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  • Producer/Host: Amy Browne
    2nd segment audio recorded by John Greenman

    Minimum Wage Increase: Did Mainers Know What They Were Doing?

    Last November Mainers voted to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage from the (then) current rate of $7.50 an hour up to $12 an hour by 2020. After 2020 increases would be tied to inflation. Despite the fact that the measure drew strong support, several bills have been introduced in the state legislature that roll back the increases in various ways. In some cases the rate of increase is reduced. Other measures would tweak the formula for tipped staff or for younger workers or those in training.
    9 such bills were presented in the legislature back in April, and yesterday the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on yet another, LD1609 (“An Act To Support Maine’s Employers and Encourage Employers To Hire Young Workers”) and arguments on each side were reiterated.

    Some of those who advocate overturning the will of the voters have said Mainers didn’t understand the consequences of their vote. They argue that small businesses will be forced to lay off workers or limit hiring and will pass along costs to consumers.

    Supporters of the minimum wage increase say that even the slight increase makes a difference for low wage workers who are often forced into making tough choices with their limited pay. Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO told the committee that the $30 extra per week in one 70-year-old woman’s pocket had allowed her to purchase windshield wiper blades. She had lost her home and was forced to return to work when her husband became disabled, and before the first incremental increase in the minimum wage went into effect in January her budget was so tight that needing new wiper blades would have been a crisis.

    On this week’s Maine Currents we listen in as the debate continues

    Area Resident Weighs in on Bar Harbor Cruise Ship Pier Proposal
    An event in Bucksport last week brought together several environmental groups for a discussion of local issues. “The Future of Our Forests, Rivers, Lakes, Fields and Ocean” was hosted by Maine Common Good Coalition Renata Moise expressed concerns about a new cruise ship pier being proposed in Bar Harbor:


    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

    NOTE: Maine Currents will be moving to Tuesdays (4-5pm) starting in June 2017

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  • Producer/Host: John Greenman
    Studio Engineer: Joel Matt & Matt Murphy

    Update on Maine’s Cuban Connections

    Program Topics: Embargo/Blockade and Guantanamo

    Key Discussion Points:
    Update on the effects of the decades-old embargo
    The latest on the US presence in Guantanamo Bay

    Guests:
    Judy Robbins, “Let Cuba Live”
    Dud Hendrick, Maine Veterans for Peace (just returned from Cuban conference on foreign military bases)


    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

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  • Producer/Host: Amy Browne
    Studio Engineer: John Greenman

    “Building Bridges Through Political Diversity” & “Corinna and Charleston Residents Suspicious of a Maine Power Company’s Expansion Plans”

    Segment 1: A new discussion/support group called “Building Bridges Through Political Diversity” has started meeting in Belfast with the goal of “find(ing) common ground for people of all political persuasions to work on current issues that affect us all”. We talk with two of the organizers.
    Guests:
    Elliot Benjamin has Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and has published a number of books and articles on various topics in psychology, philosophy, mathematics, and progressive politics. Betty Sue Easton is a psychotherapist with a practice in Belfast.
    FMI: ben496@prexar.com or bemusic4ever@gmail.com

    Segment 2: Long-time residents of Corinna and Charleston explain why Maine Electric Power Company (MEPCO)’s plans have them concerned that that a gas pipeline might actually be in the works for what is being touted as a 70 mile electricity transmission line expansion from Chester to Pittsfield —and we hear MEPCO’s response.
    Guests:
    Alan Clemence lives in the town of Charleston near the new power line. Alan has been involved in utility issues, industrial engineering, and environmental activism since the late 1970’s.
    (Full disclosure: Alan has been a WERU volunteer in years past)
    Lorenzo Pizaaro is a retired Brooklyn, New York schoolteacher who now lives in Corinna full time and owns the Second Read used bookstore in Dexter. Lorenzo’s house would be 300 feet from the new transmission line, which he believes would forever change his beautiful homestead.
    Everett Simpson is a musician and lifelong resident of Corinna, where he owns farmland and forest. He reports that he is being pressured by MEPCO to sell easements for the new power line but is steadfastly refusing to do so.
    FMI:. 207-278-3542


    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

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  • Producer/Host: Amy Browne
    Studio Engineer: John Greenman

    Segment 1: Multi-partisan panel discussion on communicating with people with political differences

    Segment 2: Indivisible MDI’s April Town Hall for Senator Collins (who did not attend)

    Guests: Multi-partisan panel Renee Trust, Ken Gleason, Thomas White (Tim Wilson was unable to join us this week)

    WERU thanks Jeff Dobbs who provided us with a recording of the speakers at the Indivisible MDI Town Hall and Jennifer Booher who sent the photos from the event that are posted on WERU’s facebook page.

