Legislative Update From Dist. 61 Rep. Bruce MacDonald
|A lot has happened in Augusta over the past few weeks and a lot more is due soon. In this update I will cover restoring the ecology of the Gulf of Maine, the effort to establish a public hospital district on the Boothbay peninsula, and the Governors Grading system for Maine’s public schools.
The St Croix River above the Grand Falls Dam along the border with Canada has been closed to the passage of alewives over the last century. I’ve submitted a bill to reopen these passages. My bill was combined with a similar one submitted by Representative Donna Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and has been signed into law by the Governor.
In the past, millions of Alewives have spawned in this waterway, and the restoration of this run will mean a major restoration of this species in the Gulf of Maine. Alewives are prey for eagles, otters, osprey, and other fish species. They are also a major source of bait for lobster fishermen. The restoration of this run will lower the price of bait and at the same time restore the ecological balance of the Gulf of Maine.
One of the bills I introduced this session was legislation to create a special hospital district on the Boothbay Peninsula. This bill would create an open and transparent form of hospital management. The effort is in reaction to the decision by Maine Health, a multi-billion dollar corporation to close the Emergency Room at St. Andrews Hospital in Boothbay Harbor. Increasing local taxes are needed to support increased ambulance services, losing over twenty well-paying year-round jobs in the area, and diminishing local citizen’s access to health care options.
The ER closure would also cause the loss of Hospital Accreditation for St Andrews, which would become an Urgent care center. The bill would authorize referenda on whether or not to go forward with a special hospital district in the four towns of Edgecomb, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, and Southport. The bill has received some support in the State and Local Government Committee and I am working to garner more before the bill heads to the full Legislature for further votes.
The Governor and the Department of Education recently rolled out an A-F grading system for Maine schools, based primarily on student results in standardized tests. The grades issued by the LePage administration correlate nearly perfectly with the poverty level in a community. These grades rely on a limited number of standardized test scores, which tell us little more than the relative wealth of a community. These grades fail to tell us about so many important aspects of a school. They do not tell us about innovation, collaboration, entrepreneurship, extracurricular activities or even standardized test results in other academic subjects. The administrations methodology is fundamentally flawed.
Once again, I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve you. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns or if you need assistance with state government. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone either at home (633-0570) or at the State Capitol message line (1-800-423-2900).
|Bruce MacDonaldState Representative|