Oct 082017
 

This article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

The Department of the Secretary of State is taking orders for buttons to honor our veterans on Election Day.  The button, which reads “I’m Voting in Honor of a Veteran,” is personalized with the name of a veteran the voter wants to recognize for his or her sacrifices to ensure our freedoms, including the right to vote.

Order forms for the Vote in Honor of a Veteran button can be found online here.  The buttons are mailed directly to voters’ homes, and there is no cost for the button or for shipping.  To receive the button before the election, voters should place their orders as soon as possible.


Subscribe to the Maine State Grange Website–Don’t miss news like this!

Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

Sep 292017
 

Short messages from your Communications Department

Can’t wait for State Convention to learn about activities and accomplishments? The following annual reports are now available on the site:

Directors and Committee Chairs are reminded that the deadline for submitting your annual report was yesterday. Please send your report to Jim Owens  (jimowens1atmyfairpointdotnet)   and copy the webmaster  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)   so your report can be posted to the site.

Sep 182017
 

The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

Maine’s Secretary of State has finalized the wording of the two citizens’ initiative questions that will appear on the Tuesday, November 7, 2017 referendum election ballot.  Below is the title of each initiative and the final question that will appear on the ballot.

QUESTION 1:  An Act To Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County.  “Do you want to allow a certain company to operate table games and/or slot machines in York County, subject to State and local approval, with part of the profits going to the specific programs described in the initiative?”

QUESTION 2:  An Act To Enhance Access to Affordable Health Care.  “Do you want Maine to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2017 means $16,643 for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two?”

The full text of each proposed bill is available for viewing on the Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions’ Upcoming Elections Web page.

The Secretary of State received more than 150 comments on the wording of these initiatives during the 30-day public comment period, which was open Wednesday, August 2, 2017, through Friday, September 1, 2017.  He reviewed and considered these comments, which were submitted from individuals and organizations throughout the State during the drafting of the final ballot question language.

The Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions will create a Citizens’ Guide to the 2017 Election this fall, which will be available on the Web site and at public libraries across the State.  All voters are encouraged to read it to inform themselves of the details of each bill, including the fiscal impact statements.

In addition to the citizens’ initiative questions, the November referendum election ballot will also include one bond question and one constitutional amendment, both of which will appear below the citizens’ initiative questions on the ballot.  The legislation titles are listed below, along with the questions that will appear on the ballot:

QUESTION 3:  An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities and Upgrade Municipal Culverts – Legislation found online here.

“Do you favor a $105,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian trails to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings?”

QUESTION 4:  Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Reduce Volatility in State Pension Funding Requirements Caused by the Financial Markets – Legislation found online here.

“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to reduce volatility in State pension funding requirements caused by the financial markets by increasing the length of time over which experience losses are amortized from 10 years to 20 years, in line with pension industry standards?”

For more information about the November 2017 referendum election, click here.  Information on voter registration and locating your polling place is also available on the Corporations, Elections, and Commissions Web site here.

Aug 182017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Davis, State Senator for District 4. 

Absentee Ballots for Referendum Election Now Available Online

If you would like to request an absentee ballot for this November’s General Election, they are now available through the Online Absentee Ballot Request Service. Absentee voting is an option for all Maine residents currently registered to vote. Absentee ballots may be requested either through this online service or by going to your town office to fill out a form.

This November’s ballot will include two citizen’s initiative questions including a question to allow a certain developer to open a casino in York County and the seventh attempt to expand Medicaid to more able-bodied adults in Maine. Also on the ballot will be Question 3: “An Act To Authorize Multiple General Fund Bond Issues To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities,” and Question 4: “Resolution: Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Reduce Volatility in State Pension Funding Requirements Caused by the Financial Markets.”

To apply for an absentee ballot online, go to click here.

Jun 202017
 

by Heather Retberg

On last Friday morning, Governor Paul LePage signed the food sovereignty bill into law.

“In the year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen,” begins the bill,  “be it enacted by the people of the State of Maine as follows…”

The bill officially recognizes the authority of our towns to regulate our food systems by local ordinance when the sales are between individual farmers, food producers, and customers.  It also offers into state law the first definition of ‘local food system’.  What began in 2009 as an administrative language change that made our work illegal overnight, has now, at long last, been corrected.  The rule of law is behind our labors once again!  We have prevailed in defining ourselves and what we do in legal terms.  And, further, the state of Maine recognizes that each of us in our towns, has the authority under home rule at town meeting, to decide for ourselves how our food needs are met.  A very heartfelt thanks to all of you over this last session and over the years, for your words of encouragement and sustenance.  Thanks also for contacting representatives, senators and the governor to protect the food system and the relationships around it that we have cultivated together over the years.  It is a sweet time of celebration we are so pleased to share with all of you!

The full text of the soon to be chaptered law:

https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=SP0242&item=6&snum=128

Please do the last thing, the best, most pleasant part of this whole process: write the governor one more time and express your thanks for his signature.  Also, please thank your senator and representative for their efforts and votes, and help them know just how important this is outside of the halls of the statehouse.

Jun 172017
 

Webmaster’s note: This was “stolen” from Heather Retberg’s Facebook Page! 

At 10 am on Friday, Governor LePage signed LD 725 An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems.

The State of Maine has officially recognized food sovereignty.

