Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Public Hearing on TransPacific Partnership Agreement

I just received the following press release a few hours ago via email. It comes with this introduction from the House Chair:

"The Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission is holding a hearing this Thursday Dec. 12 from 4-8pm in Belfast. Its very timely with Congress getting ready to consider whether trade agreements such as this one, which is being negotiated in total secrecy, should be "fast tracked" without opportunity for any changes. Many of your constituents are very concerned about the TPP which threatens 900 New Balance jobs and could override state environmental protections and increase the cost of medicines. So, if you are in the area and so inclined, please stop by and testify."



The Chairs of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission (CTPC), Senator Troy Jackson and Representative Sharon Anglin Treat, are inviting members of the public to attend a public hearing which is scheduled for Thursday, December 12th from 4 PM to 8 PM at the UMS Hutchinson Center (Rt. 3) in Belfast.

The CTPC anticipates that the public hearing will broadly focus on the topics of food and seafood safety, specific impacts on Maine agriculture and such food policy issues such as buying local and GMO and other food labeling policies as they pertain to the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The TPP involves at least 12 Pacific Rim nations and is anticipated to be finalized in 2014. During recently scheduled meetings, the CTPC has devoted considerable time to discussing this potential Free Trade Agreement with a focus on the treatment of food safety issues and President Obama’s current “fast track” proposal to have this treaty be approved by Congress on a simple up or down vote.

In commenting upon the importance of the CTPC public hearing, CTPC Chair Senator Troy Jackson stated that “As Co-Chair of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission, I believe it is our responsibility to help inform members of the Maine public about the critical issues concerning food and seafood safety that are currently being negotiated in the TPP. From an equally critical perspective, it is crucial that the commission hears from the public about their perspective on these important issues. The upcoming public hearing provides the perfect opportunity for this mutual exchange of information and viewpoints."

CTPC Chair Representative Sharon Anglin Treat also stated that "The U.S. government is negotiating two sweeping trade agreements that, if completed as envisioned, will bind most of the countries in the world as well as US state and local governments. These agreements extend well beyond traditional trade topics and have implications for our policies on food safety, labeling of products, public health and much more. We invite the public to attend this hearing both to learn more about these trade agreements, and to offer testimony about how the TPPA and EU-US trade deals could affect Maine. Testimony on any issue is welcome, and we particularly seek information about how these treaties may affect Maine's seafood and agricultural businesses and our policies promoting locally-grown food."

Another member of the CTPC, Stephen Cole, Energy & Environment Officer for CEI, a Maine based nonprofit economic development organization, emphasized that “International trade policy often represents the interests of multi-national corporations. The CTPC is a steadfast voice for the rights and needs of Maine companies and their workers.” CTPC member Robert Umphrey, President of Northeast Packaging Company in Presque Isle, commented that “The role of the CTPC is highly critical at this time in addressing the interests of Maine in the ongoing TPP negotiations. In addition, Maine must be assured that the states exporting sectors such as services, manufacturing and agriculture have adequate market access provisions with all signatories. Maine’s traditional manufacturers have not always fared well in prior trade agreements and the TPP should be closely examined to determine what is in the state’s best interests.”

The CTPC expects testimony from a number of prominent governmental, academic and private sources including Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree; Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut), the Maine Farm Bureau; the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Food & Water Watch and welcomes other testimony from members of the public. More information about the public hearing can be obtained by e- mailing the CTPC at

The CTPC was created by Maine State law in 2003 to “assess and monitor the legal and economic impacts of trade agreements on state and local laws, working conditions and the business environment; to provide a mechanism for citizens and Legislators to voice their concerns and recommendations; and to make policy recommendations designed to protect Maine's jobs, business environment and laws from any negative impact of trade agreements.” The CTPC is composed of 6 legislators, 7 members from the private sector and 5 representatives of different state agencies.


