Author: Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the Editor-in-Chief of The Maine Wire. ‪He can be reached by email at Robinson@TheMaineWire.com.

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to play important role in natural-based resource economy The State of Maine has a brand-new agency, one that will focus on the best use and development of the state’s extensive land-based natural resources. The new Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry becomes official on Thursday, Aug. 30, combining two departments into one that will support the people and economy of Maine while protecting its most valued assets. The new department, which merges the departments of Agriculture and Conservation, is the result of legislation signed into law earlier this year by Governor Paul LePage,…

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Secretary of State Charlie Summers would like to remind Maine motorists that new driving regulations, passed into law by the 125th legislature, will go into effect on Thursday, August 30, 2012.  This law is among others that will become active 90 days after the close of the 2012 legislative session. LD 1912, “An Act To Encourage Responsible Teen Driving,” the product of collaboration between Secretary of State Summers, bill sponsor Senator Bill Diamond and the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation, was signed into law this past April. The resulting changes to the current regulations include an increase in fines and terms…

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By David Sorensen Maine Republican Party Welfare reform is one of the most important initiatives that Maine and America can undertake.  Well-intentioned Democrats have, over the years, grown our welfare system to an unsustainable level out of an urge to help the poor.  The folly of their policy is two-fold. First, it creates a culture of dependency and entitlement, whereby people expect government handouts and lose motivation to improve their position in life.  This does not help them in the long-term.  Second, it cripples government budgets, requiring ever-increasing taxes that drain resources from the productive side of the economy—the side…

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By David Sorensen Maine Republican Party The 125th Legislature of 2011-12 passed the largest tax-cut package in Maine’s history as a part of the biennial budget, LD 1043. Democrats have been railing against this package in the editorial pages, calling it a tax cut for the rich. They leave out two facts that destroy their credibility. First, they voted for it. The budget passed 123-19 in the House and 29-5 in the Senate. They did so reluctantly, however, with House Minority Leader Emily Cain eventually commenting, “My caucus hates these tax cuts. It hates them.” Second, the Democrats’ own tax package,…

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See “How Obamacare Robs Medicare and Hurts Seniors” online at The Heritage Foundation. The rhetorical Medicare wars have heated up this week, after President Obama declared in his Saturday radio address that his proposed reforms “won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.” This is incorrect. Obamacare cuts $716 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and uses these “savings” from Medicare to fund other entitlement expansions mandated by Obamacare. Medicare becomes a cash cow for Obamacare, and the Medicare “savings” from payment cuts are not put back into making Medicare solvent. Such…

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This op-ed by U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe ran August 24 in the Washington Post. See it here. By Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) It is unfortunate that the stunningly insensitive statement about rape made last weekend by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is casting a shadow over the start of the Republican National Convention. Republican leaders, led by Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, rightfully and strongly repudiated his remarks. Yet, the comments from Akin reinforce the perception that we in the Republican Party are unsympathetic to issues of paramount concern to women. I have worked for three decades as a…

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Attorney General William J. Schneider announced Monday that Christopher S. Frazer, 44, of Lewiston, pled guilty to one count of Class C Theft by Deception, three counts of Class D Misuse of Identification and one count of Unlawful Possession of Scheduled Drugs and was sentenced for stealing $3,600 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Clifford sentenced Frazer to three years in jail, all but six months suspended, and two years of probation with the requirement that he pay restitution. Frazer was also sentenced to six months incarceration, to run concurrently with…

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Governor LePage applauds the Romney/Ryan energy plan for its focus on North American renewable sources Governor Paul LePage on Monday applauded the new energy plan introduced by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, which focuses on making America energy independent by the year 2020. The plan looks to achieve this critical goal by bringing all cost-effective sources into the energy mix, reforming the federal energy regulation and permitting processes; establishing more energy partnerships with our Mexico and Canada neighbors; and emphasizing private sector-driven energy and energy technology development. “It is very encouraging to see that the Romney/Ryan plan stress that both…

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By Robert Rector The Heritage Foundation Last month, President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) illegally overturned the work requirements that were the core of the welfare reform law of 1996, which required that a portion of the able-bodied recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program—the successor to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program—be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. The Obama Administration abolished this standard, declaring that in the future all state welfare bureaucracies and all TANF recipients could be exempted from the federal work…

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Maine is second only to California in conserved land By Diana George Chapin According to the 2010 National Land Trust Census Report produced by the Land Trust Alliance in Washington, D.C., nearly 2 million acres of land in Maine is preserved from development, placing Maine second in the nation after California in numbers of acres encumbered in perpetuity with conservation easements. This represents an 8% increase in acres conserved since 2005. Bond sales, which fund the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program, likely contributed to the rapid increase, providing money for the state, municipalities and land trusts to purchase ownership…

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Governor Paul LePage announced today a new Energy Office website (www.Maine.gov/energy). The website provides a home heating calculator as well as comprehensive information and data on energy issues, incentives, initiatives, reports, policies and costs. The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) mission is to create effective public and private partnerships that advance Maine’s energy security and economic development in an environmentally responsible manner. The website offers an interactive Home Heating Calculator that allows consumers to estimate their average annual heating costs and presents the price impacts of various energy sources. Director Kenneth Fletcher commented, “While it’s difficult to predict where prices will…

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By Amy Paine The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported Wednesday that without a doubt, America will have a fresh recession next year unless Congress and the President prevent it. We are facing the largest tax increase in history—Taxmageddon, scheduled to take effect January 1—and what experts are calling a “fiscal cliff” of sharp and unforgiving budget changes that will send the country spiraling downward. Congress and the President have the power to prevent this, and when the August congressional recess is over, that is exactly what they should do. In its new report, the CBO said that if Congress does…

