Affordable higher education systems are key to encouraging innovation, keeping talent in Maine, and attracting new talent
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following testimony was delivered by Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, in support of Maine’s higher education systems funding in LR 3206, An Act Making Supplemental Appropriations And Allocations For The Expenditures Of State Government, General Fund And Other Funds, And Changing Certain Provisions Of The Law Necessary To The Proper Operations Of State Government For The Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2020 And June 30, 2021, at a public hearing held on Monday, February 24, 2020, before the Joint Standing Committees on Education and Cultural Affairs and Appropriations and Financial Affairs. We have reprinted it here for your review.
Chairmen Breen, Millett, Gattine and Kornfield, distinguished members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee and the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee: I am Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. The Maine State Chamber is a proud co-leader of the MaineSpark Coalition that is dedicating to achieving the state goal that 60 percent of Maine adults have a credential of value by 2025. I am pleased to be before you this afternoon to talk about the importance of the proposed funding in the Supplemental budget for Maine’s Higher Education systems, which will help build and strengthen Maine’s future workforce.
It will be the first time in 20 years that Maine Democrats and Republicans will vote in a presidential primary instead of a caucus, called Super Tuesday. Twelve candidates will appear on the Democratic ballot, including several who have already ended their campaigns. At polling places on election day, the names of those who have withdrawn from the election will be posted, and votes for them will be counted as blanks. On the Republican ballot, President Trump is the only candidate.
Labor committee hears “Ban the Box” proposal, which would bar employers from asking about criminal convictions on job applications
In a public hearing on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing held a public hearing on LD 2087, An Act Relating to Fair Chance in Employment,” sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland). More than a dozen states have enacted similar laws – the purpose of which is to encourage the hiring of people with a criminal record. Rep. Talbot Ross has had similar, but more disconcerting proposals in past sessions. This year, she took a more pragmatic approach, limiting her bill just to prohibiting employers from asking about a prospective employee’s previous criminal convictions on any written or electronic job application.
Taxation committee votes to pass tax haven bill, increasing taxes on manufacturers that export overseas
On Wednesday, February 19, the Taxation committee voted along party lines (7-4) “ought to pass as amended” on LD 403, An Act to Prevent Tax Haven Abuse, sponsored by the committee cochair, Rep. Ryan Tipping (D-Orono). In addition to Rep. Tipping, committee cochair Sen. Benjamin Chipman (D-Cumberland), and Rep. Ann Matlack (D-St. George), Rep. Diane Denk (D-Kennebunk), Rep. Stephen Stanley (D-Medway), Rep. Maureen Terry (D-Gorham), and Rep. Kristen Cloutier (D-Lewiston) all voted in favor of the bill as amended. Sen. Matthew Pouliot (R-Kennebec), Rep. Bruce A. Bickford (R-Auburn), Rep. Donald G. Marean (R-Hollis), and Rep. Theodore Joseph Kryzak Jr. (R-Acton) voted ought-not-to-pass.
On Tuesday, February 18, Major General Douglas Farnham used his annual state of the National Guard speech to lawmakers to praise past and current members of the Guard and its predecessor, the Maine Militia. Farnham spoke highly of several current Guard members who have contributed to the state and nation, including Master Sergeant Rick Martell of the Air Guard, who volunteered past his 60th birthday to continue to serve on air refueling tankers. Farnham pointed out that Joshua Chamberlain was not only a civil war hero but also led the Maine militia to respond to state problems. Also of note, 11 percent of Mainers have served in the military, one of the highest percentages in the nation.
Governor Janet Mills announced this week that Maine, along with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, is spearheading an effort to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas and a driver of climate change. These synthetic gases are most often used as a refrigerant in appliances and are known as “climate super-pollutants,” with hundreds to thousands of times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. Governor Mills submitted legislation that directs the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to limit the use HFCs where safer alternatives are available. Massachusetts and Rhode Island announced their intention to begin rulemaking to accomplish the same.