Maine: Indigenous People’s Day now an Official State holiday – Jacqui Voltaire / Maria Girouard

This was just shared with me and I would ask you to share, including Maria’s words. Those of us who have been working on IPD and the Penobscot River issue know that JM is no friend of the Penobscot people and we must make sure when we talk about this wonderful news that we stress that it may have been JM’s pen, but it was no her heart and soul that was bought many years ago by the corporates!

And the best news of the day… JM [Governor Janet Mills] signed onto Indigenous People’s Day, making it a statewide holiday.  Thanks to all those who worked so hard to make this happen at the municipal level to get the ball rolling and beyond.  JM gets all the credit for a swipe of the pen but we know how much work and heart went into this from indigenous leaders and their supporters, etc. ;).  I’m also pasting Maria Girouard’s post below too for those who don’t use FB.  I appreciated it!

Love,

jacqui


NOT SO FAST ~ I’m not even sorry that I cannot join the glee and celebratory backslapping that I’m seeing around the change from a white man’s holiday to an indigenous holiday.  To see “leaders” standing with the woman who is in the forefront of perpetuating trauma and genocide against the Penobscot people sickens my stomach.  I’m very pleased to see my Chief NOT standing amongst them. 

In a Machiavellian plot twist the perpetrator of Penobscot territorial theft is now a hero (?) for tossing us a bone.  Holding in my heart our ancestral River and the struggles of countless ancestors before me who fought and died for their rights to their ancestral river, I’m not letting her off the hook.

Nothing short of dropping the state’s position in our 6 year long legal battle, Penobscot Nation v. Janet Mills will change my opinion of that woman.  The same woman who is championing the destruction of thousands of acres of Maine land to make way for the CMP corridor to benefit Massachusetts energy needs.  The same woman who sat before judiciary committee in 2015 and said that the Penobscot Nation did not have the right to protect their women from violence under the VAWA Re-authorization Act because of the Maine Indian Land Claims – the State’s handy pocket tool for keeping the Tribes oppressed and under their thumb.  And another time before the judiciary stated that “there are NO treaties”.  In my eyes she is a disgrace no matter what the second Monday in October is called.

Yay! Now we no longer celebrate a genocidal maniac. That is the right thing to do for sure. Now will the State stop acting like a genocidal maniac and drop their stance that the ancient Penobscot Nation contains no portion of our ancestral river. This remains to be seen. N’telnapemnawak.

Maine: Passenger Rail Transportation – Jacqui Voltaire

Something you might want to support.
Love,jacqui

Right now there are significant events in Maine passenger rail transportation. We want to make you aware of these and ask for your help and participation in making this a success for the economy and the environment:

1. Maine DOT just completed a study on the restoration of passenger rail service between Lewiston/Auburn and Portland
Please call the Governor office (207 287-3531) and tell her you support this service and want it restored immediately.
2. If you are from the Portland area and are worried about traffic congestion:
Please call the Portland city manager (207 874-8689) to support commuter rail service to the Portland Waterfront/Downtown
3. LD1093 is a bill that will fund passenger rail and is now in the state legislature:
Please contact (melikesrail@gmail.com) and we will work with you on what you can do to help.
4. We are looking for some help with the Maine Rail Transit Coalition, and the Sierra Club Maine. We are doing educational forums around the state and we would like you to join us. These will be happening spring and summer 2019.

Maine Rail Transit Coalition

Maine Sierra Club

Paul Weiss (weissp@me.com)
Tony Donovan (
melikesrail@gmail.com)
info@mainerailtransit.org

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Maine: Legislative Update from Senator Brownie Carson

Banning disposable Styrofoam dishware 

This week in Augusta, the Maine House and Senate voted unanimously to ban disposable cups, plates, and other products made of polystyrene, otherwise known as Styrofoam. On the Senate floor on Tuesday, I spoke in favor of the bill, LD 289 “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Certain Disposable Food Service Containers,” sponsored by Rep. Stanley Zeigler:

“I think we all know the perils of polystyrene, how it stays in the environment if not forever, for hundreds of years; how it can’t be recycled; and the other problems that it has. I want to report that I had a brief conversation with the plant manager of Huhtamaki, the former Keyes Fibre plant in Waterville yesterday. That plant has been in business putting Maine people to work since 1903. Huhtamaki makes recycled and recyclable paper products including single use food containers.

