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!
December 5, 2013 - Newsletter from the House
Overview for 2013-14 Maine Scallop Season
The 2013-2014 Maine Scallop Season opened December 2nd.
Over the past few years, Maine fishermen & the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) implemented a series of management measures aimed at rebuilding the depleted scallop resource, including limiting entry, raising the minimum ring size and establishing rebuilding closures along the coast. Last season, the fishery began to realize the benefits of these measures, as early reports indicate landings in December of 2012 alone were the highest in the past five years.
DMR wishes to build upon this success towards the goal of providing industry with a resource base that is stable and predictable, thus providing for an environment in which fishing businesses can prosper. Over the past four years countless meetings were held to gather fishermen's input on the overall rebuilding plan across the state.
For the 2013-14 scallop season, the fishery will operate under the following management measures:
Three Scallop Management Zones to allow for different rebuilding plans
Maximum opportunity up front with a potential 70 day season in Zone 1 & 2 and 50 days in Zone 3
A 15 gallon Daily Possession Limit for Zone 1 & 2 and 10 gallons for Zone 3
Revising Limited Access Areas with 1 day/week harvest starting in January 2014
A 10 Year Rotational Management Plan in Eastern Maine (Zone 2)
Twelve Targeted Closures that aim to protect either sublegal scallops, spat-producing scallops or to allow depleted areas the change to rebuild
Charter Commission Receives 4 Applications for New Schools
The Maine Charter School Commission (MCSC) has received applications from four groups interested in opening a public charter school in the fall of 2014.
Those submitting applications by the Dec. 2 deadline to join Maine's five existing public charter schools included Lewiston-Auburn Academy Charter School, Lewiston; Maine Connections Academy; Maine Virtual Academy; and Many Hands Montessori School, Windham.
The applications will be reviewed for completeness by the Commission this month, and then posted on the MCSC website.
Commission members working in small review teams will then begin their consideration of the applications, voting at their Jan. 30 meeting as to whether each application should move to a public hearing and review by the entire Commission or be denied. Public hearings would be held in February, with the Commission voting at its March 4 meeting whether to enter into contract negotiations with the applicant or deny the application.
In 2011, Governor Paul R. LePage signed legislation making Maine the 41st state to allow charter schools and establishing the seven-member Commission as an authorizer of up to 10 schools through June 30, 2022. Local school boards can authorize additional public charter schools.
Charter schools are public schools of choice that have more flexibility than traditional public schools over decisions concerning curriculum and instruction, scheduling, staffing and finance. They are accountable to the terms of the charter contracts that authorize their existence and the academic standards to which all other public schools are accountable.
Currently, there are five charter schools operating in Maine. Cornville Regional Charter School in Cornville and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Hinckley opened in 2012 and received positive reviews from the Commission and the Maine Department of Education this fall for engaging students and quickly adapting to meeting their emerging needs.
Meanwhile, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, Fiddlehead School of Arts and Science in Gray and Harpswell Coastal Academy in Harpswell opened in September and recently underwent 90-day reviews by the Commission. Reports of those visits, which were accepted by the Commission at its meeting Tuesday, will soon be available at the MCSC's website at www.maine.gov/csc/.
Considering the new school applications will be two new members of the Commission, who were appointed late last month by the State Board of Education. Filling the vacant seat left by the resignation of Dick Barnes is Mike Wilhelm, of Casco, and Laurie Pendleton, of Belfast, will fill the seat recently vacated by William Shuttleworth.
For more information about the Maine Charter School Commission, visit www.maine.gov/csc.
Office of the Public Advocate Releases Free 24-Page Ratewatcher Telecom Guide
The new 24-page Ratewatcher Telecom Guide is now online and the printed edition will be mailed to tens of thousands of subscribers this week.
"The Ratewatcher makes it easier for Maine consumers to find the best services and latest prices for Internet, telephone, and cell phone services in our state" said Tim Schneider, the State's Public Advocate.
"Our primary focus is on saving money for Maine consumers and businesses, but the Ratewatcher also tries to make the increasingly complex tangle of retail communications services understandable to the consumer" said Wayne Jortner, Senior Counsel to the Public Advocate. The latest edition is heavily focused on broadband services, reflecting the growing importance of broadband for our state's economy and in our daily lives.
The services described in the Ratewatcher are used by virtually every household in Maine. "Whether you use plain old telephone service, cellular voice or data service, a prepaid wireless phone, Voice over Internet (VOIP) or any of five types of broadband service, the Ratewatcher provides much information about those services that are available in Maine" said Jortner. The latest issue also reports on several opportunities for affordable connectivity for low-income households, and some newer products such as wireless home phone services and hotspot services.
The 24-page, full-color Ratewatcher Telecom Guide, is available free of charge to all Maine residents. To request a copy, call 287-2445, send an email message to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the Public Advocate at, SHS 112, Augusta, Maine 04333. If you have Internet access, simply click on the pdf version of the Ratewatcher at www.maine.gov/meopa and print it out in full color. An ADA-compliant online version is also available there.
November 27, 2013 - Newsletter from the House
Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and friends, a good meal, football, and, of course, to give thanks for all we have. We are blessed to live in the greatest nation in the world, and to live in the beautiful state of Maine. I encourage you to take some time this week to consider your blessings as you celebrate the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!