Senator Troy Jackson, CTPC Chair: phone 436-0763

Representative Sharon Anglin Treat, CTPC Chair: phone 242-8558

Lock Kiermaier, CTPC Staff: phone 446-0651

Monday, November 4, 2013

State News Update

Bill Submissions for 126th Legislature’s Second Session Decided

On Wednesday, October 30th, the Legislative Council met to determine which bill submissions will be considered during the second regular session of the 126th Legislature, scheduled to begin in January. Unlike the first regular session, bills submitted by lawmakers for the second session must be approved by Legislative Council in order to move forward. During the meeting on Wednesday 99 of the 392 bill proposals were approved, 4 were tabled, and the rest were rejected. Lawmakers whose bill proposals were rejected will have the opportunity to appeal the Council’s decision. 

My only bill submission for the upcoming session, An Act to End Hunger, Protect Small Farms and Homesteads and Promote Self-Sufficiency for the People of the State, was rejected by the Council. I don't know whether I will appeal or not.

Click HERE for the full list of bill proposals and the Council’s decisions on each of them.

Remember to vote tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bond Issue Ballot Questions

As our Nov. 5, Election Day approaches, I wanted to give you some information about the $149.5 million bond package you will see on the ballot.  This comprehensive, bipartisan bond package was passed by the Legislature in late August.  It aims to inject money back into our economy and to produce jobs for hard-working Mainers.  It is also about making important investments in our higher education system, our public infrastructure and our people.
Here are the five ballot questions:

Question 1: Bond Issue 
Do you favor a $14,000,000 bond issue to provide funds for the State's share of maintenance, repair, capital improvement, modernization and energy efficiency projects for Maine Army National Guard readiness centers and support facilities and the purchase of land for training and to draw down federal matching funds?

Question 2: Bond Issue
Do you favor a $15,500,000 bond issue to enhance educational and employment opportunities for Maine citizens and students by updating and improving existing laboratory and classroom facilities of the University of Maine System statewide?

Question 3: Bond Issue
Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue for reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation and transit, to be used to match an estimated $154,000,000 in federal and other funds?

Question 4: Bond Issue 
Do you favor a $4,500,000 bond issue to provide funds for a public-private partnership for a building project for a new science facility at the Maine Maritime Academy to be matched by other funds?

Question 5: Bond Issue
Do you favor a $15,500,000 bond issue to upgrade buildings, classrooms and laboratories on the 7 campuses of the Maine Community College System in order to increase capacity to serve more students through expanded programs in health care, precision machining, information technology, criminal justice and other key programs?

If you would like more details, please contact me at 377-3276 or

Friday, October 11, 2013

State News Update

Federal Government Shutdown

I trust that you have been closely following the mess that is the federal government shutdown. I find it a reckless, irresponsible failure of our elected federal officials to properly govern a nation at a crossroads. Certainly not a shining example of governance for the rest of the world to witness. Certainly not the best way to protect the public health and promote the well-being of our citizenry.

The lives of too many Americans have been negatively affected by the cessation of vital programs and services, our struggling-to-recover economy will be potentially forced to the brink, and here in Maine, hard-working families have already felt the pain. All 52 state employees at the Disability Determination Office at the Carleton Mills building on Route 202 in Winthrop were temporarily laid off without pay. Uncertainty rules the day.

Recently, Gov. Paul LePage declared a civil emergency in Maine due to the federal shutdown, a declaration that has led to many people -- in our district and outside of it -- contacting me to find out what this all means.

Historically, Maine governors have used the civil emergency powers during disaster relief to respond to a crisis. Gov. John Baldacci declared a civil emergency in response to the H1N1 outbreak to expedite flu vaccinations. Gov. Baldacci also issued a civil emergency in 2007 when the price of diesel went up by $1. Gov. John McKernan declared a civil emergency during the shutdown of state government in 1991.

The Civil Emergency Proclamation grants authority to the governor to not follow the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with state employees who are facing layoffs resulting from the shutdown.

The governor has said that he is doing so to reduce the financial impact to state employees so that they can receive unemployment benefits and health insurance. He has also said that the layoffs will terminate at the conclusion of the shutdown.

