LEGISLATIVE/UNION UPDATE, MARCH 27, 2017
Sisters and Brothers,
As promised, last week was a busy one for the PFFM in Augusta. Our members testified on a number of bills at Public Hearings and followed up on legislation that is going into Work Session.
LD 133 & LD 492—These bills relate to state mandated Revenue Sharing and the Public Hearing was last Wednesday. PFFM 4th DVP Ronnie Green testified in favor of the bills. This legislation would return Revenue Sharing back to 5% and give municipalities the relief they are entitled to from the State. Governor LePage, in his current budget proposal, plans to eliminate all of these funds in the next few years. There was a good turnout for this and other members testified or turned in written testimony. The bill now goes to Work Session and we will keep you posted on those dates.
LD 848—Rebuttable presumption in the Workers Compensation system for first responders who suffer from work related PTSD. The Public Hearing was held last Thursday and more than twenty PFFM members were on hand. There was also a sizable attendance from the law enforcement community. Represenative Jared Golden, the bills sponsor, spoke of his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine combat veteran, and what he has faced since coming home. We also had a number of PFFM members who bravely spoke of their struggles with PTSD and how it affected their lives and those around them.
Workers Compensation Executive Director Paul Sighinolfi spoke in support of the bill, saying that sometimes there are cases where rebuttable presumption should be in place and that this was one of those situations. Numerous first responders and their spouses spoke of their experiences before the Committee. It was one of the most powerful Public Hearings that many had attended. It was hard not to be moved by the words and feelings expressed by our members. Thank you to all of them for standing up to be heard and those who submitted written testimony.
The hearing in the Labor Committee for the bill did not start until the middle of the afternoon and went on into early evening. Although some had to leave after spending five hours in the hearing, many were able to stay until the end. Thank you to all who made the trip, you presence in the room was felt and commented on by the Committee members. We will now go to Work Session, which has yet to be scheduled. We will let you know and will again need your physical presence in Augusta to see this one through.
LD182—Banning certain flame-retardants from new residential upholstered furniture. This coming week the PFFM and our partners from the Environmental Health Strategy Center, will be meeting with Committee Chairs to discuss a possible amendment for the coming Work Session, which has yet to be scheduled. We will keep you posted on the date for that Session and need to have a good turnout to let the Committee know that cancer among our members needs to be addressed. Banning these toxic chemicals is one way to start.
There are other important Legislative issues also on our radar that we will keep you posted on as they arise. We were proud to see the strong turnout last week in Augusta by our members. Will this type of action on your part we can make a difference for all of us in the fire service.
Mark you calendars for the Annual PFFM PEP Event
MAY 15, 16, 17 at Hollywood Casino in Bangor.
The IAFF is once again providing support and experienced PEP instructors to give us a full day of union related training for our members. This has been a popular and well-attended event in the past but we are looking to make it even better this year. Rooms will be available at block rate for arrival on Monday, May 15 with a hospitality reception that evening. Tuesday, May 16 will be filled with three PEP courses. That evening after classes, we will have a reception with 3rd DVP Jay Colbert and we are working on some other guests to stop by. The morning of Wednesday, May 17, we will provide breakfast to be followed by our Quarterly Meeting.
More details on specific sign up, registration fee and room rates will be sent out very shortly. We are hoping to make this a well-attended and meaningful event for our members. This is a good chance to get together in a nice venue, get some great union education and network with our brothers and sisters here in Maine. We can’t make this a success unless you show up, lets all make this one of the best-attended PEP events we have had.
Please check the PFFM web page, Facebook, and your emails for further information soon. SAVE THE DATES NOW!
Thank you to all our members for your support, we will need it to continue as we move through the next few monthis in Augusta. We look forward to seeing you in the halls of the State House and making our presence felt. Stay Safe.