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 21, 2014 - Newsletter from the House
Sign Up for Free Disposal of Banned, Unusable Pesticides
This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry's (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help Mainers dispose of banned pesticides or unusable pesticides. This free disposal program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms, and greenhouses. Collection will occur at sites located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta, and Portland. To qualify, people must register by September 26, 2014.
The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.
Registration by September 26, 2014 is mandatory, as drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site or call (207) 287-2731.
The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.
For more information on the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, go to: http://www.thinkfirstspraylast.org
For more information on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dep
Consumer Protection Alert Following Data Breach Announcement by Shaw's Parent Company
Governor Paul R. LePage joined officials at Maine's Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to reassure consumers that State and federal laws are in place to protect them from major losses due to file breaches containing debit and credit card information, such as the one disclosed August 14 by AB Acquisition LLC, which operates Shaw's supermarkets in Maine and other states.
The Bureau of Financial Institutions and Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation outlined the following information and guidance for consumers responding to news of a financial data breach.
Consumers should always thoroughly review credit and debit card statements from the card issuer, and also review all other account statements from their bank or credit union.
If consumers have online access to their credit or debit card information, they should review account activity as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the statement to arrive in the mail.
If a credit or debit card was used at a business that has experienced a data security breach, or there is uncertainty about whether a card was used, consumers should be especially diligent in evaluating charges or withdrawals on their statement.
Since the data breach involving Shaw's reportedly began in June, consumers should review statements covering June to the present.
If unknown charges or other suspicious activity appear on the account, consumers should notify the financial institution that issued the credit or debit card.
Consumers do NOT need to contact the company that experienced the data breach, such as Shaw's.
Consumers' liability for unauthorized use of a CREDIT CARD is limited to $50. If account numbers have been stolen, consumers have no liability for unauthorized use.
Consumers noticing unauthorized activity on their DEBIT CARD resulting from a data breach have sixty (60) days from when the bank or credit union sent the statement to report it. If consumers fail to notify the bank or credit union of unauthorized transactions within this time, they are liable for the amount of the unauthorized transactions. This 60-day timeframe applies ONLY when the card's data has been compromised through a data breach, as in the Shaw's case. See below for details about when a DEBIT CARD has been lost or stolen.
When a DEBIT CARD has been lost or stolen, consumers have two (2) business days after learning of the loss or theft to notify their financial institution in order to limit their liability to $50. If they do not notify their bank or credit union about the lost or stolen DEBIT CARD within two (2) business days, consumers may be liable for up to $500 of the unauthorized transactions. If consumers do not notify their financial institution within sixty (60) days after being provided a monthly statement that lists a fraudulent debit, they can be liable for unauthorized withdrawals of any amount that occur after that 60-day period.
To be safe, DEBIT CARD holders should act immediately if they notice unauthorized withdrawals.
If impacted by unauthorized charges or withdrawals, consumers should first call the bank or credit union that issued the credit or debit card, and then follow up in writing to explain the problem.
Some banks and credit unions may issue new cards to customers whose credit or debit card numbers are known to have been compromised through a data breach.
Consumers may ask a financial institution to re-issue a new card if they have concerns about their account.
Again, consumers do NOT need to contact the business that was subject to the data breach; and they need to contact the bank or credit union that issued their credit or debit card ONLY if they notice suspicious activity on their statement.
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.