During a meeting with the governor and Republican leaders, Democratic leaders proposed an amendment to the proclamation which would clarify the scope of his power so it would not suspend the state's labor relations law and not circumvent the CBA and also provide an end-date. The governor refused to do this.

More than 2,700 state employees' jobs are at risk.

No other state or governor in the country has declared a similar civil emergency in the wake of the federal shutdown.


Food Supplement Impacted as Stimulus Package Expires
The expiration of the federal stimulus package, which temporarily increased funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will reduce the monthly benefit provided through the Food Supplement program to all recipients beginning November 1.
The SNAP benefit, still commonly referred to as “food stamps,” was temporarily increased in 2009 with the passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, often referred to as the stimulus package. The temporary increase expires on November 1 and all SNAP recipients will see a reduction.
The SNAP, a federal program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is fully funded by the federal government and administered by the state. In Maine, more than $30 million in SNAP benefits are distributed each month.
Adding confusion to this benefit decrease is that in October, many SNAP recipients will actually see a small increase in benefits due to the annual cost of living adjustment. The Office for Family Independence (OFI) has sent notifications to the more than 132,000 households that currently receive SNAP benefits to explain the changes.
“Due to the ARRA sunset, States must adjust all SNAP allotments twice this year: once on October 1, 2013 and again on November 1, 2013,” wrote Bonnie Brathwaite, Director of the USDA’s Northeast Region of SNAP. “Because these are statutory provisions, they cannot be waived or consolidated into one effective date.”
The reduction in benefits will range from $1 a month for those who receive the minimum monthly benefit, to an average of around 5 percent for those who receive the maximum benefit. As an example, a family of four receiving the maximum benefit of $668 per month in October will see a $36 reduction. In Maine, the average monthly benefit for a family of four is $351.
Another OFI mailing will follow in mid-October that will tell members the exact amount of the reduction beginning November 1.


Secretary of State Reminds Mainers of new Motor Vehicle Laws Now in Effect
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap would like to remind Maine motorists that new driving regulations, passed into law by the 126th legislature, went into effect on Wednesday, October 09, 2013. These laws are among others that became active 90 days after the close of the legislative session. 
“We hope these laws continue to improve safety on the road,” said Secretary Dunlap.  “Some of the changes are designed to improve convenience and accessibility, while others impose stricter sanctions for dangerous behavior.  Our goal is always to advance the experience of all responsible drivers and others who use our roads.”
The following are noteworthy changes to Maine law that will affect drivers; for additional information please refer to Title 29-A, Motor Vehicle laws, 2013-2014 Edition:
  • A driver who is cited for texting while driving will receive a $250 minimum fine for a first time violation and a $500 fine on a second or subsequent offense within three years. In addition, texting violations will now include a 30-day license suspension on a second offense; a 60-day suspension on a third offense; and a 90-day suspension on a fourth or subsequent violation.  These suspension periods are mandatory, without a right to a hearing. 
  • The minimum practice time for a driver under the age of 21 who applies for a learner’s permit on or after October 9, 2013, has increased from 35 to 70 hours, including an increase in night driving from five to 10 hours.  Drivers completing their practice time must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or licensed driver at least 20 years of age.  Additionally, while the permit exam is administered by the driving school prior to program completion, the law now requires all learners’ permits to be issued only by the Secretary of State.
  • Previously, active duty military personnel had 30 days to obtain a non-military identification card or license after discharge from service; they will now have up to 180 days. 
  • Bicyclists are now part of the definition of “traffic” and a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist or roller skier is prima facie evidence that the motorist violated the three foot law.
  • Police officers as well as the BMV may now accept proof of current insurance in electronic form. 
  • An officer may, at his or her discretion, issue a permit to travel directly home or to the BMV if a driver is found to be operating illegally on an expired license. 
  • The suspension period for an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) offender with three or more previous offenses within 10 years has been increased from six years to eight years.
  • The license of a person with four or more OUI offense may be eligible for early reinstatement after serving four years of the suspension period if an approved ignition interlock device (IID) is installed for a period of four years.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bill Requests For The Second Regular Session

I received no constituent requests for bills for the upcoming session, so I have submitted one bill title for the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature:

An Act to End Hunger, Protect Small Farms and Homesteads, and Promote Food Self-Sufficiency for the People of the State

Ending hunger for our people with food grown, caught, trapped, hunted, processed and produced in Maine remains my passion. There is simply no excuse for anyone -- especially children and seniors -- to go without nutrient-dense food for a single day.

