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!
March 7, 2014 - Newsletter from the House
Governor LePage Promotes Maple Sugar Season with Annual Tree Tapping
Governor Paul R. LePage joined Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Legislators and Maine Maple Producers on the Blaine House lawn for an annual tradition - the tapping of a maple tree. The event coincides with the beginning of maple syrup season and helps promote the industry. This year's event was buoyed by the results of a new study highlighting the economic impact of Maine's Maple Industry.
"Maine's maple industry contributes an estimated $27.7 million directly to the Maine economy," said Governor LePage. "The new study also shows that Maine's maple industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full- and part-time jobs and $25.1 million in labor income. Most importantly, this industry has a huge potential for additional job creation."
Other key findings of the study by University of Maine Professor of Economics Todd Gabe:
Maine has the third largest maple industry in the United States.
Maine's maple industry is characterized by a relatively small number of farms accounting for the vast majority of syrup that is produced.
Maine's licensed maple syrup producers have been in operation an average of 24 years, and many of the farms appear to span multiple generations.
Maine's maple industry--which counts the licensed producers, and sales at retail food stores and businesses impacted by Maine Maple Sunday--generates 567 full- and part-time jobs, and $17.3 million in labor income.
The study was funded through a partnership between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, University of Maine, and the Maine Maple Producers Association.
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted the support that Maine's maple industry receives from a variety of sources. "Governor LePage, the Legislature and particularly Representative Black (R-Wilton), all recognize the significance of Maine's rural economy," said Commissioner Whitcomb. "Today's tree-tapping event is symbolic of the broad-based support our maple industry receives and demonstrates how Maine can have multiple uses of its natural resources - maple syrup, wood production, recreation and open space."
The Blaine House tapping event also serves as a prelude to Maine Maple Sunday, which is held every year on the fourth Sunday of March. This year, Maine Maple Sunday will celebrate its 31st Anniversary on March 23, with approximately 100 sugarhouses participating throughout Maine. Sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy syrup and candy sampling, demonstrations of making syrup, sugarbush tours, and a variety of other activities.
Spring Jobs Fairs Scheduled Around the State
Spring is coming, and so are many opportunities to find a new job. The Department of Labor's network of 12 CareerCenters will be sponsoring or participating in several career fairs. Hundreds of employers will be hiring for both permanent and seasonal positions.
Job seekers who need to update their resume or practice their interviewing skills should contact a CareerCenter for free help. To find more information about jobs fairs across the state or to locate the closest CareerCenter and information about job training programs, visit the CareerCenter website, http://www.mainecareercenter.com .
Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette stated, "For those who might need training to make a career change or get a dream job, the job fairs and the CareerCenters can help people make those connections." She added, "People do not have to try to navigate the job search process on their own. In fact, people can visit a CareerCenter at any time to learn about job search strategies, improve computer skills and learn about training and apprenticeship opportunities."
Several of the job fairs have a special focus, such as the Occupational Licensing Fair in Portland on March 4, which will match veterans with specific employment resources.
Businesses interested in participating in these events and other free hiring services the department provides, such as Maine's Job Bank, should contact their local CareerCenter.
The following job fairs have been scheduled to date around the state:
Ellsworth: March 20, 9 a.m. to noon at Mill Mall, 248 State Street. Sponsored by Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce, The Jackson Laboratory, Tri-County Workforce Investment Board, Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Bangor CareerCenter and the Maine Department of Labor.
Portland: March 25, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Maine Sunday Telegram/Monster Spring Career Fair at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland. Hosted by Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. FMI call Kim at (207) 791-6135.
Machias: March 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Lee-Pellon Event Center. Employers, call Dodie at 255-1933 to register, space is limited. Sponsored by the Machias CareerCenter, the Maine Department of Labor and Northern Maine Development Corporation.
Springvale: 4th Annual York County Regional Job Fair, March 28, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Nasson Community Center, 457 Main Street, Springvale, ME. Sponsored by the York County CareerCenter, the Maine Department of Labor, York County Maine Military Community Network, Sanford Regional Technical Center, York County Community College, Sanford/Springvale Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Workforce Solutions.
Augusta: April TBA, Augusta Armory Job Fair. Open to Veterans and the general public.
