins: Supplemental Budget Passes Overwhelmingly

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 09:04:19 EST

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release Thursday, January 27, 2009

Contact: Senator Barry Hobbins: (207) 287-1515
Marc Malon, Legislative Aide: (207) 287-1515

Supplemental Budget Passes Overwhelmingly

AUGUSTA - The Maine State Legislature overwhelmingly passed the Supplemental Budget, thus balancing the state budget for the current fiscal year and closing a $166 million gap.

"This supplemental budget was crafted in a bipartisan manner with a huge amount of input by the public," said State Senator Barry Hobbins (D-York). "It dramatically reduces spending while allowing for the basic function of government on behalf of the people of Maine."

Hobbins emphasized that the painful budget cuts were shared by all levels of state government, including the Legislature. He stressed two points:

• Maine will spend less in 2009 than it did in 2008 • The budget ensures that the state government can carry out its basic functions.

Legislators will now work on the biennial budget, where he says tough decisions will still need to be made about spending.

"More difficult decisions will have to be made in the next budget," said Hobbins. "But we also have an opportunity to invest in programs that create jobs in areas such as renewable energy. This year's budget sets the foundation to do this."

Senator Hobbins (D-York) represents Senate District 5 in the Maine Legislature, which includes the communities of Saco, Buxton, Dayton, Old Orchard Beach, and part of Biddeford.




Hobbins Sworn-In for Third Term

Wed, 31 Dec 2008 16:33:41 EST

AUGUSTA - State Senator Barry Hobbins (D-York) was sworn-in today as a member of the 124th Maine Legislature. This is his third term representing Senate District 5, which includes the communities of Buxton, Dayton, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and part of Biddeford.

"I am excited about the legislative session ahead, despite the many obstacles we face," said Hobbins. "I have seen many legislatures, and this one may face the greatest challenges. We are going to have to be diligent to close our budget shortfall, and unafraid to work with each other regardless of party affiliation."

Hobbins listed energy independence and growing the state's economy as top priorities for this legislature, and expressed excitement for continuing to serve a District he has served in many years.

Senator Hobbins was first elected as a State Representative in the 106th Maine Legislature at age 21. He served five more consecutive terms in the House and a term in the Senate in the 114th Legislature. He returned to the Senate in the 122nd Legislature. Hobbins, an attorney, lives in Saco with his wife Donna.

Senator Hobbins can be contacted at the State House at, (207) 287-1515, or, SenBarry.Hobbins@Legislature.Maine.Gov.




Hobbins Appointed to Ocean Energy Task Force

Wed, 31 Dec 2008 16:31:53 EST

AUGUSTA - State Senator Barry Hobbins (D-York) has been appointed by Senate President Libby Mitchell (D-Kennebec) to serve on the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force.

"This task force represents an excellent opportunity for Maine to set the foundation for its energy future," said Hobbins. "I am excited at the prospect of what we can accomplish."

The Task Force was established by Governor John Baldacci to develop strategies for the development of grid-scale wind energy generation facilities in the waters off the coast of Maine. The Task Force will make recommendations on the development and citing of offshore wind energy facilities, on the fostering wind energy-related economic development in Maine, on encouraging ocean-based tidal and wave energy where possible, and on the potential for oil and gas development on the outer Continental Shelf.

Hobbins said that energy is going to be a top priority for him in the 124th Legislature, noting that addressing Maine's energy needs is an urgent issue for the state.

"The fact that gas prices are temporarily down does not mean we should grow complacent," said Hobbins. "This Task Force is one way in which Maine can be a proactive, national leader on energy issues."

Senator Hobbins can be contacted at the State House at, (207) 287-1515, or, SenBarry.Hobbins@Legislature.Maine.Gov.




Public Advocate Study Shows Safeguards in Place for Broadband Access

Thu, 28 Feb 2008 10:25:07 EST

AUGUSTA-Senator Barry Hobbins, D-Cumberland County, congratulated the Maine Public Advocate's Office today on a comprehensive study that examined the several layers of regulatory safeguards established at the state and federal levels to ensure fair access to broadband Internet services.

"In today's fast changing economy, broadband is a key element in providing jobs and new investment for Maine's economy," he said. "The Public Advocate's report highlights the measures already in place to ensure that Maine broadband consumers have full and fair access to the Internet."

The report looked at Internet regulations administered by the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the U.S. Congress. It also examined various Internet programs enacted by a number of states, including the ConnectME Authority established by Maine to encourage investments in Internet infrastructure and expansion of broadband access.

Sen. Hobbins said the report demonstrated that new regulatory demands are unnecessary.

"What we don't need at this time is burdensome new Internet regulations that would jeopardize investment in technology and the jobs this investment creates," he said. "What we do need is to communicate to the world that Maine is a place that encourages technology innovation and market-based solutions to expanding broadband services and access."

The ConnectMe Authority recently reported that numerous state and federal studies and reports show the need for advanced communications services in the state, especially for those areas that may be economically less well off. Access to broadband services is recognized as a significant economic development tool for small businesses and home based-businesses. Broadband also enables critical new services such as telecommuting, rural education, and telemedicine.