We must come together, all hands on deck, to end hunger in Maine no later than 2024.

For a complete list of titles by sponsor, please click here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

State News Update

I apologize for being out of touch for awhile. It's been high harvest at the farm and I've focused most of my time and attention on putting up food for winter.

A comprehensive update is forthcoming here, in your inbox, and in your mailbox. Please send an email to me at if you want to receive future updates via email as well.

For now, I'll share this:

Governor LePage and First Lady LePage welcome Mainers, donations at Third Annual Blaine House Food Drive

Maine’s First Family is inviting Mainers to visit the Blaine House once again this year in an effort to help fellow citizens who are less fortunate. In October, Governor Paul R. LePage and First Lady Ann M. LePage will open their doors for the annual Blaine House Food Drive. The Governor and First Lady started the food drive three years ago and have collected thousands of pounds of food for pantries and homeless shelters across Maine.

The food drives will take place on three consecutive Saturdays during the month of October: Oct. 12, Oct. 19 and Oct. 26. Mainers will have an opportunity to bring a food donation, receive a tour of the Blaine House led by Governor LePage and enjoy light refreshments.

All donations collected at the Blaine House will be given to Good Shepherd Food Bank. Good Shepherd Food Bank will determine the communities that need the food most and distribute the donations.

Doors will be open at the Blaine House for the food drive between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Oct.12, Oct. 19 and Oct. 26.

Secretary of State Warns Consumers About Online Driver’s License Scams

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap would like to warn consumers about websites claiming to provide new driver’s licenses and driver’s license renewals. These websites charge customers, but do not actually issue credentials. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has received complaints recently about a company called

The company implies that a credential can be ordered through the website for a fee; however, once payment is made the customer is simply directed to the BMV website.

A new Maine driver’s license can only be obtained through the BMV at its various offices and mobile units or through AAA New England locations. A complete listing of BMV locations can be found at .

“It’s very important that people know the only valid website for renewing a Maine driver’s license is and the service is only available to customers who have already established proof of residency and legal presence.” Said Secretary Dunlap, “Some of these sites may look like they are affiliated with state government; however, they usually have a disclaimer somewhere on the page noting that they are privately owned and are not operated by any government agency.”

If you believe you have been a victim of a driver license scam, please contact the BMV Investigations Unit at 624-9000, extension 52144 or visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection website at .

Sunday, August 25, 2013

State News Update

Governor Issues Proclamation Calling Legislature Back to Take Action on Bond Package

Governor Paul R. LePage issued a proclamation calling for a special session on Thursday, August 29 for the Legislature to take action on issuing on a bond package of $149.5 million for infrastructure improvements.

The bond package, which was negotiated with Legislative leadership, includes the Governor’s original proposal of $100 million for improvements to highways and bridges, as well as ports and railroads. In addition, the package includes $14 million the Governor requested to maintain and upgrade Maine’s armories, many of which are in dire need of repair and rehabilitation.

Bonds will also be used for infrastructure improvements at Maine’s universities and community colleges.

Secretary of State Announces New Electronic Driver License Testing 

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap introduced an electronic testing system that is now available for Mainers who are completing the “written” portion of their driver’s license exam for both commercial and noncommercial Class C credentials.  Motorcycle exams will also be available in this electronic format soon.

The new touch-screen monitors were made possible by a federal grant intended to enhance the security of the commercial testing process. Not only does this system improve the readability of the exams, it also randomly generates each test, ensuring that no two tests are the same.

In addition to the added security features, the electronic format now makes it possible for the test to be offered in multiple languages.

