HOT STOVE summary: January 20, 2018
Thanks to everyone who attended the Bangor Region Chamber “Hot Stove” event on Saturday January 20th at Eastern Maine Community College. Sponsored by Quirk, Hot Stove provides a forum for engagement with Chamber member business leaders and local, state and national representatives. Hot Stove convenes monthly during the legislative session, from December through April. Chamber member business owners and employees are encouraged to attend. Here is a summary of what was discussed this month. The list of attendees is listed below. The next Hot Stove event will be February 17th from 8 -10 am.
With the news of his passing this week, tribute was paid to Arthur Comstock by several participants who shared their memories, discussed his impact to the Chamber and to the region and his sense of humor and sense of community. He served as a role model for many and will be missed. The obituary for Arthur was posted this weekend. Our thoughts are with Betty and his family.
Federal Government Shutdown
Due to the shutdown, Federal reps who had planned to attend, were unable to. Senator Collins office did email us her statement regarding the shut down.
There was some discussion about what this would mean for the state?
The discussion at Hot Stove included conversations about the opioid epidemic, workforce, broadband, tax reform and more.
Discussed the opioid task force and the impact of this epidemic to our workforce. Senator Gratwick reported there are 70 bills related to the results of this report. Concern was raised about what will happen to bills once they go to committee. Other areas of concern raised were support of recovery programs, availability of Narcan and a continued focus on the need to get people back to work. Legislators were urged to get the money where it’s needed to fight this crisis.
There was a lot of discussion about the importance of addressing our workforce challenges including how well partners are working together in the recovery community (BARN and workforce readiness programs) to move people back to work successfully. There was concern about the workforce system and federal funding not being supported by the Governor and a request for Legislators to begin to address this. A general discussion about other ways to grow our workforce of the future ensued, including ways the Chamber can help and plans in the works to do so, Junior Achievement, business owners meeting with school principals and more. The question was raised about dependence on government to help which resulted in a dialogue about the role of government and working/partnering together to get things done.
Discussed the continued need for access statewide (especially in rural areas) and the need to get fiber into every home as this ties into the workforce, tele health, digital literacy, economic prosperity conversation and our ability as a state to be relevant on the future.
How will this affect Maine? Not yet able to quantify the numbers. Concern was raised about people with wealth leaving the state.
Specific bills to watch
Senator Dill: Has 3 bills in by request of constituents. One supports assisted living facilities. One bill is an excise tax bill to allow buyers to pay tax based on the sticker price the first year, and book value after that (rather than the current policy of basing the first year tax on book value regardless of how much they paid for the vehicle). The third bill has to do with railroad easements on property owned by paper companies and would provide long term leases to avoid the issues and complications that come about when one tries to sell property with paper company easements that are short term.
Senator Gratwick: Working on legislation regarding reviews of medical procedures by insurance companies to insure any second opinions are performed by physicians who are exact peers of physicians recommending the treatment. Currently, that is not the case and procedures have been denied by the insurance companies as a result.
Representative Cordone: Distributed and discussed publication: “Economic Impact of Civil Legal Aid Services in Maine”
Other issues of interest
Hearing(s) are coming up to review the utility companies response to the recent wind storm and the impact to businesses.
Future topics for February Hot Stove:
Healthcare reform, tax reform, medicaid expansion. Also, changes to the Bangor mall and what the future holds.
January Hot Stove attendees: Sarah Dubay, PCHC, Chair, Renee Doble, City of Brewer Co-Chair, Deb Neuman and Brian Cotlar Bangor Chamber, Jerry Goss, Mayor of Brewer, Michael Aube, EMDC, Suzanne Spruce, EMHS, Dennis Marble, Town of Hampden, Pat Kimball, B.A.R.N., Senator Geoff Gratwick, Lisa McPherson, EMHS, Edie Smith, resident of Bangor, Jack Quirk, Quirk Auto Group, Randy and Laura Tompkins, Nettie Kilby, Bangor Area Staffing Solutions, David Green, Ward Green Group, Harrison Clark, Service Master, Rep. Aaron Frey, Dan Tremble, Bangor City Council, Jack Forbosh D.O., Terry Hayes, State Treasurer/candidate for Governor, Rep. Dick Campbell, Senator Jim Dill, Rep. Barbara Cordone, Vicki Rusbult, EMDC, Dr. Lisa Larson, EMDC, Bob Noyes, Noyes Construction, Anthony Black, Bangor Savings Bank, Rod Black, Bangor Wealth Management, Senator Andre Cushing, Joanna Russell, Northeastern Workforce Development Board.