LETTERS

Saturday, May 9, 2015: Minimum wage ‘entitlement,’ tribal relations, clean air

Posted May 08, 2015, at 9:28 a.m.

Kid-safe products

A few years ago, Maine was one of the first states to pass a groundbreaking bill, the Kid-Safe Products Act, which recognized the need to regulate chemicals at the state level and required manufacturers to report any proven toxic chemicals used in their children’s products sold in Maine. Legislators have recently introduced LD 948 to use the act to protect children from toxic chemicals such as phthalates.

Phthalates, a group of chemicals that give plastics their flexibility and durability, are used in backpacks, rain jackets, flooring, cosmetics, lotions and other personal care products. Despite widespread use in consumer products, phthalates are dangerous. They mimic the testosterone hormone and can disrupt thyroid function, thereby affecting early childhood development and reproductive health. Chronic exposure can cause birth defects, learning and behavioral issues, asthma and allergies. Therefore, phasing-out phthalates from household products would prevent childhood diseases and reduce health care costs for Maine families.

I support LD 948, which would designate phthalates as priority chemicals that manufacturers must disclose if they are present in their products. Not only are Maine families entitled to know the contents of their household products, but replacing harmful chemicals in consumer products with safer alternatives will encourage innovation and catalyze new market creation in Maine.

Passing LD 948 continues the tradition of Maine as a national leader in chemical safety policy that safeguards the health of families over the profits of industry.

Ameena Khan

Waterville

Update air standards

Last year, Bangor was named one of the four cleanest cities in the country for air pollution. But this year, Penobscot County has taken a disappointing step backward. The American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report has found that ozone pollution levels have worsened, leaving children, people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), older adults, and even those who work and exercise outside at increased risk for health complications.

Ozone pollution is deadly serious. It triggers asthma attacks and increases the need for people with lung disease to seek emergency medical care or hospital treatment. Ozone even cuts lives short.

Clearly, the national limit on ozone pollution fails to protect those most at risk. That’s why it is crucial that the Environmental Protection Agency update the national ozone standard. Parents and the more than 2,900 children with asthma right here in our own backyard deserve better protection. EPA estimates that meeting stronger healthy air safeguards for ozone will prevent up to 1.8 million asthma attacks and 7,900 premature deaths every year once fully implemented.

I urge President Barack Obama and EPA to do the right thing for our children and adopt a stronger national ozone standard that reflects the most up-to-date health science. Clearly the stakes are high, and the time to act is now.

Paul Shapero

Bangor

Wage entitlement

Minimum wages have become an entitlement, the same as health insurance and unemployment. We need not work hard to get them. Just show up and be a minimalist.

Wages are supposed to be a reward for work performed. Based on our performance, we get rewarded. The smarter we work, the better we do. If we bring everybody to the same level, then there is no point to perform smarter. We tend to dumb down society. We tend to want to make everything easy so all can reach the same level of income or lifestyle.

Life was never meant to be that way. Socialism has never worked and still will not work. The smarter and harder we work, the greater the reward. If minimum wage was 25 cents, what would a loaf of bread cost or a gallon of gas? Raising the minimum wage will do nothing more that raise the cost of living.

The problem has nothing to do with the minimum wage, it has more to do with productivity, supply and demand. It is more about opportunity, which we have less of because we shipped most of the good jobs out of the country. What we need is a demand for workers and jobs; that would cause an increase in wages.

R. Scott Jellison

Hermon

Seasonal business woes

Our governor says Maine is open for business. Really? I have been in business in Maine for over 28 years. I have a seasonal business that requires a shut off of my electricity every six months. Emera requires all seasonal businesses to pay an “On Demand” power charge to turn on the electricity at the beginning of the season.

I have five accounts with Emera. This money is supposed to be held as a surety bond account that earns interest. When I ask Emera to tell me how much I have in these accounts, it can’t. Emera then wants me to pay another “On Demand” fee to turn on the power for this season.

Most seasonal businesses do not have income coming in during the winter. So I ask Gov. Paul LePage, is Maine really open for business? Allowing Emera to strong arm the seasonal business owner will not attract future business.

Basil Pottle

Eastport

Tribal affront

As residents of Washington County, we are honored to live and work beside native people from the Passamaquoddy Tribe from Pleasant Point and Indian Township. In 2011, Gov. Paul LePage issued an executive order that recognized a special relationship between the state and Maine native tribes. This order also recognized historical wrongs and the need for a just relationship between Maine and Wabanaki governments. The order stated that “the unique relationship between the state of Maine and the individual tribes is a relationship between equals.” At the time, this was a very useful step forward in state-tribal relationships and an excellent example of executive leadership.

In 2015, LePage has chosen to rescind the 2011 order stating that his efforts to collaborate and communicate with the tribes have been unproductive. We are perplexed that a unique relationship between equals can be unilaterally rescinded by one of the parties.

Reflecting on our shared history with Native people, it appears to us that this action by the governor highlights the need for ongoing dialogue and deep listening. We all need to keep coming back to the table when differences arise and things become difficult and to not simply leave the table. Our hope is that the Maine and Wabanaki governments can in the original meaning of reconciliation, become friends again.

Paul and Sarah Strickland

Robbinston

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