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!
June 15, 2013 - Newsletter from the House
Legislature Deals With Biennial Budget and Hospital Debt Repayment LD 1555, "An Act To Strengthen Maine\'s Hospitals and To Provide for a New Spirits Contract," passed both the Maine House and Senate unanimously under the hammer, moving the state closer to repaying the debt owed to hospitals. The measure will pay Maine's hospitals, restructure the state's liquor operations and sales, and advance bonds.
The biennial budget proposal for 2014/2015 was also considered by the House and Senate, with a 102-43 vote in favor of enactment in the House and a 25-10 vote in favor of enactment in the Senate. The budget proposal now awaits a decision by Governor LePage.
Teen Work Permits Now Available for Download The Maine Department of Labor has made the youth work-permit application available online in time for the summer hiring season. All minors under the age of 16 must have a work permit before they start a job, whether or not they attend school.
For teens under the age of 16, restrictions limit the types of jobs and the hours they can work. Minors cannot work jobs considered "hazardous." Some of the jobs Maine teens under 18 years old cannot do include operating most mechanical equipment, driving for work and working alone in a cash-based business.
Teens or parents can download the work-permit application HERE , and drop off the completed form, which must include a parent's signature, at the superintendent's office. Blank forms are available at superintendent's offices for pick up as well.
Parents and employers can expedite the approval process by making sure the work permit request includes both proof of age and parental/guardian approval. The application must contain the specific job duties (e.g., "dishwasher"). The name of the business on the permit must be the actual business name, which may be different from what people commonly call it.
The school district sends the completed application to the Maine Department of Labor for approval. Teens can have two active work permits in the summer but only one permit during the school year.
A copy of the Guide to Maine Laws Governing the Employment of Minors is posted on the Maine Department of Labor website and is available by request by calling (207) 623-7900. Additional forms and information about employment law in Maine are available at the Bureau of Labor Standards' website .
Community Preservation Grants available; deadline July 1
Each year, Historic New England provides Community Preservation Grants of $1,000 each to a small to mid-sized heritage organization in each of the six New England states. These grants support projects that raise the visibility of historic preservation and present diverse stories of life in our region. Past projects have included the renovation of a historic theater in New Hampshire, preservation of hand-colored photographs in Rhode Island, and the purchase of archival shelving to preserve family papers in Vermont.
Historic New England seeks to support projects that complement our goal of telling diverse stories of New England life. Award recipients will be announced in August 2013.
The application is simple. Apply online before Monday, July 1.
Maine History Corner
At the turn of the century, two of Maine's famous citizens were oxen - the world's largest, in fact. Owned by A.S. Rand of Stetson, and named A. Granger and Mt. Katahdin, the two oxen weighed in at about 6600 pounds and were too big to do farm work. In order to keep their leg muscles strong enough to support their massive weight, Rand placed the oxen's water at the end of a raised board so they were forced to exercise their leg muscles in order to reach it. Because they were too large for farm work, Rand exhibited them around the northeast United States and southeast Canada. They were even displayed at Madison Square Garden in 1906. After the death of Mt. Katahdin, the ox was mounted and used in events such as parades until it was destroyed in a 1934 fire. Lore says that A. Granger was buried under an apple tree in Stetson following his death.
June 8, 2013 - Newsletter from the House
Maine House Debates Military Recruiter Bills
The Maine House of Representatives recently took up two bills concerning military recruiters in public schools. The first, LD 1502, requires that public high schools allow recruiters to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to students who elect to take it. Under the bill, recruiters, not school staff, would take the time to administer the test, which would remain voluntary for the students.
That bill was rejected mostly along party lines. Majority Democrats on the Education Committee had previously recommended that it ought not to pass. Republican lawmakers, many of them veterans, rose to speak in favor of the bill.
