Climate change is real
After the most recent events here in Maine with the dramatic waves and ocean levels rising, I think we can all agree global warming is in fact a real threat, although President Donald Trump and head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt will say differently. Camp Ellis Beach in Saco was severely damaged and Kennebunk beach was closed off, as was Wells Beach.
Our environment is changing and these changes are caused by us. We need to keep the Clean Power Plan, we need to keep progress going forward. Most importantly, we need to keep the EPA fully funded. The EPA not only helps fund numerous programs in Maine, it helps with disaster relief.
There are so many battles right now within our country on which we can not agree, but let’s not have the safety and future of our environment be one of them.
Delegation helps hospitals
As Maine’s hospitals — and particularly rural hospitals — struggle to maintain critical services that support the health of their communities, the financial and regulatory environment within which they exist is becoming increasingly challenging.
Each of our congressional leaders has stepped up to support our hospitals and local health systems at different points in time. Sen. Susan Collins recently led an effort to help address physician shortages in rural areas. Sen. Angus King is a leading voice in increasing support to address the opioid epidemic. Rep. Chellie Pingree is a vocal advocate for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
And Rep. Bruce Poliquin recently led an effort to address payments owed to our hospitals from a subcontractor of the Veterans Administration. In fact, MaineHealth’s member hospitals were owed nearly $15 million in May 2017. Recognizing the importance of prompt and reliable payments to hospitals, Poliquin used his position as a member of the powerful House Veterans Affairs Committee to secure payment for services rendered sometimes years in the past. These payments made a difference to the financial stability of our local hospital systems.
As Mainers, we are fortunate to have a congressional delegation that works hard to support our interests in Washington. During this time of tumult, I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to the entire Maine delegation for their work on behalf of Maine people.
Gun action needed
Recently, our Maine legislative leadership split 5-5 on introducing much-needed legislation limiting the use of inappropriate weapons, another example of the lack of individual initiative in dealing with critical issues facing our state. One congressman accepts thousands of dollars from the NRA. How can you vote your conscience with that kind of pressure? “Send it back,” I say.
Now our children shout, “Enough is enough.” They are not burdened by political prejudice. Three cheers for these brave young patriots; let’s support them on March 14 in bringing their message to Augusta and Washington, D.C. They see the issue for what it is and demand action: raise the age for gun ownership to 21; require a safety course for all gun owners just as we do for hunters; reduce the legal clip size to that of a traditional hunting rifle; make bump stocks illegal; require universal background checks for the sale of any firearm; outlaw semiautomatic weapons, such as the AR-15; keep weapons away from those who don’t have the mental capacity to use them correctly; and finally; ensure better data gathering and sharing among law enforcement agencies.
For those who want to play “Rambo,” make these weapons available at a licensed shooting range, and if that isn’t enough, join the Marines, where you can shoot to your heart’s content.
But most of all, empower our children to take this message forward: “Enough is enough: Do something.”
Put safety before guns
Our nation’s gun problem goes far beyond what we are willing to admit. How long are we going to put Second Amendment rights that were formulated before the invention of assault rifles above the lives of children who deserve to feel safe while they’re getting an education? Or above the lives of people in any other public space where there has been a mass shooting while they have been simply going about their day?
Our current system of background checks and tracking guns has proven itself inadequate. We have the gun-show loophole that allows people to purchase guns without a background check if they’re being sold from a private collection. We also have the law, courtesy of the NRA, that there can be no searchable database of gun owners in the United States.
We need to stop letting laws like these through and start examining the policies of other countries that don’t experience these mass shootings. We need to find a more efficient way to track the guns that are in use across the country. We need to close the loophole and make background checks mandatory any time someone acquires a firearm.
Most importantly, we should listen to the voices of those who have been most affected by this violence and hear them when they tell us that something needs to change.
The next school shooting
This is a note to anyone who may have a child or grandchild in school. It may be prudent for you to reserve some of the anguish and grief we all feel over the slaughter of more innocent kids in Florida. Your kid’s school may be next, and there will be a next time.
In the morning as you prepare to send your young scholars off to their classrooms, give them a hug. It could be the last time you see them alive.
A civic lesson
A big pat on the back for RSU 39 Superintendent Tim Doak for his handling of the proposed student protest scheduled for March 14. The participating students will learn more about civics and political involvement than they would learn in a full-school term. Doak reminded us again what education is all about.