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On the heels of Sen. Collins’ vote to block legislation working to end gender discrimination in pay, EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, put Shenna Bellows, candidate to represent Maine in the United States Senate, “On the List.”
The EMILY’s List community now stands more than three million members strong. “On the List” is a way to make sure EMILY’s List members can engage with and support promising candidates all across the country. By putting these women “On the List,” EMILY’s List is ensuring that they have access to this powerful network of supporters.
“For nearly a decade, Shenna Bellows has made protecting the civil rights of Maine women and families a priority,” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’ List. “We need progressive leaders in the Senate who know how to break through partisan gridlock and get things done, and Shenna has a proven track record of doing just that. It’s time to give Mainers a leader who will put them first, and the EMILY’s List community – now more than three million members strong – is ready to send her to the United States Senate.”
Shenna Bellows is the former Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine, where she served for eight years. During her tenure, the Maine ACLU was a nationwide leader in bipartisan work to strengthen privacy and civil rights laws. Bellows has been an integral part of the fight for marriage equality in Maine, and is a strong advocate of reproductive rights. Prior to her tenure at the ACLU, Bellows worked in research at Economists Incorporated, and served in the Peace Corps in Panama to help small business development, and improve economic and educational opportunities for women and girls. Bellows is a native Mainer, and grew up in Hancock. She is a graduate of Middlebury College. Bellows and her husband live outside Augusta in the town of Manchester.
EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $385 million to support pro-choice Democratic women candidates – making it one of the most successful political action committees in the country. Throughout its 29 year history, the organization has recruited and trained over 9,000 women to run, worked to elect 102 pro-choice Democratic women to the House, 19 to the Senate, 10 governors, and over five hundred women to state and local office. Since its founding in 1985, EMILY’s List helped elect 97% of the Democratic women of color in Congress, including every single Latina, African American, and Asian American Democratic woman currently serving. And during the 2011-2012 cycle, EMILY’s List had the largest number of members and donors in its history and raised a record-breaking $52 million dollars. With the help of this growing community — now more than three million members strong — EMILY’s List helped elect an historic number of candidates in 2012 including 19 new women to the House, six Senate incumbents, three new Senators, and 186 state and local officials.
Don’t miss our own Senator Eloise Vitelli’s op-ed on her proposed solar inentive program for Maine in today’s Portland Press Herald.
Labor leaders are standing strong in their support for Democrat Shenna Bellows in the race for U.S. Senate. Bellows has received more than twice as many local union endorsements as her opponent, Republican Susan Collins.
Bellows has been endorsed by all of the American Postal Worker Union (APWU) state locals as well as all of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) locals. She’s also received endorsements from Iron Workers Local 7, LIUNA Local 327, the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Maine State Nurses Association, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 716, Teamsters Local 340, and the United Steelworkers Local 449.
“Working people know that they need an ally in Congress – a Senator who will fight for their jobs and for their interests. Because of the efforts of the Republican Party to diminish the rights of working Americans and squeeze out the middle class, it’s become harder than ever before to work a full-time job and provide for one’s family. I’m honored to have the endorsement of so many unions here in Maine who know that I will never waver in my support for the working class,” Bellows said.
It is unlikely that Susan Collins will come close to matching the support labor has showered on Bellows. In 18 years in Congress, Collins has voted time and time again against the interests of the working class. Collins has voted for budgets that would cut workforce investment and dislocated worker programs by more than 50% and against collective bargaining rights for certain workers.
“Working families need a partner not just in building our cities and towns, but also in building up the middle class again,” said John Napolitano, representing the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council as well as the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 716. “The struggles faced by working families are getting worse, and it’s time Congress stepped up. Shenna Bellows is the partner we need to make it happen.”
The Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council is comprised of thirteen affiliates representing more than 4,000 workers: International Brotherhood of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local 6, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers Local 29, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers, Local 3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 567 &1253, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornament, and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 496, Laborers International Union of North America, Locals 327, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 35, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada Local 716, United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers Local 33, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local 17, Road Sprinkler Fitters Local 669, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 340.
Bellows also recently picked up the endorsement of the Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA). “We’re proud to endorse Shenna, who is the daughter of a nurse. Through her mother’s experience, she learned exactly what our members are facing when it comes to the challenges of ensuring safe working conditions, providing good health care, and protecting our benefits. She’ll be a strong advocate for us,” said Cokie Giles, RN, Maine State Nurses Association President.
