Rep. Arata's News from the Legislature

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Town of New Gloucester

385 Intervale Road, New Gloucester, ME 04260

(207) 926-4126 (phone) / (207) 926-4136 (fax)

Town of Poland

1231 Maine Street, Poland, ME 04274

(207) 998-4601 (phone) / (207) 998-2002 (fax)


State Budget

Once again, I have been appointed to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.  This panel oversees General Fund appropriations and general fiscal policy; federal funds allocations, special revenue, and block grant allocations when part of a biennial or supplemental budget; the Budget Stabilization Fund; general obligation bond issues; collective bargaining funding; budgeting methodologies; financial orders; and evaluates the finances of State Government agencies.

On January 8, the Governor released her $8.394 billion proposed 2022-23 biennial budget.  For an overview of this plan, click here.

In my Committee meeting on January 12, members were told that the Maine Public Employees Retirement System is 82.4% funded, which is in the top 25% of all state plans. The unfunded actuarial liability is paid for by Maine's General Fund.  Many retirement systems are struggling right now, but Maine's has been well-managed!


Maine DHHS Awards $5.1M in Relief Grants to 53 Healthcare Organizations

Funds support hospitals and nursing homes serving MaineCare members during COVID-19 pandemic

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently announced that it has awarded $5.1 million in grants to 53 healthcare organizations that serve residents with MaineCare to help sustain vital health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Maine Health Care Financial Relief Program, announced in November, is modeled on the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development's (DECD) Maine Economic Recovery Grant program.  Healthcare organizations that were ineligible for funding through the DECD program, such as hospitals and nursing homes of any size and healthcare providers with over 250 employees, were eligible for these grants.  The program is backed by federal CARES Act coronavirus relief funds and provides up to $100,000 in financial relief to an organization to address business disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  To qualify, healthcare organizations must have served MaineCare members in 2020.

The bulk of the funding was awarded to Maine hospitals and nursing homes, with grants also received by providers of children's behavioral health and home health and hospice care.

The DECD is administering the grant program in coordination with the DHHS.  The award amounts were based on demonstrated need, accounting for other sources of funding providers have accessed, to offset revenue losses related to the pandemic.

As with the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program, the Maine Health Care Financial Relief grants may be used to cover expenses, including payroll costs and expenses; rent or mortgage payments for business facilities; utilities payments; necessary operating expenses; expenses incurred to replenish inventory or other necessary re-opening expenses; or purchase of personal protective equipment required by the business or business-related equipment.  Funds must be spent on operations strictly within Maine.  Recipients are liable for any misuse of funds, and the grants are subject to audit.

The grants build on the DHHS' increased financial support to MaineCare providers in response to the pandemic.  The DHHS has provided more than $57 million in State and federal funds to MaineCare providers as direct assistance, including supplemental payments to hospitals, temporary rate increases for nursing facilities and other congregate care providers, incentive payments for child and behavioral health providers, and acceleration of prior planned rate increases.  The State has also provided considerable COVID-19 testing support to providers, particularly for nursing facilities and other congregate care settings, through use of the Health and Environmental Testing Lab (HETL), and through direct reimbursement.

Maine healthcare providers have also received direct support of nearly $500 million from the federal government's coronavirus Provider Relief Fund.  Additionally, some healthcare providers were eligible for previous rounds of the DECD's Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program, which in total provided $235 million to 5,294 businesses and nonprofits across the State.


Digital Downloads: Laws of the Maine Outdoors

Being a responsible user of the Maine outdoors means staying informed of, and complying with, the current laws and rules.  The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s popular summary guides make it easy to find and follow the laws and rules that apply to you.  New digital formats allow you to quickly check a law, confirm legal hunting hours, look up best practices, and more.  Browse laws by activity below.  Before you head into the woods or onto the water, follow these instructions to save an offline law book or quick-reference guide to your mobile device.

Maine Hunting Laws

Quick-Reference Guides

Hunting Hour Charts

Seasons + Bag Limits

Maine Fishing Laws

Maine Trapping Laws

Maine Snowmobiling + ATV Laws

Maine Boating Laws

Why Digital Law Books?

In 2016, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife printed over 700,000 law books.  That is a lot of paper and a lot of money diverted from Maine's fish and wildlife.  With 77% of the U.S. population using smartphones in 2017, the agency's mission clearly directed it to make a shift.  While some books are still being printed (available at license agent locations), you are asked to do your part and make use of the convenient and responsible digital options.  As a bonus, the digital options are searchable and always on hand, as long as you have your mobile device.


Winter Camping Opportunities

You can be toasty warm when winter camping.  All it takes is a bit of preparation.  Here are some tips for making your winter camping this season the best ever.

Be prepared:

  • for changing weather conditions (both you and your car);
  • to provide your own first aid;
  • to not count on your cell phone, which in Maine can be very unreliable;
  • to know your limits, and those of your companions (outdoor skills & physical ability), refresh your outdoor skills, and consider an easy adventure to start the winter season; and
  • for unstable ice conditions - do not travel or fish on ice unless you are certain of the thickness and your safety.

Lastly, be sure to tell a friend where you are going and when you expect to return so that they can initiate help if you do not return on time.

For additional information on winter camping locations, please click here.


Poland Library Recognized

A.B. Ricker Memorial Library was recognized by State Librarian Jamie Ritter last month for its thoughtful development of safety procedures and new protocols that allowed it to re-open in a manner that was safe for staff and the community.  How delightful it was to read Ms. Ritter’s words in acknowledging Ricker Memorial as a “bright spot” in our community.

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