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January 12, 2015 Politics & Co.

LePage administration's reform list includes business initiatives

State government is back at work and lawmakers are already losing sleep drafting bills for the legislative session.

In Augusta, Gov. Paul LePage was busily getting ready to submit the biennial budget at press time. But Adrienne A. Bennett, press secretary for the office of the governor, said his second term in office will focus on five key areas:

“So this next legislative session you can expect a heavy dose of reform in a few key areas,” Bennett writes in an email to Mainebiz.

Those areas, she says, will be welfare reform, tax reform, reducing the size of government, lowering energy and electricity costs for businesses and residents and improving infrastructure.

“Lower energy costs are vital to attracting major employers, such as manufacturers and high-tech industries,” Bennett continues, adding: “The costs of doing business in Maine must be competitive with other states if we are to attract the kind of good-paying jobs that will encourage young people and families to stay in Maine.”

LePage also hopes to address the skills gap, to “match” workforce development programs with employer needs.

Politics & Co., 19th-Century style

The late Burton Hatlen's dream for a “Historical Atlas of Maine” has finally come to fruition.

The University of Maine Press in Orono just published the oversized book, which is stuffed with charts, maps, graphics, diagrams, photographs and, of course, words. Hatlen (1936-2008) was a beloved professor and American literary scholar at UMaine. Stephen King once said of him, “Burt was the greatest English teacher I ever had.” Hatlen jump-started the atlas.

It was completed by two editors, Stephen J. Hornsby and Richard W. Judd, who worked with cartographic designer Michael J. Hermann.

Its 203 pages cover Maine's history from the Ice Age to the present.

Anyone still reeling from Maine's 1820 separation from Massachusetts will find interesting reading in the section about the War of 1812 and statehood. Seems that then, like today, there were differences of political view depending on where you lived. Going back to the Revolution, there was a divide between “seacoast elites,” who benefitted from trade agreements with Massachusetts, and “backwoods farmers,” who were “chafing under heavy tax burdens and rents” and pushed for independence.

Meanwhile, there were Federalists down in Boston who were just as willing to cede eastern Maine to Great Britain. Separation talk started coming to a head 200 years ago, in 1815. By July 1819, Maine voters overwhelmingly backed separation in a vote and Maine was granted statehood on March 15, 1820.

The bad news for anyone wanting to read more about this is that the UMaine Press reports the first edition of “The Historical Atlas of Maine” has already sold out.

Read more

Businesses push against sales tax hike proposal

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