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Governor LePage has nominated John Gallagher of Bath, executive director of the Westbrook Housing Authority, to take over as the head of the Maine State Housing Authority. If appointed, Gallagher would replace former director Dale McCormick, who resigned earlier this year after a series of questions about years of wasteful spending and mismanagement at MSHA under her guidance. In addition to serving as executive director of the Westbrook Housing Authority for 13 years, Gallagher was formerly the manager of the Development Division of Maine State Housing Authority. Prior to that, he co-owned a small real estate and management firm in…

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Marc A. Thiessen, a Washinton Post opinion writer, penned a piece on Monday stating that a victory by Angus King is not a sure thing. This is his column, titled “Message to the GOP: Maine is not lost!” By Marc A. Thiessen The Washington Post WESTBROOK, Maine Here’s a message to the GOP from Vacationland: Maine is not lost! When Sen. Olympia Snowe announced her retirement last year, many Republicans wrote Maine off — and with it their chances of taking back the U.S. Senate. At the start of July, a Portland Press Herald poll showed independent former governor Angus King…

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On July 1, most of Central Maine Power’s customers unknowingly suffered a 19.6% increase in electrical transmission rates. If they did notice the shocking increase to their electric bill, they most likely failed to connect the rate hike with the aggressive agenda to push wind power in Maine. The dramatic increase—which is just the start of rate hikes that are coming over the next five years—will affect hundreds of thousands of ratepayers, including businesses, which are those entities that we’d like to see start hiring again. According to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, the primary driver of the 19.6% increase is…

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By Michael Ozga Throughout the centuries, the elite amongst us have tried to sell their version of utopia. From Plato’s “Republic” to Obama’s “Hope and Change,” the ruling elite have tried to centrally plan our very existence, either by force or perfidy. Unfortunately their vision of utopia generally morphs into a Progressive Dystopia. The latest version of this panacea is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. Vice President Joe Biden has been on the wrong side of history for most of his political career. However, Biden was correct when he famously quipped to President Utopus…

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WABI TV-5 in Bangor posted this story: Sources: LePage Hopes To Pay Down Hospital Debt With Liquor Money In Special Session By Rob Poindexter, Central Maine Bureau Chief, WABI TV Augusta – Governor Paul LePage’s plan for a special legislative session is in question following a conversation between the Republican governor and the House Democratic leader. House Minority Leader Emily Cain says LePage told her by phone he did not plan on calling the legislature back into session, and he would adress his plans in January. TV-5 News has now learned part of what LePage is hoping to get accomplished. According to highly…

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This is a post from The Foundry, a blog by the Heritage Foundation. See it here. The wind production tax credit (PTC) is set to expire at the end of this year, which has the industry crying out for continued subsidies. In an article titled, “We Need Wind Subsidies Like We Need VHS Subsidies,” Nicolas Loris of The Heritage Foundation makes the case that the wind energy tax credit makes as much sense as a VHS production tax credit. Can you imagine the logic: “We can’t afford to lose our VHS tape manufacturing plants. They provide valuable jobs. Americans need a…

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s financial disclosure is now available online, and what a story it tells. Pingree was the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation to request an extension from the May 15 deadline, and it is her first since marrying billionaire hedge-fund manager and Democratic string-puller Donald Sussman. Here is a sampling of the investments disclosed in Pingree’s report: Chilton China Opportunities, LP China Aoyuan Property Group Cathay Investment Fund Limited New China Investment Management Inc. New China Management Corp. TAM China LLC Pingree is especially invested in The Cathay Funds, a private equity firm that invests in China. It is…

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Policymakers must work to reverse out-migration Maine is staring into a population abyss that could result in the loss of up to 47,000 workers over the next 10 years and a reduction of up to 101,000 workers over the next two decades. The state’s declining population, coupled with a rapidly growing segment of people over 65, has serious economic ramifications for both Maine’s business community and the state government. As younger residents leave Maine and the older generation dies off, businesses will continue to lose employees and customers. At the same time, Maine’s remaining population will age rapidly and demand more…

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The Maine Department of Education is inviting the public to weigh in one last time on its plan for creating a fairer and more constructive system for holding schools accountable and helping them improve. The Department will submit a formal request for flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to the U.S. Department of Education by Sept. 6. The process, which has been underway since fall 2011, has included considerable public engagement, including a survey with more than 1,500 responses, several public forums, a public website and four working groups with stakeholder participation. Forums are scheduled Aug. 20 online;…

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In light of recent concerns of State Senator Doug Thomas (R-Ripley) and others, Governor Paul LePage announced today that Maine Department of Transportation officials will continue to gather information regarding the proposed East West Highway before any action is taken. The Governor said on Tuesday he would like to ensure Mainers that a thorough and thoughtful process will take place, which could take years, before the project begins. “The East West Highway is an idea that’s been around for a dozen years and that’s what it is, an idea,” said Governor LePage. “We must explore the facts and go on…

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(This story has been updated with information added by Dan Remian, who helped organize the Governor’s visit.) A group of economists, financial advisers, hedge fund managers, Federal Reserve advisers and bankers come from around the world each year to participate in “Camp Kotok,” a quiet and exclusive summit at Leen’s Lodge in Grand Lake Stream, a remote plantation in Washington County. The annual weekend retreat is typically a low-key, relaxing and off-the-record respite for industry insiders, but this year they had a special guest: Governor Paul LePage. Kevin Gurall, director of the Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes…

