February 22, 2020
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Friday, February 14, 2020: The Legislature’s home care failures, Maine needs bold action in youth e-cigarette crisis, keep new jail out of downtown

Knowing the truth

Sadly, too many Americans believe the falsehoods that Bob Mercer and Michael Cianchette put forth in an attempt to explain the impeachment of President Donald Trump and the Supreme Court’s support of an obsolete immigrant law.

Trump was impeached fairly, with evidence and witnesses, and the process included Republicans in both private and public congressional sessions — despite Mercer’s claims. He repeats the specious House Republican arguments that there was no obstruction of Congress or corruption committed by Trump, and that the process itself was a sham. Federal Judge Beryl Howell ruled the impeachment inquiry was legitimate, constitutional, and legal. Congress did its constitutional due diligence.

The Supreme Court ruling Cianchette cites does not in fact expand immigration denial but emphasizes a part of an existing 1917 isolationist law that requires immigrants to not reflect a “public charge” of paid benefits. Currently, illegal immigrants are not eligible for any benefits except emergency ones and legal immigrants must wait five years to receive them when they become Lawful Permanent Residents.

This law was used by administrations to keep immigration low during two world wars and denied legitimate entry to thousands of Jews trying to flee Nazi persecution. Cianchette argues for reform of the immigration law, proposals which both the Bush and Obama administrations had denied by GOP congresses. These proposals were not debated in “good faith” by Republicans when they had the chance.

There is the truth, and then there is the nonsensical view of reality that Republicans promulgate. The voters are smart enough to know the difference.

Mac Herrling

Bradley

Sen. Collins’ judgment

During the Kavanaugh hearings, I wrote Sen. Susan Collins a letter asking her to see behind the Supreme Court nominee’s protests of innocence. I invoked her courageous predecessor, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, who stood up to the witch-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Alas, our senator voted to confirm this under-qualified man, offering the bizarre explanation that his accuser misremembered who did the assault!

In the impeachment trial, we found a similar pattern: Collins supported Trump in spite of overwhelming evidence — of his manifold abuses of power, his historic levels of corruption, and his everyday attack on the rule of law, freedom of the press, and human decency itself. And after she announced her vote against impeachment, she again showed her talent for mental contortion by with her belief that Trump may have learned his lesson!

It is clear to me that Sen. Collins no longer possesses the sound judgment the people of Maine need to guide us forward in these troubled, divisive times. So I call on her to resign, since I believe she has failed to uphold her duty to serve the people instead of the powers that be — which, not incidentally, is what our Founding Fathers considered as they drafted our Constitution.

Dale Hueppchen

Lincolnville

The Legislature’s home care failures

Don’t blame the closure of Home Care for Maine on Gov. Janet Mills’ budget. I worked at this agency from 2005-09. While there, several colleagues and I shared our stories with the Legislature about low wages, lack of health insurance, and the care we provided to elders in our communities. We asked the Legislature to increase the reimbursement rate.

Back then, there were several workforce studies and work groups conducted, all to no avail. In 2009, due to four bills addressing long-term care through home- and community-based care waivers, the Legislature ordered DHHS to study these waivers. It became known as the Lean work group. I participated. Recommendations were made, a report went back to the Legislature in early 2010 — again, to no avail.

Studies have been done without changes for the direct care workforce. Their wages remain low, many employers don’t offer health insurance, the work is grueling but rewarding in ways beyond the pocketbook.

Do the research. You’ll see the bills, the hearings before the committees of Health and Human Services and Insurance and Financial Services, the work sessions and work groups. You’ll see work groups conducted by the Bureau of Insurance. You’ll see the 2009 Lean work. My name appears with testimony in those hearings as a member of those work groups. I was Helen M. Hanson back then.

Home Care for Maine’s closing illustrates the long-term failure of the Legislature — Republicans and Democrats — to support Maine’s elders and those with disabilities and the workforce that cares for them.

Helen Roy

China

Keep new jail out of downtown

That behemoth of modern architecture belongs perhaps near the mall, or maybe near the airport — or anywhere besides our beautiful, historic downtown Bangor!

Kate Tuck

Bangor

Maine needs bold action in youth e-cigarette crisis

Last week, the BDN covered the legislative debate surrounding whether Maine should restrict the sale of e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, this article furthers the erroneous and outdated claim that e-cigarettes are “95 percent less harmful” than traditional cigarettes, a “factoid” that was recently refuted in the American Journal of Public Health.

In Maine, one in two high school students and one in six middle school students have used e-cigarettes. Twenty-nine percent of high school students are current users of e-cigarettes, nearly doubling from 15 percent in 2017. It’s critical to note that all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, pose a risk to the health of the user. Beginning smoking, switching to smoking, or reverting to smoking exposes the user to potentially devastating health effects.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network asks Maine policymakers to focus on evidence-based strategies to prevent youth tobacco use: raising the price of all tobacco products; ensuring adequate, sustainable funding for tobacco prevention and control efforts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended level of $15.9 million per year; and prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products without exception.

Maine lawmakers must take bold action to address the youth e-cigarette crisis before another generation faces a lifetime of tobacco addiction, and not be distracted by “factoids.”

Hilary Schneider

Director of Government Relations

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Maine

Topsham

 


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