Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guns and law enforcement

On Thursday morning, in Augusta I attended the Maine Sheriffs Association breakfast on guns.  The question on everyone’s minds, of course, was what the Sheriffs thought about the President’s initiatives in response to the Sandy Hook shootings.  But the Sheriff’s are naturally circumspect regarding politics.  Nevertheless, it was plain that they wanted legislators to understand that there was little practical distinction between semi-automatic hunting rifles generally taken to be an indispensible part of Maine culture and the sorts of weapons which had been subject to the expired federal ‘assault weapons’ ban. When pressed, the sheriffs plainly wanted legislators attention directed towards issues of ‘mental health’.

Budget reductions affecting Critical Access Hospitals like MDI

At our morning caucus, we learned more about the supplemental budget’s proposals relating to health care.  I’m particularly concerned about reductions in reimbursement to Critical Access Hospitals in rural areas including our own MDI Hospital. Critical Access Hospitals are at a disadvantage under the terms of Maine’s health provider tax which requires a local ‘match’ which is much more favorable to regular hospitals.  Last year, Critical Access Hospitals lost $552,000 under this differential.  Under the proposed reduction, they stand to lose another $290,000.  This means hospitals like ours would be subsidizing the state budget by $842,000.

Legislation to provide education and training for struggling families.

Also Thursday, I joined our House Speaker Mark Eves as a co-sponsor of his bill to support education and training for needy families.

You can read more about Speaker Eves’ priorities here:

More committee briefings and remedial education

Thursday afternoon, the Education Committee heard briefings from the Maine Community College System, the Maine State Library, the Maine Historical Society, and the Maine Humanities Council.  We also adopted our Committee rules.

Along with other committee members, I was interested in hearing about the Community College’s reporting on enrollments in remedial classes  – particularly in how their experience compares to that of the university system, given that the median age of an entering community college student is 27, rather  than 18 or 19.  The Committee will receive a formal report on this next week.

  • Report: Maine students ahead of nation in college readiness, Noel Gallagher, Kennebec Journal

    …Maine’s high school graduates are less likely to need remedial courses in college than their counterparts across the nation. …Gov. Paul LePage has regularly been a sharp critic of Maine’s public high schools. Just last week, at a press conference about charter schools, he said Maine public schools are failing because teachers are lying to their students.

  • Maine below N.E. average on students needing remedial work, Maine School Management Association Bulletin

    …report shows only 12 percent of high school students who entered the University System as freshman in September of 2012 needed remedial work in those core areas, as opposed to the New England average of 24 to 39 percent