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The leader of the Maine GOP praised the selection of Wisconsin Congressman and conservative budget hawk Paul Ryan as candidate for vice president, while the Maine Democratic chairman defaulted to demagoguery about class welfare in disparaging Ryan. Gov. Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan, well known as one-man assault team on the federal budget, clearly signals that Republicans are taking aim at President Obama’s failed agenda on the economy, the federal budget and the country’s massive debt. As chair of the House Budget Committee, the young, energetic and likable Ryan has had marksman-like focus on fiscal policy. His proposals for reducing debt and…

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The chairman of the Maine Republican Party has called out Angus King’s former budget officer for blaming a billion-dollar deficit on 9/11. The Angus King for Senate campaign touts on its website and social media sites an op-ed published in the Portland Press Herald by King’s former budget officer. (“Maine Voices: Former state budget officer explains, defends King’s fiscal record,” by Jack Nicholas, who served as state budget officer for Governors John McKernan and Angus King) In what Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, calls “a shocking display of passing the buck,” the op-ed by Nicholas blames the fiscal mess…

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Wisconsin numbers cruncher unifies, revitalizes GOP By Brett M. Decker The Washington Times Mitt Romney has proved everyone wrong. The common wisdom was the presumptive Republican nominee for president was going to make a safe pick, going with an old Washington hand from an important swing state for vice president. By tapping 42-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, Mr. Romney shows that he is taking the fight into blue states deep in the heart of territory Barack Obama won four years ago. This is the strategy of a winner. Choosing Mr. Ryan, the wonky chairman of the House Budget Committee, telegraphs…

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This the weekly message from Governor Paul LePage. To listen to the audio, visit www.Maine.Gov/Governor/LePage. Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage. Maine Lobster is known to be the best of the best throughout our country and the world. But what’s happening right now with our lobster industry is having a major impact on Maine fishermen, and it’s not doing them or our economy any good. The price of the crustacean has plummeted because of a highly unusual season that has fishermen catching record numbers of lobster. The highest average price in 2005 was $4.63 per pound and this year we’ve…

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By Diana George Chapin Many people across the nation are making the connection between the regionalization of land conservation efforts and the goals of theUnited Nations Agenda 21, which is a “comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations system, governments and major groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.” In Maine, land trusts have moved from conserving land on a local level to a regional level. For example, the 12-Rivers Collaborative is a plan for doubling the amount of land encumbered with conservation easements in the mid-coast, is being undertaken by a collective of 10land trusts based within the…

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AUGUSTA – On Friday, August 10, Governor Paul LePage will travel to Belfast to visit employees and tour the facilities of Front Street Shipyard, a premiere yacht yard that services boats as large as 160 feet. After opening in 2011, Front Street Shipyard has grown to be one of the largest and most capable yacht yards in the Northeast. The Governor will begin with a tour of the facilities at 10:00 a.m. This will be followed by a reception where the Governor will have the opportunity to meet the shipyard’s employees. “Front Street Shipyard has created quality jobs for Mainers…

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Expanded Medicaid enrollment increases private insurance rates, burdens taxpayers without reducing number of uninsured PORTLAND – The Maine Heritage Policy Center today released a report saying that Maine should not expand its Medicaid coverage under Obamacare. States will have the option to add government-funded coverage for healthy individuals under 65 who are at 133% of the poverty level because of the controversial health care overhaul. Originally, the law sought to force states to expand Medicaid, but the Supreme Court threw out that requirement, giving states the option to deny the expansion without penalty. In Maine, more than 25 percent of…

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By Diana George Chapin Maine’s vast northern and downeast forestland is viewed by some as the last wilderness frontier in the country. With large areas preserved in perpetuity by state and federal possession, an increasing amount of acreage is being conserved through easements and controlled by private non-profit, board-of-directors-governed corporate land trusts. In an announcement in May of this year, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Forest Society of Maine (FSM) and Plum Creek unveiled the acquisition of one of the largest conservation easements in U.S. history. A press release from The Nature Conservancy at the time of the announcement stated:…

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By Prof. John Frary Governor LePage’s proclamation of July 31 as “Milton Friedman Day” probably needs some explanation. Although more Mainers celebrated Whoopie Pie Day on June 26 than will ever celebrate July 31, there is a good deal more substance to the latter date. The governor had a special purpose in inviting us to observe the hundredth anniversary of the economist’s birthday. It was Professor Friedman who first gave an impetus to the idea of school choice in a 1955 article entitled “The Role of Government in Education.” To quote the press release from the governor’s office: “Maine’s educational…

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The recently uttered words of President Barack Obama that told business owners they “didn’t build that” shows that his true views on entrepreneurship and limited government leave much to be desired. This 30 year old video clip of Milton Friedman on Phil Donahue in 1979 addresses the issue, and is worth a watch.

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AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage released the following statement today regarding the filing of the State Plan Amendment to implement Medicaid Reductions enacted by the Maine State Legislature: “Today, we are standing firm to let the federal government know Maine is committed to providing quality health care to our most vulnerable.  But we cannot be controlled by mandates that are unaffordable and do not meet the needs of the individual states. Maine’s welfare costs are much higher than the national average and these changes will allow Maine to be more comparable with other states. Maine extended these welfare benefits for…

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Feds Pressed for a Rapid Decision AUGUSTA – Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew and Maine Attorney General William Schneider held a joint news conference today in Augusta to release details regarding Maine’s Medicaid State Plan Amendment Request. The request was filed Wednesday morning with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Regional Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Boston.  Commissioner Mayhew asked for an expedited approval, so that DHHS can implement Legislatively-mandated reductions in its Medicaid program in October in order to achieve $19.93 million in savings that is critical…

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MHPC CEO Scott Moody (l. to r.) with Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, and Amanda Clark, research and development associate at MHPC. Over 50 business people, legislators, school officials and Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen heard from a national expert on school choice Tuesday, July 31 at a luncheon hosted by The Maine Heritage Policy Center. Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, addressed the need for local control over schools and the importance of school choice and competition. Her talk was part of an international effort to celebrate the…

