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Thursday, April 11, 2013: Gun rights, deficits and health bills

Smith’s quiet tone

I love living in Maine. I love Mainers — you know, the people who’ve long been described as hardworking, filled with common sense and Yankee ingenuity. I love that we Mainers live our lives not by following the pack but by quietly leading the way.

I saw this in action a day or two ago when a public service announcement appeared during a television show. On the screen was George A. Smith, the now retired executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Now politically, I would say Smith’s views and my own may differ some, but what pleased and surprised me was his PSA topic. At a time when there are too many loud voices competing for attention, he was there encouraging private gun sellers to complete background checks before selling their weapons.

It instantly made me happy that while the politicians and talking heads argue that these options won’t solve our problems, this strong proponent of gun owner rights — this man from Maine — can see the common sense value of all gun buyers going through background checks.

It certainly won’t be enough to solve all of our violence issues, but Smith has lent his voice to help move this issue forward, quietly leading the way.

Cathy Conn

Old Town

The enemy within

Who runs this country? It isn’t Congress. Their pockets are lined with the National Rifle Association money and their minds are full of fear.

That is why they will never pass laws stopping the NRA from owning this country. We, the people need to stand up and be heard and stop the arming of guards in our schools and get legislation to stop people with mental disabilities from obtaining guns.

We don’t have to worry about North Korea; the enemy is already here: the NRA.

Mary Murphy


Deficit action

There has been much ado about the federal deficit, but outside of bluster and misdirection of argument, little has been done about it. One thing is known: It was not caused by grandmothers collecting Social Security nor the system that funds that program.

The president and members of Congress have not been honest about the main culprits in the mess: malfeasance in the banking industry and on Wall Street, abuse of the tax code to favor the most wealthy and running two unfunded wars.

Examples of immediate actions that could be taken now are:

— A stock transaction tax: A small fee such as a sales tax charged on stock sales. This would not hurt small investors who buy stock and hold it but would affect those who simply churn the market for speculation purposes

— Elimination of any mortgage deduction for second homes: Currently anyone can write off interest for a weekend mansion in Southampton or their latest yacht. Should taxpayers subsidize millionaires’ lifestyle choices?

— Passing a mandatory war tax bill that would require that taxes will be levied for any future military adventure and pay the current bills for Iraq and Afghanistan

Have Congress put their money where their votes are. If they feel it is imperative to send our military to fight, our representatives should at least have the courage to pay for it.

Citizens must not allow their representatives to get away with blaming this “crisis” on spending too much on food stamps, the Meals on Wheels program or teachers’ salaries.

Greg Rossel


Vote yes on LD 1066

On Tuesday, April 2, I had the privilege to attend a public hearing of the Health and Human Services Committee on a bill to accept federal funds to expand MaineCare under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, also known as LD 1066.

Maine has an unprecedented opportunity to extend health care coverage to working adults whose incomes place them close to the poverty line. Accepting federal funds will cover up to 69,500 Mainers who currently can’t afford health insurance.

With the proposed MaineCare expansion, our neighbors and fellow Mainers living at or near the poverty line will be able to access the care they need when they need it and better manage their health. This will reduce the need for costly care and emergency room visits, considerably lower hospital charity care and result in savings for the privately insured.

Research has shown the cost of caring for the uninsured currently raises premiums for the average insured family by $1,000 per year.

Many people with multiple sclerosis and other chronic conditions who lack insurance are forced to delay routine care or drop medications, with adverse consequences to their long-term health. Access to regular care can mean being able to continue in the workforce, continue on recommended medications and enjoy quality of life.

Increasing health care coverage saves lives, strengthens communities and helps the system function better for all of us. Maine has long prioritized health care for all Mainers. Please urge our legislators to vote yes on LD 1066 and accept federal funds budgeted for Maine.

Robin Steinwand

Volunteer, National MS Society

Saint Albans

Toxic chemical bills

As a doctor, I have long been quite worried about toxic chemicals found in all our Maine homes that threaten our children’s health — from bisphenol A in soup cans, to parabens in shampoo, to phthalates in shower curtains.

Several of the everyday products we all buy at our grocery and hardware stores are riddled with toxic chemicals linked to learning disabilities, obesity and even cancer.

Thankfully, the Maine Legislature has taken significant action over the past few years to protect Maine people from toxic chemicals. The Kids Safe Products Act passed in 2008 and created a framework for identifying and phasing out the “worst of the worst.” Two bills now being considered this session would build on the success of the act and further protect our especially vulnerable kids.

LD 902 would approve Board of Environmental Protection rulemaking and eliminate BPA from infant formula and baby food packaging – an important step toward keeping babies safe during critical periods of development.

LD 1181 would close a loophole that blocks Maine from regulating BPA in food packaging for kids older than 3-years-old and will require the state to take action on 49 chemicals of high concern, which have been scientifically proven to cause cancer and other serious health problems.

I am now asking Rep. Richard Campbell, R-Orrington, and Sen. Edward Youngblood, R- Brewer, to support both of these important initiatives.

Paul Liebow, MD



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