There are plenty of good things to report from Augusta, but it’s hard not to focus on the federal government shutdown. It is difficult to witness one small group from one political party shutting down the country. The effects will touch all of us in some way: thousands will lose their paycheck, home loans will be jeopardy and scores of businesses will be put on hold until this mess is cleaned up. I’m proud that in the Maine Legislature, we don’t behave that way. We show up and do our job-even when we disagree.

 

If you need assistance during this time, please don’t hesitate to email me or call my office at (207) 287-1500

Health Insurance Exchanges Open

Starting yesterday, Mainers who do not have health insurance will be able to sign up for health insurance plans through the new health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.

These online marketplaces will allow you to compare plans and determine the best options for you and your family. The Maine Health Access Foundation has set up a fantastic resource to help you get started — Enroll 207.

If you need help enrolling, you can call Opportunity Alliance at 877-429-6884, orMaine’s designated consumer assistance program at 800-965-7476.

UMaine Cooperative Extension

Last week, Speaker Mark Eves and I toured the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Diagnostic Lab. The Insect and Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab was established in 1989 to farmers, businesses and communities across the state with plant disease and insect identification to support healthy agriculture.
Touring the lab illustrated that the building and program is bursting at the seams and does not meet the needs of today’s farmers and community members. When the legislature returns in January, we will attempt to get the Cooperative Extension’s lab project onto a bond proposal for voters to approve in 2014.
Before the tour, the Speaker and I met with the UMS Board of Trustees and Presidents. We had a great discussion about the future of higher education, the state’s role, and what we can do together to inspire more Maine students to further their education beyond high school.
Click here to learn more about the Diagnostic Lab Upgrade.

Four Years in a Row

For the fourth year in a row, Forbes Magazine has ranked Maine the worst state to do business. According to the Forbes report, Maine’s poor rating is partially based on the state’s “lousy job and economic growth forecast.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maine ranks dead last for job creation since 2010.

 

I have real concern with the Forbes ranking because the truth is, Maine is a great place to start or build a company. I’ve heard from entrepreneurs and business owners across our state touting their successes. At the same time, we have challenges to address, like our making our education system more accountable, filling the skills gap, and the high cost of health care.

 

One of the biggest concerns I’ve heard from business leaders is the self-inflicted damage from our Marketer-in-Chief. For three years, Governor LePage has been telling the world what a terrible place Maine is to do business — and that has an effect. Just like a CEO signals confidence or anxiety about the strength and direction of a company, the Governor signals to the rest of the country whether or not Maine is a good place to live, work, invest, and play.

 

We can do better. We must do better. We will do better, once we start working together to invest in our assets, lower our costs, and attract the best and brightest right here to Maine.

 

Click here to read more from the Bangor Daily News.

Closing

If you have any questions about the Affordable Care Act or the consequences of the federal government shutting down, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

-Justin