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Satellite, GPS, aerial photography used to supervise millions of acres By Diana George Chapin Maine’s history, economy and culture are inextricably intertwined with its working forests. Traditionally, the state’s expansive timberland was held mainly by private landowners, whether individuals or businesses. However, over two million acres of forests in the northern part of the state are no longer wholly held by private enterprise. A controlling interest in considerable acreage has been obtained by non-profit corporate land trusts. On May 15, The Nature Conservancy, the Forest Society of Maine (FSM) and Plum Creek announced from Portland what was billed as “an…

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*Editors Note – Lindsey Burke, the Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation is the author of this report, and will be the featured speaker at the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s monthly policy luncheon on July 31 at 12pm at DiMillo’s in Portland. Abstract: Coverdell education savings accounts (ESAs), created through the federal tax code, allow families to save money tax-free for K–12 and higher education expenses. Lifting the cap on contributions to Coverdell accounts would provide greater access to school choice options by allowing families to invest more money in their children’s education. Additionally, existing “529” college savings accounts should be expanded to…

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People seemingly voting after they’ve been dead for years. Drug kingpins buying votes from poor people to sway elections. Non-citizens being bussed to the polls and coached on how to vote. Stories of voting fraud are shocking, and states have been taking action to make sure that elections are secure. But the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, has blocked states at almost every turn. This is the same Justice Department that stopped a non-partisan election reform by arguing that if party affiliation were removed from a ballot, African-American voters wouldn’t be able to identify and vote for the Democrats.…

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Report says states must make structural changes – more flexibility from Feds is needed for states’ stability  AUGUSTA – A new task force led by former New York Lieutenant Gov. Richard Ravitch and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker warns of calamity for states if they continue on their financial trajectory and highlights six threats to their stability. Today, Governor Paul LePage noted the report is a “call to action” for Maine, as well as other states. The study, released Tuesday titled “Report of the State Budget Crisis Task Force,” outlines six major fiscal threats:Medicaid spending growth; federal deficit reduction; underfunded…

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July 25, 2012 Governor’s Office AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen held a joint media conference today in the Cabinet Room at the State Capitol to discuss the results of a recent study released by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. Governor LePage and Commissioner Bowen explained these results and what they mean for Maine. They also unveiled a new initiative to revitalize Maine’s educational system: the ABC plan. The study, an analysis of 49 countries worldwide and 41 states in the U.S., measured improvements in academic test scores of 4th and 8th grade…

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Jobs Creation Workshop will focus on Maine’s forestry sector AUGUSTA – Governor LePage announced today the details regarding the fourth and final Governor’s Workshop on Job Creation to be held this summer. The workshop will be held in the Roberts Learning Center at the University of Maine Farmington, on August 15, 2012. The seminars are part of a series of industry-specific workshops designed to bring business leaders together to share ideas and concerns about government policy. “It is critical that we work directly with Maine’s job creators to get input and feedback on what we can do to improve the…

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Maine state and local business taxes grew less than the national average, at 2.4% between 2010 and 2011 but actual “effective business tax rate” is among highest in the country The Council On State Taxation (COST) announced the release of their tenth annual study of state and local business taxes. The report, “Total State and Local Business Taxes: State-by-State Estimates for Fiscal Year 2011,” prepared by Ernst & Young LLP, shows all state and local business taxes paid in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Maine state and local business tax rates grew only 2.4 percent…

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“Morning Bell” email July 24, 2012 Solar-cell manufacturer Solyndra became a household name when it collapsed, taking $627 million in American taxpayer dollars with it. It’s the poster company for the government picking winners and losers—or really, just losers—in the energy market. But there are 12 more “green energy” losers that have declared bankruptcy despite attempts to prop them up with taxpayer money—and the list is growing. There’s a reason why these companies could not rely solely on private financing and needed help from the government. They couldn’t make it on their own; they couldn’t even make it with extra…

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Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew informed the Legislature on Friday that the projected $12.5 million shortfall was all but eliminated in the final five weeks of State Fiscal Year 2012. July 23, 2012 DHHS AUGUSTA- Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew informed the Legislature on Friday that the projected $12.5 million shortfall was all but eliminated in the final five weeks of State Fiscal Year 2012. In late May, DHHS officials met with Legislators to share that the preliminary year-end analysis showed the possibility of a $12.5 million shortfall in the…

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Reform begins with the ABC’s – accountability, best practices, and choice AUGUSTA – Following a report released by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG), Governor Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen will hold a media conference in the Hall of Flags of the State House on Wednesday, July 25 to discuss Maine’s educational system and the Administration’s plan moving forward. The conference will begin at 2:00 p.m. The PEPG report, an analysis of growth trends of student performance in math, reading, and science, ranked Maine 40th out of the 41 participating American states. The study examined…

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U.N. report emphasizes “the importance of land redistribution for the realization of the right to food.” By Diana George Chapin  The land conservation community in Maine often cites affordable access to land as one of the main barriers faced by young people who wish to pursue commercial farming. But some young farmers are looking to “community land trust” models as a means of accessing land, then removing it in perpetuity from private ownership and, in turn, private enterprise. The Maine Landless Farmers Alliance (MLFA) states: “In order to preserve farmland and rural heritage, we must resist the wave of rural gentrification that threatens our local economies and food security.”…

