The Coastal Packet

Tuesday, August 20

Maine ranked first in women's equality

With Women’s Equality Day around the corner and the U.S. ranking No. 51 out of 149 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index – falling two spots since the previous year – the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2019’s Best & Worst States for Women's Equality as well as accompanying videos.

In order to determine where women receive the most equal treatment in American society, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 17 key metrics. The data set ranges from the gap between female and male executives to the disparity in unemployment rates for women and men.
Best States for Women’s Equality   Worst States for Women’s Equality
1 Maine   41 Kansas
2 Hawaii   42 Oklahoma
3 Nevada   43 Missouri
4 New York   44 Alabama
5 New Mexico   45 Virginia
6 West Virginia   46 Louisiana
7 Minnesota   47 South Carolina
8 Colorado   48 Texas
9 Vermont   49 Idaho
10 Delaware   50 Utah

Best vs. Worst
  • In every state, women earn less than men. New Mexico has the lowest gap, with women earning 9.10 percent less, whereas Wyoming has the highest, 28.40 percent.
  • In nearly every state, women represent the highest share of minimum-wage workers. Arizona, Montana and Illinois have an equal ratio of females to males. Iowa, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming have the highest minimum-wage workers gap at 50.00 percent.
  • Alaska has the highest unemployment-rate gap favoring women, with 3.50 percent more unemployed men. Utah has the highest gap favoring men, with 0.80 percent more unemployed women. The unemployment rate is equal for men and women in Iowa, Maryland and New Hampshire.
  • In nearly every state legislature, male lawmakers outnumber their female counterparts.  Nevada has the highest gap favoring women, with 10.00 percent, while Mississippi has the highest gap favoring men, with 84.00 percent more males.

Friday, August 16

About the Maine revenue surplus

Maine Center for Economic Policy -The year-end surplus is a function of two things. Revenues coming in higher than expected and/or spending being less than expected. Maine’s Constitution requires a balanced budget, so a modest surplus is a signal that the state’s finances are healthy.

State budgets are built based on a revenue forecast compiled by the state’s Revenue Forecasting Committee. The state revenue forecast tries to predict how economic fluctuations in wages, income and employment will affect the amount of money the state raises through taxes and fees. Surpluses are common because the Committee generally errs on the side of reasonable caution when it releases its predictions twice a year. Only twice in the last 20 years has the state closed a fiscal year with revenues below projections and both times were following a recession. 

Thursday, August 15

Interesting article on Maine's aging population

Washington Post -  Last year, Maine crossed a crucial aging milestone: A fifth of its population is older than 65, which meets the definition of “super-aged,” according to the World Bank.

By 2026, Maine will be joined by more than 15 other states, according to Fitch Ratings, including Vermont and New Hampshire, Maine’s neighbors in the Northeast; Montana; Delaware; West Virginia; Wisconsin; and Pennsylvania. More than a dozen more will meet that criterion by 2030.

Across the country, the number of seniors will grow by more than 40 million, approximately doubling between 2015 and 2050, while the population older than 85 will come close to tripling.

Experts say the nation will have to refashion its workforce, overhaul its old-age programs and learn how to care for tens of millions of elderly people without ruining their families’ financial lives.

Friday, August 9

Collins cavorts with leading anti=choice activists

Maine Beacon -Senator Susan Collins attended a private campaign fundraising event tonight at the $4-million Northeast Harbor summer mansion of Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society. The Federalist Society is the leading force in placing judges who oppose abortion rights on the federal bench. Leo, who has been called “Trump’s judge whisperer,” is one of several high-profile conservative judicial activists who have given large contributions to Collins following her pivotal vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Saturday, August 3

Acadia Park's big maintenance problem

Press Herald -Acadia National Park is saddled with hundreds of deferred maintenance projects that officials say will cost an estimated $65.8 million the park doesn’t have. The Bangor Daily News reports that advocates and supporters have long been concerned that deteriorating roads and buildings at the park could result in fewer visitors. ...The National Park Service reported that Acadia reached its highest visitation levels ever last year, with more than 3.5 million visitors that spent an estimated $387 million in area towns.

