The article below appeared in the February 6, 2014 edition of the Bangor Daily News
Maine Employers Can Expect Nearly 8 Percent Reduction in Workers' Comp Rate, Largest Since 1998
By Whit Richardson
AUGUSTA, Maine — Employers in Maine are expected to save $15.2 million on workers’ compensation insurance this coming year, thanks in part to a reduction in on-the-job injuries and the ability of the state workers’ comp board to control medical costs.
The Maine Bureau of Insurance on Thursday received a recommendation to decrease workers’ compensation rates by an average 7.7 percent, according to the report, which was obtained by the Bangor Daily News.
Eric Cioppa, superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance, called the proposed decrease “very good news.”
“Most states, it’s my understanding, are not seeing decreases,” he said.
The recommendation comes from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which is a rating advisory organization that tracks and analyzes workers’ comp insurance rates for several states, including Maine.
The rate reduction would save Maine employers who buy workers’ comp insurance on the commercial market a total of $15.2 million, according to calculations performed by the Maine Bureau of Insurance. Large employers that are self-insured, such as Eastern Maine Medical Center and Bath Iron Works, would not be affected by this rate decrease.
Governor LePage Appoints New Maine Emergency Management Head
Brian Fitzgerald has been serving as acting director of MEMA.
The Associated Press
Gov. Paul LePage announced Thursday that he has selected Bruce Fitzgerald of South China to serve as the director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency.
“Bruce has distinguished himself as an expert in the emergency management field through his many years at MEMA, and I am pleased to nominate him as the director,” LePage said in a news release. “He is the right man to manage the agency in times of emergency.”
Fitzgerald has served as acting director of the agency since Robert McAleer retired in November.
Fitzgerald joined the MEMA staff in 2003 as a program manager for Homeland Security grants. He also served as the homeland division director and served the agency through numerous state emergencies, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day and Patriots Day storms in 2007 and, more recently, during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. He holds a degree in political science from the University of Maine.
“I’m pleased and honored to have been selected by the governor for this position. I look forward to continued service with MEMA leading this important agency,” Fitzgerald said in the release. “I am confident that the professionals of the Maine Emergency Management Agency will continue to provide the high level of service to Maine’s citizens to which we have all become accustomed.”
The appointment is awaiting approval of the Maine Senate.
DISGRACE: In Surprise Vote, Dems Raid Rainy Day, Tax Relief Funds
Dems wait for GOP colleagues to go home before voting out controversial bill
AUGUSTA – In an unprecedented move by majority lawmakers Monday night, the Democratic members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee voted “Ought to Pass” on a $40 million budget proposal without a single Republican present.
Democrats had met with their Republican colleagues on the budget committee earlier in the evening, agreeing to take the matter up during Tuesday afternoon’s work session. All Republican appropriators left the State House with that agreement. Democrats then assembled in the committee room and voted out the budget bill in a one-party vote.
Senate Chairwoman Dawn Hill (D-Cape Neddick) even said she was “disappointed” that Republicans did not join Democrats for the vote, though both parties had agreed to meet tomorrow.
“I am absolutely stunned by this brazen move by the Democrats,” said Lead House Republican appropriator Rep. Kathy Chase (R-Wells), reached on her cell phone while driving home from Augusta. “I left the State House with the understanding that we would not vote on the measure until tomorrow afternoon.”
Governor LePage to Deliver State of the State
Speech highlights Maine’s growing economy, keeping young people in Maine and fixing the welfare system
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage will deliver his State of the State Address in the House Chamber at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
The much-anticipated speech will cover a variety of priorities that include growing Maine’s economy and encouraging families to stay in Maine; electricity costs; infrastructure improvements; reforming the welfare system; and addressing drug-related crimes and their impact on our State.
“Today, we have less debt on the books, more people working and a stronger economy than we have experienced in years,” said Governor LePage. “The State of the State is an opportunity for me to share with Mainers a vision for making Maine an even better place for our families to live, work and play. Much has been accomplished in three years, but there is more work to focus to ensure a brighter future for our great State and people.”
The economy remains the number one initiative Governor LePage will continue to address during the second session of the 126th Legislature. While Maine’s unemployment rate is at its lowest it’s been since 2008 – at 6.4 percent – Governor LePage will announce an initiative aimed at attracting major business investment and creating hundreds of new jobs for Mainers.
MPBN Radio, TV and www.mpbn.net will feature the Governor’s State of the State Address live, in its entirety.