AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has announced that workers’ compensation rates will decrease by nearly 8 percent—the largest decrease since 1998—saving Maine employers over $15 million in the coming year.
Maine and New Hampshire are the only two states in the Northeast getting reductions, and Maine’s decrease is the larger of the two. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) evaluated Maine’s workers’ compensation system and recommended a premium reduction of 7.7 percent based on multiple factors, including injury experience, injury trends, benefits and expenses.
“Maine employers and employees should take credit for the improvement in the workers’ compensation system,” said Governor LePage. “Maine claim frequency is relatively flat, lost time is stable, and the average medical costs per case are down. There has been a concerted effort in the state to improve safety in the workplace, promptly return injured workers to employment as soon as possible and control medical costs.”
NCCI sent the recommendation in a February 5 letter to Eric Cioppa, the Maine Superintendent of Insurance. In its Annual Report on the Status of the Maine Workers’ Compensation System, the Workers’ Compensation Board noted that the workers’ compensation system in Maine has transitioned from one of the most expensive in the nation to one that is moving to a level of average costs for both premiums and benefits.
The Maine Bureau of Insurance expects employers to save $15.2 million over the coming year.
“I am pleased with the NCCI voluntary market recommendation,” said Paul Sighinolfi, executive director and chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Board. “Their analysis of the Maine workers’ compensation market is consistent with—or perhaps even better than—my impression. All stakeholders within our system should be pleased with this recommendation because it is a combined effort of both the management and labor communities to reduce injuries and control costs that led to the recommended reduction in premium.”
February 7, 2014
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has proclaimed Wednesday as Digital Learning Day throughout Maine and his Administration will be joined by the state’s students and schools in recognizing the important opportunities digital learning provides.
Organized by the Alliance for Excellence Education, the third annual national Digital Learning Day spotlights innovative teaching and effective applications of education technology that improve learning and support teachers.
In his proclamation, Governor LePage noted “when done correctly, the infusion of digital learning and the effective use of technology in schools can help personalize and improve the learning of every child.” Digital learning and technology can also help educators be more effective and efficient, he wrote.
Under the leadership of Governor LePage, Maine has continued to be an international trailblazer in making digital learning accessible to its students.
The State recently expanded its decade-old Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) program to offer schools choice in selecting the technology that was right for them, and this fall, around 70,000 HP laptops and Apple iPads and MacBooks were distributed by the Maine Department of Education to students and educators.
The Department has also made providing multiple pathways for learning achievement a core focus of its Education Evolving strategic plan, an acknowledgement of the value that self-directed, self-paced, anytime, anywhere learning technology offers even the most remote Maine students.
“Every day is Digital Learning Day in Maine schools,” said Acting Educator Commissioner Jim Rier. “Just as industry has improved and innovated by incorporating technology into their practices, so have our schools. The Department of Education is committed to continuing to support the digital learning being showcased across Maine on Feb. 5 because we know the investment and emphasis our State continues to make in technology will position our students perhaps better than any other in the nation for the colleges, careers and challenges of the 21st century.”
Acting Commissioner Rier and Maine DOE Learning Technology Policy Director Jeff Mao will participate in a State House celebration of Digital Learning Day at 10 a.m. on Wednesday in the Welcome Center.
Maine schools will commemorate the awareness day in different ways that reflect the diversity of the opportunities digital learning provides to Maine students.
At the Frank H. Harrison Middle School in Yarmouth, all teachers are being challenged to try a new tech tool in their classroom from a list of suggested tools provided by Technology Coordinator Mike Arsenault. Meanwhile at Telstar Middle School in Bethel, students will develop and perform a screen cast of a technology tip to distribute through their YouTube Channel.
Shapleigh School students will Skype with Newbury Award-winning author Avi, Penquis Valley High School ninth graders in Milo will consider how technology affects their daily life and Edward Little High School students will communicate via technology with fellow students in Kazakhstan and South Africa.
For more information about Digital Learning Day and other related events in Maine, visit http://www.digitallearningday.org
For more information about digital learning in Maine schools, visit http://www.maine.gov/education/technology/
February 4, 2014
Maine Department of Education
AUGUSTA – Maine’s economy is “booming,” according to the Philadelphia branch of the Federal Reserve. Business Insider recently highlighted the news from the Reserve’s monthly coincident index for each of the 50 states. Governor Paul R. LePage today reminded Mainers how much the State has improved its business climate since 2010 when the unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in Maine and nearly 10 percent nationally.
