Archives for legislation

WERU News Report 3/19/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
With a winter as long and cold as this one has been, many low income Mainers may find themselves facing electric bills they can’t pay, and possibly the disconnection of their electrical service next month. Utility companies in Maine are banned from disconnecting electricity due to nonpayment during the cold months, between November and April 15th. If consumers are unable to agree to a payment plan after April 15th, their electricity may be shut off by the utility company. A bill that aims to address this problem, had a public hearing before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee in Augusta today. LD1825 “An Act To Assist Electric Utility Ratepayers” would require transmission [utility companies] to implement [payment] programs to assist eligible low-income residential customers who are in arrears on their electricity bills. The program [would also] include measures to help participants reduce their energy consumption, including a free electricity usage assessment and the requirement that transmission and distribution utilities work with the Efficiency Maine Trust to provide complementary energy efficiency programs for program participants. It also has a provision that [utility companies would] recover in rates all costs of the program except [any past due amounts] that [were] forgiven and written off as bad debt.
Today, on this last day of a record-breaking cold winter, we listen in on the debate

WERU News Report 3/11/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Contributing Producer: Carolyn Coe

Segment 1:
The Maine House of Representatives voted to pass LD1252 “An Act To Improve Maine’s Economy and Energy Security with Solar and Wind Energy” by a margin of 95 to 47 earlier today. The bill will now be taken up by the Senate. (Audio from the house floor pre-vote)

Segment 2:
In other news from the state house today, cell phone labeling legislation also moved forward after lengthy debate on the house floor. LD1013 “An Act To Create the Children’s Wireless Protection Act” would require more prominent warning labels on cell phones sold in Maine, of the “health effects associated with nonthermal effects of cellular telephone radiation”. Here is some of the house debate on that issue

Segment 3:
WERU’s Carolyn Coe traveled to Washington, DC for the annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference this month.
-People gathered outside the annual AIPAC conference to demonstrate against AIPAC’s support for continued illegal settlement building and the occupation of Palestine, and to call for diplomacy, not war, with Iran.
-Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, cites evidence that AIPAC’s influence in the US Congress is lessening, a little.
-The situation in Gaza remains extremely difficult. Most attempting to travel to Gaza in solidarity with Palestinians for International Women’s Day were stopped at the Cairo airport and deported.

Segment 4:
In other news, over the weekend, the members of Maine Lobstering Union – Local 207 voted unanimously to oppose the expansion dredging of Searsport Harbor. There has been a great deal of controversy—and even contradictory information—about plans to make the channel there 5 feet deeper. Supporters say the depth needs to be expanded to 40 feet to accommodate larger ships and increase shipping traffic. Opponents have pointed out that Portland harbor is the same depth as Searsport currently, and does a great deal of business, and that there is already a deep water port in Eastport.
Most of the opponents of expansion dredging have voiced support of routine maintenance dredging, but there is concern about the Army Corps of Engineers plan to dump the dredged materials elsewhere in Penobscot Bay. While the ACoE recently stated that the materials are clean, and would not pose a risk to the fisheries in the bay, recent testing of the sediment near the adjacent docks has revealed a long list of heavy metals, carcinogens and endocrine disrupters – many present in levels many times above the reporting levels…

WERU News Report 2/18/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The state legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology committee held a public hearing today on LD 1750 “An Act To Amend the Maine Administrative Procedure Act and Clarify Wind Energy Laws”.
The summary of the proposed bill reads: “This bill amends the Maine Administrative Procedure Act by amending the definition of “rule” and requiring that every agency decision be based on the best evidence available to the agency. The bill also amends the laws governing expedited wind energy developments to provide that in determining the tangible benefits of an expedited wind energy development, the primary siting authority may not require the submission of evidence of the energy and emissions-related benefits or make specific findings related to energy and emissions-related benefits. Those benefits are presumed. The bill also provides that in determining whether a proposed expedited wind energy development will have an unreasonable adverse effect on scenic character or existing uses and whether an applicant must provide a visual impact assessment, the primary siting authority is required to consider the energy and emissions-related benefits of the expedited wind energy development, the policy objectives of the Maine Wind Energy Act and the energy, environmental and economic benefits associated with the expedited wind energy development.”
Lindsay Newland Bowker, Environmental Risk Manager with Bowker Associates Science & Research In The Public Interest—and frequent guest on this program— says “The text of this bill comes almost verbatim out of First Winds’ appeal to its 2nd denial which is still pending before the BEP, a fact which raises questions of propriety and the suggestion of legislation influence on BEP’s decision.” That’s in reference to First Wind’s proposed 100 million dollar Bower’s Mountain wind development project downeast. Bowker also raises question about whether this committee has the proper jurisdiction to make the proposed changes.
For more of the story behind the headlines, we take you to today’s public hearing on the issue

WERU News Report 1/22/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The state legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy & Utilities held a public hearing on Tuesday on LD1652, “An Act to Support Solar Energy Development in Maine”
This bill has been chosen as a priority bill by Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition, a partnership of 28 environmental, conservation, and public health organizations, representing over 100,000 members, according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine. They say that if passed, this legislation will make solar power “more accessible and affordable for Maine people”. Today on the News Report we’re bringing you some of the testimony from the public hearing

WERU News Report 1/14/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The state legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee held a public hearing Thursday, on LD 1345, “An Act To Establish a Single-payor Health Care System To Be Effective in 2017“. Today we listen in as the bill is introduced, and we’ll hear some of the testimony in support, recorded by WERU’s John Greenman

WERU News Report 1/7/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Part 1 of 2

Individuals/groups that were in the news on WERU in 2013, look ahead to 2014. Today: Chris Buchanan of Stop the East-West Corridor, Sarah Bigney of the AFL-CIO, Ron Huber of Friends of Penobscot Bay, Ilze Petersons of the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Judy Berk of the Natural Resources Council of Maine

WERU News Report 7/10/13

Producer/Host: Amy Browne & Jim Fisher

Segment 1: Bike Maine Trek
Key Discussion Points :
A) What is the Bike Maine trek?
B) How do you prepare to ride 70 miles per day?
C) How does the ride benefit the rider? How does it benefit Maine?
Mark Ishkanian, Spokesperson for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Segment 2: Review of legislation we’ve been reporting on, as the Maine State Legislature recesses for the summer.

WERU News Report 6/18/13

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: Imagine spending 40 years in a six-by-nine foot cell. That’s been the fate of Herman Wallace, a prisoner in Louisiana. His story, and that of an artist who got to know him, is the subject of a new film called “Herman’s House”, which will be shown in Portland on Thursday night, and followed by a discussion led by writer and prison reform activist Lance Tapley. We spoke with him earlier today, about the film and the prison system here in Maine

Segment 2: In Augusta Monday, a group called “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” joined the “*No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence*” for a rally and the reading of a very long list of names of victims of gun violence. The event was part of a 25-state national bus tour, promoting what organizers call “common-sense” gun policies, including comprehensive and enforceable background checks. We spoke with one of the participants, Larry Gilbert, a former mayor of Lewiston whose years of experience working in law enforcement led him to take on this cause