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Baldacci task force, Hannah Pingree and “Kid Safe Act” laid groundwork for DEP to list “chemicals of high concern” Following the passage of bipartisan legislation directing the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to focus on regulating the safe use of chemicals, DEP has released a list of 49 “chemicals of high concern” that are now subject to intense scrutiny. If anti-business activists have their way, these commonly used chemicals that are critical to producing many consumer products could ultimately be banned from use in Maine. Some of the “chemicals of high concern” on the list include formaldehyde, benzene, styrene, mercury,…

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By Joel Allumbaugh Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Obamacare, the so-called “Affordable Care Act,” can stand, we must focus on the many challenges that the law presents for Maine. Although Obamacare is the single largest government intrusion into the private health insurance market, it is important to recognize that Maine is in a somewhat unique position. First, Maine is one of a handful of states with a regulatory framework that is in many ways already more restrictive than Obamacare. For example, many states will experience significant rate increases when they transition to guarantee issue and community rating…

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by Free Enterprise Small business owners’ concerns about the future—particularly on health care and taxes-—are impacting their hiring, according to the U.S. Chamber’s fifth quarterly small business survey released today. Only one in five small businesses (20%) expect to add employees in 2013, according to the poll of 1,225 small business owners, conducted by Harris Interactive. The majority of small businesses say they are likely to keep the same number of employees over the next year – meaning there is likely to be little change in overall unemployment figures. Following the Supreme Court’s decision on the President’s health care law, only 3%…

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By J. Scott Moody, CEO The Maine Heritage Policy Center The Lewiston Sun Journal ran an inaccurate editorial on Sunday, July 15, “A taxing comparison to Maine,” that claimed Maine is not a high tax state compared to New Hampshire. “The bottom line, though?” the editorial asked. “We Mainers paid fewer state taxes than our bordering neighbors during the first part of this year. And, interestingly enough, based on U.S. Census figures (which do not include local and federal taxes), we paid fewer state taxes during the same time . . . this rally cry that we’re the most taxed…

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In a letter from President Dan Danner, the National Federation of Independent Business accused President Obama of “ignoring small business warning of ‘fiscal cliff.'” The letter is concerning the impending expiration of what the NFIB calls “crucial tax provisions,” referring to the potential expiration of Bush-era tax rates that were friendly to businesses. The business-friendly rates are set to expire at the end of 2012, and that could spell trouble for the small-business community that is already struggling with a slow economy. “Warned repeatedly of a rapidly approaching ‘fiscal cliff’ that will have lasting economic consequences, the president is refusing…

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By Diana George Chapin Controlling land, as well as the full suite of rights for it and the full financial value of it, has been paramount to free-enterprise, private-ownership farming in Maine for centuries. But traditional models of farmland ownership are being threatened by alternative agreements of “land tenure” for new and entry-level farmers who do not own land. In such “land tenure” agreements, tenant farmers may be building equity in a farm operation they don’t completely own. Building equity in land is a major concern seasoned famers have for new and entry-level tenant farmers, especially as progressive attitudes develop…

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The Heritage Foundation, a national, conservative think-tank says that what they call “taxmaggedon” will cost Mainers filing a tax return an additional total of $2,662 each, and Maine as whole a total of $1.85 billion in increased taxes in 2013. “Taxmaggedon” is what Heritage has dubbed a slew of major tax increases that are set to take effect next year. According to the group, which pulled the tax increase data it used for its study from the IRS and estimates from the Office of Management and Budget and Joint Committee on Taxation, the United States will see a total tax increase of…

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Eleven “key outcome” sub-categories rank Maine as high as 15th, as low as 45th A new report from the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability has ranked each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia according to how well their child welfare systems performed in 2012. The report shows Maine in the middle of the pack, ranked 25th overall. According to the study, Maine improved by 14 spots from their 2006 ranking. The study, which looked retroactively at 2006 data, showed Maine coming in at 39th in 2006. The number one state in the nation according to the study…

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Harvard report says 70% of New England forestland should be free from development By Diana George Chapin While land trusts across the country have worked in local areas to conserve and preserve land in earnest since the 1960s, more recently they have sought to regionalize, accelerate the pace of their efforts and attract a new, national audience of conservation funders to Maine. These efforts are guided by and associated with land-conservation efforts throughout the northeast. Maureen Hoffman works as executive director of the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association (SVCA), a Newcastle-based non-profit, corporate land trust that works to limit the development…

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Attorney General William J. Schneider announced that Robert W. Baylor, 35, of Lewiston, pled guilty to one count of Class C theft by deception and was sentenced on June 28, 2012 for stealing $2,800 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Clifford sentenced Baylor to one year in jail, all but 30 days suspended, and one year probation with the requirement that he pay full restitution. Baylor was charged with stealing 14 months of Food Stamp benefits by selling his Electronic Benefits Transfer Card (EBT card) with $200 of monthly benefits to another…

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This fascinating video was shot this morning on the Falmouth Spur. It shows a young moose making his way up the highway at a brisk pace, hooves clacking on the pavement, as it runs parallel to the car driving in the passing lane. It narrowly avoids being hit as it darts across oncoming traffic. A reminder from the Maine Wire to drive safely as you make your way to holiday destinations this Fourth of July! (videotaping while driving not recommended)

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by J. Scott Moody The U.S. Census Bureau recently released new data showing state and county population by major age groups as of July 1, 2011. This new data shows another slice of “Demographic Winter” in Maine by looking at the overall age pyramid of the state. A healthy age pyramid, as the name suggests, is one where young folks form the large base and the oldest folks form the narrow top. However, Maine already has a majority of counties where there are more deaths than births. As a consequence, we would expect the percentage of folks under the age of 18 to…

