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Preview: News from Maine Senate President Beth Edmonds

News from Maine Senate President Beth Edmonds



News from Senate President Beth Edmonds



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Senate President Edmonds' 2008 Legislative Newsletter on the web

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 14:57:46 EDT

Senate President Edmonds' 2008 Legislative Newsletter is available on the web at: http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/SenEdmonds-2008Newsletter.pdf



Lewiston Artists Exhibit in Maine Senate Offices

Tue, 26 Aug 2008 13:45:16 EDT

(Augusta) The varied works of several artists from Lewiston are on exhibit in the office of the Senate President and the Senate Majority Office in the State House this summer. Senator Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston) initiated this exhibit to show off the artistic talent of many of the artists living in Lewiston. It is the first time such an exhibit of Lewiston artists has taken place in the State House.Senator Rotundo said: "I have always wanted to share the inspirations of talented artists we enjoy in Lewiston. By having these works together in the State House for this special exhibit, we hope that more of the public can see their accomplished creativity". LA Arts Gallery 5 curator Tammie Grieshaber helped with this unique exhibition of works by Lewiston artists.The paintings, photographs and sculpture by this diverse group offer many styles and media. Senate President Beth Edmonds (D-Freeport) said: "There so many talented folks who choose Maine to be their home." She added: "I'm impressed by the extent of great work we have". During this show "A la memoire de nos ancetres" (In Memory of Our Ancestors), a 46" by 54" oil painting, is in the President's office. Artist Mercedes Gastonguay said: "This painting is a tribute to our Franco-American ancestors who labored to make the Lewiston-Auburn area what it is today. It holds a special place in my heart, since it allowed me to travel back to "Le Petit Canada", where my mother's family began their new life in the United States".Two of the exhibitors have studios in the Hill Mill, Lewiston. Painter John A. Stass is showing acrylics, expressing his ideas in various modernist styles. Stass said: "Much of my inspiration comes from Picasso, Dali, Hartley and Pollack". Ray A. Michaud is displaying silica and oil works inspired by Orthodox and Buddhist iconography and codified symbolism. He said: "My immersion in the mill environment has influenced the mediums I use for paintings".Photographic work by Daniel J. Marquis is on display. He said: "My favorite types of photography are nature close-ups and landscapes, opposite ends of the spectrum". Photography by Leonard Bartel is also on exhibit. He said:" I have found that my camera is simply a means by which I can be more present in and more mindful of my environment, seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and making it more visible".Other artists participating in this show are photographer Jose Leiva and the artistic team of Susan Broadbent and Richard Dahlquist. Wildlife and wilderness artwork by Dave Footer is on exhibition as well. L/A Arts Gallery 5 in Lewiston features and promotes works of art in all media. It serves as an educational resource for those who are familiar with original art and those for whom original art is a new experience. Through exhibitions and programs, Gallery 5 provides a unique venue for contemporary art in Maine. The Gallery is located at 49 Lisbon Street, Lewiston.Thirty-four works by these Lewiston artists are on display in Senate offices through September 3, 2008. The public is encouraged to see the exhibit in the President's Office, room 328, or the Senate Majority Office, room 320, in the Maine State House. For information about open hours please call 287-1500 or 287-1515. -30-Link to photo on this story is at: http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/MGastonguay.jpg Hi-Res: http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/MGastonguay.tif Senator Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston) shows "A la memoire de nos ancetres" (In Memory of Our Ancestors), an oil painting montage by Lewiston artist Mercedes C. Gastonguay. It is one of more than 30 works by artists from Lewiston on display in the State Senate offices. Deb Friedman, Policy Director for Senate President Beth Edmonds looks on. [...]



Governor Accepts Donation to ‘Flag Fund' at Veterans' Memorial Cemetery

Wed, 21 May 2008 15:01:37 EDT

AUGUSTA - Governor John E. Baldacci joined Senate President Beth Edmonds today to accept a check for the Veterans' Cemetery Flag Fund. A new law passed last year established the fund to provide American flags at veterans' graves in Maine Veterans' Cemeteries. Donald A. Simoneau, Department of Maine Past State Commander of the American Legion, presented the check to Governor Baldacci.

