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Tuesday, April 23, 2013: Legislature priorities and land trusts

Legislative priorities

As I watch the Legislature go about its business, I am amazed at their priorities. In a poor state, with one of the worst business and economic climates in the nation, they choose to tackle issues like tanning beds, kayakers, selling the Blaine House, raising taxes and ending just one elected officer’s pension. Why should any elected official get a pension? Let’s end them all.

They disagree just to disagree. They just want to tell us how they think we should live. This is the gang that can’t shoot straight. In case they haven’t noticed, times are tough, for everybody. Why not take a good hard look at the states that are prospering, even in these bad times?

What do they know that we don’t? They don’t look like a group that wants to solve problems. As a matter of fact, they don’t look like a group that has any idea what the real problems are. They can’t legislate against stupidity, so cut it out and deal with the real issues. Like former President Bill Clinton’s campaign famously used the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Let’s stop the petty nonsense and get after the real problems.

Dana Peterson



No need for more

Have readers heard about the bill in front of the Maine Legislature that would allow dental hygienists to administer anesthesia, pull teeth and prescribe medication? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I did a little quick research. I don’t know about others, but my dentist is accepting new patients. I’m always seeing ads in the newspaper for dentists who are accepting new patients.

There seems to be some mixed messages about whether we’re in a dental shortage or not in the state of Maine. With a quick Google search, I found out that the majority of dental offices in Maine are accepting new patients.

In 2010 Maine voters approved a $5 million dental care bond. The University of New England dental school will open this coming fall. Wasn’t that our solution to the problem of not enough dentists? Why would we create another level of care when we’ve already spent money to train Maine dentists to practice here?

It seems to me that lawmakers are being asked to approve another, and very different, solution to a problem that we aren’t even sure we have. This doesn’t make sense to me. I hope Maine lawmakers have the good sense to say “no” to this proposal.

Kim Fleming



Fairer prices, better choices

Owners and employees deserve a health insurance market with fairer prices, better choices and greater certainty. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that market is coming.

Beginning in 2014, Maine small business owners will have access to a new health insurance marketplace — which opens for enrollment Oct. 1 — that will let them make side-by-side comparisons to find a plan that fits their budget and is right for their employees. Each marketplace will operate a Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, focused just on small businesses.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees – 96 percent of small businesses – are not required to purchase insurance. Of the remaining 4 percent of small businesses with more than 50 employees, most already provide insurance. The number of businesses that will have to offer employee health insurance or pay a penalty is very small.

Small businesses are seeing savings thanks to new tax credits available to help them cover their employees. Many small businesses with 25 or fewer employees have already received a tax credit of up to 35 percent of their health insurance costs. Beginning in 2014, the tax credit will go up to 50 percent. According to a 2009 Internal Revenue Services report, in Maine alone, there may be more than 25,900 small businesses eligible for tax credits.

Starting Jan. 2014, employers will have more options. To learn more, visit www.healthcare.gov or www.sba.gov/healthcare.

Christie L. Hager, Regional Director, U.S. DHHS

Jeanne A. Hulit, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration


Support land trusts

I appreciate that some residents of Montville have concerns about taxes and land ownership by land trusts. However, I feel it is our duty to preserve as much open land and public access to shared natural resources as possible. I support the work of Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance and other land trusts.

If we don’t protect lands from development and ensure public access now, we will limit hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities for generations to come. Land protection is carried out in the public good. As taxpayers we have decided that erecting lighthouses, paying for public education and preserving open land for public use is a positive idea. It is difficult for small towns to meet budget needs, but we should be grateful we have open land to preserve.

Many land trusts also provide valuable outdoor education. SWLA partners with area schools to provide educational programming and sponsors educational events each year for free. In addition, open land does not add any tax burden on the school systems, and SWLA and other land trusts do make tax contributions to towns.

Land trusts’ careful planning helps maintain clean water and air and provides recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, open space and forest products for our lives and economy. Land preservation supports all economies that rely on wildlands. Since much of our economy is based on tourism, preserving what makes Maine a vacation destination — mainly its unspoiled natural spaces — is essential to supporting and growing this facet of our economy.

Vernon LeCount


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