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Right to a healthy environment

Whatever someone’s trade, it is important to have many tools in their toolbox. They have a better chance of reaching their goal if they have a choice about which tool is appropriate and most effective.

The goal that Peter Triandafillou is discussing in his column on May 18 is protecting this earth. We know that creation is under attack. The water and air are not clean everywhere and the environment is not healthy for all people in Maine. The Pine Tree Amendment will be a guide for the executive branch, the legislature, municipalities and the courts as they have the job of protecting those elements that make Maine so attractive to Mainers and out-of-state tourists.

The amendment also sends any difficulties that cannot be fixed by the legislature and executive branch to the courts for their wisdom and assistance. Triandafillou seems concerned that frivolous lawsuits will overwhelm the courts and they won’t be able to consider them well. Courts are quite capable of determining what cases are the most important to defend both human beings and the rest of creation. There are processes in law for winnowing out frivolousness without getting bogged down.

The Pine Tree Amendment makes it easier to combat environmental degradation and will help guarantee that legislation will not be accepted by one governor or legislature and rejected by the next. Making sure the people of Maine have constitutionally protected rights to a healthy environment will be the most powerful tool to guarantee

The Rev. Richard Killmer

Yarmouth

Free school meals an investment in Maine’s future

The Food Fuels Learning network believes all students have the right to nutritious, culturally appropriate food that enables them to attain their full potential.​​ Recognizing the importance of school meals for students’ health and readiness to learn, we strongly support the School Meals for All bill, LD 1679.

Maine could be the first state to guarantee children the right to free meals at school. While COVID-19 has increased the vulnerability of children to food insecurity in our state, child hunger has been a longstanding issue in Maine and will persist beyond this pandemic if we do not act.

In Portland, almost half of public school students are eligible for free meals, meaning that their family’s income is at or below 130 percent of the poverty line. And yet, due to the current method of collecting family income data, the USDA income guidelines and the deep stigma attached to accessing subsidized school meals, the National School Lunch Program never fully meets the need. Universal meals would eliminate burdensome paperwork and normalize school meals as a free and zero-barrier service, like riding the school bus or using school internet.

This school year, schools across the nation have been providing students with meals at no charge in response to the pandemic emergency. But the child hunger emergency is not over. LD 1679 presents an opportunity to provide consistency, stability and collective community care for Maine children at risk of hunger, investing in their future and the future of our state.

James Hanna

Executive Director

Cumberland County Food Security Council

Portland

Grateful for Maine protecting animals

As a lifelong lover of animals, I’m so proud of our great state for its new Courtroom Animal Advocate Program

This legal program empowers attorneys or supervised law students to advocate for animal victims in often complex criminal cruelty cases, helping the court to reach a fair outcome that recognizes the needs of animal victims.

Because of Maine’s new law, the nationally recognized influential Animal Legal Defense Fund has awarded the Pine Tree state the top spot in the nation for animal protection laws. Definitely praiseworthy!

No legal system is perfect, but Maine has made significant progress in its concern for animals with the CAAP.

Speaking for the animals, I am grateful!

Trudy Nelson

Winterport