The minimum wage, workforce development and a round-up of statehouse and Portland news

By Chris Hall, CEO, Portland Regional Chamber
Posted April 01, 2013, at 11:14 a.m.

With the state house hitting high gear there are many, many things to keep track of, including these issues which directly impact our region along with the rest of the state:

Any way you look at it, hard choices lie ahead. The best thing you can do is get involved.

Your legislators will be voting soon on all these policy choices and many other issues detailed below. Use our links to make sure they know what you think before their votes make changes that impact you, your company and your community.

Notable Read: Some days there’s just too much to read. If you only have time for one thing:

This year we’ve been talking a lot about the skills gap – the legislature has a Joint Select Committee working on the problem and many employers are working on their own solutions, like Project Login.

Matthew Stone wrote an analysis of what’s happening – and what our economy needs – in the BDN last week. You may be surprised to learn how much further we have to go.

Spotlight Legislation: With lawmakers in high gear the state house has almost 250 public hearings and work sessions scheduled in the next 5 days – if you’d like to check the list (which changes constantly) click here and enter the date range for this week.

Among the highlights are public hearings on Monday on several bill in the Taxation Committee that would allow municipalities to expand their property tax base to include non-profits ( see list of bills here – scroll down), and several bills in the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee limiting charter schools ( see bill list here – scroll down, and read PPH coverage).

Looming over all the other work going on in the state house is the continuing effort to build a 2-year state budget. Committees of jurisdiction are working to report back to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, which is pushing for its own bipartisan budget deal sometime in the coming weeks.

In the State House: Charter schools were in the news a lot last week. The Governor proposed creating a legal defense fund for the Maine Charter School Commission ( PPH, MPBN).

The Baxter School’s troubles led to questions from the Charter School Commission ( PPH, BDN, MPBN) and a request by Mayor Brennan for an Attorney General’s investigation ( PPH, BDN). The AG declined, but the legislature’s Governmental Oversight Committee may take up an inquiry ( BDN, PPH). Jonathan Amory wrote in support of Baxter Academy. Today’s public hearings on bills limiting charter schools are sure to generate more debate (see above).

Maine got a C- grade for transparency from a national watchdog group ( PPH, BDN). Mike Cuzzi looked at the reasons behind the Governor’s shifting positions on borrowing and Medicaid expansion.

State Policy round-up:

Contact your local officials: Visit our website to find links to all your municipal and state house officials. Remember – if you don’t speak out, the people who represent you have no way to know what you think. So keep those email, calls and visits coming.

Digging Deeper at the State House: Most of you probably don’t want to find daily schedules at the state house, research copies of every piece of testimony submitted at every public hearing, track the status of a particular bill, find contact info for Committees, or House members, or Senators, or listen to public hearings on the computer, or watch selected state house proceedings on MPBN’s Capitol Connection. But if you do, just follow the links. The state house is increasingly accessible to the public, at least to those who put in a little work.

Back issues: Miss a Policy Update? Want to find that story or link that you lost track of? Just click here for recent back issues ofPolicy Update.

Feedback: What do you think? We’d love to have your thoughts on anything you’ve read here, or other topics that are important to you. The more you talk to us, the better we’ll represent your views. Send an email to share your feedback with me – and thank you!

Partners for Progress Policy Updates from the Portland Regional Chamber are supported by generous contributions from our Partners for Progress. For more information about joining the Portland Regional Chamber just click here. printed on August 17, 2017