Legislative Update from Maine State Senator Brownie Carson

brownie at veterans event

Dear friends, neighbors and constituents,

On Monday, I was back at the State House with legislative colleagues. As you know, we voted on four important bond issues, all of which I supported. Endorsing all of these bonds would have allowed us to send a package of critical investments to voters this November: $20 million for Land for Maine’s Future (LMF); $105 million for road and bridge maintenance; $23 million for broadband, technical education and upgrading National Guard facilities; and $15 million for environmental infrastructure and energy efficiency. Unfortunately, we approved only one — the transportation bond.

In advance of the special session, I made calls to Senate colleagues who appeared to be “on the fence” about whether to vote for the LMF bond. I reminded them that voters have strongly endorsed every one of the six LMF bonds that have appeared on ballots since 1987. There is absolutely no question about both the value of, and popular support for, protecting farmland, working forests, wildlife habitat, high-value recreational land, access to working waterfronts, and more. I spoke in favor of this bond on the senate floor. To approve this bond, we needed one Republican vote to meet the two-thirds requirement; we did not get a single one. Putting it mildly, I was very disappointed at the end of the day.

We must re-start the LMF program, and funds from this bond would have done that. I also believe that we must invest in maintenance and upgrades to our state parks. There was significant controversy at the end of session in June about any borrowing (except the transportation bond). As a compromise, the governor reduced the overall size of this bond package and spit it into four separate bonds. When the legislature reconvenes in January, we will revisit the bonds that failed on Monday. Our rural residents need reliable high-speed internet; our technical schools deserve our support; all of Maine’s infrastructure, including water and sewer as well as roads and bridges, needs to be kept up.

In addition, we took up the question of whether to use ranked-choice voting for the 2020 presidential primary in Maine. This was a “hold-over” bill. Thanks to so many who wrote emails in the past week — most in support, some in opposition. I have carefully considered this issue since it first surfaced several years ago. I believe that RCV strengthens our electoral system, making every vote count when there is a particularly close election. Having voters engaged and evaluating all candidates, not just our top choice in a crowded field, is a very good thing. So, I voted “yes” on LD 1083, and it was enacted in the Senate. It’s now in the hands of Governor Mills, for her to approve, veto or hold.

One final thought: As we spend time with family and friends on Labor Day, it’s important to remember that before Labor Day was a national holiday, before the labor movement took root, workers across our country faced unbearably long hours, often in unsafe conditions. Many factories used child labor. Now, our laws protect workers, and we expanded those protections this year. More workers will have access to paid family leave and loggers now have the same right to organize that farmers and lobstermen already had. I will always support policies that value hardworking people throughout Maine.

I hope you’re enjoying these final days of summer. It has been wonderful to spend so much time outdoors in Harpswell!

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: www.facebook.com/BrownieForMaine/. Thank you for the honor of serving you in the Maine Senate.

Best regards,

Brownie

Donald Trump will hate this (Free “Squad Goals ” sticker!)

Donald Trump managed to reach a new low on Sunday, when he sent a series of racist tweets aimed at Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, telling the four congresswomen to “go back [to the countries] from which they came.”1

Attacking these elected officials because of the color of their skin is disgusting. It is unacceptable. And it is a clear attempt by Trump to silence a group of women who are boldly and unapologetically fighting for the rest of us.

But as Rep. Pressley said yesterday, “We are more than four people … Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world.”2

MoveOn is proud to join the squad, which is why we’ve printed a big batch of these “Squad Goals” stickers designed by @SoGayJen and are giving them away for free while supplies last.

Just click here or on the image below to get your sticker now.

These latest attacks were not only a look inside the grotesque racist echo chamber in Trump’s mind, but also a clear attempt to distract us from the ongoing humanitarian disaster on the border. It won’t work.

MoveOn members, our allies, Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, Tlaib, and more will continue to work to close the concentration camps at the border, defund the out-of-control agencies committing these atrocities, and defeat Trump and his allies in 2020.

Show your support for the bold leadership of these members of Congress by ordering your “Squad Goals” sticker now.

Thanks for all you do.

–Kelly, Justin, Schuyler, Ann, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. “Trump’s racist Twitter tirade about ‘the Squad,’ explained,” Vox, July 15, 2019
https://act.moveon.org/go/68106?t=17&akid=239239%2E41035463%2EJkPQKP

2. Tweet by Justice Democrats, July 15, 2019
https://act.moveon.org/go/68107?t=19&akid=239239%2E41035463%2EJkPQKP

Maine: Bill banning sale of high-capacity gun magazines dies in committee

The Democratic-led Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Friday against half a dozen gun control bills.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A committee vote Friday left Maine unlikely to move forward on legislation prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines, but lawmakers are still weighing other bills aimed at limiting access to firearms.

