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.

May 152017
 

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Hatch Gagne, Director

The Agricultural Committee has been busy this spring.  Following the Agricultural Legislative Luncheon, the committee has judged Agricultural Scholarship applications and applicants are being notified by June 1, 2017.   We have finalized information and criteria for the Grange Exhibits at the 2017 Agricultural Fairs and letters to our Grange judges is being sent out momentarily.  Criteria for the Grange Educational Exhibits have been completed and will be posted online.  If you need a hardcopy please contact the State Grange Headquarters.

We are now working on arrangements for the Agricultural Luncheon at the State Grange Conference in October.  Once a speaker has been confirmed I will be sharing the information out to all.  Please plan to attend this luncheon we are pleased to have this opportunity to offer an Agricultural Luncheon again in conjunction with the State Grange Conference.

We are looking for donations to use in our silent auction to support our Grange Agricultural scholarship. Anyone who has items to donate please contact me so I can arrange for pick up.  Thank you!

Hope your month of May brings sunshine and warm soil and garden plants!

May 032017
 

by Heather Retberg, Ag Committee Member

Here’s the latest on where we stand with the bills supported by the Maine State Grange this legislative session.

We are to the stage where even 5 letters to senators and representatives from individual Grange members in districts across the state could really help tip the balance in favor of community-based farms and our local food systems.  The votes on these bills will be close in both house and senate, but there are definitely senators and reps who will vote in favor IF they hear from constituents.  If they don’t, with 2, 000 bills before them and no direction on these two, they will likely vote against or simply on party lines.  The vote on both of these bills will likely come in the next 2 weeks.

I asked one of our members, Peter Nelson, to forward his simple and straightforward letter to his representative and senator on to you in case it could prove a helpful sample to others:

Given the very real and serious problem of food and water security throughout the State and the ongoing struggle of family farms to grow and supply food product locally, it is vital that these two bills become law. They are connected, and when combined it will empower local communities to better solve the problems of food production and distribution. There is a high percentage of school children in Maine that do not have enough money to buy a school lunch each day. Meanwhile, local farmers work their own land, poultry, and animals for little more than room and board in their own homes. Please vote to empower constituents to do whatever we can to efficiently link supply and demand. Our young children are our most valuable ‘ natural resource ‘. We urge the passage of each of these important bills.

LD 835, An Act To Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers

It allows persons preparing food in their own homes to sell directly to consumers or to offer homemade food at certain events without being licensed as food establishments. 

LD 725, An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food and Water Systems.

This bill authorizes municipal governments to regulate local food systems and requires the State to recognize such ordinances. 

Please contact your Senator and Representative and urge them to pass these two bills.

Respectfully submitted,

Peter Nelson, Steward, Halcyon Grange 345


UPDATE:

The work session was held last Wednesday on LD 725, An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food and Water Systems.

This bill authorizes municipal governments to regulate local food systems and requires the State to recognize such ordinances.  This is a food sovereignty bill to ensure that we can participate directly at town meeting to make decisions about how our food needs are met in our towns.

What proceeded after the work session was opened, however, was strange and frustrating.  The committee’s policy analyst wasn’t called upon to deliver her analysis of the public hearing. Rep. Hickman, a co-sponsor of the bill,  having been asked to return to the work session with answers to questions from the public hearing, wasn’t called upon.  The committee chair didn’t wait for the bill sponsor, Sen. Jackson, to arrive.  No work session happened. An amendment was immediately offered by Rep. Madigan to remove language that would recognize municipal authority to regulate the commercial transport of water beyond a municipality.  A vote was called. The State and Local Government Committee voted once to remove the water portion from the bill.  The Republican senate committee chair, Sen. Davis then closed the work session as if the committee had voted on the bill itself.  He took the vote to remove water from the bill as the committee vote on whether or not to recommend an ‘ought to pass’ vote from the committee.  As of Friday, the bill received a 7-4 majority ought to pass as amended vote from the committee, with two members absent who have so far declined to register a vote on the bill.  Once this bill has final language review by the committee, it will proceed first to the Senate and then to the House for a vote, likely in the next 2 weeks.

