Welcome to my web site, where it is my intent to keep you current with the happenings of the 126th Maine legislature, at least from my perspective. I feel honored and humbled to once again have earned your trust and support at the polls as I enter my final two years of public service in Augusta as the voice of House District 81 (Leeds, Livermore, Livermore Falls and Wayne). Having survived the Democrat wave where the majority Republican party was basically thrown out after only two years in control of the legislature, my role will be somewhat different but nevertheless just as important as I continue to advocate for the good citizens of my district and the greater constituency of the citizens of the state. Much good was accomplished over the last two years and, despite all the rhetoric of the campaign season, I believe both parties recognize that fact. We now must continue to collaborate and cooperate with each other as well as with the executive branch to make our great state a better place to live for all.
Immediately below these introductory comments you will find a weekly synopsis of some of the vital news events occurring in the capitol. These are essentially the same as those distributed through my weekly e-mails for those of you who have asked to receive same. I invite anyone who wishes to receive my weekly communications to call or e-mail with the appropriate address.
Other sections of the site provide data on how to reach me should I be able to assist you in some fashion. Frankly, that is one aspect of serving you that I particularly like. As your liaison with the myriad state agencies with which you might want to contact, I can assist you through what many see as a labyrinth of great challenge. That should not be the case and I invite you to call upon me when your personal search seems too unwieldy.
Since my first election I sat down every weekend to write a news column on some salient feature of the legislative workings. This article is printed in the LF Advertiser and a copy is provided to the town managers of the four communities weekly so that they might include it on the town's website should they wish. All citizens can visit my website if they do not have access to the newspaper or their community does not reprint it on its own site.
Finally, there are sections showing the bills that I have personally sponsored or co-sponsored. Efforts will be made to tie this website to the state's so that all legislative bills will be available to you.
Thanks for visiting my website. Should you have any questions whatsoever or need my assistance in any state matter, please let me know. It will be my privilege to serve you!
August 11, 2014 - Newsletter from the House
Secretary of State Announces Launch of Enhanced Online Absentee Ballot Request ServiceMaine's Secretary of State announced that the Online Absentee Ballot Request Service for the November 4 general and referendum election is now available. The service has been enhanced to facilitate requests from emergency aid workers and displaced voters should a state of emergency occur that requires aid workers or voters to relocate. This option will be available only during a state of emergency and offers functionality similar to requests from Maine residents who are stationed in the military or residing in another country.
All Maine municipalities are required to accept electronic requests for absentee ballots. Municipal clerks will process the requests and mail out absentee ballots when they become available.
The service allows any registered Maine voter to request their absentee ballot by:
completing and submitting their request form online;
filling out the request form online, then printing and signing the completed form to mail to their municipal clerk; or
by printing a blank request form to fill out by hand and deliver to their municipal clerk.
The service is available now for voters to submit their requests; however, ballots will not be sent out until 30 to 45 days before the election. Once a voter has submitted their request using the online service, they will be sent an automated e-mail notification containing the information they submitted and a confirmation number. When the request is processed and accepted by their municipal clerk, they will be sent an additional status notification.
State of Maine Concludes Fiscal Year with Surplus
Governor Paul R. LePage recently announced that the State ended the fiscal year with a surplus, which brings total revenue reserves to more than $90 million.
Improved fiscal management and reliable revenue forecasting are contributing factors for the flow of excess money. There is now a surplus of $39.1 million and an excess General Fund balance of $9.8 million.
After the payments that are required as part of the statutorily required year-end "cascade" were made, the State concluded the most recent fiscal year with total reserves of $93.2 million.
The balance of the budget stabilization fund, a key focus of Governor LePage and rating agencies, such as Moody's Investors Service, has increased by more than $8 million after the year-end transfer, bringing the total balance to $68.3 million.
After all year-end transfers, the State has $12.5 million in unappropriated surplus that will carry forward to be used in Fiscal Year 2015.
Maine Launches Anti-distracted Driving Program
A new program to combat distracted driving has been unveiled by State Police. The Chief of the State Police, Colonel Robert Williams, said the four-year effort will concentrate on drivers who are not paying attention to the operation of their vehicles.
