April 12, 2013

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Just when things were going so well . . .

The headline at at WorkersCompensation.com summed up Sen. Troy Jackson’s latest bill this way: “Dem Rollback of Workers’ Comp Reforms Threatens Premium Death Spiral.”

 Maine is quietly celebrating the 20th anniversary of a truce some thought might never be achieved in the battle over workers comp. The logging industry has fared especially well. In the video (above), Mike St. Peter, director of Maine’s Certified Logging Professional program, explains how loggers got safer and workers comp rates dropped as much as 69 percent.

But that doesn’t stop legislators from trying to tinker with success. At Wednesday’s public hearing, MFPC and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce were among those opposing LD 443, An Act To Amend the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992 To Provide Benefits to Seriously Injured Workers. Jackson’s concept draft bill that would roll back important, bipartisan reforms made to the workers’ compensation insurance system in 1992 and 2012.
“Basically what we heard today from the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board and from national actuaries was that if we implement the Democrats’ rollback, we’ll see skyrocketing premiums and insurers leaving the state en masse,” Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), House Republican lead on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development  Committee. Read more.
Sen. Troy Jackson

Labor Committee approves Jackson’s bill, 7-3

Friday’s work session on LD 1103 — Sen. Troy Jackson’s latest attempt to tie bonded labor, Tree Growth taxation and fire protection – lasted just two minutes and 49 seconds, but there was one memorable moment and it was not the vote.

Seven Democrats voted for the amended version, but Sen. John J. Cleveland, D-Androscoggin, broke ranks and voted against the bill, along with Rep. Bryan Duprey, R-Hampden, and Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman (R-Amherst). Three other members of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee did not vote Friday.

“It’s a sad day when Maine legislators approve a bill that’s clearly unconstitutional and discriminatory,” said Executive Director Patrick Strauch. “But the Democrats on the committee allowed Troy Jackson to use this issue as a political football.” Read more.

What’s happening with the ACF merger?

Discussions about the merger continued this week in both ACF and the Appropriations Committee as legislators debate the structure of the merged department while at the same time the budget is being worked on. And there was much more going on in the Legislature this week. Read more.
FIN LOGOFin shares information and builds trust at annual meeting

The Fisheries Improvement Network (FIN) held its second annual meeting at the MFPC office on April 3. The meeting was attended by representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Keeping Maine’s Forests, The Nature Conservancy, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Forest Service, and representatives of nearly 6 million acres of SFI certified forestlands.  Read more.

Reaching the ‘Google Generation’

 CaptureHow can “The Google Generation” be introduced to the forestry industry? The County of Renfrew in Ontario has created an award-winning website. The site was co-developed by county business development officer Craig Kelley and county forester Lacey Rose, and it serves as an online hub for all things wood-related, from lumber products to wooden crafts and furniture.

 “The project was undertaken primarily to make it easier, especially for the internet-savvy generation who are exercising their buying power right now, to source local wood products,” Rose explained to county council during a recent presentation. We also wanted to raise awareness in the general public that we do have a large forest-based industry here that can supply everything from lumber to art. A lot of people don’t realize we have so many different wood products here.” Read more.

Tell us what you think about using a similar approach in Maine.