“When we took office, Maine’s economy was a mess, workers were losing their jobs in droves, and our state budget was a nightmare after years of liberals who advocated for tax increases, out-of-control government spending and the use of one-time money from the federal government,” Governor LePage said. “We’ve come a long way in the nearly three years since then. Our economy is growing, and over 8,000 more people are working since 2011.”
The Governor notes that while this report only covers a three-month period, it is still welcome news for the State of Maine. “This is all good news, and we’re headed in the right direction, but we’re not done. Our Administration is working to reform welfare to provide Mainers with job training to enable them to become self-sufficient, and we are continuing to improve Maine’s business climate so more jobs are available.”
Recent news has shown many positive signs for Maine’s economy, including:
•Maine moved to one of the ten best in the nation in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s leading index forecast for economic growth over the next three months. The indexes are released a few days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases the employment data for the states.
•From January 2013 to August 2013, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) certified 12 businesses anticipating 267 new jobs, generating $14.2 million in payroll and nearly $70 million in new investment.
•Over the same period in 2012, DECD certified 14 businesses anticipating 128 news jobs, generating $6.3 million in payroll and just over $157 million in new investment.
•In the first eight months of 2013, DECD’s Maine Made Program certified 61 new small businesses.
•The first three years of private-sector job growth under Governor LePage were the best three years for Maine in over a decade.
•Maine’s four-week average of initial weekly unemployment insurance claims is at its lowest level since 2008.
•Maine’s unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, below the national average of 7.3 percent.
For the complete report: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/research-and-data/regional-economy/indexes/coincident/
December 2, 2013
AUGUSTA – A special ceremony hosted by Governor Paul R. LePage to highlight domestic violence awareness, support victims and celebrate advocates who dedicate themselves to eradicating the violence will take place at the State House on Wednesday, Oct. 2. The ceremony, which marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month will be at 9:30 a.m. in the Governor’s Cabinet room where Governor LePage will proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and make a major announcement regarding a community initiative that supports families and victims of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence takes the lives of too many every year here in Maine. The physical violence alone is heart-wrenching,” said Governor LePage. “However, the emotional scars from domestic violence are lasting as well.”
There are many organizations in Maine working to end domestic violence, including the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) and Womancare. Members from both organizations are expected to attend, as well as state and local officials, representatives from law enforcement, business and community leaders and victims’ advocacy groups.
There have been 17 homicides in Maine this year – 6 have been related to domestic violence. Every murder is a somber reminder of the reality many families face, and why efforts to raise awareness about domestic violence and provide Mainers with resources about this abuse have remained a top priority for Governor LePage since taking office in 2011.
The LePage administration has worked closely with domestic violence advocates to improve domestic-violence laws and hold perpetrators accountable. Earlier this year, Governor LePage signed into law an emergency measure directed at reducing the number of domestic violence victims and ensuring offenders receive the tools they need to identify and end their abusive behavior. The new law focuses on batterer’s intervention programs, which hold abusers accountable for their actions, making certain that offenders can be sentenced to these programs.
Governor LePage also has worked to amend Maine’s bail code to ensure judges determine bail for domestic violence offenses, expanded financial resources for victims and their families by requiring abusers to pay into the Victim’s Compensation Fund and helped create a workplace policy for responding to domestic violence abusers, which all state agencies implement.
To locate your local Domestic Violence Resource Center, call the Statewide Helpline at 1-866-834-HELP (4357) or visit www.mcedv.org.
October 1, 2013
Survey of Households – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate for Maine was 7.0 percent in August, little changed from 6.9 percent in July and down from 7.3 percent one year ago. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 50,000 were unemployed, down 1,700 over the year.
Preliminary unemployment estimates for Maine tend to move in a direction for several months and then reverse course. Those directional trends are largely driven by a smoothing mechanism that is part of the estimating procedure. It was predictable that the strong downward trend in preliminary unemployment estimates of the first half of 2013 would be reversed in the latter part of the year; the recent upward turn does not necessarily indicate a deterioration in workforce conditions. Annual revisions (to be published in March) are likely to eliminate those directional patterns. A chart illustrating preliminary estimates compared to annually revised figures for the last two years is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/revisions.html.
The share of the population that is employed was higher than the national average for the 71st consecutive month in August — 60.7 percent compared to 58.7 percent.
