Edition for Thursday, August 13, 2020
To view this edition of Impact online,
Welcome to your COVID-19
As a valued member of the Maine
State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you several times
each week through emails like this one and on Facebook and Twitter, until the pandemic passes. We
intend to provide you with the latest state and federal information, as well
as highlighting the creativity and innovation that is occuring here in Maine
during this unpredictable and rapidly changing time. To assist you in
navigating the uncertainties ahead, we have created a diverse and
comprehensive collection of web-based resources to help you take care of yourself and your family, your employees, your business, and your community.
you have a question? ASK THE EXPERTS.
We are here to help in any
way we can!
Court Rules CMP Corridor Referendum, Ballot Question Unconstitutional
Justices ruled unanimously today that the
initiative fails to meet the constitutional requirements to appear on the
afternoon, NewsCenter Maine reported
that the Maine Supreme Court ruled today against
a citizens' initiative to block a hydro-electric power project that would run
through western Maine, saying it violates the state constitution. The
referendum aimed to reverse a Maine Public Utilities Commission order
granting Central Maine Power's request for a certificate of public
convenience and necessity for the New England Clean Energy Connect
Transmission Project. The project seeks to bring hydro-power from Canada
through Maine to be distributed throughout New England.
The court agreed with the opinions of both the Secretary of State and Avangrid, CMP's parent company, that a proposed question for the November ballot would be unconstitutional and that "the initiative fails to meet the constitutional requirements for inclusion on the ballot because it exceeds the scope of the people's legislative powers conferred by article IV, part 3, section 18 of the Maine Constitution."
Mills Administration Approves Second Round of
COVID-19 Prevention and Protection Awards Under Keep Maine Healthy Plan
million supports more than 80 Maine municipalities and Tribal governments as
they take action to protect Maine people and visitors from COVID-19
On August 11, the Mills Administration announced that it
has approved an additional $4 million in awards to more than 80 municipalities
and tribal governments across the state under a second
round of Keep Maine Healthy funding to support local COVID-19 public
health, education, and prevention efforts. The announcement follows the award
in late June of the first round of funding to municipalities under the Keep
Maine Healthy Plan, with approximately $9 million awarded to nearly 100
municipalities. On Tuesday, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) approved COVID-19 Prevention and Protection Plans submitted by 82 municipalities
and Tribal governments and began notifying municipalities of their awards.
Approximately half of the awards will go to municipalities and Tribal
governments that are new applicants, while the others will benefit returning
In total, this Keep Maine Healthy funding will benefit 132
municipalities and two Tribal governments, representing about 1 million
people, or 75 percent of the State's year-round population, along with summer
and fall visitors. The awards are supported by Coronavirus Relief Funds from
the CARES Act and are distributed on a reimbursement basis as communities
implement these programs. This initiative incentivizes municipalities and
Tribal governments to develop and implement their own COVID-19 prevention,
education and protection plans by reimbursing municipal costs associated with
public health education and prevention activities. These plans aim to help
keep Maine people and visitors safe from COVID-19 by including public
education activities, physical distancing and public health support, or local
business assistance. The Mills Administration worked closely with the Maine
Municipal Association and the Mayor's Coalition on the creation of the
municipal awards program.
Maine Department of Labor Announces Unemployment
Compensation Claims Data for the Week Ending August 8
Today, the Maine Department of Labor recorded, for the week
ending August 8, about 1,500 initial claims filed for state unemployment
insurance, and 280 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment
Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 1,500 individuals filing an
initial claim. About 50,200 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were
filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 26,800 weekly
certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by
claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Between March 15 and August 8, the Maine Department of
Labor has paid out about $1.35 billion in federal and state unemployment
benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in
unemployment benefits in all of 2019. The Department has handled
approximately 179,700 initial claims for the state unemployment program and
83,200 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
There have been about 2.03 million weekly certifications filed. Claims data is
preliminary and subject to revision.