"I want to commend Don (Simoneau) and his fellow veterans for the dedication they exhibit to their entire communities," Governor Baldacci said. "They not only served their country proudly during war, but they continue to serve here at home."

Simoneau presented a check for $2,637.38 to Governor Baldacci. The money will be set aside to pay for replacement flags and for new flags on additional grave sites. This is the first year excess private donations will go to the flag fund.

"As a leader of the American Legion, he has organized an army of volunteers," Senate President Edmonds said of Simoneau. "When nobody else would step up to pay for the flags, he said, ‘fine I'll raise the money.' To date he has raised enough money for over 13,000 flags - flags that we will put out this weekend."

Photo links with Captions for Presentation of Check for Veterans' Cemetery Flag Fund at the Flag Circle, Maine Veterans' Memorial Cemetery on May 21, 2008 http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/DSC06963.JPG - Donald A. Simoneau, Past Department of Maine Commander, American Legion presents Flag Fund check to Governor John E. Baldacci

http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/DSC06968.JPG - Representative Patsy Crockett (D-Augusta); Donald A. Simoneau, Past Department of Maine Commander, American Legion; Peter Ogden, Director, Bureau of Veterans' Services; Governor John E. Baldacci; Senate President Beth Edmonds (D-Cumberland County)

http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/DSC06957.JPG - Governor John E. Baldacci; Donald A. Simoneau, Past Department of Maine Commander, American Legion; Representative Patsy Crockett (D-Augusta); Senate President Beth Edmonds (D-Cumberland County)

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Maine Senate Enacts Transportation Funding Measure, Funds Improvements from Portland to Brunswick and beyond

Thu, 08 May 2008 11:41:39 EDT

(Augusta) - Downeaster passenger train service to Brunswick got a go ahead from the Legislature Friday evening, as the State Senate enacted an Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Passenger Rail Funding. The bill, sponsored by Representative Boyd Marley, D-Portland, sets up the funding mechanism for the State Transit, Aviation and Rail (STAR) Transportation Fund and outlines disbursements from it.

Under this measure, about $3 million annually would be raised for the "STAR" account from short term auto rentals and distributed to support transit, aeronautics and rail transportation including the Downeaster train service. Interest on a Federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing or RRIF loan covering the expense of upgrading passenger rail route from Portland to Brunswick would be covered by the fund. The bill now goes to Governor Baldacci for his signature. Senator Edmonds said: "This will give communities north of Portland the opportunity to share in the prosperity that passenger rail provides. With this funding we can provide the investment necessary to improve our rail infrastructure to Downeaster standards." Senator Edmonds also spoke of the economic boost Maine would realize through improved rail travel. "This is another option for travelers to use when they choose Maine. In addition to all of the benefits of increased passenger rail service, this investment will also reap long term benefits for our freight rail infrastructure."

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Link to the STAR Fund bill as amended: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/externalsiteframe.asp?ID=280027514&LD=2019&Type=4&SessionID=7

Link to the Downeaster Resolution: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280028568

Contact: Roger Fenn, Communications Director, Senate President's Office 207-287-1558