 Maine Bureau of Insurance to Hold Public Informational Sessions Regarding the Federal Health Care Reform Law (ACA)

Maine’s Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa has announced that the Maine Bureau of Insurance will be holding public information sessions regarding the federal health care reform law (ACA).

Individuals seeking information about the new federal health insurance exchanges, newly proposed plans for offering on the exchanges, or other aspects for the health insurance portions of the ACA are invited to attend.

Questions about all other types of insurance are also welcomed. The Bureau will address all insurance-related questions or concerns. Informational materials will be available. Dates, locations and times are listed below:

-- August 16th: 6 pm, Husson University, Bangor (CFB Conference Room)

-- August 29th: 6 pm, Central Maine Community College, Auburn (Kirk Hall)

-- August 30th: 6 pm, University of Maine, Presque Isle, (Allagash Room)

Each session will be preceded at 5:00 p.m. with a public session for individuals wishing to comment on Anthem’s request to discontinue its current plans in the individual market and offer people with those plans the option of selecting one of Anthem’s newly proposed plans.

Approximately 17,500 people in Maine are covered by one of Anthem’s current individual plans. Some of those people would be ‘grandfathered’ and able to maintain their present coverage, because they signed up for the policy prior to the ACA becoming federal law. The Bureau will hold a formal hearing on this matter on September 9, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 208 of the Burton M. Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

Consumers with questions about the ACA can also call the Bureau of Insurance toll-free at 1-800-300-5000 or visit the agency’s website (

Consumers with questions can reach the Bureau of Insurance through its web site at; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

Maine Legislature Releases Digest of Bill Summaries and Enacted Laws

The Legislature has released its Legislative Digest of Bill Summaries and Enacted Laws for the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature.  It’s available on the Office of Policy and Legal Analysis’ website,

The Digest includes summaries of bills considered, committee amendments, adopted floor amendments and laws enacted or finally passed during the 1st Regular Session.

The Digest is posted in the form of separate searchable pdf files for each committee.  It is also posted as 2 pdf files of the entire publication (2 volumes); however, please note that each volume is about 500 pages and may take time to load.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's Time For A New Declaration of Independence

On Independence Day 1976, when the nation celebrated its bicentennial, I was 8-years-old. By then, my father had already taught me how to grow collard greens, among other things, in our backyard garden. Because we were poor, we had to rely on our own means of production as much as possible. My mother taught us to patch our clothes and provided natural remedies to many of our ailments. She swore by cod liver oil and a half a grapefruit every single day. My sister and I ever had a childhood disease.

In the September 1976 edition of Organic Gardening and Farming, Robert Rodale wrote an editorial that is just as timely today, nearly 37 years later, as it was when he penned it.  He provides a clear picture of how independent we are not and suggests what we can do to best progress toward independence.

It should come as no surprise that one of his suggestions is this:

Gardens of Liberty
The garden is the best place to start looking for ways to help people become more independent. A garden is both the symbol and reality of self-sufficiency—especially an organic garden, which recycles organic wastes of the yard and household, permits the production of significant amounts of food with only minimal reliance on outside resources. Any campaign to boost personal independence should start by helping people become gardeners—teaching, motivating, and making land available.

Liberty doesn't end at the border of the garden, though. Home production of a variety of goods and services extends the idea of gardening. Both gardeners and non-gardeners can also grow their own bean sprouts, make some of their own clothes, become proficient at crafts, improve insulation of their home, and do similar home production tasks. Each such activity you learn makes you less dependent on others.
Music to my ears. I've been preaching this for as long as I've been preaching anything. It fuels my fire as we work to encourage and teach more people to grow and process their own food, as we work to influence policy in Augusta that will ensure the preservation of family farms and traditional foodways, with a distinct focus on making it easier for homemade food and farm food products to be accessible to people in their local communities.