“Shenna is not just the best candidate – she is the only candidate – who will be a leader in Congress on job creation. Where the status quo has failed to promote good, middle class jobs, Shenna will take the lead in creating sustainable, dependable work for laborers and growing a strong middle class again,” said David McKeone, Business Manager of LIUNA Local 327.
“Congress today is made up of millionaires who are far removed from the lives of ordinary, working-class Americans. Shenna grew up working-class, the daughter of a carpenter. She understands the value of hard work and what it takes to get ahead. We need people like her – who understand the needs of working families – to fight for us in Congress,” said Tim Doughty, President of the American Postal Workers Union Local 458.
In 2010, Collins voted with her fellow Republicans against the nomination of M. Patricia Smith for the number three position at the Department of Labor. Smith, a New York state labor commissioner, was known for her rigorous efforts to enforce basic minimum wage and overtime laws. Bellows supports holding employers accountable for workplace violations and raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Collins does not support this wage increase.
“Working Americans are being threatened on all sides. We’ve endorsed Shenna because we know she’ll work to protect the health, benefits, and job security of our workers,” said Reggie Munson, Business Agent for the State of Maine for Iron Workers Local 7.
“Congress is broken. Our Representatives care more about catering to the interests of Big Money than they do about protecting middle class jobs. We need Shenna to reverse this trend and stand up for the rest of us who are working hard to support our families and contribute to a growing economy. We won’t ever have millions of dollars to buy the support of Congress, but we’ll have Shenna. And that’s what we really need,” said Al Shepard, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 567.
“At the end of the day, we need more people in Congress who will stand up for working Americans,” said Vianney Soucy, President of Teamsters Local 340. “People are struggling right now because our laws favor big corporations over workers. We have endorsed Shenna Bellows because we know she will fight for working class people.”
Top Democrats in the Legislature called Governor Paul LePage’s ideological veto of a bipartisan plan to expand life-saving health care to 70,000 Mainers harmful to Maine people and the economy.
The veto comes on the heels of a bipartisan budget proposal that funds DHHS wait list services for people with disabilities, addressing a key argument LePage has used as foil for his opposition to health care for Maine people.
“We have a bipartisan plan for life-saving health care for tens of thousands of Mainers. It creates jobs, it save lives, it saves money,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Governor LePage continues to stand in the way despite our good faith effort to collaborate and address concerns raised by opponents. Because of this deal from the federal government, we don’t have to pick winners and losers. We urge our Republican colleagues to join us in overturning this ideological veto.”
The federal government has offered to pay 100 percent of the cost of health care for tens of thousands of Mainers under the Affordable Care Act, including nearly 2,700 veterans. Key moderate Republicans and Democrats have worked on a bipartisan plan, LD 1487, to accept these funds.
In addition to providing health insurance to low and middle income Mainers, the bill would result in more than $1 million per day in economic activity. It would create 4,400 jobs, at a time when Maine’s job growth is among the worst in the nation, particularly in rural areas.
“The governor’s veto message is a direct message to the Mainers whose health care has become too costly and out of reach,” said Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash, the Senate Majority Leader. “He’s told them, ‘don’t get sick’! Instead of trying to help them, he has, once again, pulled the ladder up behind him.”
The bipartisan plan includes a managed care program to lower the cost of health care and hold government and providers accountable for making sure people have access to appropriate care at an appropriate time, while also ensuring fair prices. It also puts in place a plan to reduce the wait list for home care services for Mainers with intellectual disabilities and adds two new Medicaid fraud investigators to step up fraud prosecutions.
The Maine Senate will take up the veto in the coming days. An override would require two-thirds of those Senators present and voting.
Here’s a good letter to the editor in today’s Times Record from Jennifer DeChant, our State Rep in Bath, on Sheriff Joel Merry’s appointment to the State Board of Corrections.
Kudos, Sheriff Merry
To the Editor:
I would like to add my voice to the unanimous support that the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety recently gave Sheriff Joel Merry on his appointment to the State Board of Corrections.
Sheriff Merry is truly a leader in his field, and his role on the Board of Corrections represents the culmination of more than 30 years of public service, including the last five as Sagadahoc County Sheriff. Last year, Sheriff Merry served actively on a task force created by the legislature that developed a number of improvements to our state’s coordinated county jail system.
Sheriff Merry’s nomination and subsequent confirmation speak to the widespread recognition of his accomplishments, and I know he will bring considerable leadership to this new role.
Congratulations to Sheriff Merry on this prestigious appointment that recognizes his wealth of experience.
Rep. Jennifer DeChant
This morning, the U.S. Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Susan Collins voted with her Republican colleagues to block the bill from moving forward.