The second bill, LD 1503, saw even more spirited debate. The bill carried the same party line ought not to pass report out of the Education Committee, and reads that military recruiters must be given the same access to public schools as other career recruiters and that they must be allowed to wear their uniforms into schools. The bill comes as a result of military recruiters in Maine approaching Governor LePage, citing instances of seven schools requiring they wear civilian clothes, limiting school visits to annual restocking of brochure racks with no student interaction, or requiring advance signup and parental consent in order to speak to a recruiter. After roughly an hour of debate on LD 1503, the House rejected the majority ought not to pass report and accepted the minority ought to pass as amended report.
Both bills were Governor's Bills sponsored by House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport.
Maine DOE Announces School Improvement Webinar Series When the Maine Department of Education (DOE) released the A-F report cards for the state's schools as part of its new Maine School Performance Grading System, the Department stated it would engage educators and the public in a positive, productive conversation about how we can work together to improve our schools. In the past month, Maine DOE regional representatives and Title I consultants have been reaching out to "D" and "F" schools to capture their challenges and a better sense of the support they seek from the Department and other resources. The Department is also learning about the strategies and interventions that have already been put in place that are having success and could be replicated in other schools. In August, the Department plans to hold meetings in each of the nine regional superintendent districts to share findings as well as the targeted improvement resources that will be provided. In the meantime, as part of its commitment to being a resource to support all schools in their improvement efforts, Maine DOE is launching a school improvement webinar series, with four webinars already scheduled for this month. These free webinars will run through June 18, resuming again in August and will be archived on the Educator Resources page. If you are unable to participate but have question(s) to pose to the presenter(s), please send them in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. When the Maine Department of Education (DOE) released the A-F report cards for the state's schools as part of its new Maine School Performance Grading System, the Department stated it would engage educators and the public in a positive, productive conversation about how we can work together to improve our schools.
In the past month, Maine DOE regional representatives and Title I consultants have been reaching out to "D" and "F" schools to capture their challenges and a better sense of the support they seek from the Department and other resources. The Department is also learning about the strategies and interventions that have already been put in place that are having success and could be replicated in other schools. In August, the Department plans to hold meetings in each of the nine regional superintendent districts to share findings as well as the targeted improvement resources that will be provided.
In the meantime, as part of its commitment to being a resource to support all schools in their improvement efforts, Maine DOE is launching a school improvement webinar series, with four webinars already scheduled for this month. These free webinars will run through June 18, resuming again in August and will be archived on the Educator Resources page. If you are unable to participate but have question(s) to pose to the presenter(s), please send them in advance to email@example.com.
Education Forums Assist Social Security Beneficiaries in Identifying Work Opportunities Maine CareerCenters are hosting a series of community forums in June highlighting work incentives that assist people receiving Social Security disability benefits in returning to work. The public is welcome to attend. Pre-registration is encouraged.
Participants will learn about the Ticket-to-Work initiative that provides many Social Security beneficiaries with more choices for receiving employment services. The program encourages eligible Mainers to work through the CareerCenter network to access employment and training services, vocational rehabilitation and other support services necessary to achieve an employment goal.
"Hiring workers with disabilities makes good business sense because research shows that people with disabilities are loyal employees and loyal customers," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "We want to assist every Maine citizen in gaining meaningful employment."
National Mortgage Settlement Distribution The practice of 'robo-signing' documents that led to widespread abuses by national mortgage servicing companies led to a landmark $1.5 billion settlement against five of America's largest firms. About 1,379 Maine residents will begin receiving checks that average approximately $1,480.
"The abuses by the national mortgage industry were extremely disturbing and they needed to be held accountable," said Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills. "In addition to the compensation to the people who were subjected to these bad practices, the settlement seeks to stop it from happening again by requiring tough new mortgaging servicing standards. People have the right to a fair and accurate review of their mortgage documents and this settlement will uphold that standard for all Mainers."
Checks will begin to be sent to Mainers who lost their homes to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, had their mortgage serviced by one of the settlement's five participating mortgage servicers, and submitted a valid claim form. The participating servicers include Ally (formerly GMAC), Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo.
Borrowers with questions about their National Mortgage Settlement payment should call settlement administrator Rust Consulting at 1-866-430-8358. Consumers with questions can also go to: www.NationalMortgageSettlement.com.