Let us celebrate. This is a good day for our small farms, for our rural communities, for our town meetings, and democracy from the bottom up!

Congratulations to all of you who have worked so hard, so long and so steadfastly to bring this day to light.

Special thanks to Senator Jackson for sponsoring the bill and co-sponsors: Senators Langley and Miramant, and Representatives Dunphy and Martin.

A lion’s roar of thanks to Representative Craig Hickman for his fierce, principled tenacity, for his expert navigation and shepherding of LD 725, and for his unrelenting force that just wouldn’t give up.

Thank-you.

Jun 142017
 

Annisby Jim Annis, Legislative Director

The last resolution submitted to the Legislative Committee to eventually be sent to the Maine State Legislature to be sent out as a bill currently resides in limbo.

The resolution, submitted by Cumberland Pomona, requests that automobile inspections for automobiles younger than five years of age be inspected by the state once every two years.

The Legislative bill, LD 623 and titled An Act To Require Biennial State Motor Vehicle Inspections, has been tabled twice. It currently is listed as “unfinished business” as of April 20, 2017.

What its chances are for being made law are pretty remote at this point in time. But I will maintain contact with the bill’s sponsor.

Unfortunately, Grange bills haven’t had much luck this year. But this bill isn’t really dead yet. There’s still hope for it. I’ll keep you informed.

 

Jun 042017
 

The Bangor Daily News recently published a fairly thorough and accurate article on the progress of LD 725 (supported by a MSG Resolution passed in 2015). You can read the article here. The situation can change almost daily, but as of this past Wednesday, the bill had passed in both the House (with a super majority) and Senate. According to the article, the bill still has several hurdles to overcome, including the governor’s signature.

We are also told the towns of Blue Hill and Islesboro have sent official town letters of support. The towns of Solon, Moscow, Liberty, and Greenwood are considering or working on similar letters.  Two representatives have asked to meet with the governor to advocate for his support of the bill.

Grangers who wish to help can still do so by contacting your senator or representative and encouraging them to “hold to their affirmative votes” and contacting the governor and encouraging his signature. For more information or assistance, contact Heather Retberg  (quillsendfarmatgmaildotcom)   of Halcyon Grange.

 

May 302017
 

By Heather Retburg,
Ag Ed Committee Member

While the farm spring rhythms beat louder and stronger each day, the work to fully realize food sovereignty grows to a fevered pitch just now, too.  Last weekend, the small town of Greenwood, Maine, in Oxford County adopted the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance, making it the 19th town in eight counties across Maine to do so.  And, this, just before the vote in the Maine Senate to require the state to recognize these ordinances!  Such nice timing.  When the vote on LD 725 (An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems) happened last Wednesday afternoon, the tone had changed considerably for the better.  With all the outreach from people across the state, with all the work done under the dome by our legislative allies to bring more of the opposition on board, with a LOT of dialogue and several drafts of an helpful amendment, the vote on Wednesday, that we expected to win or lose by one or two votes, was unanimously in favor of LD 725!  This was a moment long in the making. We’re not over the finish line yet, but I have learned to celebrate the moments of victory–each one a monumental undertaking of sorts!  The food sovereignty bill proceeds to the house this week for a vote. If it passes there and is subsequently enacted by both chambers as we expect, it will head to the governor’s desk for a signature, another unpredictable hurdle.   Meanwhile, the food freedom bill, LD 835 An Act to Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers sponsored by Rep. Ralph Chapman, is tabled in the Senate awaiting enactment before it goes to the governor’s desk.  So much as we can tell from out here,  the Senate is waiting to see what happens with LD 725 before it passes Rep. Chapman’s bill in final enactment to the governor.  We are urging them to enact both and send both to the governor’s desk. If any of our Grange brothers and sisters across the state have the governor’s ear, now would be a great time to ask them to bend it in the direction of small farms and our community’s local control of food systems!

 

May 202017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119, reprinted with permission. 


On June 13, voters will cast ballots in a statewide special referendum election and Maine’s Secretary of State wishes to remind all Maine voters of an informational resource that can help them make informed decisions at the polls.  The 2017 Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election is available online here.

The Citizens Guide is intended to provide as much information as possible so that voters have a convenient resource to educate themselves before casting their ballot.  The Department of the Secretary of State, in collaboration with the Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Office of Fiscal and Program review, prepared the guide as an unbiased and non-partisan review of the bond issue that voters will consider at the polls this June.

Question 1 asks: “Do you favor a $50,000,000 bond issue to provide $45,000,000 in funds for investment in research, development, and commercialization in the State to be used for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades that enable organizations to gain and hold market share, to increase revenues and to expand employment or preserve jobs for Maine people, to be awarded through a competitive process to Maine-based public and private entities, leveraging other funds in a one-to-one ratio and $5,000,000 in funds to create jobs and economic growth by lending to or investing in small businesses with the potential for significant growth and strong job creation?”

In the guide, voters can read the full text of the bond proposal legislation, the fiscal impact information, and an analysis of the intent and content of the bond question.  Election law also allows for citizen advocacy statements to be published supporting or opposing questions, which provides voters with those viewpoints to consider, but no public comments were filed in support or opposition to this question.

Voters can request absentee ballots online via the Secretary of State’s Web site.  Ballots can also be requested in person, by phone, or by mail from the municipal clerk. Contact information for municipal clerks is available here.