Poliquin’s health care vote

Over five years ago, my husband and I became uninsured, as our youngest child graduated from high school and became 18. We had to struggle for our basic health care and started to fight for Medicaid expansion. We have been fighting for it ever since. I have continued this fight for the tens of thousands of people in Maine who are low income and have no access to affordable health care.

My husband and I did eventually manage to get our income high enough to qualify for insurance through the Affordable Care Act. My husband is disabled and receives Medicare, but I still to this day get my insurance through the health care marketplace. One year ago, my insurance was threatened by the introduction of the American Health Care Act, the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

I remember worrying about how I would afford my insurance and my health care, and that of a lot of my friends who would have negatively been impacted as well. I remember all the phone calls and the letters and the rallies we attended to stop the Republican health plan from becoming law.

My family, friends and I will remember, in November, who voted to take our health care away. Out of Maine’s four representatives to Congress, only Rep. Bruce Poliquin voted to take our health care away. I want to urge my fellow Mainers in the 2nd Congressional District to remember that come November.

Patty Kidder

Collins wrong on abortion

There recently was before Congress a bill, S 2311. It was defeated. Only two Republicans voted to defeat this bill. The purpose of this bill was to protect children in the womb who have passed the 20th week of development. It was called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks.

Sen. Susan Collins was one of two Republicans to vote against this crucial protection for babies. So did Sen. Angus King. It is an astounding disappointment that this bill did not pass. Only seven out of 198 nations allow abortions after 20 weeks. Among those are China and North Korea and now, sadly, the United States.

It is extraordinary that we must make laws to protect unborn babies. It is even more of a tragedy that those we send to Congress have no objection to taking the life of a living, growing child. The Republican platform has always been pro-life. Does Collins represent the majority of Maine Republicans view on life? I call upon Collins to renounce her party affiliation so that we can finally have fair representation and a voice who truly speaks for us in the Senate.

Beth Weirich

Respect Union River

On Feb. 9, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued notice of a new license application for the Union River dams. This notice starts a 60-day clock that is the last chance for citizens, municipalities and agencies to comment on or protest the details of this license application.

The license proposed will not stop the fish kills that are documented in Ellsworth each year as alewives and eels try to head out to sea. It does not offer any new proposal to help native fish returning to the Union River. It does nothing to change the way water levels are managed at Graham Lake.

Over the last two years, more than 500 signatures have been gathered on a petition that has three simple requests. The petitioners want: 1) safe up and downstream fish passage at both dams; 2) Graham Lake managed as a healthy lake; and 3) the state to use its power to issue an effective section 401 water quality certificate.

The state has a recent history of waiving its right to require dam owners to respect fish and local landowners. We are asking that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection exercise its authority to issue an effective section 401 water quality certificate for the Union River dams. If they do not by April 9, it could be 40 years before they get another chance.

Please contact DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer and encourage him to issue a water quality certificate that respects the Union River.

Dwayne Shaw
Columbia Falls

Problems with arming teachers

As a retired high school teacher, I would like to offer these thoughts on arming teachers as a deterrent or defense against school shooters. In order to have a properly trained armed teacher, the individual should have similar training to that given to full-time police. I am very proficient with long guns and handguns, but that does not mean I am ready to handle an active-shooter situation in a school setting. Police not only get the initial training, but modern police forces have ongoing training and regular practice with firearms.

As with most tasks, we are at our best when we can focus exclusively on the task at hand. I cannot imagine armed teachers being able to maintain the focus needed to either teach well or maintain school security, if asked to do both at the same time.

Where does the teacher keep the weapon? In a desk (locked, I hope)? On his or her person in a holster? Some high school students are larger than, stronger than, and more athletic than many teachers. Could an angry student overpower the teacher and take the weapon for his or her own use?

Police arrive on site, and see someone in civilian clothes holding a weapon. That moment of indecision and hesitation could be disastrous.

Before we clamor for armed teaches, let’s make sure that we haven’t made the situation worse because the simple solution sounded so easy, “good guy with a gun.”

Kenneth Beland

Water rights

Regarding Attorney General Janet Mills and Penobscot Nation fishing rights, what is not stated in the March 13 BDN article (or in other coverage I’ve seen on this issue) is the intention behind the state’s denial of tribal control over the water surrounding their Islands. The Environmental Protection Agency supports tribal water quality standards. Tribal water quality standards are tough and environmentally sustainable.

To the best of my understanding, the state is motivated by big business interests that lobby for the freedom to pollute. There is a word game going on and surprisingly little demand from the people for clarity.

Rosalie Paul