Lewiston/Auburn: 11th Annual Androscoggin County Job Fair, Friday, April 4, 9 a.m. to noon at Central Maine Community College, 1250 Turner Street, Auburn. Employers should register online at http://www.androscoggincounty.com .
Presque Isle: April 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Northeastland Hotel. Sponsored by the Presque Isle CareerCenter, the Maine Department of Labor and Northern Maine Development Corporation. For employer registration information, call the Presque Isle CareerCenter at 760-6300 or 1-800-635-0357.
Calais: April 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Washington County Community College Gymnasium. Employers, call Dodie at 255-1933 to register; space is limited. Sponsored by the Calais CareerCenter, the Maine Department of Labor and Northern Maine Development Corporation.
Lincoln: April 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mattanawcook Academy, 33 Reed Drive, Lincoln. Employers contact Amanda Woodard at 207-794-3372 for registration information.
Bangor: May TBA. Spring Job Fair.
Pittsfield: May 14, Pittsfield Area Regional Job Fair, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Warsaw Middle School Gym and Cafeteria, 167 School Street. Registration form available athttp://www.pittsfield.org . Sponsored by the Ken-Som (Kennebec-Somerset) Transition Team and the Town of Pittsfield.
Augusta: June 17, First Annual State of Maine Government and Maine Municipal Government Job Fair for Veterans at the Augusta Armory.
Classroom resources available for Maine Statehood Day
March 15 marks Statehood Day, which according to State statute is intended to "commemorate the admission of Maine as a state into the United States of America and the ideals and wisdom of those men and women who have formed Maine's history and traditions."
Maine schools are urged to observe the day and the Maine Historical Society provides a number of online resources to support classroom learning and celebrations, among them:
An online exhibit, To Separate or Not to Separate, That is the Question, by Candace Kanes.
Maine History Online, which provides information and primary sources to trace the events leading up to Maine's official separation from Massachusetts in 1820 in the 1775-1820 Tension, War & Separation section and a focus on the years after statehood in the 1820-1850 A New State & Prosperity section.
In the "Themes" section of Maine History Online, the work of William King (Maine's first governor) is highlighted under Leaders & Causes. Peopling Maine provides a snapshot of Maine's people.
Finding Katahdin: An Online Exploration of Maine's Past includes primary sources and lesson plans. Chapter 4, From Revolution to Statehood, includes a collection of primary sources and lesson plans suitable for middle and high school classrooms.
Additionally, the Osher Map Library of the University of Southern Maine provides several lesson plans designed for middle school students yet adaptable for elementary and high school students. Lessons are available for download and include such topics as Maine Statehood and Comparing Maps of Maine. The online exhibition, Printed Maps of the District and State of Maine 1793-1860, traces the growth of Maine from the first printed map in 1793 depicting five counties to the formation of 16 in 1860.
Statewide Conference Moves Beyond the Basics of Suicide Prevention
Every 14 minutes, someone dies by suicide in the United States. In 2011, 224 Maine people--four each week--died by suicide. Suicide is widely recognized as a public health problem requiring attention and action.
On Friday, March 14, The Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP) will host its annual conference, Beyond the Basics in Suicide Prevention, at the Augusta Civic Center. The event will feature experts discussing issues such as older adult suicide, sexual violence, survivors and Maine's new training law for public schools.
Carol Podgorski, PhD, MPH, MS MFT, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, N.Y., will focus on suicide prevention in older adults, promoting mental health and reducing risk factors. David Jobes, PhD, ABPP, Professor of Psychology, Associate Director of Clinical Training, The Catholic University of America, will discuss trends in health care settings that are creating unique challenges and potential responses to effectively managing suicide risk across a spectrum of care.
The day will feature workshops on law enforcement and mental health/crisis services collaboration, the needs of school communities when a person dies by suicide, child and adolescent risks and implementing the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, a nationally recognized tool, from crisis to the Emergency Room and into the psychiatric hospital.
In the early afternoon, The Caring About Lives in Maine Awards will be presented to individuals representing the Bangor Police Department, Rockland Police Department, Penobscot County Sheriff's Office, Maine Medical Center and Maranacook Community High School for their work in suicide prevention and intervention.
