Rural internet access threatened

Democrats in Congress are still pushing a flawed approach to protecting internet users and ensuring net neutrality. Their latest attempt, the misleadingly titled Save the Internet Act, would do nothing to truly protect consumers from the range of threats they face online today, including growing privacy and data security concerns. All it would do is undermine broadband investment that helps enhance high-speed internet access in rural parts of Maine and our entire country.

The Save the Internet Act would impose heavy-handed government regulations — originally designed decades ago for the telephone industry — on the modern-day internet, essentially regulating it as if it were a public utility. These outdated regulations have already proved disastrous for internet investment. That’s why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued the Restoring Internet Freedom order overturning these harmful regulations in 2017.

That order was critical in reigniting investment that helps connect rural Maine communities with the high-speed internet connections required in today’s 21st century, increasingly global economy. If Maine businesses are going to compete, they must be given the necessary tools to do so — and in this day and age, that means having fast, reliable internet service.

Not only would the Save the Internet Act slow broadband deployment in Maine and rural communicates across the nation, but it would fail to hold all companies operating in the online sphere by the same set of rules and standards.

To protect consumers from the myriad threats they face online, while also preserving a pro-innovation, pro-investment regulatory environment, Congress must pass a comprehensive set of rules that apply to all internet companies evenly.

Trey Stewart

Presque Isle

Protect seniors from deception

LD 316, “An Act To Protect Adults 66 Years of Age and Older from Financial and Other Types of Exploitation through Theft by Deception,” is worth keeping an eye on.

Theft by deception is a serious issue that has cost my grandparents tens of thousands of dollars. My brother moved in with them took over financials and intercepts the mail now. Their life shouldn’t need to be limited like this.

According to the Office on Aging and Disability Services (OADS), the Maine State Plan on Aging for 2016-20 calls for the creation of an organization to address this issue.

The Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) connects people suffering from financial abuse with the means of addressing the problem. This team gives assistance by connecting them with investigative agencies such as the state-mandated service of Legal Services for the Elderly (LSE) and the Long Term Care Ombudsman services.

These state services, the Sheriff’s Association, and many others from both parties have come together in support of LD 316 so that they can more effectively deal with this issue. Support the people that the state has entrusted with this task. Contact your representative and tell them to support LD 316.

Lucus Temple

Orono

Don’t stigmatize mental illness

Gun ownership rights is one of the most controversial topics in our state. Preventing mass shootings that terrorize schools and communities is a national imperative.

However, movement to restricting gun ownership cannot happen at the expense of people living with a mental illness or facing a time limited suicidal crisis.

Stigmatizing mental illness and criminalizing thoughts of suicide were the overwhelming themes at the hearing for LD 1312 this week at the State House.

A person with severe mental illness is more than 10 times more likely to be the victim of a crime than perpetrate one. And, only 4 percent of violence is attributed to mental illness. One in five people have a diagnosis, so there is going to be overlap between people who do bad things and mental health challenges. One does not cause the other.

Stopping bad people from getting guns warrants greater consequences for orders of protection and multiple arrests for operating under the influence, as those legal interactions can be greater predictors of gun violence than a mental health diagnosis.

What serves no one is to create a public legal record that an individual, while having thoughts of suicide, had his gun forcibly removed. The obstacles to wellness that such an action will create for men in Maine is simply inexcusable. Men die by suicide nearly four times as often as women. Rather than taking men’s guns, let’s build a system of care that meets our men where they are at, empowers them to find their way through the darkness and ensures their dignity stays intact.

Jenna Mehnert

Executive Director

NAMI Maine

Hallowell