The U.S. unemployment rate estimate was 7.3 percent, little changed from 7.4 percent in July and down from 8.2 percent one year ago. The New England unemployment rate was 7.3 percent; estimates for other states were 5.0 percent in New Hampshire, 4.6 percent in Vermont, 7.2 percent in Massachusetts, 9.1 percent in Rhode Island, and 8.1 percent in Connecticut.
Survey of Employer Payrolls – Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate there were 602,600 nonfarm payroll jobs in August, little changed from an upwardly revised July estimate and up 4,100 from one year ago. The estimate of U.S. nonfarm payroll jobs was up 169,000.
NOTE: Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month. Estimates for the period from October 2012 to September 2013 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2014. The job count is likely to show less volatility than monthly estimates.
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in August, down from 6.5 percent one year ago. Not seasonally adjusted rates ranged from 5.1 percent in Knox County to 9.8 percent in Piscataquis County. Rates tended to be lower than the statewide average in southern and coastal counties and higher than average in northern and rim counties.
Among metro areas the unemployment rate was below the statewide average in Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (5.3 percent) and above the statewide average in Bangor (6.6 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (6.6 percent).
This release is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html. Detailed labor force and unemployment data for the state, counties, and 31 labor market areas; nonfarm jobs data for the state and the three metropolitan areas; and much more is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/data.html .
September data will be released Tuesday, October 22.
AUGUSTA – In an effort to bring more awareness and resources to State employees, Governor Paul R. LePage signed an Executive Order Monday requiring departments of State government to issue a “Suicide Awareness and Prevention” policy. Collaborating with the National Association of Mental Illness Maine, the Governor’s Executive Order provides State government the responsibility to ensure the continued relevance of suicide awareness and prevention.
From 2007 to 2012, 1,169 people died by suicide, according to the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics, an average of more than 194 deaths by suicide each year.
“Suicide is a major public health issue and has a devastating effect on Maine’s families, schools, faith-based organizations, businesses and communities,” said Governor LePage. “It is a preventable tragedy. We hope this policy will empower employees to take action to make a difference.”
The Governor’s Executive Order requires each State agency to implement through training a policy to educate and make employees aware of resources available should they become concerned about the suicide risk of a co-worker or experience suicidal tendencies themselves. It is hoped that other Maine employers will model the State’s suicide awareness and prevention policy currently being developed.
Additionally, Governor LePage supported the recent passage and implementation of LD 609, “An Act to Increase Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Maine Public Schools,” for the implementation of suicide prevention protocols.
Today, the Maine Suicide Prevention Program will honor the Governor for his dedication to suicide awareness and prevention efforts. First Lady Ann LePage will accept the “Caring about Lives” award, on his behalf. The event will be held today at 2:00 p.m at the Blaine House, Augusta. The Governor is in Canada meeting with business leaders and is unable to attend the event.
A similar Executive Order was signed in 2011 by Governor LePage with regard to “Domestic Violence and the Workplace” policy. State government is required to provide employee training delivered in partnership with the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. The Administration also created a toolkit, which includes domestic violence facts, a sample policy for businesses and a video, to assist businesses of all sizes recognize and respond to domestic violence abusers in the workplace.
The Executive Order language is as follows:
AN ORDER REGARDING SUICIDE PREVENTION AND WORKPLACE POLICIES WITHIN DEPARTMENTS OF STATE GOVERNMENT
WHEREAS, suicide takes a life in Maine every two days and is the fourth leading cause of death for adults ages 35-54; and
WHEREAS, in Maine, a person is seven times as likely to die by suicide as they are from homicide; and
WHEREAS, persons of working age have the highest rate of suicide and that rate continues to incline; and
WHEREAS, the impact of a suicide attempt or suicide can be devastating on those left behind and can have a strong negative impact on program and agency staff; and
WHEREAS, the State of Maine, as an employer, is committed to promoting the health and safety of its employees; and
WHEREAS, the State of Maine, as an employer, desires to ensure that employees have the education and awareness of resources to appropriately respond when concerned about the suicide risk of a co-worker and that those experiencing suicidal tendencies understand that seeking help is encouraged and expected;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:
1.Each State agency shall issue a “Suicide Awareness and Prevention” policy (“Policy”). The Policy shall be reviewed, updated, and re-issued annually during the month of September, Suicide Prevention Month.
2.Each State agency shall implement the Policy via employee training delivered in partnership with the National Association of Mental Illness Maine.
