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Tuesday, July 16, 2013: LePage letters, prostitution and Statoil

Governor’s political gain

As a representative and retired veteran, I voted to support LD 1503, which addressed the wearing of military uniforms in schools. I felt it standardized the rules for wearing uniforms in our schools for military recruiters.

I did not see this as a local-control issue since schools still can and should determine when and where students are available to meet with recruiters.

Like the governor, I was disappointed that we did not achieve the 101 votes in the House required to enact this mandate. However, that’s where our agreement ends.

The governor sent handwritten letters to 45 legislators last week expressing his outrage. That is a waste of his time. If he needs to communicate with legislators via a letter, he should direct his staff to draft the correspondence and have them printed for his signature. That would provide him more time to concentrate on improving job creation in Maine, which was 48 in the country during the past year.

Another disturbing aspect of the governor’s behavior, is that it obscures the good bipartisan work done in the Legislature this session. We created numerous laws that benefit veterans, such as an act to facilitate veterans and their spouses’ access to employment and a law to preserve marine resources licenses for active duty service members.

This veteran is tired of the governor of using the military for his political gain. Yes, I wanted a standard rule for the wearing of uniforms by recruiters. That battle was lost. Now it’s time to focus on more important issues like creating good paying jobs and funding schools properly.

Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle


Combat sex trafficking

Thanks to the BDN for the July 12 editorial, “Shifting perceptions of prostitution.” We often hear that prostitution is a victimless crime, but the myriad of physical and mental health ramifications for most women involved in sex trafficking paints a much darker picture.

To hear that it is happening in our own backyard is equally frightening. The uptick in sex trafficking reflects the broader problems of gender inequality and the epidemic of violence against women in our society.

When we fail to value women and girls as equals — starting in school and continuing throughout women’s lives as they attend college, enter the workforce and have children — and fail to effectively prosecute those who exploit and abuse them, we have failed as a society. Maine women and girls deserve better, and this law goes a long way toward making that happen and ensuring law enforcement and others will have more tools at their disposal.

I would also like to applaud the tireless efforts of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and their partners for bringing this critical issue to light and helping Maine lawmakers recognize the importance of increasing resources to combat sex trafficking in our state.

Andrea Irwin


High electric rates

The deal with Statoil would be a great benefit for Statoil and a sucker’s deal for Maine, which already has some of the highest electric rates in North America.

Some say it is an opportunity to be at the center of development in wind power. That Statoil would help Norway become the center of development and Maine would be financing them with subsidies from electric ratepayers, something almost every other state is unwilling to do.

I am skeptical about offshore wind, but the approach by the University of Maine is more sensible. They feel it is important to keep working on it with the objective of getting costs to 10 cents per kilowatt hour. That is still high and not achievable yet, but might be someday.

I am in a business that looks at electric rates all over the country. Maine is in bad shape competitively. It would cost thousands of dollars a month more to run a sawmill, for example, in Maine than in most other states.

There is a boom now in softwood lumber production, and it is in the south and west. Maine is full of the best resources but has priced itself out of the market with high electric rates and other costs.

Much of Maine’s blueberry crop is shipped out of state to be processed because of high electric rates. Those millions of pounds could be processed here. I watched a plant in Oregon drying Maine blueberries by the truckload. I know looking at facts instead of dreams is hard in Maine, but it is time to get real.

Donald Lewis


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