“Three times now, Susan Collins has joined with her Republican colleagues to block legislation that would have increased transparency and offered protection to victims of wage discrimination,” said Bellows.
“Women aren’t earning less than men for doing the same job – they’re being paid less than men for doing the same job. This morning, Republican Susan Collins had the opportunity to move a bill forward that would help address the gender pay gap. Instead, she voted to stand with her Republican colleagues and block women in Maine and around the country from receiving equal pay for equal work.”
Shenna Bellows has stood up for women and families her entire career. As Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine and a leader in the Coalition for Maine Women, Shenna Bellows advocated for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010 and 2012 when it was also blocked by Republicans including Susan Collins. She’s been endorsed by Feminist Majority PAC and the National Organization for Women’s NOW PAC and has been aggressively involved in the fight to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Alice Elliott of Richmond has successfully filed to run on the Democratic ticket for State House District 55, which includes the towns of Bowdoinham, Bowdoin and most of Richmond. Elliott is seeking to fill the seat currently held by House Majority Leader Seth Berry, who has reached his term limit.
A Maine native, Elliott has for 25 years worked to increase citizen and student involvement in government and public service through her work at Unity College, Bates College, and currently as the Associate Director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College. She and her husband Dan Tompkins, a teacher in Richmond/RSU #2, have lived in Richmond for the past 14 years
“I am running because I am deeply concerned with growing income inequality, and its repercussions. Maine people are working harder than ever, yet are struggling to put food on the table, afford health care, and help send their kids go to college. We can’t develop our economy with a workforce made up of kids who were too hungry to learn in school, and we can’t recruit business to Maine with crumbling infrastructure.” Elliott said. “Government should be investing in our people, and creating the infrastructure needed for all people to have an equal opportunity for success. These are traditional values that I believe in — I did not think I’d ever run for office, but I am passionate about these issues and I want to be part of the solution.”
Elliott, in a brief foray away before returning to Maine, graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. She has been active in a variety of community organizations– training adult Girl Scout Leaders, as a volunteer and board member for non-profit organizations, and most recently as a University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer and Vice President of the Master Gardener Development Board.
“Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Richmond are fortunate to have a candidate of Alice’s integrity, intelligence, energy and dedication step up to serve us in Augusta,” said Representative Berry. “I will be strongly supporting her candidacy.”
Elliott is running as a Clean Elections candidate.
The Senate has unaninmously given initial approval to a measure to increase solar energy development in Maine.
“Maine is the only state in New England without a solar incentive program and because of this we are missing out on an important opportunity to increase access to energy, protect our environment, and strengthen our economy,” said Senator Vitelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the measure. “The sun is the most abundant energy source on the planet and we would do well to take advantage of it.”
Senator Vitelli’s bill directs the Maine Public Utilities Commission to take specific measures regarding solar energy, including monitoring and studying the development and value of distributed solar energy generation on ratepayers.
“This study will help us better understand the potential power and value of solar energy in Maine,” Senator Vitelli added. “Without a roadmap for where we want to go, it’s hard to get there. This measure is one step toward getting Maine on track with the rest of the nation in developing plentiful and cost-effective energy for homeowners and businesses.”
Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70% of households using it as their primary heating source.
According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24% of Maine’s electricity.
Solar power would also strengthen Maine’s economy. Research suggests that for the same amount of energy, solar power creates 55-80 times more jobs than natural gas with an estimated 45 companies and 270 direct jobs (which likely support over 300 indirect jobs).
“Like Maine’s other rich natural resources such as water, wind, and wood, the sun also is a renewable natural resource that we all have access to,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, a co-sponsor of the bill. “By embracing next-generation renewable technologies, Maine’s economy can grow and energy costs can be lowered today and into the future.”
The bill, LD 1652, “An Act to Support Solar Energy Development in Maine,” faces further votes in the House and the Senate.
Shenna Bellows, Maine’s Democratic candidate for United States Senate, declared her solidarity with farmers and brewers alike in the face of the FDA’s new proposed rule pertaining to the regulation of spent grains. Spent grains, which are brewers’ byproduct of a brewing process called mashing, are commonly used as a valuable source of food for livestock at local farms.
“This is an example of government regulation at its worst – harming Maine’s emerging craft brewing industry and many small farmers to benefit a few large agricultural corporations,” said Bellows. “It is wasteful and counterproductive to mandate that spent grains be sent to a landfill rather than local farmers. To protect our local economies and the environment, I urge the FDA to exempt craft brewers from this onerous regulation.”
