PUC taking action
In an editorial on Feb. 23, the BDN criticized a Public Utilities Commission report to the Maine Legislature. The report was submitted pursuant to An Act to Improve Transparency in the Electricity Supply Market, P.L. 2017, c. 74, which directed the commission to “conduct an analysis to determine the difference in price, if any, residential consumers paid for generation service by purchasing from a competitive electricity provider instead of receiving standard offer service between 2014 and 2016.”
The BDN criticized the report as not offering a “deeper analysis of the market” and describes the residential competitive electricity provider market as “clearly broken.”
The commission shares some of the BDN’s concerns about the residential CEP market, and in addition to changes to Chapter 305 of the commission’s rules to strengthen consumer protection in this market, adopted in January 2015, the commission will soon consider re-opening Chapter 305 to consider additional changes in this regard.
With respect to the commission’s Feb. 15 report to the Legislature, as noted above, the report was provided pursuant to specific direction from the Legislature. The commission stands ready to provide the Legislature with any additional information or analysis it deems to be useful.
But the ultimate policy decision to allow or prohibit competition in this market is not up to the utilities commission; it is up to the Legislature. It would be entirely the decision of the Legislature to, using the editorial language, “shut it down.”
Maine Public Utilities Commission
No more tax dollars for BIW
With two sons serving in the Army, I am speaking out, not only against LD 1781, but against the ever-increasing and bloated so-called federal “defense budget.” While I support my sons and everyone serving in the military, I am unequivocally opposed to U.S. foreign policy and what this government is sending them to do around the world.
What infuriates me more than anything else is the fact that the overwhelming amount of those billions of dollars is spent on the military industrial complex, the profiteers of war. Contrast this with the chump change this country spends on our kids while they are serving and when they come home broken and disabled.
LD1781, a $60 million taxpayer giveaway to Bath Iron Works, is immoral. Maine is a cash poor state with countless unmet human, infrastructure and social needs. BIW and its parent, General Dynamics, sit atop the list of war profiteers with billions of dollars in annual profits.
The federal government and the Maine Legislature cannot continue to give anything to the profiteers of war while there are so many unmet needs here at home and our troops are neglected and treated like cannon fodder.
And, please, don’t thank them or me for their service to America’s wars of aggression and exploitation.
Poliquin a champion for veterans’ health
As one of Maine’s largest employers, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems is proud to employ and provide care for Maine service members. A few years ago, Maine’s veterans were required to travel long distances to receive care, often traveling past Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, which provides high-quality care closer to home.
While EMHS has a longstanding relationship with Maine’s Veterans Administration hospital in Togus, the federal systems around the VA had difficulty supporting delivering care locally to veterans — even when it was preferred by veterans. Maine’s congressional delegation actively worked with the VA to encourage access to community care, and Togus became one of the first VA hospitals to participate in a pilot that developed community care agreements among a network of local providers for veterans. Nationally, EMHS was among the first health systems to participate.
Additionally, the VA at one point owed more than $12 million to EMHS providers. Serving on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Bruce Poliquin appealed to VA leadership that it was unacceptable to delay payment. The congressman held the VA and its contractors publicly accountable, stressing that Maine’s hospitals were unable to provide millions of dollars in care without reimbursement. This led to the old debt being paid. And while there are still challenges with claims processing, the VA is more committed to paying bills on time.
Thank you to Maine’s congressional leaders, and particularly Poliquin, for championing these issues with the Veterans Affairs Committee and the VA.
Lisa Harvey-McPherson, R.N.
Vice president government relations
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems
Keep our children safe
On Oct. 31, 2008, a gunman entered Stockton Elementary School. Mercifully no one was physically injured, though the toll on that fifth-grade class he held hostage and the fourth-grade class hiding in the closet in the next room and their families has been long standing ever since.
Feeling safe in school is no longer a given for students or staff, no matter how many drills we do or how far away the latest school shooting has occurred.
I have grandchildren of my own whose safety in school too is no longer a given. Access to guns, particularly assault weapons, is easier than anyone of us might think.
I am a psychologist dealing with the mental health of many different kinds of people and many different ages. Having a mental health diagnosis is not a guarantee of deviant behavior, but having access to guns ups the ante that people “not in their right mind” can create the tragedies we now confront so regularly.
It’s time for Congress to take a stand to limit access to assault weapons and to create a system of background checks that keep these guns out of the hands of those who truly should not have them.
This is not a Second Amendment issue. It is not about the right to bear arms. It’s about keeping our children safe as much as it is possible to do.