Thursday, August 1

July in Portland sets record: Hottest Month

The temperature in Portland reached 80 degrees or higher during 24 days this July, leading to an average temperature of 72.9 degrees that eclipsed the previous record of 72.7 set in July 2011.

Tuesday, July 16

Study: Maine in for much hotter weather

Pres Herald - A new climate report from the Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that Maine could see more than a 10-fold increase in the number of 90-plus degree days by midcentury and up to 11 days by century’s end when temperatures top 100 degrees.

... The heat picture painted for Maine and the rest of New England is, not surprisingly, less intense than that for Southern and Midwestern states. But the analysis, which is based on historic temperature data and climate models, suggests New Englanders will have to adjust to more frequent occurrences of heat events more typical today of places in the Deep South.

Sunday, July 14

Collins update

Maine Beacon - Senator Susan Collins responded to President Donald Trump’s racist tweet against four minority congresswomen on Monday by repeating several of his unfounded attacks against them before admitting that the president went “way over the line.”

Collins told Portland Press Herald reporter Colin Woodard that she “disagree[s] strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus – especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement – but the President’s tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down.”

Collins’ accusation that the progressive first-term legislators use “anti-Semetic rhetoric” is likely in reference to a February tweet in which Omar criticized the pro-Israel lobby group The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, for buying influence in Washington.

Omar drew wide condemnation for the tweet and quickly apologized. However, conservatives and even some within her own party have continued to spin the incident as anti-Semetic, prompting frequent threats of harm against Omar and her colleagues. Progressive Jewish organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, have defended Omar, calling the critiques against her “bad faith attack 


Collins says judge backed by anti-abortion groups is an ‘outstanding’ example


King wants Acosta to resign, Collins won’t say


Thursday, July 11

ACA lawsuit threatens to leave almost 90,000 Mainers uninsured

Survey: Nearly half of Maine workers have experienced sexual harrassment

Press Herald -Nearly half of all Maine workers have experienced some form of sexual harassment on the job, and the majority are afraid to report it, according to a new survey. The survey of more than 500 Maine workers and managers found that female workers were three times as likely as their male counterparts to say they’ve experienced harassment, and nearly twice as likely to say they would be putting their careers at risk if they reported it.

Tuesday, July 2

Maine starts offering drivers licence acceptable for air travel ID

Press Herald -  The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles has begun offering Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses. Maine was the first state to opt out of the Real ID program more than a decade ago, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill into law last year directing the state to issue driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards that meet the new standard.

Mainers can still opt for regular driver’s licenses, but they won’t be valid for boarding commercial aircraft and accessing federal facilities. The Department of Homeland Security won’t begin enforcing Real ID until Oct. 1, 2020.

Monday, July 1

Baby lobsters moving north

Baby lobsters are continuing to appear in high numbers off some parts of Canada while tailing off in New England, raising questions about what the valuable shellfish’s population will look like in several years.

Saturday, June 29

Poll: In Maine, Biden first, Warren second

Political Observer -Gravis Marketing has released its first 2020 Maine Democratic Primary poll and finds former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Bernie Sanders atop the Democratic Primary field.  Biden has the lead in this poll with 25% of Maine Democrats supporting him. Behind Biden, Sen. Warren and Sen. Sanders are at 17% and 15% respectfully followed by Mayor Buttigieg with 8%, Andrew Yang at 5%, Rep. Tim Ryan with 4%, and Sen. Booker and Marianne Williamson at 3%. Sen. Kamala Harris and all other candidates earned 2% or less in this poll.

Wednesday, June 26

Staffer for Collins working hard with Trump administration

Maine Beacon -A Senate office staffer for Sen. Susan Collins told the Hancock County Republicans that her seat is vulnerable and, despite not endorsing President Donald Trump in 2016, that they are working closely with his administration to address the political hurdles to her re-election bid.

“As I think everybody knows, this campaign is already getting a lot of attention, primarily from the national media. This is being considered to be the biggest race in the Senate. It’s the number one targeted seat in the country,” Carol Woodcock, a state office representative who works in Collins’ Bangor office, told the local Republican party members on June 13 in a video of the event that was posted on YouTube.