    FMI:
    Indivisible Guide: www.indivisibleguide.com/about-us/
    MDI Indivisible group: www.facebook.com/groups/397472590586952/


    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

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  • Producer/Host: Amy Browne

    Anti-immigration bills introduced in Maine

    We take you to last week’s public hearing for LD 366 “An Act To Ensure Compliance with Federal Immigration Law by State and Local Government Entities”, LD 847 “An Act To Hold Refugee Resettlement Agencies Accountable to Maine People” and LD 1099, a resolve that would have “Required the State To Bring Suit against the Federal Government for Failure To Comply with the Federal Refugee Act of 1980”. All were introduced by Rep. Lawrence Lockman of Amherst.

    In breaking news just before we went to air, the Judiciary Committee voted “Ought Not to Pass” on LDs 1099 and 847, and tabled LD366.

    Update: We mentioned on the show that we had contacted Rep. Lockman to inquire about two issues that were raised during the hearing: His testimony that the City of Portland had redirected educational funding to refugee support, and the comments made by members of the public that he did not stay to hear their comments after introducing the legislation. We did hear back from him after the show. Here is his response: “I was there for most of the hearing, stepped out twice to do TV interviews, then had to attend my own committee.” And he provided this link to a 2015 article entitled “LePage to fight Portland over asylum seekers money”: www.centralmaine.com/2015/06/30/lepage-to-fight-portland-over-asylum-seekers-money/


    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

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  • Segment 1: Proposed Commission on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Populations in Maine
    Segment 2: Communities Coming Together for Civil Political Discourse

    Producer/Host: Amy Browne
    Engineer: John Greenman

    State Representative Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland is sponsoring LD1008, legislation that would create a “Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Populations” in the state. We take you to the public hearing. And in the 2nd half of the show we open the phone lines as we talk with organizers of 2 of the many “civil discussion” type events popping up in the area.
    Stacy Leafsong from Mainers for Accountable Leadership & Standing for the Common Good is organizing a Community Listening Session in Orland this Saturday, and Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions will fill us in on the “Make Shift Coffee Houses” he facilitates. The next one is coming up Friday night at Husson University.

    FMI:
    makeshiftcoffeehouse.com/
    www.facebook.com/events/196440904180229/
    www.facebook.com/events/285498321885744/


    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

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  • Producer/Host: Amy Browne
    Engineer: John Greenman

    A multi-partisan panel discussion of how personal experiences influence political beliefs, and how to communicate with people with different beliefs. Listeners call in and share their views as well.

    Guests: Renee Trust, Tim Wilson, Thomas White, Ken Gleason

    Note from Jennifer, one of the callers on today’s show, re “Bridging the Gap” group in Belfast: “I called in about a group that formed in Belfast this January, with Elliot Benjamin…as the originator. The initial concept was to bring “Trump and non-Trump” supporters together around a common belief of being opposed to hate crimes and hate discrimination. The mission is evolving as is the name. The next meeting is on Sunday April 2 at 6:30 in Belfast at 93 Main Street above Alexia’s Pizza. Anyone who is interested can call me at 469-2045.”


    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

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  • What’s Been Happening in Augusta While Attention Has Been on DC?

    We listen in on some of the public hearings held by the state legislature this week.

    Producer/Host: Amy Browne

    Segment 1: Monday the Committee on Taxation considered several bills that would overturn the results of Question 2 on Maine’s ballot last November, which was approved by voters. By passing Question 2, voters approved a 3 percent surcharge on household income over $200,000 a year, with the revenue earmarked to fund public education.

    Segment 2: LD 882, “An Act Prohibiting Public Entities from Contracting with, and Investing in, Companies That Boycott the State of Israel”. The bill targets the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement that successfully applied financial pressure to help end apartheid in South Africa –and has in recent years been focused on the government of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. FMI: legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280063780

    Segment 3: LD 914, “An Act To Establish Indigenous People’s Day”- a bill that would replace Columbus Day with an Indigenous People’s holiday statewide
    FMI: legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/bills_128th/billtexts/HP064201.asp

    For information about the legislature, including contact info: legislature.maine.gov/

    Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Wednesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org

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