3.Each State agency shall post, in a conspicuous location, information about suicide prevention and available community resources.
The provisions of this Executive Order are not intended to alter any existing collective bargaining agreements or to supersede applicable laws. Any costs to State agencies for implementing this Order shall be utilized with existing resources.
The effective date of the Executive Order is September 10, 2013.
Paul R. LePage, Governor
September 10, 2013
(AUGUSTA, Maine) Mediators in the Maine Office of the Attorney General assist consumers with a variety of issues, ranging from landlord/tenant disputes to phone bill “cramming”. The most frequent complaints in the last year, however, centered on auto sales and “Jamaican lottery” scams.
Maine has numerous laws in place that can protect a consumer, but the best way for consumers to avoid being defrauded is to know their rights. The Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Law Guide provides a basis for understanding Maine’s consumer protection laws. Attorney General Janet T. Mills urges Maine consumers to educate themselves before signing contracts and to be wary of high pressure phone solicitations.
“An informed consumer is a well-armed citizen,” said Attorney General Janet T. Mills. “Whether under our auto sales ‘Lemon Law’ or the Unfair Trade Practices Act, consumers have options when they encounter unfair business practices. Maine consumers should understand their rights and should always be skeptical before agreeing to part with their hard-earned money.”
The following are the top ten most frequent complaints received by the Maine Office of Attorney General, Consumer Mediation and Information Service between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013:
- Auto Sales (both new and used)
- Contests/Sweepstakes/Prize Promotions and similar types of Scams
- Landlord-Tenant/Mobile Homes
- Nigerian/Grandparent/”Sweetheart” and similar types of Scams
- Home Repair/Construction Complaints
- Furniture/Appliances/Home Furnishings
- Satellite TV Sales and Service
- Health Services (including over the counter “health” products)
- Telecommunications/Slamming/Cramming (Charges added to bill without authorization)
The Consumer Mediation and Information Service assists Maine consumers and businesses by answering questions, providing referrals and mediating disputes. “Our staff and our volunteer mediators help thousands of consumers each year by answering their questions on a variety of topics including used vehicles, Maine’s lemon law, landlord-tenant issues, telephone scammers, implied and express warranties, mobile phone disputes and much more. I hope more consumers will realize the resources that are available to them and reach out to our office for assistance,” said Attorney General Mills. Consumers may call the specifically dedicated line 1-800-436-2131 or 626-8849 Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – noon and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. In addition to the toll free phone number, consumers can contact the Consumer Protection Division by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by regular mail by writing to: Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, 6 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. The Consumer Protection Division also has a lot of consumer information on the website, including the Consumer Law Guide – www.maine.gov/ag.
August 28, 2013
Attorney General’s Office
AUGUSTA—Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette announced that OneSteel Recycling in Bangor has earned the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program Award (SHARP). This certification recognizes businesses that voluntary undertake a rigorous safety achievement program.
Acceptance into SHARP by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes each business as a model for worksite safety and health standards.
“OSHA has placed national emphasis on safety in the metal recycling industry because it is such a hazardous business. This is Maine’s first SHARP award for a metal recycling worksite,” stated Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette.
“Employers earn SHARP recognition by operating their facility under strict safety and health management standards,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We congratulate OneSteel and our other SHARP locations for making safety a priority for hardworking Mainers.”
An international corporation, this is OneSteel’s first SHARP certification. OneSteel has 25 employees in the Bangor location; it has a total of 75 employees in five locations in Maine.
Commissioner Paquette emphasized, “SHARP companies know that keeping workers safe is not only good for Maine workers, but also good for their businesses. Better safety means less lost time due to injury and illness as well as lower workers’ comp costs.”
To qualify for SHARP, companies must undergo a comprehensive audit, correct all hazards identified during an onsite health and safety consultation, demonstrate that effective safety and health programs are in place and maintain injury rates below the industry average for the last year of completed data. After awarding the SHARP designation, OSHA removes the worksite from its general scheduled inspection list for two years. If the company continues to meet all conditions of the program, the SHARP designation may be renewed for another two years.
Fewer than 2,000 worksites in the United States have earned SHARP certification.
Employers interested in learning more about the SHARP designation should contact SafetyWorks! at 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or www.safetyworksmaine.com . SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs.
SafetyWorks! is not OSHA and cannot issue fines or citations to private businesses. While SafetyWorks! helps businesses of any size, priority is given to small businesses. The program trains about 8,000 people and consults at nearly 1,000 worksites in Maine each year.