“Our party is under siege by Hollywood,” she said. “We are working very closely with the National Republican Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Trump administration, the Maine Republican Party, trying to figure out ways to address this problem.”

Tuesday, June 25

Maine moves to lower drug prices

Portland Press Herald - Gov. Janet Mills signed a package of bills that aim to reduce prescription drug prices, including one measure allowing the state to act as a drug wholesaler to purchase cheaper medications from Canada.

Mills said the bills she signed into law will help address what she described as “unsustainable” and “intolerable” price increases that force many Mainers to choose between paying for medications or other necessities.

But various aspects of the new laws focused on drug prices and industry transparency will take time to implement. And perhaps the highest-profile component of the package – importing lower-priced drugs from Canada – is contingent on federal approval, which is not guaranteed.

Lowering prescription drug prices has long been a bipartisan issue in Maine, which has one of the oldest populations in the country and a large population of lower-income or fixed-income residents. Each of the bills Mills signed passed with either unanimous or overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.

Automatic voter registration now law

Thursday, June 20

Maine approves ranked choice voting for president

GQ -Maine became the first state in the country to pass ranked choice voting in presidential elections. The system is pretty straightforward: rather than casting a vote for a single candidate, voters will be able to mark their first, second, and third choices for president. If a candidate doesn't win with an outright majority of first-choice votes, the count moves on to the next tiers. Ahead of the 2018 midterms, Maine became the first state to allow voters to rank their choices in elections for governor, as well as senators and representatives at both the state and national levels.

Tuesday, June 18

Legal pot coming to state but still may be hard to find

Sun Journal -Legalized recreational marijuana is coming to Maine soon, but it’s highly unlikely it’s coming to the entire state.

The state’s rules are designed to allow municipalities to opt in or out of allowing sales of adult-use marijuana, which voters legalized in 2016, and only a handful of cities and towns have laid the groundwork for retail sales. That means it’s possible marijuana will be for sale in only a few of the state’s nearly 500 cities, towns and plantations when it arrives in stores, likely in 2020

Monday, June 17

Maine bans plastic bags

Natural Resources Council =Maine has become the third state in the nation to ban the use of single-use plastic shopping bags statewide. The move comes shortly after the state became the first in the nation to ban polystyrene foam food containers.

Today, Governor Janet Mills signed into law LD 1532, a collaborative bill sponsored by Representative Holly Stover (D-Boothbay) and supported by conservationists, grocers, and retailers who worked together to craft a consistent, statewide approach for reducing pollution caused by single-use plastic bags while promoting reusable shopping bags. 

The new law, which goes into effect on Earth Day (April 22, 2020), will address harmful plastic pollution and help Maine’s towns save money by:

  • Prohibiting the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags at the point of sale at retail establishments in Maine; and
  • Placing a minimum five-cent fee on recycled paper bags available at the point of sale at most retail locations, to provide an incentive for shoppers to use reusable bags.

Collins likelly to vote against minimum wage hike

Maine Beacon - The U.S. House is poised to pass landmark legislation that would hike the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and could substantially increase pay for hundreds of thousands of Mainers.

But the effort faces steep hurdles in the Senate, including likely opposition from Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who voted against a previous attempt to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

House bars presidential popular vote

Bangor Daily News - The Democratic-led Maine House of Representatives rejected a bill on Monday to join an interstate effort to turn the Electoral College into a majority way to elect presidents in a second reversal on the measure that will kill it barring another flip.

Monday, June 10

High court: Shore owners own their seaweed

Working Waterfront -In a long-awaited high court ruling on a lawsuit brought by Calais-born brothers Carl and Ken Ross, who own shoreline property in Washington County, the high court ruled that they and other owners of Maine’s jagged 3,400-mile coastline are protected from unauthorized commercial seaweed harvesting within the intertidal zone of their shorefront property, the rocky and muddy area between a shoreline’s high-tide and low-tide footprint.

Marine conservationists tout intertidal zones that are thick with rockweed as an important source of nutrients, shelter, and spawning grounds for juvenile lobster, mussels, snails, and whelks as well as juvenile pollock and rock gunnel. The high court’s ruling said rockweed is “important to Maine’s coastline ecology because it moderates temperatures and provides a habitat for marine organisms.”

