Maine Unemployment Rate 5.7 Percent in April
State Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette has released April workforce estimates for Maine.
The unemployment rate was the lowest since September 2008 and the employment to population ratio remained the highest since November 2008.
Over the last year, job growth was spread across a number of sectors. Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate was 5.7 percent in April, down from 5.9 percent in March and 6.8 percent one year ago.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the number of unemployed declined 7,400 over the year to 40,500. The share of the population that is employed remained at 61.8 percent, well above the U.S. average of 58.9 percent. April was the 79th consecutive month the employment to population ratio was above the national average.
LePage Administration Begins Blocking EBT Use at ATMs in Liquor Stores, Strip Clubs and Bars
May 12, 2014
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today announced that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has started blocking EBT cards from being used in ATM’s at prohibited locations. It is illegal to use the EBT card, which is used to access taxpayer-funded welfare money, in certain locations as a result of legislation signed by Governor LePage in 2012.
In May of 2012, Governor LePage signed into law “An Act to Strengthen the State’s Ability To Investigate and Prosecute Misuse of Public Benefits.” This law mandates that an EBT card may not be used in “a retail establishment where 50 percent or more of the gross revenue of the establishment is derived from the sale of liquor; a gambling facility, except that use of the electronic benefits transfer system is permitted in any portion of the premises of a gambling facility that is set aside separately for the sale primarily of staple foods; or a retail establishment that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.”
DHHS has already blocked EBT card use in 44 ATMs around the state. The Department is blocking of as many of these ATMs as possible and anticipates that more than 200 locations will be blocked by August. By law, if an individual uses an EBT card at a prohibited location, it is considered an intentional program violation and results in removal of that individual from the program for one year. A second violation results in a two-year suspension. If there is a third violation, the individual will be permanently disqualified from the program.
Republican Leaders Urge Senate President and House Speaker to Act on Nursing Home Funding Shortage
Below is a letter from Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau and House Republican Leader Ken Fredette to Legislative Leadership
Dear President Alfond and Speaker Eves,
As you are aware, Maine’s nursing homes are in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis that could force some of them to close in the near future.
The good news is that we in the Maine Legislature are in a position to take action to make these facilities solvent and, in some cases, keep their doors open. That is why we are dismayed at your reluctance to even discuss using money that is still available to benefit our elderly citizens until January 2015 when the 127th Legislature convenes.
A recent study showed that Maine nursing homes are underfunded by about $30 million per year. This chronic inability of the state to meet its financial obligation caused one nursing home in Washington County to close in 2012. State officials now say that more of them are at risk of closing. In the most recent state budget, we did increase funding for nursing homes, but much of it won’t be available until July, 2015.
126th Legislature Adjourned!
The 126th Maine Legislature adjourned sine die (Latin for "without day") on May 2, 2014. Senator Ed Youngblood (R-Penobscot) made the motion to adjourn at about 12:35 am. Lawmakers had reconvened to take up 48 bills that had been vetoed by Governor Paul LePage. Of those, 33 vetoes were upheld by the Legislature. Among those that were overridden, however, was the $30 million fix for a state budget gap. As expected, the Legislature upheld the veto of two more attempts to expand Medicaid.
Before adjourning, lawmakers paid tribute to those senators who are either termed out or have chosen not to run for election again, including Senators Pat Flood, Gary Plummer and Roger Sherman.