March 1, 2014 - Newsletter from the House
Maine Community Health Options
Need help navigating the new Health Insurance Marketplace? If so, you can visit www.enroll207.com. Enroll207 is a project of the Maine Health Access Foundation, the state's largest health care foundation. The purpose of enroll207 is to connect Mainers to certified assisters who can help review new options for health insurance through the Maine Health Insurance Marketplace.
The Maine Marketplace is an online insurance store where policies offered by different companies can be compared side-by-side. You will apply for and buy health insurance coverage through the Healthcare.gov website. If you have questions about your options, use the Find Help tool to find certified assisters in Maine to help you in person or over the phone. Assistance is free and confidential.
The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF), is the state's largest private, nonprofit health care foundation. MeHAF's mission is to promote access to quality health care, especially for those who are uninsured and underserved, and improve the health of everyone in Maine.
Maine's Bureau of Insurance Approves 7.7% Decrease in Workers' Compensation Loss Costs, with $15.2 Million in Expected Savings to Help Businesses and Consumers
Governor Paul R. LePage and Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa have announced that the Bureau of Insurance has approved the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc.'s (NCCI) 2014 loss cost for Maine, filed earlier this month, which proposed a premium decrease of 7.7%.
"This decrease is expected to save Maine businesses and consumers more than $15 million, and result in a cumulative decrease of 52.7% since the 1992 workers' compensation reform," Governor Paul R. LePage said. "Maine employers and employees should take credit for the improvement in the workers' compensation system. There has been a concerted effort to improve safety in the workplace, return injured workers to employment as soon as possible and control medical costs."
Superintendent Cioppa explained that loss costs are based on previous and projected losses and benefit payments. "This significant decrease in loss cost, based on the most recent analysis by NCCI, reflects continued emphasis on safety among Maine employers and employees and will result in lower Workers' Compensation premiums across all industries."
NCCI is the advisory rating organization for insurance companies that offer workers' compensation coverage in Maine. NCCI-approved loss costs are available to insurers to reference when filing their workers' compensation rates with the Bureau of Insurance.
Maine currently has a competitive market for workers' compensation insurance and each insurer sets its own rate level. Insurers may modify the NCCI loss costs and must select their own expense and profit factor in setting rates.
The new NCCI rates go into effect for new and renewing policies as of April 1, 2014.
Secretary of State Launches Innovative New Service to Combat Corporate Fraud
The Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, a division of the Department of Secretary of State, becomes just the second state agency in the nation to introduce an Online Corporate Fraud Monitoring service.
Maine business owners and registered agents have now been provided with the ability to automatically be notified of any filing completed against their business entities.
Governor Paul R. LePage applauded the service as an important tool for the business community. "This service provides everyone, from a large corporation to the average small business owner, with a chance to be proactive in their fight against individuals who intend to harm others and seek profit by committing fraudulent filings," said the Governor. "Users are immediately notified of any new filings, giving them a chance to quickly react to any unauthorized changes and take defensive steps, like freezing credit lines and contacting credit bureaus."
Users who sign up for the service will create an online profile that will keep track of the business entities they want monitored. This profile will allow users to review, add, or delete entities from their monitoring account, to review add, delete or edit email addresses on file for notifications, and to view a list of filings or changes completed against the entity/entities over the past one year.
A $35 annual charge will be assessed for each entity listed in the profile and customers can conveniently pay using a Visa, Mastercard or Discover debit/credit card or their InforME Subscriber Account.
If a new filing is submitted for an entity being monitored through the online service, the customer will receive an email notification immediately letting them know.
"There are nearly 80,000 registered entities in the State of Maine," stated Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. "While small business owners and corporations may be vigilant in protecting their entities and investments, it can be difficult to always stay alert and informed of outside risks. This will eliminate some of that risk."
The online service was developed at no cost to Maine taxpayers and was created by the Maine Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, in partnership with the state's e-government portal provider, InforME. Corporate Fraud Monitoring adds to the suite of corporate services available through the CEC and Maine.gov, which continues to be the premiere resource for online business information and services.
For more information regarding this service, please visit the website at https://www1.maine.gov/online/sos/cfm.