The Bangor Daily News writes that this new rule would mostly affect small- and medium-sized farms and create conditions where only big companies can survive. Craft brewers, farmers, Bellows and other opponents of the regulations would like to see spent grains granted an exemption from the FDA’s regulations, which would increase regulations surrounding livestock feed. The regulations are pursuant to the controversial Food Safety Modernization Act voted for by Republican incumbent Senator Susan Collins. Bellows submitted her comments to the FDA today expressing her opposition to the draft regulations.
Top Democratic leaders in the Legislature called on Governor Paul LePage to stop the smoke and mirrors on his welfare bills, which are meant to distract from his mismanagement and poor record on job growth.
“The Governor should be fighting fraud. He should be collaborating with lawmakers to improve job training and education for struggling families, especially at time when Maine ranks at the bottom of the pack nationally for job growth,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, who spearheaded the bipartisan “Ticket-to-Work” law to support job training for struggling families last year.
Lawmakers allocated an additional $700,000 for the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate and fight fraud.
“We’ve given the Governor an additional $700,000 a year to fight fraud. Instead of fighting fraud, he is vilifying the poor to score political points,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “His proposals are anti-reform. They cut job- readiness education programs that are proven to be successful.”
According to a report in the Portland Press Herald, despite the effort, the number of successful prosecutions has increased from eight in 2010, to 10 in 2011, to 15 in 2012. The amount of restitution that courts have ordered increased from $92,339 in 2010 to $104,341 in 2012. In 2012, only 13 people were convicted of welfare fraud .
“What we see from the Governor and the administration is more smoke and mirrors. The Governor has the tools and resources to fight fraud. But he’s not doing the job,” said Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, who serves on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services committee. “Not only are his proposals unconstitutional and unenforceable, but they deflect attention from the real waste and mismanagement on his watch.”
Under Governor Paul LePage, the Department of Health and Human Services has been plagued by chronic mismanagement and budget shortfalls that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Department has squandered taxpayer dollars on a failed MaineCare rides contract and the controversial Alexander report, it has overpaid long-term care providers, and lost the state’s certification and federal funding for the Riverview Psychiatric Center. The Department is also under scrutiny for document shredding at the CDC and tampering with the public bidding process for smoking cessation dollars.
Gattine has a proposed a measure, LD 1829, which would increase accountability and prevent fraud in the state’s anti-poverty and Medicaid programs. The bill would require an annual program integrity report on all fraud waste and abuse activities including provider and consumer prosecutions and on-going DHHS management issues.
“We need to shed light on what’s happening at the Department,” said Gattine.
March 28, 2014 – Today the Maine Senate enacted a Republican-sponsored measure to accept federal funds to provide healthcare to 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans.
“Expanding access to healthcare will strengthen our economy and create jobs and save money, but most importantly, it will save lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D) Allagash. “Each one of the 70,000 people waiting to see if we step up and do the right thing has a story to tell, a family they love, dreams and plans for their future, and a life to live. It’s shameful those of us blessed with health insurance by our constituents would then turn around and deny that same right to them. It’s time for Governor LePage to have the back of Mainers and sign this bill.”
According to an evaluation by Harvard and the City University of New York, Maine could save around 157 lives per year by accepting federal funds.
The bill sponsored by Republican Senators Roger Katz of Augusta and Tom Saviello of Wilton would accept the federal funds for expansion for the three years the federal government pays 100% of the cost. Additionally, the compromise proposal creates a managed care plan in an effort to lower program costs.
The proposal would also reduce the waitlist for homecare services for some elderly and disabled Mainers to increase the number of Mainers helped by this initiative and strengthen the Health Care Crimes Unit in the Attorney General’s office to help investigate and prosecute any cases of fraud in the program.
According to analysis from the state’s non-partisan fiscal office, the compromise measure would save $3.4 million in the state’s budget in the first year alone,
“Governor LePage should join the 10 other Republican governors who have said yes to expansion in their states,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell of Portland. “Taking the funds offered to the state is good sense and good economics. It’s time for Maine to join the rest of our New England neighbors and the 27 other states who have said yes to expansion. It’s time for Governor LePage to put politics aside and sign this bill.”
Earlier this week, New Hampshire became the 27th state to expand health care, leaving Maine the only state in New England that has not accepted healthcare expansion.
The bill, LD 1487 “An Act to Provide Fiscal Predictability to the MaineCare Program and Health Security to Maine People,” will now be sent to Governor LePage. He has ten days to act on the measure.