Sen. Hobbins said that the best place to promote these innovative new services is in the marketplace -- not in government bureaucracies -- through an open process of experimentation, feedback, and competitive pricing of services. The firms that survive and grow in Maine will be those that do a better job than others of anticipating what consumers want and finding the best way to provide broadband services where they are wanted and needed.



Column: Players of School District Consolidation

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 10:32:41 EDT

In the world of sports it is never easy to put together an all-star team. One must compare the statistics and skills and ultimately decide how each individual player will blend best together as a team - usually referred to as "team chemistry." This is important for a team to succeed; take the 2004 Red Sox for example. They were stacked with distinct personalities and talents as individuals but when combined as a whole team they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Of course creating an all-star team that can compete and finding a "team chemistry" that works takes effort and understanding of how the game is played. This is all similar to a challenge facing the Education Committee at the State House. School district consolidation has us talking just about as much as "Matsuzaka-mainia" with the Red Sox.

The Education Committee has been working with a variety of proposals to address the issue of school district consolidation in Maine. Each proposal is kind of like a player and the Education Committee is the manager in charge of creating a team that can produce results. The Legislature and ultimately the State of Maine would be considered the team for sake of this analogy.

As mentioned earlier, compiling an all-star team is not an easy task. It certainly is not a simple mission facing the Education Committee. However, the approach taken by the committee is an appropriate strategy to generate a quality proposal for school district consolidation.

The Education Committee is taking the seven individual proposals and exploring the many different and common aspects of each plan. After proper public input, exhaustive research and understanding of the subject; the committee will build a bill to send to the full legislature for approval. Similar to building an all-star team, the committee bill most likely will contain valuable parts from the various plans as well as other features that would best address this subject; and more importantly, it will remain focused on quality education for the students of Maine. Remember, the "team chemistry" will play a major role in the success this bill.

So as we begin to follow the Red Sox at spring training, keep in mind the efforts made to put together a successful team that can win. At the same time, consider the efforts demonstrated by the Education Committee to craft a bill that can defeat its challengers and succeed in providing quality education for all students in Maine - and perhaps all of this will happen before the first pitch on opening day.



Senator Hobbins Broadband Study Presents Rational Alternative to Net Neutrality Legislation

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 10:55:15 EDT

Vote Preserves Economic Development and Jobs Made Possible by Expanding Maine's Broadband Network Access

Augusta-The Maine Legislature voted today to study broadband and Internet access in Maine through an amended version of LD 1675, Regarding Full and Fair Access to the Internet. This study was proposed as an alternative to legislation sponsored by Sen. Ethan Strimling (D-Cumberland County).

Today's broadband and Internet access study appropriately recognizes that the federal government maintains preeminence in overseeing the regulation of the Internet, and ensures that the state of Maine takes no further action in regulating the Internet. Instead, the study directs Maine's Public Advocate to monitor the FCC's oversight of the Internet to ensure Maine's citizens and businesses continue to have open access to all legal Internet content and services.



"I would like to thank my colleagues for recognizing that LD 1675 would have harmed Maine's economy by making Maine the one state in the country to regulate broadband networks - creating an unfriendly business and employment environment. Today's study ensures that Maine will continue to be a competitive marketplace for technology companies bringing jobs and investment to our communities." added Sen. Hobbins.



Municipal Investment Bill Advances

Thu, 31 May 2007 10:38:27 EDT

AUGUSTA-A legislative proposal that would transfer $5 million from unused state revenues to the Municipal Investment Trust Fund (MITF) continues to move forward in the Maine Legislature

Senator Barry Hobbins, D-York County, the bill's sponsor said, "This is such an important economic development program that communities like Saco, Old Orchard Beach, and Biddeford can use. I hope that once the state's two-year budget is sorted out, we can find some surplus general fund money to reach our $5 million goal."

MITF helps provide incentives for local governments to implement programs that help minimize sprawl, support the revitalization of downtowns, and foster partnerships between municipalities, government entities, and private development organizations to address common community and economic development needs.

"The Municipal Investment Trust Fund is the only the flexible source of funds available for communities for projects that don't meet federal guidelines, or go beyond what federal money will pay for," Senator Hobbins added.

The Brookings Report recently said Maine should, "Fund and use existing revitalization and redevelopment-oriented programs and organizations. Three programs in need of bolstering are the Municipal Investment Trust Fund (MITF), the Maine Downtown Center (MDC), and the state's historic preservation tax credit"

The bill, LD 1106, An Act to Recapitalize the Municipal Investment Trust Fund faces a final vote in the Maine Senate before it is enacted.




Bill Would Prevent Disclosure of Identifying Information During Child Protective Proceedings

Tue, 08 May 2007 17:34:41 EDT

Augusta-Senator Barry Hobbins, D-York County, Wednesday, will present a bill to the Judiciary Committee that requires the court in child protection proceedings to protect the confidentiality of information of certain individuals in those proceedings.

