Stop gun violence

I am sickened by the gun violence in this country, but I am even more sickened by the inaction of Congress.

Next month will mark the 5-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. In that time, initiatives were introduced that would have closed the terrorist watch list loophole, closed the gun show loophole, passed an assault weapons ban and expanded background checks to all gun sales. The GOP leadership that did not allow debate on these bills should be ashamed of themselves.

It is not true that nothing can be done to reduce the carnage. In fact, two bills introduced this session hang in limbo.

The Background Check Expansion Act would require background checks for all gun sales, including private sales like online purchases and those made out of one’s home. It would exempt temporary loans when hunting, gifts to an immediate family member, transfers between cops and loans for immediate self-defense.

The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act would protect victims of stalking from gun violence by adding dating partners and individuals subject to restraining orders to the list of persons prohibited from buying and possessing firearms.

I have asked my congressperson and senators to co-sponsor these common-sense and life-saving bills. I hope BDN readers will, too.

Lisa Ledwidge


Support family caregivers

During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the impact of caregiving and honor the more than 15 million Americans caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. In 2016, these caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of care valued at more than $230 billion.

I am one of those caregivers. My mother has had Alzheimer’s for five years, and it has taken such a toll on our family requiring round the clock care. Safety and security of the patient is the biggest challenge. My family could not continue to safely give care to my mother and thus had to bring her to a local memory care facility. But many caregivers do not have the resources and are trying to do this alone.

Congress is considering legislation that would provide much needed support to our nation’s family caregivers — the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act. Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act would facilitate the creation of a national strategy to address the many issues facing caregivers, including education and training, long-term services and supports, and financial stability and security.

In September, the Senate unanimously passed the act, sending a clear message of support to our nation’s family caregivers. I am thankful to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for supporting the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. It is time for the House of Representatives to take the same action and pass the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. Please join me in asking Rep. Bruce Poliquin for his support

Michael Vittum


Save ranked-choice voting

During just two hours of working at the Waterville polls on Election Day, 100 people stood in line at my table to sign the petition for a people’s veto of the Legislature’s shameful vote that could effectively kill ranked-choice voting.

Ranked-choice voting was approved by 52 percent of Maine voters last November. And despite that mandate, Maine legislators changed or overturned four referendums that were passed in 2016, including ranked-choice voting.

All this year, legislators used misinformation and delays to avoid doing the job voters asked them to do — implementing ranked-choice voting. Their job was to change the word “plurality” to “majority” in the Maine Constitution, but instead they asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to weigh in on whether the law violates the Constitution.

Legislators know that it will be harder for them to be re-elected because for years now governors have been elected to office with less than 40 percent of the vote, not by a majority. Ranked-choice voting will assure, regardless of affiliation or lack thereof, that a candidate for office will be elected by a majority vote. Outsider big money can’t buy a ranked-choice election.

There are now 21 candidates running for next year’s Republican and Democratic primaries for governor. Ranked-choice voting is an “instant runoff” process that winnows down the candidates without having a runoff election. With ranked-choice voting, one will be elected by a majority of the vote. No more governors elected with only 38 percent of the vote.

Jim Chiddix