In addition to the enforcement campaign, Highway Safety began airing public service announcements on Maine radio stations. The program also includes safety messages posted on large commercial trucks traveling Maine highways
Drug Testing for Convicted Felons Receiving Maine Welfare Benefits
Governor Paul R. LePage has announced that the State of Maine is moving forward with its plan to conduct drug tests of convicted drug felons who are applying for or receiving welfare benefits.
Over the last several months, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has focused efforts on designing its drug-testing measures to ensure privacy and fairness while reinforcing accountability and integrity in the program. The tests will be required of drug felons who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
When a person applies for benefits, the individual must report whether he or she has a prior drug-related felony conviction. If the answer is yes, the State will schedule a drug test and notify the individual 24 hours prior to the actual test. If a person tests positive, the individual will have the option to be tested a second time. At any time, an individual can avoid termination of benefits by enrolling in an approved and appropriate substance abuse program. Those who fail to disclose they are convicted drug felons will be found in violation of program rules and will face immediate termination of benefits.
July 31, 2014 - Newsletter from the House
Maine Department of Labor Seeks Employer Feedback on Drug-Testing Statute
The Maine Department of Labor is soliciting the input of Maine businesses and other organizations regarding the current statute governing employee-testing for alcohol and drug use in the workplace. Businesses interested in participating in the survey must contact the department to receive a survey invitation; invitations are limited to one per business or organization. During the last legislative session, a number of issues were raised concerning drug testing in the workplace. As a result, the department is seeking feedback to formulate future changes to the law and its rules to address employer and employee concerns. Employers wanting to enact a drug-testing program must have a policy approved by the Maine Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Standards, with the exception of federally covered employees.
Those interested in taking the survey should email Mark Dawson, firstname.lastname@example.org , in the Bureau of Labor Standards. The survey will be available online through August 15, 2014.
Maine's substance-testing law is an outlier in a number of ways. Maine is the only state that does not allow probable-cause testing for the first accident; fully exempts employers who have just one employee subject to federal testing; and requires employers to pay for any EAP or uncovered drug rehab costs.
More information on Maine's workplace drug-testing laws is available on the Department of Labor's website at http://www.maine.gov/labor/laborlaws/substanceabuse_testing/ .
Treasurer Douglass Warns of Suspicious, Unofficial Unclaimed Property Postcards from Outside Maine
Postcards sent from a Colorado address, promising to return unclaimed property to rightful owners, are not being sent by the Office of the State Treasurer, according to Maine Treasurer Neria Douglass.
"Postcards mailed from out of State are not from the State Treasurer, and are highly suspicious. Unfortunately, the responsible party is trying to mislead people; luring them to respond by using our unclaimed property program. I recommended that anyone who receives notice from outside Maine does not respond in any way."
"I continue to encourage Mainers to check the state's official Unclaimed Property List at http://www.maine.gov/unclaimed and to make claims on their rightful property," Douglass added.
The Office of the State Treasurer does utilize mailed postcards to notify owners of unclaimed property. There are a number of ways to tell official notices from false ones. Notices from the Maine State Treasurer will be mailed from an Augusta, ME return address, they will direct owners to an official State of Maine website (maine.gov), they will advertise the Treasurer's local phone number (207) 624-7470, and they will bear the official seal of the state of Maine and the signature of the Treasurer.
Links to Suspicious Postcard Images http://www.maine.gov/treasurer/suspiciouspostcard1.jpg http://www.maine.gov/treasurer/suspiciouspostcard2.jpg
Link to Search Unclaimed Property List: http://www.maine.gov/unclaimed
Maine Any Deer Permit Lottery
While the deadline for paper applications has passed, individuals have until 11:59 PM on August 15th to submit online applications for the Maine Any Deer Permit Lottery. From the list of lottery applicants, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will administer a chance drawing on September 9th to select winners for a Maine Any Deer Hunting Permit. To hunt Any Deer in Maine, hunters must have one of these special Any Deer Hunting Permits.
Please note, you may only supply the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife with one application for the lottery per year; if it is found that an applicant has applied more than one time in a year, that applicant will be disqualified.
You are eligible to apply online if :
You have a current valid Maine Big Game Hunting License (complimentary and lifetime licenses are acceptable); and
You are a resident of the United States or Canada.
To complete the application you will need :
Current Big Game Hunting License (or complimentary or lifetime license number)
Districts to hunt in
Personal information (Name, Address, Age, etc)
Landowner Information (if applicable) including acres and town
There are no fees to apply for the Any Deer permit lottery.