Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.
House District 19 Special Election
On November 3, 2015 the citizens of Sanford can take part in a special election to select a representative to fill the House District 19 vacancy. Rep. William Noon passed away last month. Republicans, Democrats and Green Independents have until August 28th to nominate candidates. Rep. Noon’s wife has announced she hopes to be nominated to run as the Democrat to fill the seat.
Earlier this week U.S. Senator Angus King and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum to discuss cybercrime and cyber-security. Senator King, along with other professionals in the information technology world, including representatives from Homeland Security, offered recommendations on how to prevent cyber-attacks, which reportedly account for more than $445 billion in losses annually. Senator King hopes there is a vote on a cyber-security bill in the fall.
Investments = Green Cards
In 1990 the U.S. Congress approved an investment program called EB-5 that would supply foreign investors with green cards if they invest $1 million, or $500,000 in areas of high unemployment, in projects that create jobs. Governor LePage is considering implementing this program and, if successful, Maine would join Michigan and Vermont as the only other U.S. states to do so.
Energy a Maine Priority
Governor LePage’s administration is a proponent of expanding hydroelectric markets, though Maine currently has a limit on the size of hydroelectric plants that restricts the amount of hydropower eligible for renewable energy credits. It is anticipated that ventures such as the Northern Pass Project, which proposes to transfer energy from Canada throughout New England via a transmission cable, will gain attention from Maine energy companies as the bidding processes for building the transmission cable begin.
Bringing Rural Maine Online
Expanded internet service is coming to rural Maine thanks to FairPoint Communications and the federal Connect America Fund (CAF). FairPoint will receive $13.3 million annually from CAF for six years, which is the largest single CAF subsidy awarded. Many underserved, high-cost service areas in Maine will be eligible to receive expanded internet services, but there is no timeline or list of selected locations available yet.
Healthcare PCPs Hard to Come By
Fifty years ago roughly half of physicians worked in primary care practices. Data from 2013 reports that now only 32 percent of doctors practice as primary care physicians (PCPs) and it is estimated that there will be a large PCP shortage by 2025. Nationally, new doctors are leaving medical school with more than $175,000 in debt from medical school alone and PCP positions pay less than specialist roles. Maine has two medical schools working to change this trend. The University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine was recently recognized for graduating doctors that often choose primary care practices; and the Tufts/MMC Maine Track program places students in clerkships in rural towns all over Maine and offers significant scholarship support.