They buy newsprint on the open market, bring it to Maine, make pulp out of it, and make trays for multiple cups of coffee or other beverages. They make food trays that are both from recycled material and compostable, and importantly they make some, but not all, of the single use food containers such as paper plates. They are safe, they are made from recyclable material, they are recyclable themselves, and Huhtamaki in Waterville, Maine puts 500 men and women to work with good paying jobs. I urge you please to follow my light and vote ought to pass.” The bill faces a final vote in the Senate before it is sent to Governor Mills.

Expanding mental health education in Maine schools 

One of my top priorities this session is to ensure that health education in Maine schools includes lessons about mental health. A bill I sponsored, LD 1024 “An Act To Include Mental Health Education in Maine Schools,” was approved by the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on April 8.

It is rare that we pick up a report on children’s health today that does not reference mental health.

Teaching our kids how to be more conversant about mental health will surely bring this subject out of the shadows. It will help kids who are experiencing mental health problems to recognize them and seek counseling or peer support more often. LD 1024 would require health education instruction in elementary, middle, junior high and high schools to include lessons in mental health and the relationship between physical and mental health. The bill now faces votes before the Maine House and Senate.

Lowering the cost of prescription drugs 

This week I also testified before the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee in support of legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs in Maine. Getting prescription drug prices under control is critically important because prescription costs drive up overall health care costs. In order to provide relief to Maine people, we must properly regulate pharmacy benefit managers — companies that are taking advantage of Maine people by manipulating the prices of drugs to their own benefit.

The cost of prescription drugs is one of the biggest drivers of rising health care costs in the country. In the U.S., one in four Americans struggles to pay for their prescription medication while one in ten Americansdoes not take their medicine as prescribed to stay afloat. According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, about 200 bills have been filed in 42 state legislatures to address the cost of prescription drugs. Of those bills, 88 have to do with pharmacy benefit managers, 25 are related to wholesale importation, and 13 are related to drug affordability review or rate setting.

Studying the proposed CMP Corridor 

On Wednesday, the Environment Committee voted in favor of my bill to require a study of the CMP Corridor’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The bill, LD 640, was approved by a 10-3 vote. It now heads to the House and Senate. I feel that this study is absolutely crucial as legislators, regulators, and the public consider whether this project should move forward or not.

Creating a paid family and medical leave program 

Finally, I testified as a cosponsor this morning on Speaker Sara Gideon’s paid family and medical leave legislation, LD 1410. I believe this legislation is important for many reasons. This program will provide employers with a higher likelihood of experienced employees returning after time off because of illness or family leave-making for a more stable and seasoned work force for that employer. Maine workers will also feel more valued and respected: paid family and medical leave will allow them to tend to important responsibilities without having to leave, or be fired from, a job because they need to care for a new child or an aging parent.

Some Maine workers have paid family and medical leave now through employer-designed programs or collective bargaining agreements. But many do not. All Maine workers should have this benefit.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me at Brownie.Carson@legislature.maine.gov or (207) 287-1515. You can also follow me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/BrownieForMaine/. I look forward to serving you in the coming year.

Best regards,

Maine: Bill to ban foam food containers in Maine passes Legislature, heads to Gov. Mills

If a proposed bill is signed into law by Governor Janet Mills, Maine would become one of the first states in the country to ban the use of disposable foam food containers.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that would ban the sale or use of disposable foam food containers in Maine is advancing in Legislature, despite divided opinions among various state organizations.

Rep. Stanley Zeigler (D-Montville) is sponsoring LD 289, “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Certain Disposable Food Service Containers”.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2020, this bill would prohibit stores from selling or distributing any disposable food containers that are made entirely or partially of polystyrene foam, or styrofoam.

The bill would also require the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules that would implement these provisions.