A split committee vote, and one that will likely be close along party lines makes the engagement of constituents necessary to help ensure the bill’s passage. The senators and representatives will be hearing from the industry and trade lobbyists as well as the commissioner of agriculture against this bill, although the legislature has already enacted a law that directs that the “state shall support policies that, through local control, preserve the abilities of communities to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume locally produced foods.” (Title 7-A, 201-A) They need to hear from all of us to counter that pressure from within!

LD 835, An Act To Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers received a 7 to 6 majority ought to pass vote from the Agriculture Committee on April 20. Republican committee chair Senator Davis voted against the bill, though Republican Senator Saviello voted in support. LD 835 would allow direct sales between Maine farmers and patrons. It allows persons preparing food in their own homes to sell directly to consumers or to offer homemade food at certain events without being licensed as food establishments. This bill received strong support from representatives of the 18 towns and one city in Maine that have passed food sovereignty ordinances and resolutions. The Department of Agriculture and many dairy industry representatives came out in force against this bill. Once this bill has final language review it will go to the House first for a vote, and then the Senate likely in the next couple weeks.

What to do NOW:  It will be very important for all of us to contact our senators (follow the link below to find your senator and representative)  asking them to support these bills allowing safe, local control of our local food system and traditional food exchanges.  Please contact your senators on LD 725 and your representatives, too.  This bill will go to the Senate first.

LD 835 will start in the house.  We’ll keep you as up to date as possible as we find out timelines for the votes.  It’s all getting awfully rushed now at this point in the session.

A complete list of senators with contact information has also been uploaded to the Agricultural Education Section of the “Program Books and Information Page.

The following Senators could be key decision-makers and would especially benefit from hearing personally from people who live or work in their districts:

Senator Joyce Maker representing Senate District 6: Addison, Alexander, Baileyville, Baring Plantation, Beals, Beddington, Calais, Centerville, Charlotte, Cherryfield, Codyville Plantation, Columbia, Columbia Falls, Cooper, Crawford, Cutler, Danforth, Deblois, Dennysville, East Central Washington, East Machias, Eastport, Gouldsboro, Grand Lake Stream Plantation, Harrington, Indian Township, Jonesboro, Jonesport, Lubec, Machias, Machiasport, Marshfield, Meddybemps, Milbridge, North Washington, Northfield, Pembroke, Perry, Pleasant Point, Princeton, Robbinston, Roque Bluffs, Steuben, Sullivan, Talmadge, Topsfield, Vanceboro, Waite, Wesley, Whiting, Whitneyville, Winter Harbor, and part of East Hancock Unorganized Territory.

Senator David Woodsome representing Senate District 33: Cornish, Limerick, Newfield, Parsonsfield, Sanford, Shapleigh, and Waterboro.

Senator Andre Cushing representing Senate District 10: Carmel, Corinna, Corinth, Dixmont, Etna, Exeter, Glenburn, Hampden, Hudson, Kenduskeag, Levant, Newburgh, Newport, Plymouth, and Stetson.

Senator Amy Volk representing Senate District 30: Gorham, part of Buxton, and part of Scarborough.

Senator Eric Brakey representing Senate District 20: Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester, and Poland

Senator Rodney Whittemore representing Senate District 3: Anson, Bingham, Canaan, Caratunk, Central Somerset Unorganized Territory, Cornville, Dennistown Plantation, Embden, Highland Plantation, Jackman, Madison, Mercer, Moose River, Moscow, New Portland, Norridgewock, Northeast Somerset Unorganized Territory (includes Rockwood Strip), Northwest Somerset Unorganized Territory, Pittsfield, Pleasant Ridge Plantation, Rome, Seboomook Lake Unorganized Territory, Skowhegan, Smithfield, Solon, Starks, The Forks Plantation and West Forks Plantation.