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Economist Named CEO of Portland-based Think Tank The Maine Heritage Policy Center announced today that J. Scott Moody has been named chief executive officer of MHPC. Moody, currently MHPC’s chief economist, will be moving to Maine from his home in northern New Hampshire. In making the announcement, MHPC Chairman Peter Anania said, “We are delighted to have Scott, who has a strong policy background, to lead our organization. Scott has directed our studies in tax and regulatory policy for six years, and he has excelled in that role. MHPC’s board, our staff and our many supporters across the state look…

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By Diana George Chapin Maureen Hoffman has served as executive director for Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association for 15 years and is dedicated to conserving and preserving land in the Sheepscot River watershed, which extends from the “headwaters” region of Montville and Freedom to estuary area of Southport and Westport Island. The land trust, based in Newcastle, is organized as a non-profit corporation. It solicits, receives and administers property and funds for the promotion and advancement of land conservation in areas of Lincoln, Waldo, Kennebec and Knox Counties, encompassing more than a dozen towns. SVCA holds a controlling interest in approximately…

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The Supreme Court ruled today that Obamacare will stand. Some statements from the court, provided by ScotusBlog.com: The money quote from the section on the mandate: Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it. The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn’t matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power. This means that the individual…

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By Diana George Chapin When Robert and Erma Elwell moved into the little brick cape at the end of a meandering road in Unity in 1945, the young couple became the fifth owners of the 1810 farmhouse and the surrounding farm and forestland. Over the years they milked as many as 175 Jersey cows, raised their two daughters, worked the land and contributed to their community in numerous ways. According to Robert, now 90, the farm was considered the best potato farm in Waldo County, “back in the day.” After living on the same road for nearly three-quarters of a…

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Everyone believes that mainstream media outlets have a liberal bias, right? Well, a UCLA professor says he has actually proven it. Furthermore, while some conservative outlets may lean to the right, their bias is less than the liberal bias of most mainstream outlets. These are the results determined by Dr. Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA who has spent years constructing precise, quantitative measures of the slants of media outlets. His methods and conclusions are detailed in his book, “Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.” He will be speaking as the…

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By answering the following 10 questions, you can get a rough approximation of your PQ. When you answer the questions, try to put yourself in the shoes of the members of Congress and decide how you would have voted at the time that the politicians considered the measure. Read more about the “PQ” and the inventor of the measure, author Tim Groseclose, here. For instance, some people feel that the “Cash for Clunkers” program was not as successful as they hoped or thought it would be. Accordingly, when you answer the question related to this program—as well as when you answer…

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We now know that the Supreme Court will rule on Thursday whether or not Obamacare will stand. There are several questions the Supreme Court will be ruling on, and it can be complicated to keep it all straight. To help understand what exactly the Supreme Court will be deciding on Thursday, the American Enterprise Institute put out this great chart that helps explain the decisions the court will have to make. In the version of the chart on their own page, the American Enterprise Institute also includes what they see as the “free-market solutions” that should take place depending on the various…

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Efficiency Maine, the quasi-governmental agency that pushes to increase the use of “alternative energy,” has used taxpayer funds to buy advertising on Maine Insights, the ultra-liberal website of Ramona Du Houx that regularly advocates for extreme liberal positions and causes, including many “green” initiatives. Government agencies are prohibited from using public funds to advertise on partisan political websites. Efficiency Maine bought the ad to be placed on the Maine Insights website in June 2011, according to executive director Michael Stoddard. He said the ad cost $500 and was slated to run for six months to advertise PACE loans, a type…

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By Maine standards, last Tuesday’s election drew anemic participation. The few people who did turn out to vote, around just 13 percent of Maine’s registered voters, were mainly focused on the high-profile Senate primaries, but those top-of-the-ticket races weren’t the only issues of importance on the June 2012 ballot. In at least one Regional School Unit (RSU), the annual budget validation process has caused some controversy, exposing what turns out to be a fairly common practice of using school resources for “get out the vote” efforts for the annual school budget vote. The controversy over the school budget vote in…

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*Editors Note – This is the third in a series of pieces about Maine’s Land Trusts. Read all Land Trust related coverage here. By Diana George Chapin Perhaps no organization in the land trust movement has so dramatically discussed shifting demographics in relationship to the possession of land than Maine Farmland Trust, Inc. MTF has determined that a third of Maine’s best farmland will be in transition in the next five to 10 years simply because of demographics. According to MTF, most farm owners are very old. When they die, MTF wants to ensure their land is conserved for agricultural use…

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*Editors Note – This is the second in a series of pieces about Maine’s Land Trusts. Read all Land Trust related coverage here. By Diana George Chapin Maine has a rich and well-documented history of traditional land use. Today, the land conservation movement in Maine is moving swiftly and changing the relationship between individual property owners, communities and the land. The issues are complex, sensitive and, in some communities, even polarizing. The question on the minds of many Maine people who live in rural communities, who own full rights to their property and who obtained the land through their own…

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*Editors Note – This is the first in a series of stories about the growing impact of land trusts and conservation easements on property rights in Maine. By Diana George Chapin While land trusts have traditionally purchased property for recreation and preservation, some are now focusing on cultural issues of class, diversity and immigration, which they consider critically important to the future of conservation—and the future of Maine. This trend has many property owners fearing that land trusts are transforming from conservation groups into political organizations operated by anti-development environmentalists, who then work in concert with government agencies to gain…

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A column in the Bangor Daily News by Luisa Deprez, a sociology professor at the University of Southern Maine, would have readers believing that our society doesn’t value woman compared to men, and that they basically work for free. The BDN states that Deprez’s column, “Paycheck Fairness Act would help women and their families,” is part of a series that will “bring greater understanding to social and political debates.” Deprez decries the disparity between what men and women are paid, using a statistic that is often echoed from the White House as a talking point on the subject. But the White House doesn’t seem to have its numbers…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Center for Constitutional Law Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: U.S. Senate primary Wisconsin recall Bangor Daily News editorials Maine Housing salaries Angus King and his superPACs