Maine Senate Adjourns Session, Senate President Edmonds Notes Accomplishments

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 10:20:45 EDT

(Augusta) - The Maine Senate adjourned "sine-die", on Friday, April 18 at 11:10 p.m., having completed its work for the 123rd Legislative biennium. In her closing statement, Senate President Edmonds said "We passed Legislation this session aiming to help Maine people in many ways. Homeowners, seniors, youth and working middle class Mainers are all members of the extended ‘family' we serve as citizen Legislators." She concluded: "The scores of bills we passed will help Mainers live safer, better, and more prosperous lives. When I spoke at the opening day of this session, I mentioned the challenges we face in a tight economy - how we must not do less for Maine people. I believe we have met that challenge successfully."Senator Edmonds' prepared remarks to the Senate are below:"We have much to be proud of: Many bills were passed this session aiming to help Maine people in many, many ways. Homeowners, seniors, youth and working middle class Mainers are all members of the extended ‘family' we serve as citizen Legislators. "The bulk of Legislative time earlier this session was devoted to making sure the State supplemental budget truly reflected the needs of Maine people without severely cutting services. It wasn't easy! We were faced with closing a $190 million budget gap due to a downturn in the national economy. We balanced the budget by cutting spending and streamlining programs. We accomplished this without increasing broad based taxes and with no use of money from the state's "rainy day" fund. "Some of the most difficult cuts were made in the Health and Human Service area. Understanding the importance of many of these programs, the Legislature rejected $27 million of the Governor's originally proposed $92 million of cuts in services. Among other things, we rejected cuts to homemaker services for the elderly and cuts to personal care attendants for those with physical disabilities."In the past year I set some goals by which we would better serve Maine people. Beyond being fiscally responsible, I have always felt that the State is responsible to our citizens."The Laws we passed here reflect Maine values - we care for Maine people, helping to ensure an excellent education in the elementary, middle and high schools across our state. In these past two years we have collaborated to craft Legislation that moves our school systems toward more efficiency, while keeping the community ties we all desire so much. "We have supported greater investment in our institutions of higher learning. The people of Maine followed our lead by approving a bond issue at the polls last year. "These efforts are paying off. The University of Maine was recently recognized as one of the best research universities in the U.S. We have encouraged economic development with economic development initiatives, business friendly legislation and a major bond issue supporting the grants for innovation by the Maine Technology Institute."Our transportations system - bridges and roads - are in need of work -especially after this unusually brutal winter weather. Just this week we passed an act to Keep Bridges Safe and Roads Passable. The bill authorizes the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, at the request of the Department of Transportation, to issue revenue bonds of $40 million per year for four years for the purpose of making capital improvements to bridges. And today we passed authorization for $50 million in TransCap Revenue Bonds over the next 5 years for sorely needed highway reconstruction projects. As we travel home to our districts, we can feel we did our best to maintain the safety of our bridges and roads."We can be proud of our accomplishments in health care. The Commonwealth Fund ranks Maine 5th in the nation for overall health system performance. Now we have the opportunity to improve this even more with the essentials in the bill we passed earlier this week to grow Dirigo Health."And we passed An Act to Better Coordinate and Reduce the Cost of the De[...]



Senate President Edmonds' Bill Expanding Legislators' Financial Disclosure Moves Forward

Wed, 16 Apr 2008 15:56:30 EDT

AUGUSTA - "An Act to Increase Public Confidence in Government by Expanding Public Disclosure," LD 2178, was passed in the Senate Monday afternoon. The Legislation, sponsored by Senate President Beth Edmonds, D-Cumberland County, expands the requirements for financial disclosure by Legislators and Executive Branch officials.

Under current law, members of the Legislature and the Executive Branch are required to disclose all sources of income of $1,000 or more. The bill requires more detailed reporting of job titles and sources of income of Legislators and immediate family members. Legislators would also have to annually disclose directorships and other positions in non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses.

Significantly, the bill requires the Ethics Commission to post financial disclosure of Legislators on the internet.

"Maine legislators already disclose their major sources of income, but few realize it because accessing the information requires a trip to the Ethics Commission". said Senator Edmonds. "Requiring internet posting is a major step forward in making government more transparent".

The measure proceeds through the Legislature for enactment votes in the near future.