Information such as the address or location of a person would be protected when that person either has a current order prohibiting contact by another party to the proceeding or has alleged under oath that the health, safety or liberty of the person would be jeopardized by disclosure of the information.

Who: Senator Barry Hobbins

What: Public Hearing: LD 1864, An Act To Prevent Disclosure of Certain Identifying Information in Child Protective Proceedings

When: Wednesday, May 9th @ 1:00 p.m.

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

More info about the bill available online at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280025133




Senator Hobbins Announces $300,000 Grant to City of Saco

Thu, 19 Apr 2007 15:34:37 EDT

AUGUSTA - State Senator Barry Hobbins (D - York County) is pleased to announce a $300,000 grant awarded to the City of Saco. The Community Development Block Grant will provide improvements to the sewer and storm water system.

"There were nearly thirty applicants around the state, so this is wonderful news for the community of Saco" said Senator Hobbins, who lead the effort at the state level. "A lot of hard work went into making this happen and it is always good to see a positive outcome happen as a result."

Senator Hobbins thanked the new Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, John Richardson for his assistance in administering the grant program; and continued to express gratitude to Mayor Johnston and the City Council, as well as the city staff under the direction of Richard Michaud for all of their work in helping receive the grant.

The Community Development Block Grant is a program of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Funds are distributed for public infrastructure and public facility grants. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development is responsible for the program within the state.

There were 27 applicants and 15 awards granted in 11 of the counties in Maine.

"I appreciate the teamwork from Representative Don Pilon (D-Saco) and Representative Linda Valentino (D - Saco) in coordination with the city. This is a great example of how state and local officials can work together to create beneficial opportunities to a community" added Senator Hobbins.

Barry Hobbins is State Senator for District 5 and a practicing attorney in Saco. He represents the communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Buxton, Dayton, and part of Biddeford. Senator Hobbins is the Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee and serves on the Utilities and Energy Committee.



Senator Hobbins Stresses the Importance of Checking State Unclaimed Property List

Thu, 19 Apr 2007 15:33:55 EDT

AUGUSTA - State Senator Barry Hobbins (D - York County) informs all area residents about the 2007 Unclaimed Properties List. The Office of the State Treasurer produces an annual list of unclaimed property by residents throughout Maine. Last year, over $685,000 were claimed by 1458 rightful owners.

"I have a list over 40 pages long for just Senate District 5. There is a good amount of unclaimed property around the state and it is essential that the public is made aware of the list" said Senator Hobbins.

Senator Hobbins added that residents can go online to search for unclaimed property at www.maine.gov/unclaimed or call toll free at 1-888-283-2808. Senator Hobbins also has a list of the district he represents and he can be contacted at the State House at (207) 287-1515 for more information.

"The money is there and it can be a welcoming surprise for many Mainers if you act fast" concluded Senator Hobbins.

Barry Hobbins is State Senator for District 5 and a practicing attorney in Saco. He represents the communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Buxton, Dayton, and part of Biddeford. Senator Hobbins is the Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee and serves on the Utilities and Energy Committee.



Players of School District Consolidation

Thu, 19 Apr 2007 15:33:14 EDT

In the world of sports it is never easy to put together an all-star team. One must compare the statistics and skills and ultimately decide how each individual player will blend best together as a team - usually referred to as "team chemistry." This is important for a team to succeed; take the 2004 Red Sox for example. They were stacked with distinct personalities and talents as individuals but when combined as a whole team they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Of course creating an all-star team that can compete and finding a "team chemistry" that works takes effort and understanding of how the game is played. This is all similar to a challenge facing the Education Committee at the State House. School district consolidation has us talking just about as much as "Matsuzaka-mainia" with the Red Sox.

The Education Committee has been working with a variety of proposals to address the issue of school district consolidation in Maine. Each proposal is kind of like a player and the Education Committee is the manager in charge of creating a team that can produce results. The Legislature and ultimately the State of Maine would be considered the team for sake of this analogy.

As mentioned earlier, compiling an all-star team is not an easy task. It certainly is not a simple mission facing the Education Committee. However, the approach taken by the committee is an appropriate strategy to generate a quality proposal for school district consolidation.

The Education Committee is taking the seven individual proposals and exploring the many different and common aspects of each plan. After proper public input, exhaustive research and understanding of the subject; the committee will build a bill to send to the full legislature for approval. Similar to building an all-star team, the committee bill most likely will contain valuable parts from the various plans as well as other features that would best address this subject; and more importantly, it will remain focused on quality education for the students of Maine. Remember, the "team chemistry" will play a major role in the success this bill.

So as we begin to follow the Red Sox at spring training, keep in mind the efforts made to put together a successful team that can win. At the same time, consider the efforts demonstrated by the Education Committee to craft a bill that can defeat its challengers and succeed in providing quality education for all students in Maine - and perhaps all of this will happen before the first pitch on opening day.

Barry Hobbins is State Senator for District 5 and a practicing attorney in Saco. He represents the communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Buxton, Dayton, and part of Biddeford. Senator Hobbins is the Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee and serves on the Utilities and Energy Committee.