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Angus King, the liberal former governor of Maine and candidate to replace Senator Olympia Snowe, challenged his opponents today to denounce third-party spending in the race for Senate. “This money is destroying our politics,” King said of political action committee (PAC) spending that can influence a race without having to disclose where their donations come from. King himself is already being supported in the race by a Super-PAC from away that has to-date spent $23,668 supporting King according to data on OpenSecrets.org. Icpurple, a Super-PAC formed in California, largely by $300,000 in seed money from the co-founder of Gateway Computers, is supporting…

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Secretary of State Charlie Summers and State Senator Cynthia Dill won their respective primaries last night, filling out the final roster of candidates to fill the U.S. Senate seat of outgoing Senator Olympia Snowe. Summers rose to the top of a six-way field, finishing with nearly 30% of the vote in an extremely low turnout election. Dill won with approximately 44% in her four-way race, racing neck-in-neck with former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap for most of the night before pulling away at the end. Summers fought off Maine Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, who trailed close behind Summers for most of…

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New data released on MaineOpenGov.org shows MaineHousing payrolls jumped nearly $1 million between 2010 and 2011 In the final year of former director Dale McCormick’s leadership at MaineHousing, salaries and benefits at the agency went up eight percent, with the annual payroll topping $10 million for the first time. The payroll data, which is posted online at MaineOpenGov.org, a website of The Maine Heritage Policy Center, shows that in 2010 MaineHousing paid out a total of $9,370,000 in salaries and benefits, a total number that grew to $10.1 million in 2011, the final full year of McCormick’s tenure. The growth…

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Donald Sussman donated seven times more than any other individual to leadership and caucus political action committees in last ten years, also donates to group dedicated to “reducing the influence of big money in politics” Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, an organization dedicated in part to “reducing the influence of big money in politics” released a report today detailing millions in donations to legislative Political Action Committees (PAC’s) from what they call “heavy hitter” donors, which includes one of their own donors. The report revealed that Donald Sussman, the owner of the Maine Today Media and husband of Maine congresswoman…

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Matt Sheffield at Newsbusters.org has a great piece breaking down the media’s absurd reliance on exit polls: The actual vote totals coming in showed the exit polls had been wrong. A race that the media’s expensive exit polling apparatus had insisted was too close to call was not close at all. And yet, reporters continued to report that, while Wisconsin voters had voted for Walker, they still preferred Obama over Mitt Romney in the presidential race — based on the same exit poll results that were being shown to be worthless by the actual vote totals scrolling across the bottoms…

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*Update* The story in question has been updated this afternoon to include reference to the report’s detailing of Sussman’s hundreds of thousands in contributions. Mistler also notes that Sussman is a “large contributor” to Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, the organization that publishes the report. MCCE is a non-profit and does not have to release donors names or amounts of donations. It’s a strange position for Sussman and MCCE to be in. Sussman donates “large” amounts to a group that supposedly wants to limit the influence of money in politics, yet he is the largest single political contributor in the…

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The online world has spent the last two days chortling over the silly reaction MSNBC’s election night commenters had to Scott Walker’s crushing victory in Tuesday night’s recall election. Video of crying talk show hosts and threats of indictments, along with a grotesque amount of online chatter from pro-union forces about actually killing Governor Walker, show a pretty substantial sore loser complex from the American Left. Maine’s #1 source for pro-labor left-wing chatter, the Portland Press Herald, has joined in the fray. PPH reporter Steve Mistler wrote a ‘balanced’ piece today on the aftermath of the Wisconsin results. He quoted…

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by Pem Schaeffer I’ve been watching Brunswick school budget theatrics for a dozen years or more. After thinking about it, I concluded they remind me of “The Phantom of the Opera,” which we’ve seen three times on the stage and perhaps five times or more in the film version. Why? Because as well as you think you know the script and music of a favorite show, each time you see it, you see and hear things you hadn’t picked up on before. And so it is with the annual school budget pageant, a tragedy used to intimidate local taxpayers until…

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Absentee Ballots must be requested by the close of business June 7, 2012 for the June 12, 2012 Primary Election The Maine Secretary of State reminds voters that the deadline to request an absentee ballot for the June 12 primary election, pursuant to Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011, is Thursday, June 7, 2012. Except in special circumstances allowed by law, voters must request their absentee ballots by the close of business on the Thursday prior to an election. This includes requests to vote the ballot in the presence of the Municipal Clerk.  After this deadline, a voter may request an absentee ballot only…

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by Sandy George In response to the recent Bangor Daily News editorial Conservation Priorities, I would like to offer a third dimension to the discussion.  The paper addressed the potential lack of funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program and the Governor’s dedication to a balanced budget. What the paper failed to address is the impact of aggressive preservation on rural communities. Maine people clearly understand the value of conserving land.  Our farmers and woodsmen have made it their life’s work. According to the 2010 Census of Land Conservation undertaken by the Washington, D.C. based Land Trust Alliance, there…

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Former director McCormick, IT employee received cash and airline miles from extensive use of personal cards for MaineHousing purchases Former director of Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) Dale McCormick and one of her employees used their personal credit cards to make over $170,000 in purchases for MSHA, racking up cash rewards and airline miles for themselves, according to a report from the Office of Program and Governmental Accountability (OPEGA). The OPEGA report uncovered the practice at MaineHousing, and since McCormick’s resignation in March, MSHA has put a stop to the questionable method of purchasing. According to the report, in just five…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: OPEGA, Dale McCormick, and the press The Maine Housing Credit Card Scam Bill Nemitz and the Constitution Eco-Bull: Mike Belliveau and the Tides Foundation Bonding and Business