Information about the bill is at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/sponsors.asp?ID=280027889

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Contact: Roger Fenn, Communications Director - 207-287-1558



Senate Votes Initial Approval on Transportation Bill - Funds Improvements from Portland to Brunswick and beyond

Tue, 29 Apr 2008 10:41:54 EDT

(Augusta) - Downeaster passenger train service to Brunswick came one step closer today, as the state Senate gave initial passage to "An Act To Make Capital Rail Improvements for Economic Development Purposes". The bill, sponsored by Representative Boyd Marley, D-Portland, sets up the funding mechanism for the State Transit, Aviation and Rail (STAR) Transportation Fund and outlines disbursements from it.

Under this measure, about $3 million annually would be raised for the "STAR" account from short term auto rentals and distributed to support transit, aeronautics and rail transportation including the Downeaster train service. Interest on a Federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing or RRIF loan covering the expense of upgrading passenger rail route from Portland to Brunswick would be covered by the fund.

The bill now moves forward for final votes in the House and Senate in the next few days. Earlier this year Senate President Beth Edmonds convened a group of Legislators to work on issues pertaining to railroads in Maine. This "Rail Caucus" had several purposes. Initially, it gathered to support continuing "Downeaster" service. The group was in favor of improving the rail connection from Portland to Brunswick. This would also provide the key connection for passenger rail from Brunswick to Rockland. Another concern of the Rail Caucus was improving freight rail from Portland to Yarmouth junction, providing a better potential link to the intermodal center in Auburn.

The group's over-arching goal was to improve the railroad system throughout Maine. Senator Edmonds said: "Passage of LD 2019 helps bring to fruition the rail link and statewide improvements important to the Rail Caucus".

In addition to supporting this bill, the rail caucus also was behind a joint resolution in support of expansion of Downeaster Rail Service in Maine. The measure, passed in early April enjoyed broad bipartisan sponsorship by Legislators from many parts of Maine.

The work of the Rail Caucus is helping to implement some of the recommendations in the Governor's Task Force on Passenger Rail and realizing some of the thoughts about rail laid out in the past couple of years. When Senator Edmonds proposed a bond to upgrade the Portland - Brunswick connection last year, she said: "We want to give communities north of Portland the opportunity to share in the prosperity that passenger rail provides. With this proposal we can and will provide the investment necessary to improve our rail infrastructure to Downeaster standards. "Senator Edmonds also spoke of the economic boost Maine would realize through improved rail travel. "This is another option for travelers to use when they choose Maine. In addition to all of the benefits of increased passenger rail service, this investment will also reap long term benefits for our freight rail infrastructure. -30-

Link to the STAR Fund bill as amended: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/externalsiteframe.asp?ID=280027514&LD=2019&Type=4&SessionID=7

Link to the Downeaster Resolution: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280028568

Roger Q. Fenn, Communications Director, Senate President's Office. 207-287-1558



State Budget Enacted in Maine Senate

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 15:57:54 EDT

(Augusta) - The Maine Senate voted in favor of final passage for the State Supplemental Budget 18-17. It won majority approval in the House of Representatives earlier tonight. The budget addresses an anticipated $190 million deficit in the coming 15 months with a combination of cuts and efficiencies. The budget has been agreed to with no tax increase, with expense reductions to an extensive number of government departments and programs. Senate President Beth Edmonds said: "We have worked diligently to gather the best possible consensus for all Maine people. I gratefully thank the Appropriations Committee and all those who worked so hard to forge consensus on this budget". The Legislature's majority budget rejected $27 million of the proposed $92 million cuts in Health and Human Services originally proposed by the Governor. The reinstated services include support for domestic violence and sexual assault services, family planning, personal care for those with physical disabilities, and assertive community mental health treatment services. Overall, the majority budget cut spending by $130 million from the level contained in the budget when it was initially approved last year. The bill, LD 2289, now goes to the Governor for his signature. -30-




Veterans' Bill Moves Forward in the Senate, Offers Better Veterans' Services in Maine

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 15:54:01 EDT

(Augusta) - Many Maine veterans do not receive all the benefits to which they are entitled, according to the Bureau of Maine Veterans Services. The Veterans' agency has few resources to reach out to Veterans, despite a dramatic increase in Veterans due to the Iraq war.

