- The Maine Wire - https://www.themainewire.com -

Open letter to Gov. Mills: It’s time to reopen Maine

Dear Governor Mills,

Many Mainers are facing desperate times. I would like to offer my thoughts for consideration so together we can move this state into a healthy, positive direction. It’s vital we exercise wisdom and insight as we go forward. I believe you desire the best for the people in this state. In that light, I will communicate the struggles facing many of my constituents. If they were to speak to you, they would share their struggles in a much more blunt manner.

When people are denied the right to earn a living to support themselves and their families, they are stripped of the will to thrive. I urge you to consider other issues that extend beyond those afflicted or potentially afflicted by COVID-19. The collateral damage is escalating exponentially each day the shutdown economy continues.

In the daily briefings it is repeatedly suggested for people to sit at home and continue watching Netflix. All the while people are disintegrating into desperation and despondency. This dismissive suggestion is very troubling. It illustrates a lack of comprehension for the wide-reaching implications of these mandates. We are significantly compounding the mental health crisis we have been trying to address here in Maine.

I would like to address two specific issues of great concern that need immediate attention: the lack of accessibility to unemployment and the need to reopen Maine.

Businesses and employees are now in great peril. It has been five weeks for many Mainers who have been laid off. People have yet to receive a check from the unemployment office despite calling hundreds of times in one day, just to be put on hold and then disconnected. Five weeks of this is unacceptable and needs to be addressed now.

The self-employed and sole proprietors are being immediately dismissed out of hand with no explanation, yet they have had no income for well over a month as well. The federal government has released the funds and the states are the ones who have to process them to the self-employed individuals who file a claim, yet there is no means by which one can file a claim as of yet. This program is supposed to be up and running by April 30th. It’s working in other states currently. What’s going on here in Maine?

Policies going forward must address both those who have been laid-off as well as the self-employed. Businesses need to reopen in a mindful manner, which I will address as well.

The following are my suggestions:

UNEMPLOYMENT

If we care for every life, and that’s the reason for the restrictions we are currently under, then it’s time to pay attention to the hundreds of thousands who have no money. Only you can fix this!

REOPEN MAINE

Most importantly, we need to reopen our businesses now. The COVID-19 data and trends in Maine suggest this is most favorable to begin. It needs to be done in an intelligent and safe manner per federal guidelines designed to produce safe workplaces.

People and businesses are well versed on how to accomplish this. A thoughtful restart up will help mitigate the even more devastating consequences of economic ruin.

Respectfully,

Representative Heidi H. Sampson