Senator Lisa Keim representing Senate District 18: Andover, Bethel, Buckfield, Byron, Canton, Dixfield, Gilead, Greenwood, Hanover, Hartford, Hebron, Lincoln Plantation, Livermore, Livermore Falls, Lovell, Magalloway Plantation, Mexico, Milton Twp., Newry, North Oxford Unorganized Territory, Peru, Roxbury, Rumford, South Oxford Unorganized Territory, Stoneham, Stow, Sumner, Sweden, Upton, Waterford, West Paris, and Woodstock.

Senator James Hamper representing Senate District 19: Bridgton, Brownfield, Denmark, Fryeburg, Harrison, Hiram, Naples, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Porter, and Sebago.

Senator Michael Carpenter representing Senate District 2: Amity, Bancroft, Blaine, Bridgewater, Carroll Plantation, Cary Plantation, Central Aroostook Unorganized Territory, Chapman, Crystal, Drew Plantation, Dyer Brook, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Glenwood Plantation, Hammond, Haynesville, Hersey, Hodgdon, Houlton, Island Falls, Kingman Township, Lakeville, Lee, Linneus, Littleton, Ludlow, Macwahoc Plantation, Mars Hill, Merrill, Monticello, Moro Plantation, Mount Chase, New Limerick, Oakfield, Orient, Patten, Prentiss Township, Presque Isle, Reed Plantation, Sherman, Smyrna, South Aroostook Unorganized Territory, Springfield, Stacyville, Twombly Ridge Township, Webster Plantation, Westfield, Weston,Whitney Township, Winn, and part of North Penobscot Unorganized Territory.

Senator Eloise Vitelli representing Senate District 23: Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, Woolwich and the unorganized township of Perkins.

Senator Susan Deschambault representing Senate District 32: Alfred, Arundel, Biddeford, Dayton, Kennebunkport, and Lyman

Senator Catherine Breen representing Senate District 25: Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gray, Long Island, Yarmouth, and part of Westbrook.

Senator Saviello representing Senate District 17: Avon, Belgrade, Carrabassett Valley, Carthage, Chesterville, Coplin Plantation, Dallas Plantation, East Central Franklin, Eustis, Farmington, Fayette, Industry, Jay, Kingfield, Mount Vernon, New Sharon, New Vineyard, North Franklin, Phillips, Rangeley, Rangeley Plantation, Sandy River Plantation, Strong, Temple, Vienna, Weld, West Central Franklin, and Wilton.

Apr 142017
 

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Hatch Gagne, Director

March was a challenging month as winter was clearly still here in Maine.  The snow is finally melting and we have had some delightfully warm weather these past few days.  Time to be getting ready for gardens (I still have snow on my garden though).  The Agricultural Committee was busy gathering Maine-made items for our scholarship basket and preparing for the agricultural luncheon for the State Legislators.  Special thanks to Agnes and Bob for heading up the food preparation, Sharon and Jim for purchasing what was not donated.  A special thank you to those who donated food for this annual event: UMaine/High Moor Farms donated apples; Maine Blueberry Commission donated placemats, magnets and Wyman’s blueberries; and the True North Salmon Company donated the salmon.

Thank you to all state officers and directors who made and delivered fudge for our statehouse table and pies for the agricultural luncheon.  A special thanks to Chef Heidi Parent, Director of the Culinary Arts Department for the Capital Area Technical Center and her students from the culinary program as they prepared all the salmon for lunch.

Currently, I am completing a score sheet for State Grange Educational Exhibits and will be contacting Grange members who have been willing to judge our Grange Exhibits at our Maine Agriculture Fairs.  The Agricultural Committee will be judging Agricultural Scholarships next month and gearing up for High School graduation and celebrating our scholarship recipients.

The Maine Agricultural Fair Season will be upon us soon, I encourage our Granges to plan to set up one Grange Exhibit at your local Agricultural Fair.  Let’s make our presence visible in our communities.  If you are unsure how to make the connection with your local fair you can look online or call me and I am very willing to assist you through this process.