So, here I am. A small-scale organic farmer serving in Augusta to bring more liberty to the People in the most essential way I know how: food sovereignty. While our efforts didn't succeed this time around (we did get edible landscaping in Capitol Park, a lead-by-example garden initiative that I believe makes common sense), Rodale believed in 1976, as I'm sure he would today, that such efforts remain necessary at all levels of governance. To wit:

Needed—A Politics of Independence
Personal independence is an idea with profound political importance, yet it is a non-partisan concept. Whether you are liberal or conservative in your thinking, or middle of the road, you can make good use of greater personal independence. Any free political philosophy that a community chooses to emphasize will work better if its citizens have greater independence. Perhaps that’s because a government of independent people is by definition a smaller government, and is called on to provide fewer services. A government that is smaller can be observed more clearly, and is easier to manage, no matter which party is in charge.

Can the political system be used to help us become more independent? I think it not only can, but must be used for that purpose. We are so tied up now by centralization, especially centralization of government functions and programs in Washington, that in spirit of peaceful revolution we must petition for loosening our present bonds of dependence. Only by sticking to a positive approach can we mount a unified effort for personal independence that will have the support of people of all political views.

As a start, we should ask for a research program in personal independence. The development of new techniques and advanced technology is a potent force which has shaped our present society in many ways. Many millions are now being spent in research which is helping large institutions become bigger, and which as a result is squeezing out what little independence is left in us.

We need a comparable effort to develop techniques that will help people work on their own, and do things for themselves. All the activities I’ve mentioned so far (plus more) could be helped immeasurably by a research program in independence. We need more study of improved methods of gardening, alternate energy production, health promotion, transportation, personalized home building, home production, and so forth. I can even visualize a National Institute of Independence, whose sole function would be the development of ways that the American people could partially unhook themselves from the web of dependence that has been created during the 200-year history as a nation. Someday we could even have a Secretary of Independence in the cabinet, presiding over a department that would be working for personal independence in a wide variety of ways.

That may sound somewhat odd to you—asking Washington to help us become independent of the forces Washington represents so clearly, and even having an agent in Washington working toward that end. But the simple truth is that our dependence has increased to the point where we have to ask for help in changing the direction of our lives. It's also true that you and I, when aroused to write letters to our representatives, can get them to take note of our needs and maybe even take some action. Asking for a research effort to make personal independence more practical is really not such a big thing, and should be possible to achieve.
Whether or not we need a research effort at the national level to make more practical what many of us already practice in our lives at the community level is anybody's guess. But here in Maine, we can do better. We must embrace policies that encourage more personal independence and self reliance -- starting with food.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Public Hearing Notice

This is all the notice the public gets on these late-filed major substantive rules of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. If any (or all of you) have any time to show up to voice your thoughts and feelings on vector control spraying of pesticides by aircraft for mosquitoes in a municipality near you this summer, then you would want to try to carve out the time to show up in Augusta tomorrow at 1:00 PM.

I can't give you details about any of the resolves because I haven't completely understood them yet and as far as I can see, they are not yet available on the Legislature's website. But from the looks of it, they're unsightly.

Please spread to the word.


Wednesday: 6/26/2013 – In Room 437 State House

L.D. 1567 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 22: Standards for Outdoor Application of Pesticides by Powered Equipment in Order To Minimize Off-Target Deposition, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

L.D. 1568 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 20: Special Provisions, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

L.D. 1569 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 51: Notice of Aerial Pesticide Application, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

L.D. 1567 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 22: Standards for Outdoor Application of Pesticides by Powered Equipment in Order To Minimize Off-Target Deposition, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

L.D. 1568 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 20: Special Provisions, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

L.D. 1569 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 51: Notice of Aerial Pesticide Application, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Monday, June 17, 2013

State News Update

Legislature Deals With Biennial Budget and Hospital Debt Repayment

LD 1555, “An Act To Strengthen Maine's Hospitals and To Provide for a New Spirits Contract,” passed both the Maine House and Senate unanimously under the hammer, moving the state closer to repaying the debt owed to hospitals. The measure will pay Maine’s hospitals, restructure the state’s liquor operations and sales, and advance bonds.