Senate President Beth Edmonds' bill, an Act to Meet the Emergency Needs of Maine Veterans, provides a way to link more Maine Veterans with all the benefits for which they are eligible. The measure, as amended by the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee, had initial passage in the Maine State Senate last week.

In the past five years the total recovery of veterans' benefits in Maine has remained flat, according to data provided by Maine Veterans' Services. There are six Maine Veterans' Service offices now in Caribou, Machias, Bangor, Waterville, Lewiston and Springvale. This measure will expand efforts to educate veterans about Federal benefit programs. It is a simple way to assist those people who have stood up to defend all of us.

Senator Edmonds said: "With this bill, we will take a great step to assisting Maine Veterans. This group of folks served our country with distinction, yet we do an inadequate job of assisting them upon their return to the U.S. Under this plan, they could claim additional millions in Federal V.A. benefits they deserve in the coming years".

The bill, LD 1985, now goes to additional votes this week in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

-30-

For the amendment replacing the bill go to: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/externalsiteframe.asp?ID=280027477&LD=1985&Type=4&SessionID=7




Measure Expanding Legislators' Financial Disclosure Moves Forward, Senate President Edmonds' Bill Earns Strong Committee Vote

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 15:51:12 EDT





AUGUSTA - "An Act to Increase Public Confidence in Government by Expanding Public Disclosure," LD 2178, was given strong approval by the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee Monday. The Legislation, sponsored by Senate President Beth Edmonds (D-Cumberland County) expands the requirements for financial disclosure by Legislators and Executive Branch officials.

Senator Edmonds said: "I greatly appreciate the hard work of the committee to reach this agreement. It assures that strengthened financial disclosures will receive approval by the full Legislature".

Under this measure, as amended, the Legislature and the Executive Branch will be required to disclose all sources of income of $1,000 or more. It also requires reporting of job titles and sources of income of immediate family members. Legislators and Executive Branch officials will be required to annually submit a report of real estate holdings and investment interests with values more than $10,000. The bill also requires legislators to annually disclose directorships and other positions in non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses.

Edmonds concluded: "Maine is blessed with tremendously dedicated and ethical public servants. The additional financial disclosure required by this bill will provide the public with more evidence of that fact. It will also remind Legislators and other public officials to be mindful of any real or perceived conflicts of interest".

The measure will proceed for approvals in the Senate and House in the near future.

Information about the bill is at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/sponsors.asp?ID=280027889

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Majority Report on Ethics Bill Enhances Transparency, Bipartisan Amendment Sustains Legislative Effectiveness

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 15:51:39 EDT

(AUGUSTA) - A bipartisan majority of Democrats and Republicans voted for amending An Act to Promote Transparency and Accountability in Governmental Ethics to increase transparency and retain the strong field of wisdom and knowledge citizen legislators bring to their work in Augusta.

Senator Lisa Marraché (D-Waterville) said: "The citizens of Maine deserve knowledgeable Legislators representing them. This amendment preserves the current view of potential conflicts of interest, allowing members to bring their understanding and unique professional experience to their Committees". Senator Marraché also said: "The Legislature must have an extensive knowledge of Maine's working issues. This majority amendment keeps the Legislature strong, counterbalancing the Executive Branch, Lobbyists and the limitations of term limits".

The bill, LD 2219, also strengthens the procedure to issue advisory opinions on problems or questions involving possible violations of Legislative Ethics. It more clearly defines prohibited campaign contributions and solicitations from employers or lobbyists. -30-



Committee Heads Toward Completing work on State Budget, Senate President Edmonds' to Temporarily Chair Appropriations Comm.

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 15:45:31 EDT

(Augusta) - The Appropriations Committee continued work though late Wednesday night, with majority agreement on most items. A few details remain to be completed Thursday afternoon including funding for Higher Education and several other fiscal adjustments. Senate Chair Peggy Rotundo (D-Androscoggin) is unable to attend this afternoon's session due to a family matter.