The Agricultural Committee is also working on providing an agricultural luncheon and speaker during our State Grange Convention in October.  There will be more to come in the near future.

I welcome any questions or suggestions!  Call me at 207-592-6980, email Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu  (Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu)   or text me.

Apr 042017
 

Public Hearings have been scheduled for two bills supported by Maine State Grange Resolutions passed in 2015 and 2016:

The public hearing for LD 725 will be on April 10, Monday, at 10 am in Room 214 of the Cross Office Building (right across from state house). LD 725 is An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food and Water Systems.

The public hearing for LD 835 An Act to Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers will be the same week on April 13th, Thursday, at 1 pm also in Room 214 of Cross Office Building.

Grangers who would like their voices heard are encouraged to attend these hearings and offer testimony! For additional information and assistance, you may contact Heather Retberg  (quillsendfarmatgmaildotcom)  , Master of Halcyon Grange.

Mar 192017
 

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Master Betsy will arrive from Massachusetts.

  • Event: Legislative Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Legislators are invited.
  • Event: Androscoggin Pomona Meeting.  There will be a 6:30 p.m. $5.00 supper with a 7:30 p.m. meeting.  Members of Oxford and Cumberland Pomona have been invited to attend as well.  The meeting will be held at Danville Junction Grange.

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Master Betsy will travel north and be available for media interviews in the Bangor area.

  • Event: Piscataquis Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:00 p.m. and Meeting at 7:00 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Valley Grange, 172 Guilford Center Road, Guilford. The public is invited. Click for more information about this event.

Friday, April 7, 2017
Master Betsy will be available for media interviews in the Augusta area.

  • Event: Potluck supper will be held at 5:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. A Grange “town hall forum” will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and include questions and answers as well as discussion of ideas and challenges facing the Grange at the national and local levels. The public is invited.

Saturday, April 8, 2017
Master Betsy spends the day at Maine State Grange Headquarters

  • Event: Morning reception from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Officers, Deputies, and Directors are invited.
  • Event: Junior Grange sponsored contests from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  • Event: Lincoln Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:30 p.m. and Meeting at 7:30 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Meenahga Grange, 860 Main Street, Waldoboro. The public is invited.

Maine State Grange Headquarters is located at
146 State Street
Augusta, Maine

Media Inquiries should be directed to

Walter Boomsma  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  , Maine State Grange Communications Director
207 343-1842

Amanda Leigh Brozana  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  , National Grange Communications Director
(202) 628-3507 • ext 102

Mar 182017
 

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. 

The Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship Fund was created by the Maine Legislature to annually recognize one student from each county who is currently pursuing or is planning to pursue their education at a two-year or four-year degree-granting Maine college or technical school.  This scholarship is available for full or part-time students.  An eligible recipient must be a Maine resident who is accepted to or enrolled in a two- or four-year degree-granting Maine college or technical school that is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Awards are made on the basis of academic excellence, contributions to community and employment, financial need, letters of recommendation, and an essay of 300 words or less from the applicant that explains his or her educational goals and intentions.

All application components must be submitted and postmarked by May 1, 2017, to the following address:  Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), Attn:  Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship, P.O. Box 949, Augusta, ME 04332-0949.

Awards will be made directly to the applicant after successful completion of the first semester of school.  The Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship Committee will announce scholarship winners for the 2016 applicants in the spring of 2017.  Scholarships may be deferred for one year if this is to the student’s financial advantage.

All funds for the Scholarship have been raised through an annual auction held in Augusta.  Legislators, staff, and lobbyists participate in the event by soliciting and making donations, organizing, and even “auctioneering”.  Hundreds of items are donated, many of them “made in Maine”, such as sardines, paintings, and weekend get-a-ways.  The auctions have been a tremendous success, making it possible for 16 students to receive as much as a $1,000 award.

For more information on this scholarship program, please click here.

