That feeling you get when you gain a constitutional right that your friends and family have had their whole lives and never had to think twice about. That feeling of starting to feel equal, equal based on something that makes us inherently human, love.
AUGUSTA — Both chambers of the Legislature have endorsed a bill that would return control of Maine’s county jails to county governments while continuing to provide state funding to the facilities.
The House voted 131-14 on Tuesday morning to support a bill that would undo a 2008 jail consolidation law that established the State Board of Corrections to oversee and improve coordination among county jails. The Legislature strengthened the corrections board last year, but Gov. Paul LePage – a vocal critic of the way jails are now run – rendered the board inoperable by refusing to fill vacant seats.
The bill now awaiting final approval in the House and Senate, L.D. 186, would remand control of the jails to the counties beginning July 1 by transferring funding from the treasury to a County Jail Operations Fund each month, rather than to the State Board of Corrections. The measure would provide $14.7 million in state funding to the operations fund, while counties would collect $62 million from municipalities for the jails – the same amount collected last year.
“This is the best path forward,” said Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, a member of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee, which worked on the issue for much of the legislative session. “It keeps our county jails going.”
AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine House of Representatives has rejected a measure that would send to the voters a proposal legalizing the sale, and taxation, of marijuana in the state.
The House voted against the bill 98 to 45. Rep. Karen Gerrish, a Republican from Lebanon, says legalizing pot in Colorado has proven to be a bad idea.
"Emergency room visits have increased by 57 percent, and hospitalizations related to marijuana have increased 82 percent," Gerrish said.
But supporters argue they want to provide Maine voters with an alternative to the citizen's ballot initiative underway that would follow Colorado's lead.
They say that legislation does not provide a good structure to regulate the sale of pot and would lead to Maine facing the same problems as Colorado.
"This is not about endorsing legalizing marijuana, as I am personally against it. But I want to give my constituents a choice at a more rational policy," said Rep. Justin Chenette, a Biddeford Democrat.
The Senate has yet to consider the issue.
By MAL LEARY
SACO – Rep. Justin Chenette has been invited by President Barack Obama to visit the White House next week to celebrate LGBT Pride Month.
“It is an immense honor to have been invited by the president to visit the White House for this important cause,” said Chenette, D-Saco. “I’m excited to represent and promote how accepting and welcoming our beautiful state is.”
This will be the seventh time since taking office that President Obama honors equal and human rights in the nation’s capital. National, state and local elected officials along with business leaders, grassroots activists, celebrities and others who have contributed personally or professionally towards the cause of equality were selected to attend.
Speaker of the House Mark Eves has appointed Rep. Barry Hobbins and Rep. Justin Chenette, both Saco Democrats, to committees for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Both representatives will serve on the Committee on Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and Hobbins was also named to the Legislative Effectiveness Committee.
Tax credit would include students who pursued degrees not offered in Maine
AUGUSTA – A bill to expand the Maine Educational Opportunity Tax Credit earned initial support unanimously from both chambers of the Maine Legislature this week.
Under the measure sponsored by Rep. Justin Chenette, Maine residents who go to college in other New England states because their course of study is not available in Maine would be eligible for the Maine Educational Opportunity Tax Credit.
“This vote demonstrates that tackling the student loan debt crisis, currently crippling young Mainers’ ability to start their lives is something that transcends party affiliation,” said Chenette, D-Saco. “Together we can take this important step towards incentivizing young people to apply their new knowledge and skills in our state.”