July 2, 2013
Commissioner Anne L. Head from Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation highlighted the June 30th deadline for fuel dealers who offer pre-paid contracts to register with the Department. The registration form and general information can be obtained from the Department’s website (www.maine.gov/pfr).
Intended to provide greater protections to consumers who use pre-paid home heating contracts, LD 1895, An Act To Protect Consumers by Strengthening the Laws Governing Prepaid Home Heating Oil Contracts, became Public Law, Chapter 574, on March 30, 2012.
The law responded to several recent examples of dealers taking money from Maine consumers, but then failing to supply the fuel, leaving the consumers without oil and unable to recover their money.
“The vast majority of fuel dealers in Maine are reputable and dependable,” Commissioner Head said. “To discourage cases in which dealers don’t meet their obligation, however, Maine law has been changed to require greater accountability. The Department is working cooperatively with dealers as we seek to provide more protection for consumers.”
The law requires a fuel dealer who offers prepaid contracts for home heating oil, kerosene or liquefied petroleum gas to Maine residents to register the dealer’s intent to offer such contracts with the Department by June 30th of each year. It also requires these dealers to file a report with the agency by October 31st each year to indicate the manner of compliance.
Additionally, the law requires that the annual report form include a notice that a false statement is punishable as a Class D crime. Under the laws provisions, the Commissioner is required to refer to the Attorney General any registered dealer who fails to provide the required report or who makes a false statement on the required report. The law provides that a violation of the requirements of Title 10, Section 1110 is a violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Consumers wishing to check whether a fuel company registers by the June 30th deadline, or fuel dealers seeking additional information, can call the Department at (207) 624-8525.
June 12, 2013
Professional and Financial Regulation
What’s free and full of perks? An Evening of E.B. White at the Maine State Library on June 21, 2013 – that’s what!
The Friends of the Maine State Library are pleased to sponsor an event featuring Martha White, granddaughter of author E.B. White. While the event is free to the public, Friends of the Maine State Library can also enjoy a private reception with Ms. White and receive a 10% discount on the purchase of the new book E. B. White on Dogs.
In E. B. White on Dogs, his granddaughter and manager of his literary estate, Martha White, has compiled the best and funniest of his essays, poems, letters, and sketches depicting over a dozen of White’s various canine companions. Featured here are favorite essays such as “Two Letters, Both Open,” where White takes on the Internal Revenue Service, and also “Bedfellows,” with its “fraudulent reports” from White’s ignoble old dachshund, Fred. (“I just saw an eagle go by. It was carrying a baby.”)
The private reception for Friends of the Maine State Library will begin at 5:30 pm at the Maine State Library. Individuals who have not joined the Friends in advance may do so at the door. For $15, librarians, senior citizens, and students may join the Friends, while individual contributors can join for $25.
Beginning at 6:00 pm, Martha White will engage attendees in a lively and enlightening discussion of E.B. White and his love of dogs. The book talk is free for anyone interested in attending, and a book signing will follow. Books will be available to purchase at the event, and Friends of the Maine State Library may purchase the book at a 10% discount.
For more information regarding the event please contact the Maine State Library at 207-287-5600. To join the Friends of the Maine State Library, visit www.mainestatelibraryfriends.org or contact Cheryl Ramsay at 207-287-5620.
Martha White, granddaughter of E. B. White and manager of White Literary LLC, edited the updated Letters of E. B. White (HarperCollins, 2006), as well as In the Words of E. B. White: Quotations from America’s Most Companionable of Writers (Cornell University Press, 2011). As a contributing writer and editor to Yankee Magazine’s Old Farmer’s Almanac, White wrote two weekly syndicated columns and was the author of Traditional Home Remedies (Time-Life, 1997). Her essays have appeared in the NewYork Times, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Country Journal, Down East, Early American Life, Family Circle, Garden Design, and many other publications.
Friends of the Maine State Library support the program goals and objectives as defined by the Maine State Library. In doing so, The Friends will help to increase the use of the Library through public awareness and programming; advocate for consistent and meaningful State funding of the Library; and to provide private funding opportunities that advance the library’s goals and objectives. While supporting the Maine State Library, The Friends seek to specifically enhance access to quality library services for all Maine residents by supporting state-wide library initiatives.
June 11, 2013
Maine State Library