Mar 162017
 

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Gagne, Director

We are all looking forward to spring and spring-like weather and the thoughts of green grass and rich soil. Looking at seed catalogs, ordering seeds and planning my garden is giving me hope as the wind blows and the snow keeps on coming.

The Ag Committee is gearing up for the Legislative Luncheon on April 5, 2017, talking with our state legislators and also promoting agriculture. We are in need of everyone’s help for this event. We are looking for fudge which will be on our display booth and would love to have more donated Maine made items to add to our basket we will be raffling off at the State Grange Convention in October.  The money raised from this basket goes toward Ag Scholarships for Maine youth.

If you are willing to make fudge or donate Maine made items for the basket and need transportation for these items to get to Augusta for April 5, 2017, please contact me and I will make sure we secure transportation for you.  My number is 207-592-6980 or email Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu  (Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu)  .

Maine Ag in the Classroom is always looking for volunteers to read Maine Ag books in schools during the month of March. (I have committed to reading to 5 classrooms.) If anyone might be interested let me know and I will connect you with Willie Grenier who coordinates this delightful way of engaging children in learning about agriculture in Maine. This year’s book focuses on gardens.

I have not heard from any Granges at this time but am still interested in connecting with Granges who may be interested in exhibiting an Educational display at your local Agricultural Fair. Many of the fairs have expressed great delight in having more grange displays but they need to know in advance that you plan to have a display. Let me know if you are thinking about setting up an educational display this year.  Let’s get the Grange displays front and center at our local Agricultural Fairs.

Happy Spring to one and all!

Mar 092017
 

Annisby Jim Annis, Legislative Director

Did everybody enjoy the holiday season? I hope so because now it’s time to get to work and start writing resolutions. After all, the way the year is flying by, October will be here before we know it!

Valley Grange has written a resolution which has been voted on and approved by Valley and, most recently, by Piscataquis Pomona. And it goes like this:

Seating arrangement of Maine State Legislature

Whereas, much animosity currently exists in the Maine State Legislature, and,

Whereas, this animosity affects the ability of our legislators to govern the people of Maine, and,

Whereas, the seating arrangement presently used in both houses of our government places members of each party together on opposite sides of the “aisle,” and,

Whereas, this seating arrangement serves to separate people based on their respective political parties,

Be it resolved, that the Maine State Grange recommends that further legislatures be seated alphabetically in the hopes that this arrangement will enhance communication among individual members and provide an understanding of different points of view.

So, let’s get busy Grangers and flood the Maine State Grange with resolutions! Hurry, before it’s too late!

Currently, there’s a bill before the Legislature called An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food and Water Systems. The bill number Is LD 725 if you want to check it out. It wants to allow local control over regulating local foods systems and their transport. We’ll have to keep an eye on it.

On another note, a resolution submitted by Cumberland Pomona was sent to the Maine Legislature for approval. If you want to check it out, go to Maine. Gov, click on Legislature and type in under LD 623. The title is An Act to Require Biennial State Motor Vehicle Inspections and is scheduled to be heard by the Committee on Transportation on March 17th at 9:00 AM in room 126.

Mar 082017
 

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

by Rick Grotton
Maine State Grange Master

Our National Master, Betsy Huber, will be visiting Maine April 5, 2017, through April 8, 2017. She will be attending our Legislative Luncheon on April 5 and wishes to meet with as many Maine Grangers as possible during her visit to answer questions and listen to your ideas. We will be attending Grange meetings on Thursday and Friday (April 6 and 7). Please come to State Headquarters at 146 State Street in Augusta on Saturday, April 8 to visit. She will be attending the Junior sponsored contests that day beginning at 11:00 a.m. for the Public Speaking and Alphabet Signing (Juniors only) followed by the Assistant and Lady Assistant contest (for all Grangers). This will be a perfect opportunity to come support our Junior Program and to meet our first woman National Master! She has some great ideas and has been very busy but she is trying to visit all Grange states. If you want to come down on Thursday or Friday during the day to visit please let me know ahead of time. Let’s be Doers and show our National Master how proud we are as Grangers!