“With the threats posed by plastic pollution becoming more apparent, costly, and even deadly to wildlife, we need to be doing everything possible to limit our use and better manage our single-use, disposable plastics — starting with eliminating the use of unnecessary forms like plastic foam,” said Sarah Lakeman, Director of Sustainable Maine. “There are affordable alternatives to foam that are less wasteful and less harmful to the environment we can be pursuing.”

On Tuesday, April 16, the bill was approved by the Senate. It faces a series of procedural votes and will then head to Gov. Janet Mills for review.

If signed into law, Maine would become one of the first states in the country to ban the use of disposable foam food containers.

RELATED: Maine house advances bill on statewide foam ban

The support behind this bill, however, is largely divided. In the 87-51 House vote earlier this month, the Portland Press Herald reported that all Republicans opposed the bill, while all Democrats and Independents supported it.

“The Maine Chamber of Commerce is skeptical about legislation that bans products in the market on a state by state basis,” said Ben Gilman, Senior Government Relations Specialist at the MCC. “We prefer market decisions to be based on consumers driving decisions.”

Gilman added that the impact of a state by state ban could create an unbalanced playing field for business in Maine, as compared to other states.

Other groups, like the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association and the Maine Tourism Association, also oppose the proposed ban, saying it would hike up prices for Mainers.

“We continue to express concerns as this bill moves through the Maine legislature,” said Christine Cummings, Executive Director of MGFPA. “If the bill passes, it would make Maine an outlier as the first in the nation to pass such as a ban on polystyrene for food service containers. Increased product costs will occur, and our Maine residents, the customers, will inevitably incur the price of banning polystyrene and sourcing alternatives.”

Still, those in favor of the bill say that styrofoam can’t be recycled in the state and is costly to towns and cities. They also say there are affordable alternatives to styrofoam, which could help prevent pollution.

According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, more than 150 municipalities or regions have already banned disposable foam food containers, including 14 towns in Maine. They have also been banned in state facilities and functions since 1990.

Maine: Legislative Update from Senator Brownie Carson

Dear friends and constituents,

As you know, Central Maine Power (CMP) and Hydro-Quebec have proposed a transmission corridor through western Maine, which would bring electricity from Canada to Massachusetts. Proponents of the corridor argue that the project will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about those claims. Dear friends and constituents,

Whether the CMP transmission corridor would result in actual greenhouse gas emissions reductions is the issue here, and is a question that must be answered.

I’ve submitted a bill, LD 640, which would require a study of how the corridor will impact greenhouse gas emissions across New England, New York, and eastern Canada. Would the CMP corridor result in new greenhouse gas emissions reductions that would not happen otherwise, or would Hydro-Quebec simply divert electricity to Massachusetts ratepayers who will pay more for it, with no new actual carbon pollution reductions?

Neither Hydro-Quebec nor CMP has been willing to provide the details about what generation sources would deliver power to Massachusetts, whether those sources currently serve other customers, or what type of generation likely would back-fill any power that’s diverted to Massachusetts. This is essential information that LD 640 would provide.

To me, this feels like trying to buy a car from a dealer who won’t let me take a close look under the hood. LD 640 will provide the study we need to determine what’s under the hood. We need to understand if the climate benefits would be real, because the impacts of the CMP corridor on Maine’s environment and landscape would be massive, and very real. This bill is now being worked in the Environment Committee.

In the Education Committee on Wednesday, we passed three bills to end child hunger: LD 359701, and 549. These bills would encourage schools to provide breakfast to students after the start of the school day, make it easier for families to apply for free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch for their children, and help fund these programs in our schools. Children who are hungry have a harder time learning, and I’m hopeful that these proposals will give every young person the chance to succeed.

The Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee has been considering important bills to promote renewable energy. The committee passed and the Legislature enacted a bill to restore “net metering” for the benefit of residential solar energy system users. Another proposal would eliminate the cap on the number of utility customers who can invest in and benefit from a community solar farm. I strongly support energy policies that will restore Maine’s leadership on solar energy.

Bills to address other pressing issues, from health care to student loans, plastic pollution to teacher pay, are being considered in various legislative committees. My work in the Education and Environment Committees is challenging, engaging, and rewarding. I’ll do my best to keep you up to date.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me at Brownie.Carson@legislature.maine.gov or (207) 287-1515. You can also follow me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/BrownieForMaine/. I look forward to serving you in the coming year.