Maine Department of Education Fall 2020
Survey Data Released
On August 12, Maine Department of Education released the data
received from over 40,000 parents, educators, and education leaders from
across Maine. Recognizing that the greatest value is in the feedback gathered
locally, Collaborative Planning Teams for each school unit across the state
have also facilitated the critically important local conversations as to the
unique variables, resources and needs within each school community; the state
and county data compiled from the DOE survey will be one of many resources
that will guide the processes and decision making regarding instructional
models for the 2020-2021 school year. Survey information by group, county and
question, along with initial considerations and actions, can be found on the Maine
Department of Education webpage.
Thursday, August 13 | The Bottom Line Podcast
with David Daigler,
president of the Maine Community College System
David Daigler, president of the Maine Community College
System (MCCS), was our
special guest on The Bottom
Line podcast. He joined The
Bottom Line co-hosts Dana Connors
of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and John Williams of Williams Broadcasting to discuss MCCS' plans for
providing safe, in-person training on campus for students that need hands-on
instruction and robust remote learning for other students. In both scenarios,
Maine's community colleges are making sure students are getting critical
training for the state's workforce needs.
To listen to all of archived podcast recordings, please visit The Bottom Line page on the Maine State Chamber's
website. In addition, The Bottom Line
podcast can be heard on iTunes, iHeart Radio, Soundcloud, Stitcher Radio,
Spotify and radio.com.
Maine Community College System Reports Huge Increase in
Graduates from Short-Term Workforce Training
workers trained last year, a 300 percent increase over two years ago
On Wednesday, August 12, the Maine
Community College System (MCCS) announced that demand for short-term
workforce training is at an all-time high at Maine's community colleges,
which saw a 300 percent increase in trainee graduates over the last two
years. That figure - 3,625 people trained in the fiscal year ending June 30 -
doesn't capture the hundreds of students currently enrolled in scores of new,
free, online health care training programs.
When the coronavirus hit and waves of layoffs swept the
state, the MCCS Maine Quality Centers (MQC) quickly added new, free, online
training programs for in-demand jobs in the healthcare industry. The programs
prepare graduates for jobs such as medical records technician, pharmacy
technician, medical lab worker, and medical insurance specialist. The
programs launched soon after Governor Janet Mills signed an executive order
in April loosening restrictions on how MQC job training funds are spent. Of
the 47 new healthcare training programs launched since the governor's order, 36
are full. The training generally takes 5 to 12 months to complete.
The COVID safety training programs, developed in
partnership with HospitalityMaine, are free, online courses that take just
hours to complete. Workers in the tourism industry can earn badges in four
areas: restaurant readiness, lodging readiness, stress management and
In addition to the COVID-related programs, Maine Quality
Centers is re-introducing several traditional workforce programs that were
suspended due to COVID-19. In July and August, classes began for a popular
mechanized logging operations training program at Northern Maine Community
College and a long-standing welding and manufacturing program at Southern
Maine Community College. MQC has also launched a new manufacturing program to
train up to 220 people for jobs at Puritan Medical Products' new Pittsfield
facility, which is ramping up production of nasal swabs used in coronavirus
University of Maine System Extending
Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Across Three Phases
plan includes arrival testing for all students or staff from out-of-state,
all residence hall students, and special populations; a second round of
testing within 7-10 days for everyone required to have an arrival test; and
on-going surveillance testing through individual and wastewater testing
On August 11, the University of Maine System announced that
it is extending
planned asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to include a second round of
screening for all students or staff arriving from out-of-state, residence
hall students, and special populations. The phase two follow up screening
will occur 7-10 days after arrival testing and is part of a three-phase
surveillance strategy recommended by the UMS Scientific Advisory Board to
lower the risk of disease transmission on campus from asymptomatic carriers.
"Screening asymptomatic members of our community will allow
us to identify infection, isolate it, and slow or prevent COVID-19
transmission," said Dr. Melissa Maginnis, a UMaine virologist and assistant
professor in microbiology leading the UMS Scientific Advisory Board. "The
science tells us that a second round of screening is essential due to a virus
incubation period that can last up to 14 days. Retesting our students shortly
after arrival provides an additional layer of safety to limit viral
transmission at the outset of the semester."
