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.
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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.

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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

Maine: Recent votes in the US Senate by Susan Collins and Angus King.

(Notice how they both voted against the Green New Deal, and for National Emergency measures.)

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Susan Collins

National Key Votes

Date Bill No. Bill Title Outcome Vote
April 11, 2019 PN 503 Confirmation of David Bernhardt as the Secretary of the Interior Senate Yea
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
March 14, 2019 H J Res 46 Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 Bill Passed – Senate
(59 – 41)
Yea
March 13, 2019 S J Res 7 A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress Bill Passed – Senate
(54 – 46)
Yea

Angus King

National Key Votes

Date Bill No. Bill Title Outcome Vote
April 11, 2019 PN 503 Confirmation of David Bernhardt as the Secretary of the Interior Senate Yea
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
March 14, 2019 H J Res 46 Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 Bill Passed – Senate
(59 – 41)
Yea
March 13, 2019 S J Res 7 A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress Bill Passed – Senate
(54 – 46)
Yea
Feb. 28, 2019 PN 22 Nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency Senate
(52 – 47)
Nay

Susan Rice says she won’t challenge GOP Sen. Collins in 2020

Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family “that the timing really isn’t right for us.”

NEW YORK — Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under President Barack Obama, won’t be challenging Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in 2020.

Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family “that the timing really isn’t right for us.”

Rice tantalized Democrats in October when she expressed interest in Collins’ seat during the contentious confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She said at the time that Collins “betrayed women across this country” by supporting Kavanaugh.

Rice said during the event on Thursday that her daughter is going into her junior year of high school and that her family has already sacrificed for her.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, and in the course of weighing it all, I’ve decided with my family that the timing really isn’t right for us,” she said.

Her announcement could free other Democrats to enter the race.

So far, no high-profile Democrat has announced a challenge to Collins next year. But the race is still early, and Collins herself hasn’t formally announced she’ll seek re-election.

Collins’ office had no immediate comment Thursday.

Collins is a self-described centrist in an era of increasingly polarized politics. First elected to the Senate in 1996, she’s now the last Republican member of Congress from New England.

Rice’s maternal grandparents emigrated from Jamaica to Maine in the 1910s. Her grandfather, David Augustus Dickson, worked as a shipper, porter and janitor. Rice’s grandmother, Mary Dickson, a maid and seamstress, was named Maine State Mother of the Year in 1950.

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