Best regards,

Brownie Carson

P.S. Do you know of young people who would be interested in spending a day in the Maine Senate? The honorary page program gives students an opportunity to participate in the Senate and interact with legislators. Honorary pages see what it is like to work on the floor of the Senate and be part of a legislative session. Pages perform such duties as delivering messages to senators and distributing amendments and supplements in the chamber. Students from third grade through high school are invited to serve in the Senate Chamber as honorary pages when the Senate is in session. To learn more about the program, call me at (207) 287-1515. On a different note, we’re also looking for more Mainers to sing the National Anthem for legislative sessions. If you or someone you know is interested, call the Office of the Secretary of the Senate at (207) 287-1540, and let them know you’re calling at my invitation.

Vietnam War Veterans Day at the State House

On Friday, March 29, I joined fellow veterans in the Hall of Flags at the State House for Vietnam War Veterans Day. It was a meaningful ceremony, sponsored by the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services. There were remarks by Gov. Janet Mills and the Adjutant General Douglas Farnham, who I enjoyed speaking with after the ceremony. It was good to catch up with a number of old friends and discuss important legislation to address the needs of veterans across the state.

Brownie Carson | State Senator | (207) 287-1515 |  brownie.carson@legislature.maine.gov | www.mainesenate.org

Maine: Casco’s Kate Hall wins national long jump title

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Casco’s Kate Hall added another title to her trophy case, winning the women’s long jump at the 2019 Toyota USATF Indoor Championships in Staten Island, New York Saturday.

Hall won the long jump with a 6.51m leap.

RELATED: Catching up with newly hired coach Kate Hall

RELATED: Olympic hopeful Kate Hall gets personal about her diabetes

USATF

@usatf

Congratulations to Kate Hall on winning Women’s Long Jump at ! pic.twitter.com/j3ECwkF1ko

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The Casco native, who had an impressive career start while at Lake Region High School, will be forgoing her senior season at the University of Georgia to train in Maine for the 2019 World Championships and a shot at qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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‘The Maine electorate has had it with her’: Constituents turn on Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.

Senator Susan Collins’s reputation for bipartisanship has brought her respect across the aisle over 22 years in Washington, D.C. But these days, the famously temperate 66-year-old senior stateswoman from Maine is inspiring the kind of liberal animus more typically directed at people named Trump.

“Betrayed” is a word that comes up.

“I used to think that she was kind of a voice of reason. I thought she could maybe go across the aisle and get some things done,” said Pam Cunningham, a Boothbay Democrat who voted for Collins last time around.

Collins’s vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has galvanized left-leaning activists like Cunningham, who are actively trying to unseat her in 2020 — and though they don’t yet have a candidate, they have raised nearly $3.8 million.

Early in the Donald Trump era, Collins was eyed optimistically by Democrats as someone who might save their day. But the Supreme Court vote was the latest in a string of positions Collins has taken where, after lengthy, attention-getting deliberations, she sided with the GOP. For some voters, hope in Collins has curdled into vengeance.

“The Maine electorate has had it with her not voting with the majority of her constituents,” said Amy Halsted, co-director of the Maine People’s Alliance, a statewide community organizing group that has about 32,000 members. “They no longer believe her claims to be a moderate.”

At the same time, the political mood in Maine has been volatile. The state supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, and after two terms of the combative conservative Governor Paul LePage, flipped the state government blue in November, handing Democrats the governor’s office, Senate, and House.

Given that backdrop, Democratic organizations were already viewing Collins as vulnerable. Now, they are trying to attach to her blame not only for her own votes, but for those of Kavanaugh.

When he, for instance, dissented on an abortion rights case this month, left-wing political organizations pounced on Collins. Demand Justice, a judicial advocacy group, launched a digital ad targeting Collins and warning, “We Won’t Forget.” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee panned Kavanaugh’s ruling, calling him “Senator Collins’s Supreme Court Judge.”

Of course, Collins was alternately cheered by the right, which rewarded her mightily for her pivotal support for Kavanaugh. In the three months following the vote, Collins set a career high for quarterly fund-raising, drawing in nearly $1.8 million. The previous quarter, she had raised only $140,000.