3 Monitoring: The University of Maine System, as called for in its safe return planning, will
also be conducting further monitoring for the disease following the
completion of initial baseline screening at the start of the semester to
trace and isolate cases of infection. Monitoring will include additional
COVID-19 testing surveillance and symptom tracking. Wastewater testing will
also be used to monitor public health conditions on campuses that are home to
78% of the System's resident hall student population. Campuses with the
infrastructure necessary to support wastewater testing include UMaine, UMFK,
Additional Background: The Scientific Advisory Board was formed by Chancellor Dannel Malloy to advise university leaders and state partners on the latest developments in COVID-19 research and treatments. The board is chaired by University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. In June, the University of Maine System announced a partnership with The Jackson Laboratory and ConvenientMD to provide testing and testing support services.
Forgiveness: Planning Your PPP Forgiveness Application
Today for our Newest Webinar!
As of August 10, the SBA has started to accept PPP
forgiveness applications. Many recipients of PPP funding have taken a look at
the forgiveness application and are realizing that this is far more complex
than the loan application they grappled with earlier.
us for a discussion on ways to simplify your process. Presenters for this
webinar include Gregory S. Fryer and Benjamin E. Ford, partners at Verrill.
Thank You to Our Sponsors!
Sponsors: Bangor Savings Bank; Central Maine Power Company
Use the Maine State Chamber's Blog and Daily Impact to Tell
Numerous Maine companies are stepping up or
pivoting nimbly, as Maine people resourcefully address the challenges of this
pandemic. Share your perspective and experience with us and with the rest of
the business community. How are you facing and overcoming the challenges
posed by this pandemic? What are you and your employees doing in this
dramatically different economy? Tell us about the innovations your company or
employees are making or ways you have adapted your company to meet your
blog entry should be 300 to 500 words. Join
us in creating a written history of the business community's resilience and
innovation during this extraordinary time. Please submit your entries to email@example.com. For
more information or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or
by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 109.
Providing Books to Maine Students
Maine educators were recently surveyed about critical needs of their students. Books were highlighted as a top priority for students of all ages. Supporting reading is essential for students to continue to thrive in schools. Making certain that our students, particularly our youngest readers, have easy access to books during the end of the school year and throughout the summer is crucial for preventing summer slide.
Even with yeoman-like efforts by Maine teachers and a
hands-on approach from the Maine Department of Education to ensure all Maine
students have been able to continue learning remotely during the pandemic, we
know that learning over these past few months has inevitably been disrupted.
In addition to the school year disruption, student achievement often widens
during the summer, an outcome referred to as summer slide. Summer slide
accounts for as much as 85 percent of the reading achievement gap between lower
income students and their middle- and upper-income peers. Providing students
with appropriate books will help address this challenge. Not only does summer
reading enable students to continue practicing foundational skills, but it
opens the world to students through stories and knowledge building around
topics of interest. We need your help
to ensure students across our 16 counties have access to books, an essential
Here are a few ways you can support Maine students:
1 2020 Maine Books
Challenge: Educate Maine is leading this initiative to provide students
with books while supporting local bookstores. You can purchase an online or
physical gift card at one of Maine's independent bookstores. Every $10
donation provides a book for a Maine student. Every donation will be matched
by the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein up to $5,000. Teachers across Maine will
help coordinate book distribution to students. If interested in supporting
this effort, please email Katherine at email@example.com.
2 Scholastic Books:
This company has offered significant discounts to help get books to Maine
students. For example, a $1,000 donation can support 300 books for 100
students. A $5,000 donation can support 1,500 books for 500 students. If
interested in supporting this effort, please email Megan Diver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Community Book
Donations: Gently used books are also needed across Maine. We are seeking
community drop off spots at local employers throughout the 16 counties. If
your business is interested in becoming a location for books to be collected,
please email Megan Diver at email@example.com.
Books will be distributed to students directly through
their schools and at local meal sites throughout the summer. Additional
information about summer literacy initiatives can be found here.
Thank you for supporting Maine students.
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