Senate President Beth Edmonds has been appointed Committee Chair, replacing Senator Rotundo until her return. Senator Edmonds said: "It has always been a goal of Leadership to close the budget thoughtfully and swiftly. I have been following the budget process closely and am prepared to Chair Appropriations to complete this process today".

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Waterville Art Society Exhibits in Senate President's Office

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 15:41:33 EDT

(Augusta) - The work of members of the Waterville Art Society is on exhibit in the office of Maine Senate President Beth Edmonds' from now through mid April. An extensive selection of works by this large group of artists depicts familiar Maine scenes in several different media.

Senate President Edmonds said: "We're fortunate to live in a place that offers such beautiful subject matter for artists. Seeing these works in one place is like taking a tour through the eyes of many creative folks from around Maine". Senator Lisa Marraché, who represents the district including Waterville, said: "I'm glad that artists who live in my area have this opportunity to show their work in the State House".

Pastels include views of the Fieldstone Gardens, Maine Ice Boats and the Damariscotta River. Some of the Oil paintings in the exhibition take in a scene of Water Street in Augusta, Governor Bodwell's House, a view of Rockland and the New Harbor Co-op. There are also acrylics of a tidal stream, City of Portland Fireboat, and "Cat".

Laurie Proctor, President of the Art Society said: "We are delighted to exhibit in the Capital. This work is just a sample of how creative our many members are".

Artists showing their work at the President's office include Judy Schuppien, Sandra Carl, Penny Markley, Carol Fowler, Laurie Proctor, Pauline Turner, Nancy Kay Fraser, Patricia Binette, Anne Rhinehardt, Mary Louise Town Jaqua, and Keith M. Curtis.

Over twenty works are on display for this exhibition. The public is encouraged to see the display in the President's Office, Room 328 in the Maine State House, adjacent to the Senate Chamber. For information about open hours please call 287-1500. The Waterville Art Society represents over 50 artists throughout the mid Maine area. -30-




Democratic Legislators lay out priorities for action on budget

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 14:37:21 EDT

AUGUSTA- Proclaiming Wednesday's 1,000 person rally against the Governor's proposed budget cuts as an historic, watershed moment, Democratic Legislative Leaders have outlined the principles that will guide their hand as they work to amend portions of the Governor's plan over the coming days and weeks.

Senate President Beth Edmonds (D-Freeport) said: "In Maine we take care of each other. When times our tough, all Maine people pull together to support each other". Senator Edmonds concluded: "Maine's working middle class families are suffering with the burden of escalating heating oil and gas prices, rising health care costs and a slowing economy. We share the Governor's commitment to no broad based tax increases".

Democratic Legislators announced their commitment to balance the budget without any broad-based tax increases. Leaders said they will demand that budget sacrifices are shared fairly and that strategic investments to grow the economy are preserved. They will not support the unraveling of the critical safety net helps Maine's families.

Warning of the effect the proposed cuts would have on Maine's economy, legislative leaders pointed out that the combined impact of the proposed state and Bush Administration health care cuts would result in the loss of nearly 10,000 health care jobs statewide, based on a formula developed by the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The same figures show that the city of Portland slated to lose nearly 1,400 jobs, the city of Augusta 400 jobs, in Bangor the estimate is over 600 jobs.

"The public has been offered a flawed choice: cut life saving and economically vital services, or to drastically raise taxes," said Cummings. "We are here today to say that this is a false choice. There are better choices to be made, and there are other cuts that can be made. The budget should not be balanced on middle class and working Mainers, it should be balanced fairly and equitably across government."

With more Mainers than ever seeking to enter college so they can learn the skills they need to excel in a modern, global economy, cuts that will close those doors are being termed short sighted.