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Sometimes, reading the Maine newspapers is like being transported into an alternate universe. This weekend was a great example. After the Government Oversight (OPEGA) report confirmed that Maine State Housing Authority had spent over $400,000 on contributions and donations and more than $44,000 on “staff celebrations”, that former director Dale McCormick had personally been reimbursed for over $50,000 in travel costs and that she was reimbursed for nearly $10,000 of non-business meal expenses, Maine newspapers quickly conjured up a far different picture. Here are a few headlines: Bangor Daily News: “Watchdog agency finds no wrongdoing at MaineHousing after months of furor” Portland Press Herald: “Housing authority probe finds…

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by Peter Steele | The Maine Wire How are these two apparently random, innocent-sounding events connected? First, The Portland Press Herald ran an op-ed on May 15, titled “Maine Voices: Research and development investment will produce jobs,” which pushes for a $20 million taxpayer-funded bond to subsidize “green technology” companies. Second, women from Maine joined mothers, cancer survivors, students, health workers and activists from around the country on May 22 in a “stroller brigade” at the U.S. Capitol to support the Safe Chemicals Act, which is under consideration in the U.S. Senate. The anything-but-innocent connection between “stroller brigades” and “green technology” is…

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In the first national study of licensing for low- and middle-income occupations, Maine ranks 30th in most burdensome licensing laws and 33rd as the most onerously licensed state. Maine’s ranking is included in “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing,” the first report to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. (http://www.ij.org/licensetowork) The report reveals that more and more Americans now need the government’s permission before they can pursue the occupation of their choice. “License to Work” shows that for lower-income Americans, government-imposed “occupational licensing” hurdles are not only widespread,…

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Small sample of spending shows expenses “not typical for a state agency” A report released by the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability (OPEGA) confirms previous reports that the Maine Housing Authority spent hundreds of thousands of public dollars on gift cards, travel, meals and memberships in groups unrelated to MaineHousing’s mission. The “rapid response” OPEGA report was done at the request of Maine’s Legislature and pulled just a small sample of MaineHousing spending between 2007 and 2011. OPEGA reviewed 1,037 transactions and the available supporting documentation for each. What OPEGA found in the review was “several expense categories…

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State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin sent along these thoughts on Memorial Day: “As families gather over this Memorial Day weekend, let us all remember why we observe this somber and special day. Generations of brave American heroes have fought to protect our freedom. For nearly 240 years, their immeasurable sacrifices have allowed our beloved nation to grow and prosper, and our citizens to pursue their happiness. Let us all be grateful to those courageous men and women who have served in uniform to keep us free, especially those fallen during service. Let us never forget. And, let us all extend heartfelt…

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Thoughts on Memorial Day from Secretary of State Charlie Summers: As a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Memorial Day has particular significance to me. It is a time to take stock of the present, reflect on the past, and renew our commitment to the future of America. Today is most certainly a day to remember those who have given their lives in service to our nation and for the cause of freedom. America is strong and good because there have always been men and women willing to serve a cause greater than themselves, and help build a…

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by Maine Attorney General Bill Schneider. Across Maine dedicated veterans, proud family members, students and concerned citizens are walking through fields planting flags, planning parades and making plans for community observances. Patriots all, these Mainers are getting ready to mark Memorial Day and remember the ultimate sacrifice that many have made to protect our liberties and way of life. In Dennysville, a small town in easternmost Maine, the community is preparing for the town’s 147th annual Memorial Day Observance. A parade will commence at a local church and wind its way through town stopping at a cemetery and a memorial.…

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Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate sent these thoughts on Memorial Day: “As those of us who are candidates for Federal office ponder this weekend and think about what it can do for our campaign(s) we should take heed. Memorial Day is not just another weekend of campaigning or another parade in which to get us in front of voters. In this fraught campaign season we all need to remember why Monday is so special and important. It is in fact a day where we honor those that have died for our freedom & liberty. It is a solemn day where…

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree shared the following thoughts on Memorial Day: “Today we remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our countries, our values and our freedoms. Since last Memorial Day 290 Americans have given their lives in defense of their country, including two with ties to Maine. Today we remember them and all the other millions of men and women who have given their lives in the service of our country.”

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Former Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Angus King shared the following thoughts on Memorial Day: Memorial Day is a solemn time to remember the sacrifice of our military men and women and reflect upon our obligation to those who do and have served our country. Our commitment must continue long after high-profile conflicts cease. A “Soldiers Battle” is defined as a hand to hand encounter between opposing soldiers with little or no support. Too often today our returning soldiers are left to a Soldiers Battle to get the services that they have earned by virtue of their willingness to…

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Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Rick Bennett shared these thoughts on Memorial Day: “It is important that we reflect on the sacrifices of those who died protecting the freedoms that make ours the greatest country of all. The men and women in our armed services are to be thanked and cherished for their work for – and commitment to – our nation. My grandfather proudly served with the Seabees in World War II. He was part of the greatest generation. Sadly, the world is still a very dangerous place, and we continue to rely upon the willingness of brave…

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Representative Jon Hinck (D- Portland) shared the following thoughts on Memorial Day. Hinck is a candidate for the U.S. Senate. “On this Memorial Day we honor our heroes, the brave men and women who answer our Nation’s call. We are indebted to them for their service and their sacrifices. Today, I remember my late father, who in June 1944 landed with the 358th Infantry on Utah beach in Normandy and moved into Occupied France fighting Nazi soldiers. When I was growing up, I learned of the time when he was shot while leading a patrol into an eerily deserted village…

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