The biennial budget proposal for 2014/2015 was also considered by the House and Senate, with a 102-43 vote in favor of enactment in the House and a 25-10 vote in favor of enactment in the Senate. The budget proposal now awaits a decision by Governor LePage. The full budget document is available HERE.

Community Preservation Grants available; deadline July 1

Each year, Historic New England provides Community Preservation Grants of $1,000 each to a small to mid-sized heritage organization in each of the six New England states. These grants support projects that raise the visibility of historic preservation and present diverse stories of life in our region. Past projects have included the renovation of a historic theater in New Hampshire, preservation of hand-colored photographs in Rhode Island, and the purchase of archival shelving to preserve family papers in Vermont.

Historic New England seeks to support projects that complement our goal of telling diverse stories of New England life. Award recipients will be announced in August 2013.
The application is simple. Apply online before Monday, July 1.

Learn more about the Community Preservation Grants program, and see a list of previous recipients HERE.

Maine History Corner

At the turn of the century, two of Maine’s famous citizens were oxen – the world’s largest, in fact. Owned by A.S. Rand of Stetson, and named A. Granger and Mt. Katahdin, the two oxen weighed in at about 6600 pounds and were too big to do farm work. In order to keep their leg muscles strong enough to support their massive weight, Rand placed the oxen’s water at the end of a raised board so they were forced to exercise their leg muscles in order to reach it. Because they were too large for farm work, Rand exhibited them around the northeast United States and southeast Canada. They were even displayed at Madison Square Garden in 1906. After the death of Mt. Katahdin, the ox was mounted and used in events such as parades until it was destroyed in a 1934 fire. Lore says that A. Granger was buried under an apple tree in Stetson following his death. For more information on these remarkable animals visit HERE.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Maine House Overwhelmingly Supports GMO Labeling Requirements

Posted June 11, 2013, at 1:58 p.m.
Last modified June 11, 2013, at 7:47 p.m. 
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House took a step Tuesday toward requiring genetically modified food products carry special labels. If the measure ultimately becomes law, its success will depend on action taken by lawmakers in four nearby states.

The Maine House voted to support a bill, LD 718, that would require genetically modified food products carry labels that state “Produced with Genetic Engineering.” The 141-4 vote was in favor of an amendment that would have the labeling requirement take effect once four other contiguous states pass similar laws.

The bill originally would have taken effect if five other states anywhere in the United States passed similar legislation or any combination of states with a total population of at least 20 million.

“It does not make Maine an outlier,” said Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, the bill’s primary sponsor.

The measure now faces votes in the Senate and an additional vote in the House.

During debate on the House floor Tuesday, there was little disagreement about the value of labeling genetically modified food products.

“The consumers have a right to know,” said Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop. “The people want to know what’s in their food, and they want to be able to make a choice that’s right.”

Read the rest...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Floor Speech: Cell Phone Privacy

Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, as a cosponsor of LD 415, An Act To Require a Warrant To Obtain the Location Information of a Cell Phone or Other Electronic Device, I rise in strong opposition to the pending motion of ought not to pass.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

In other words, the ends do not justify the means.

The ends do not justify the means.

The ends do not justify the means.

The 4th Amendment demands that the government respect your privacy and liberty, demands that the government do its job by securing a warrant before tracing your whereabouts anywhere in the world.

Please vote against the pending motion. Please vote to uphold essential liberty for your constituents, for yourself

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



5/29/2013 -  Speaker laid before the House
Subsequently, the Majority Ought Not to Pass Report FAILED.

(Yeas 28 - Nays 113 - Absent 10 - Excused 0)

On motion of Representative McCABE of Skowhegan, the Minority Ought to Pass as Amended Report was ACCEPTED.

The Bill was READ ONCE.

Committee Amendment "A" (S-106) was READ and ADOPTED.

Under suspension of the rules, the Bill was given its SECOND READING without REFERENCE to the Committee on Bills in the Second Reading.

The Bill was PASSED TO BE ENGROSSED as Amended by Committee Amendment "A" (S-106).