“People generally like Susan Collins in Maine. I would never underestimate her,” said Brian Duff, a political scientist and associate professor at University of New England in Maine. “But I do think she’s uniquely vulnerable this go-round.”

Activists have been birddogging Collins since the opening days of the Trump administration, protesting Cabinet appointees and staging sit-ins in her office, said Marie Follayttar, a sculptor who founded Mainers for Accountable Leadership. The Maine People’s Alliance intends to knock on doors to reach hundreds of thousands of voters this year, highlighting Collins’s record and arguing that she is not representing Maine voters’ interests.

In a statement, Collins suggested she is still calling them like she sees them and pointed to a number of votes she has taken against her party — opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the nominations of Cabinet appointees Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos, for instance.

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“Often these outside groups, on both sides, want 100% fidelity to 100% of their views 100% of the time,” Collins said in a statement. “But I’ve always believed that neither side has a monopoly on good ideas and that in order to craft the best policy, you need to bring both sides to the table to find common ground.”

Collins also said she is accustomed to being in the public eye, “as a centrist who is willing to work across the aisle and who must often cast the deciding vote.”

But she said she is concerned “by the appalling hyperpartisanship that has repeatedly prevented us from getting things done on behalf of the American people.’’

Early on, when Collins bucked the Republican Party and voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act, Mainers gave her a hero’s welcome, literally cheering her return to the Bangor airport. But later she voted for a tax bill that would undo a key part of the health law, the individual mandate.

Then, the signs greeting her at the airport simply said, “Shame.’’

“Collins had given so many Mainers hope that she would protect our health care with her votes against the repeal of the ACA,” said Follayttar.

While Collins had long carefully honed her reputation as a moderate, Duff pointed to recent votes he views as “obviously problematic,” including her support for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and her vote for a tax cut package that will increase the deficit.

“She has very little chance of explaining that vote in a way that makes sense to Maine voters,” Duff said.

Conversely, he thought she was consistent in her vote for Kavanaugh, which she painstakingly explained it in a 45-minute floor speech in October. “It was articulate, thoughtful, consistent with the way she has spoken and voted through her career,” he said.

That wasn’t the way that Collins’s critics heard her speech, however.

“I have never been so disappointed in anybody in my life,” said Laurie Fear, an addictions counselor and activist who lives in Portland.

That was also an ugly and trying period for Collins, who faced protesters at home and at her offices, whose aides fielded rape and death threats. Her house was visited by a haz-mat team after she received an envelope purporting to contain ricin. Activists sent to her 3,000 coat hangers, symbolizing the tools of back-alley abortions that activists say women would resort to if Kavanaugh helped roll back abortion rights.

Anti-Kavanaugh activists also raised money and pledged to donate it to Collins’s next opponent if she voted to confirm the nomination. She called that tantamount to bribery.

“Anyone who thought I would auction off my vote to the highest bidder obviously doesn’t know me. I made my decision based on the merits of the nomination,” she said. “This effort played no role in my decision-making whatsoever.”

That is heartbreaking to such people as Cunningham — who joined other Maine women to meet Collins in Washington in hopes of persuading her to vote against Kavanaugh.

She opened up to Collins about her own attempted rape, which she had seldom spoken of, in the hopes of explaining why a woman would not immediately report a sexual assault, as was the case with the women who accused Kavanaugh.

“We all thought maybe our stories would get through to her on a personal level, a woman-to-woman kind of thing,” said Cunningham.

Later, Collins sent her a form letter that mentioned that very meeting with survivors of sexual assault as evidence of the thorough deliberations she undertook in making the decision. “She was using my story to try to portray herself in a favorable light,” Cunningham said. “I really don’t think she did take our opinions into consideration.”

Ariel Linet, a disability attorney and Portland constituent who called and visited Collins’s offices trying to urge her to vote against Kavanaugh, said she no longer views Collins as a moderate.

“I don’t think that she’s taken any brave stances against her party,” she said. “I think she’s hemmed and hawed a lot and ultimately always toed the party line.”

https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/387413/fund-susan-collins-future-opponent