By U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe
As I conclude my nearly 40 years in elective office, I want to convey how thankful and blessed I feel to have had the opportunity to serve as your Senator.
It has been difficult to envision saying farewell, just as it was impossible to imagine I would one day become a Senator as I was growing up in Maine. But such is the miracle of America that a young girl of a Greek immigrant and a first-generation American, who was orphaned at the age of nine could, in time, be elected to serve in the greatest deliberative body the world has ever known—and become the third-longest-serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.
I want to thank you, the people of Maine, for allowing me to be your voice, your vote and your champion for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and for three terms in the United States Senate. One of the definitions of the word “trust” is “a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence.” And to have had your trust, as you have placed your faith and confidence in me, is an honor of indescribable magnitude. Indeed, serving our magnificent state over the past 34 years in the halls of Congress has been the greatest privilege of my life.
The Lewiston City Council voted unanimously last week to officially change the name of Pierce Street Park to “Mark W. Paradis Park,” in honor of the long-time Lewiston resident and public servant who died in 2011 while running for mayor.
The name change came about as a result of a recommendation by the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) who, in the course of working with the Downtown Neighborhood Action Committee (DNAC) to make improvements to the park, sponsored a contest for Lewiston school students to supply the park with a more attention-getting name. The winning entry was submitted by Nicole Morin, now a student at Lewiston Middle School.
On hand for the occasion was Paradis’ wife, Ronalla, and their son, Phillip. While extending her appreciation to Morin and the LYAC for honoring her husband’s legacy, Mrs. Paradis encouraged the youth of Lewiston to set an example by getting along peacefully and following her husband’s example of treating others respectfully. At the meeting, LYAC Chair Kon Maiwan also presented Nicole Morin with a congratulatory certificate and award.
U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) was honored Tuesday with the “National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal,” presented by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper.
The prestigious award, which is the highest intelligence honor a non-career Federal employee or private citizen may receive, was given to Senator Snowe in recognition of her many contributions to improving our nation’s Intelligence Community, particularly through her legislation establishing the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community and her efforts to improve diplomatic and embassy security as a member of the House of Representatives in the mid-1980s.
Senator Snowe has served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence since 2003, and she previously served on the Senate Armed Services (1997-2000), Senate Foreign Relations (1995-1996), and House Foreign Affairs (1981-1994) Committees.
By Sally C. Pipes
Pacific Research Institute
The next act in the Obamacare saga is about to begin—and it’s going to be tragic. Friday, December 14 marks the deadline for states to reveal their plans for constructing insurance exchanges in line with the healthcare law’s dictates.
Many (including Maine) are opting out—leaving the federal government to set up exchanges for them. Others simply aren’t ready to establish their own.
And so these central components of Obamacare will soon stand as the latest examples of the president’s failure to make health insurance more accessible or affordable.
Obamacare’s insurance exchanges were intended to be state-based marketplaces where individuals and small businesses could choose from an array of coverage options. In theory, this structure would encourage states to experiment and to tailor their offerings to the unique needs of their populations.
But in reality, the exchanges are burdened with so many rules that experimentation and competition have been stifled. Given the cost of setting up an exchange—and of complying with all the federal regulations—it’s no surprise that many states are refusing to participate.
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
In this Christmas and Hanukkah Season, a time when we celebrate the miracles of two great religions, we are sadly confronted by the fact that one of Lewiston’s largest employers, St. Mary’s Regional Hospital, is being forced to lay off 25 of our friends, neighbors and family members.
What once was a bright outlook for the holiday season and the future has turned to darkness and anxiety for these neighbors and their families.
The administration at St. Mary’s—and other hospitals throughout the state—have performed fiscal miracles to keep their staffs employed. But St. Mary’s, like every other hospital in Maine, has been forced to carry a debt, in this case $23 million. This debt was accrued because of the deadbeat policies of past State of Maine legislators when dealing with our hospitals.
In their race to promote themselves in Maine as benevolent benefactors, they made it easier to qualify for our state’s welfare programs, creating a promise land for the idle and a Dante’s Inferno for those expected to pay the bills.
By U.S. Senator Susan Collins
Now that the elections are behind us, it is time for the campaigning to stop and the governing to begin. One of the most pressing issues that Congress and the President must address immediately is the approaching “fiscal cliff,” the combination of deep, indiscriminate spending cuts and huge tax increases set to take effect in January.
Time is running short. That is why I am deeply disappointed that the Majority Leader has decided to recess for the entire week at Thanksgiving. Americans want us to be working to find a responsible way to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
Our national debt now tops $16 trillion dollars, and it threatens our future prosperity. With each American’s share of the debt totaling more than $50,000, it is imperative that we act soon to get our nation’s fiscal house in order and avoid the economic calamity that is spreading through Europe.
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
I ran for mayor focused on welfare reform. Being retired and not being—nor will I ever be—politically correct, I was aggravated at our local tax rate. But having a governor who was not afraid to speak his mind and what I thought (obviously in error) was a Republican Legislature of the same ilk, I felt pretty confident change was around the corner.
It was not what I had imagined: the Democrats regaining both the House and the Senate in Augusta. I felt as though I had run into a brick wall. Instead of giving up, I took two steps back and saw the possibility of Lewiston-Auburn going from the state’s redheaded stepchild to a power to be reckoned with—a leader, not a follower.
Issues upcoming in the next few months will focus on paying our hospitals the millions they are owed, welfare reform, schools and public transportation between Lewiston and other parts of our state.
Maine ranks second in percent of households getting cash benefits
“Fix the System,” The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s 2012 report on Maine’s welfare system, show that Maine is the only state in the country to rank in the top 10 of three major areas of welfare: Maine ranks sixth in percent of households receiving food stamps; second in the nation in percent of households receiving cash assistance; and third in the country in percent of population enrolled in Medicaid.
Only California and Vermont have a higher percentage of their populations enrolled in Medicaid. Download the report here.
“This updated report makes it very clear once again that welfare reform should be a major issue for our leaders,” said MHPC CEO Scott Moody, co-author of the report. “While recent reforms have improved the system, more must be done to fix the system and free Maine families from welfare dependency.”
The report highlights reforms that were a priority of the LePage administration and approved by the current Legislature. Many of the reforms had been suggested in MHPC’s 2010 “Fix the System” report. Reforms that were successfully implemented include: a five-year limit on cash assistance; stricter sanctions for violation of program requirements; drug testing for welfare recipients accused of drug crimes; tightened Medicaid eligibility requirements; improvement of fraud detection; and a waiting period for legal non-citizens to get welfare benefits.
Rep. Sharon Treat (D-Hallowell) has left Maine taxpayers on the hook for $680,000 worth of legal expenses stemming from a bill she advanced in 2007 that was has been struck down as unconstitutional.
On September 28, the United States District Court for the District of Maine ordered the State of Maine to pay $678,190 in attorney’s fees as a result of IMS v. Rowe. An “Act To Amend the Prescription Privacy Law,” passed in 2007 under the former Baldacci Administration, was found to be unconstitutional.
Treat sponsored LD 838 in the 123rd Legislature, which was merged into another bill, LD 4, and passed in June of 2007. The combined bills, pushed aggressively in the Legislature by Treat, tried to stop private businesses from obtaining information about the prescribing practices of doctors.