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This week’s edition!

Maine leads the way in protecting right to vote

Guest Essay

By Sen. Libby

Dear Friend,

Tuesday of last week was National Voter Registration Day.

Maine has long been a leader in voter participation, with 78 percent of voters casting their ballots in the 2020 election. We also have some of the strongest voting laws in the nation, and I’m proud of the work we did this year to make sure Maine continues to lead the way in strengthening our democracy and protecting your right to vote.

Sen. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston), Maine District 21, the City of Lewiston. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Libby)

This year, my colleagues and I voted to make permanent many of the innovative measures the state put in place to make voting accessible and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also passed a law to join 40 other states in allowing online voter registration, which is set to go into effect in 2023.

If you’ve moved recently, now is a good time to register to vote at your new address. And as a reminder, Maine also has same-day voter registration, which means you can register to vote at your polling place the day of an election.

Our democracy only works when everyday people can make their voices heard and hold their elected leaders accountable. I’m proud of the work we’ve done this year, and I vote to continue to protect Maine voters’ rights.

If you have questions, concerns or ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can always reach me at nathan.libby@legislature.maine.gov  or by phone at (207) 287-1515.

Bates to enroll more immigrant, low-income students

The Schuler Access Initiative is offering to match up to $50 million for a new Bates College program to enroll more students from our nation’s immigrants and low-income families.

If fully matched, the challenge grant will create a $100 million financial aid expansion to help enroll students who qualify.

Bates said it has already raised $30 million in matching gifts and pledges from its donors, so it needs $20 million more during the next five years to maximize the funding.

Bates is one of only four colleges and one university selected for the program. I am so excited about this news and look forward to the positive change it will bring with it.

Apportionment map becomes law

Earlier this year I was appointed to the Apportionment Committee by Senate President Troy Jackson where our team was tasked with the drawing of new maps in light of new census data.

This week, the Maine Legislature voted to approve these new district maps during a special session. This makes Maine the second state in the nation, after Oregon, to approve new Congressional and Legislative district maps.

Ahead of the 2020 census data being released to states, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a Court Order outlining a compressed timeline, giving Maine’s Apportionment Commission 45 days after the census data was released to produce maps and then a window of 10 days for the Legislature to approve the maps.

Despite the short window we had to work with, Maine lawmakers came together and accomplished our goal: drawing new, equitable maps that accurately reflected the new census data we had to work with. I am grateful to have served on the committee and am proud of the work we did.

Standing up for lobstering industry

Last week, my colleagues and I in the Legislature overwhelmingly approved a joint order to allow the bipartisan Legislative Council to take legal action in support of Maine lobstermen impacted by harmful new federal regulations.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released new federal regulations this summer as part of a plan to protect Right Whales, despite a lack of evidence linking current lobstering practices to the decline in this endangered species. An estimated 34 whales have died since 2017. But only 12 of those deaths happened in U.S. waters, and none of them are linked to Maine lobstering.

This joint order comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed from the Maine Lobstering Union in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, seeking emergency relief related to the impending closure of Lobster Management Area 1.
 
NOAA’s new, unfair regulations are expected to cost lobstermen millions of dollars in new gear and 5% – 10%  of their annual revenue, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Deadline for food producer grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry, and producers of specialty crops and other sales-based commodities. All new and modified CFAP 2 applications are due by Tuesday, October 12.

Newly eligible producers who need to submit a CFAP 2 application, or producers who need to modify an existing one, can do so by contacting their local FSA office located at 254 Goddard Rd
Lewiston, ME 04240 or by phone at (207) 947-3555 Ext. 2. Producers can find their local FSA office by visiting www.farmers.gov/service-locator. Producers can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364.

Banned books week!

Since it was founded in 1982, Banned Books Week has helped people recognize and navigate censorship, and the battle for free expression is unending.

Reading brings people together, but censorship drives us apart. The freedom to read — or not read — the books we want is fundamental to the American Experience.

Over the years, books that challenge our notion of the status quo have been pulled off library shelves, banned from being sold or even burned — including books we now consider to be classics, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Gone with the Wind, and The Grapes of Wrath.

If you’re interested in checking some of these books out visit our local library at 200 Lisbon St, Lewiston, ME 04240 or online at https://lplonline.org/.

Sen. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) represents Maine Senate District 21, which comprises the City of Lewiston.

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