"Cutting our higher education system by millions of dollars will do more harm than good to working and middle class families who are going to school to gain the skills and knowledge that our businesses require. We know cuts are necessary to balance this budget, and they will be made. However, we simply cannot accept cuts that damage the potential of our middle class," said Senate Majority Leader Libby Mitchell.

After working late into the night on Thursday with her committee to review the Governor's health and human services cuts, Rep. Anne Perry, House Chairwoman of the committee, shared news on the number of items that the committee made progress on. [Items the HHS committee reached broad, if not unanimous, bipartisan consensus on last night are summarized below.]

"Our committee has been through an open, strong and deliberative process and we have real concerns about the people being affected," Perry said. "There was bipartisan agreement among our committee members that there are portions of the budget we absolutely cannot accept. We have been able to see the faces of the people these cuts may affect, and this has influenced our resolve to develop a budget that causes the least harm."

Audio of the Press Conference: http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/BudgetLegislature-PC-2008-03-14.mp3

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Bill Expanding Legislators' Financial Disclosure heard in Committee, Senate President Edmonds' Proposal has Strong Support

Thu, 06 Mar 2008 11:37:38 EST

(Augusta) - Senate President Beth Edmonds (D-Cumberland County) introduced An Act To Increase Public Confidence in Government by Expanding Public Disclosure to the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday. In order to broaden transparency in government, Senator Edmonds is sponsoring this bill, LD 2178, that expands our disclosure laws to require legislators and executive branch officials to annually submit a report of their real estate holdings with values more than $10,000; investment interests over $2,500 and directorships and other positions in non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses. The bill also requires the Ethics Commission to publish disclosure forms on the Internet.Senate President Edmonds said: "I'm not submitting this bill to imply that Maine Legislators or executive officials are hiding their financial interests or acting inappropriately. As the title of the bill suggests, the purpose of the bill is to increase public confidence in the processes of government. The public needs to feel comfortable that we make our decisions based on sound policy and the considerations of the needs of Maine people, not based on our personal financial interests."Jon Bartholomew of Common Cause Maine emphasized the need for media and the press to quickly do research about Legislators when under a deadline. "It is important they can access this information quickly and easily. This provision makes the Legislature truly much more accountable and transparent" said Bartholomew in his prepared testimony.Roy Lenardson, Executive Director of Maine LEADS, stated: " With such a massive government and the wide range of policy proposals considered under this dome every day, the public has a right to know if a Legislator's sources of income, occupation or other interests, financial or otherwise, may play a role in a Legislator's statements, actions or votes." Lenardson added: " Instead of passing new rules or new laws that focus on what will happen if you don't do something, this legislation makes it clear that you are willing to give your constituents the information they deserve at the beginning of the process - and be held accountable and completely forthcoming."Ann Luther, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Maine said her organization, in principal, favors disclosure and transparency. Presentations by Assistant Secretary of State Julie Flynn and Ethics Commissioner Jonathan Wayne outlined some of the current details regarding disclosure and the steps which could be taken to implement the proposed legislation. Speaker Glenn Cummings and Majority Leaders Libby Mitchell and Hannah Pingree are among the co-sponsors on Senate President Edmond's measure. There was no testimony against the bill.A work session is scheduled for Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 1:00 pm. Hear the Committee work session live at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/audio/legal_cmte.html Archived audio of the Public hearing is at: http://www.state.me.us/legis/president/NewsReleases/DisclosureBill-LD2178-PH-2008-03-03.mp3 Information about the bill is at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/sponsors.asp?ID=280027889 ###TESTIMONY of SENATOR BETH EDMONDS IN SUPPORT OF LD 2178, An Act to Increase Public Confidence in Government by Expanding Public Disclosure Senator Marraché, Representative Patrick and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Legal and Veterans' Affairs, I am Senator Beth Edmonds and I represent Senate District 10, the towns of Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell and Pownal. I don't usually submit bills in response to rankings or grades given to us by national organizations, but this bill is an exception. Last summer, the Portland Press Herald publishe[...]