Tuesday, May 28

Maine makes earning paid time off a basic right

Maine Beacon - Maine became the first state in the nation to enact a statewide paid time off policy on Tuesday, with Governor Janet Mills signing a bill sponsored by Senator Rebecca Millett (D-Cape Elizabeth) guaranteeing that most workers in Maine will have the right to earn paid days off to use however they need.

Sunday, May 26

How Maine ranks by state

Stats from 2014-2019

Least amount of violent crime 1
New organic farms 2
Increase in jobs/income @ women's businesses 1
States that residents least want to leave* 1
Blueberries grown 1
Peace factor rating 1
Easiest voting for non felons 1
Low rate of chronic homelessness 1
Lowest incarceration rate 1
New England agricultural sales 1
Highest percent of beginning farmers 2
Museums per capita 2
Lowest FBI crime rates 2
Seafood harvest 3
Children's health 3
Politically engaged 4
Greenhouse emissions 5
Decline in opioid prescriptions 5
Teen volunteer rate 6
Have health insurance 7
Teen age birth rate 7
Homicide rate 8
Savings rate 8
Lowest % of hangovers 9
Volunteering per person 10
% of newcomers with college degrees 10
8th grade math proficiency 10
Most Peace Corps volunteers per capita 10
Employment rate 11
Best school systems 13
Kids Count ranking status of children 14
Percent of residents volunteering 15

Temperature records 36
Income 38
Food stamp use 40
Unemployment insurance 40
Affordable & available housing 41
Broadband speed 42
Rural road repair 43
Post recession economic growth  43
Rural road repair 43
Student debt rate 43
GDP growth 43
Financial insecurity of two senior families 43
Food insecurity 43
Maine's economy rated by Wallet Hub 46
Maine's average weekly wage 47
Post recession economic growth  47
Serious food insecurity 47
Teachers' salaries 48
Tax burden 48
Real income growth 49
Households receiving welfare 49
Percent on welfare 49
Median age (oldest) 50
Consumption of alcohol 50
Greatest increase in extreme child poverty 50
* Tied with Montana and Hawaii

40% of Maine seniors financiallly insecure

Portland Press Herald -40 percent of all Maine seniors who live independently are financially insecure, according to a national index. They cannot afford basic expenses – food, housing, transportation, health care or even cleaning supplies – without relying on benefit programs, loans or gifts.

More than half of single Mainers age 65 and older, and about a third of two-senior households, are considered financially insecure.

Maine ranks 7th in the nation for the rate of two-senior households that struggle to afford basic expenses, and 11th in the nation for the rate of single seniors who are considered economically insecure.

Maine beer is more than a drink

Bangor Daily News -The beer industry contributes $2 billion to Maine’s economy each year and supports 15,531 jobs in the state, a new economic impact study found.

Those jobs account for $595 million each year in wages and benefits, according to the industry study commissioned by the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute.

The industry also generates $368 million annually in business, personal and consumption taxes.

Monday, May 20

Maine has low unemployment rate for record length

Sun Journal -The unemployment rate in Maine continues to hold steady at a little more than 3% amid a record-setting stretch of low joblessness. The Maine Department of Labor says the preliminary adjusted unemployment estimate for April was 3.3%. That’s the same as last year, and down from 3.4% in March. The state says the unemployment rate has been less than 4% for 40 consecutive months, which is the longest such stretch on record.

Saturday, May 18

The year without summer

New England Historical Society -The year 1816 was known as ‘The Year Without a Summer’ in New England because six inches of snow fell in June and every month of the year had a hard frost. the year without a summer

Temperatures dropped to as low as 40 degrees in July and August as far south as Connecticut. It was also known as ‘Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death’ and the ‘Poverty Year.’


Thursday, May 16

Something we didn't know about Maine

In Maine, purple paint means "no trespassing." Maine is one of about a dozen states to have the "purple paint law." The other states are Texas, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Idaho, Arkansas, Montana, Arizona, Kansas and Indiana. 

While states like Texas have had the law on the books for many years, Maine's was signed into law in 2011

Essentially, the law allows landowners to mark the boundary of their land with purple paint rather than post "No Trespassing" signs. They even sell special paint for this specific purpose.