The Democratic-led Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Friday against half a dozen gun control bills.

The bills received dozens of comments at public hearings last week from critics who warned of governmental overreach infringing on constitutional rights, and supporters who say Maine must address domestic violence homicides tied to firearms and rising rates of firearm suicide.

“I think it’s all about access, not taking away guns,” said Democratic Rep. Victoria Morales, a committee member. “Reducing access for those who are most vulnerable.”

The committee is set to consider five additional bills May 28. Committee Democratic House Chair Charlotte Warren said lawmakers need more time to go through such bills.

“We want to do it right,” she said.

Those bills include background checks for private firearm sales, 72-hour waiting periods for gun buyers, and criminalizing leaving unattended a loaded firearm that a child then inappropriately uses. Another bill would prevent the manufacture, import, sale, transfer and possession of 3D printed guns, with certain exceptions.

A Republican, meanwhile, proposes allowing the use of deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily injury to defend oneself, one’s home or another person.

Gun control efforts have long faced steep odds in the largely rural state, where hunters tout a long history of responsible gun ownership. The Democratic-led Legislature could still revive the bills, but such a move is seen as unlikely.

Voters in Maine, which allows licensed owners to carry guns in public as long as they are concealed, defeated a question on universal background checks backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2016, and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has said Maine should respect the people’s will on the issue.

Portland votes ‘no’ on guaranteed paid sick leave

The decision affects over 19,000 employees in the city.
View image on Twitter

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland’s City Council voted ‘no’ on Monday to guaranteeing paid sick leave for workers.

Cameron O’Brien

@cameronobrienTV

BREAKING: Portland earned paid sick time ordinance FAILS.

The May 6 decision affects over 19,000 employees in the city. The 5-4 vote comes after a debate that has been ongoing in the City Council for a year and a half.

In February, the Portland City Council’s Health and Human Services Committee voted to adopt the measure, which then went to the full City Council for consideration.

Those in favor of the bill were upset by Monday night’s decision.

“We have fought incredibly, incredibly hard for the Portland community,” said Drew Christopher Joy of the Southern Maine Workers Center. “We will not stop fighting for working class people and for people of color and for women and for trans and queer folks in this city.”

RELATED: Portland votes to support paid sick days for workers

RELATED: New push for paid sick leave statewide

The proposal would have allowed most workers in Portland one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours, or five days of sick time.

It would have applied to all workers, including part-time, seasonal, and per-diem employees.

Opponents of the ordinance, including small business owners, were worried about cost, saying it may have affected already-existing benefit packages.

This vote comes after Gov. Janet Mills amended a state paid sick leave bill to block local municipalities from creating their own sick leave laws.

That bill has undergone several amendments and is expected to be voted on within the next couple of days.

Maine House votes to end non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccines

A bill that could end non-medical exemptions for routine childhood vaccines required by schools and certain health care facilities, got one step closer to a reality Tuesday.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that could end non-medical exemptions for routine childhood vaccines required by schools and certain health care facilities, got one step closer to a reality Tuesday.

The Maine House passed the vaccination bill by 78-59 Tuesday, April 23.

View image on Twitter

Jackie Mundry

@j_mundry

The legislature has voted 78-59 to PASS the vaccination bill

The Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee held a work session and heard from the public earlier in March. 

RELATED: Hundreds of Mainers descend upon the State House to testify about vaccine bill

Multiple studies have debunked claims that measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations increase the risk for autism. Maine has one of the nation’s highest rates of pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

But opponents argue that Maine parents should remain able to opt-out on religious or philosophical grounds. Meanwhile, a Republican’s bill would leave medical exemptions at the “sole discretion” of anyone authorized to administer vaccines.

RELATED: Pertussis is widespread in Maine

Federal data shows Maine had among the highest rates of non-medical vaccine exemptions in 2017-2018.Oregon and Washington are also considering bills to end non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccines.

LD 798 Vaccine public hearing bill

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.

Bill McKibben: Green New Deal Is a Chance to “Remake Not Just a Broken Planet, But a Broken Society”

APRIL 15, 2019

President Trump signed two executive orders last week to facilitate the approval of pipeline projects at a federal level, limiting states’ ability to regulate such projects. The move is intended in part to clear the way for permitting on the northeastern Constitution pipeline, which has stalled after New York invoked the Clean Water Act to reject the project on environmental grounds. We speak with Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and the author of the new book “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?”

How Maine Senators have voted on this issue so far:

Maine Senator Susan Collins:

March 26, 2019 S J Res 8 A joint resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal Cloture Invoked – Senate Nay

Maine Senator Angus King:

March 26, 2019 S J Res 8 A joint resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal Cloture Invoked – Senate Nay

Keep an eye on how your elected officials are voting at: https://votesmart.org