Senator Angus King Lecture Nov. 10

Climate change and its impact on Maine will be the focus of an address by U.S. Sen. Angus King when he gives the Senator Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Lecture at the University of Maine on November 10.

King’s address, “Maine and Climate Change: The View from Greenland” begins at 3:30 p.m., in the Collins Center for the Arts. The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 581.1648. A reception will be held immediately following the lecture in the Hudson Museum at the Collins Center.

Since 2013, King has served as Maine’s first independent U.S. senator. He sits on five committees — Rules and Administration, Intelligence, Armed Services, Budget, and Energy and Natural Resources. King is a former two-term Maine governor. For more information on Senator King, please see his biography.

The Senator Margaret Chase Smith Lectureship on Public Affairs was endowed in 1989 by the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation in honor of Sen. Smith’s contributions to Maine and to the nation. UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center brings to campus a person of national status to deliver a lecture in the field of civic and public life. The lectureship is supported in part by the University of Maine Foundation, The Division of Student Life, the Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service and a grant from the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Fund.

Former Maine Policy Scholar recognized for public service

Ben Breadmore, currently the town manager of Holden, has been named by the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce as a recipient of an award for public service. Breadmore was a scholar in the Maine Policy Scholars program during 2009-10 at the University of Maine.

The Bangor Daily News reports that “the Catherine Lebowitz Award for Public Service goes to Benjamin Breadmore. As the Town Manager and Code Enforcement Office for the Town of Holden, he is in the unique position to bring a project from inception to completion. “While relatively young in years, his dedication to our community, progressive leadership style, openness to new ideas, work-ethic, supportive personality, accessibility and reasonableness resembles a town manager decades older,” said Rep. Chris Geeley.

Ben personifies the definition of an individual from the public sector who has advanced the cause of economic opportunity in not only the community for which he works, but for the great Bangor region.”

Breadmore will be recognized at the annual awards dinner for the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.

Seven Students are Maine Policy Scholars

Students at each of the seven University of Maine campuses have initiated research on important policy issues for Maine in the Maine Policy Scholars program. This year’s scholars are Julianne McLaughlin (UMF), Hannah Cole (UMaine), Emma-Marie Banks (UMA), Shawn Cyr (UMFK), Elizabeth Wilson (USM), Alyssa De Silva (UMM), and Idella Thompson (UMPI).

Their research covers an array of topics: application of the Common Core in Maine; decline of bee pollinators; implementation of distance learning for high school equivalency; asylum seekers in Maine; protection from abuse orders; relationship of the UMS office to the state; and oil spill best management practices.

The Maine Policy Scholars Program engages students from the University of Maine System in the public policy process. Scholarships are awarded annually to one student from each of the seven campuses to work with a faculty advisor and a community mentor to tackle a real-life policy issue facing Maine. Topics may range from local to statewide significance and are expected to be well-defined, subject to research, and of real concern to Maine or a segment of its people.

The scholars conduct extensive research from literature, data analysis, interviews – or all three. In the spring, each produces a final report as a memo to the governor or appropriate policymaker that outlines the problem, data available, and recommended policy solutions.

Historically, one of Maine’s most important characteristics is the openness of its public policy process. Legislators, the governor, and local and state agency leaders are accessible and interested in practical solutions to real-life problems. The Maine Policy Scholars program gives our students an opportunity to experience that process and make meaningful contributions to our future.

The Maine Policy Scholars Program was conceived by the late Peter Cox to engage students from the University of Maine System in the public policy process. The program is funded by the Maine Community Foundation and administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.

Commissioner Whitcomb visits UMaine

Walter Whitcomb, Commissioner of Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, visited UMaine on October 6th as a Maine Distinguished Policy Fellow. Commissioner Whitcomb met with students and faculty in the School of Forest Resources, the Parks, Recreation & Tourism program, and the Climate Change Institute. He also toured research facilities at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center and was honored at a reception with university administrators, faculty and students. Whitcomb is shown here with Policy Center Director, Jonathan Rubin, and Senior Policy Fellow, Mary Cathcart.

In addition to serving as Commissioner, Whitcomb served 12 years in the Maine House of Representatives and is also a graduate of the University of Maine. Whitcomb’s visit was sponsored by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and the School of Forest Resources.

Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows are prominent Maine individuals with careers as policy makers in the state. The Policy Center brings these fellows to campus for a day to teach an undergraduate class, speak with faculty about research and public policy, and meet with UMaine administration and graduate students.

Sorg to present in National Drug Early Warning System webinar

UMaine medical and forensic anthropologist Marcella Sorg of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center is one of four presenters in a webinar at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 29 on illicit opioids and methamphetamine. It is being hosted by the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) at the University of Maryland and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sorg serves as one of the sentinel epidemiologists for NDEWS. Her presentation will focus on the latest Maine statistics, including deaths and other indicators. More information, including registration, is online.

Trostel’s report on Trans-Pacific Partnership featured in the BDN

The Bangor Daily News highlights a new report by Professor Phil Trostel showing the impact to Maine of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP, creating the world’s largest free-trade zone, would have a small but mostly beneficial impact on Maine.

Philip Trostel, an economist at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at UMaine and one of the study’s lead authors, says gains under the TPP for Maine are small because the U.S. already has free trade agreements with six of the 11 TPP nations, including Maine’s most significant trading partner, Canada. As a result, tariffs already are low with these nations and trade flows freely. Free trade with these countries also means cheaper imports as well as growth in earnings from exports of U.S. products. Savings from lower priced goods would give Mainers additional money to spend elsewhere in the economy.

“Most Maine employers aren’t going to be affected by the TPP, although some firms will see increased trade opportunities and expand,” Trostel said.

On the other side of the ledger, TPP could impact the state’s manufacturing sector, as competition from low-cost imports pushes struggling local producers out of the marketplace.

The report concludes that, overall, the Pacific trade pact is a net gain for the Maine economy, though a small one.

Read the full article in the Bangor Daily News:
Maine will benefit from increased trade under the TPP, but those gains are very modest


Walt Whitcomb to visit UMaine as Distinguished Policy Fellow

Walt Whitcomb, the Commissioner of Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, will visit UMaine on Thursday, October 6, as the next Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow. Whitcomb will meet with students, faculty, and researchers on campus. A public reception will be held at the University Club in Fogler Library at 4:00PM. His visit is sponsored by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and the School of Forest Resources.

More information on the Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows Program.

Sorg’s Analysis of Drug Deaths in the News

Professor Marcella Sorg’s recent analysis of drug deaths in Maine forms the basis of a story in the Bangor Daily News today. Her research indicates that In the first six months of 2016, 189 people in Maine died by drug overdose, an increase of 50 percent over the same time last year. Dr. Marcella Sorg is a University of Maine medical and forensic anthropologist and Policy Center research professor  who analyzes overdose deaths for the state’s attorney general.

Read the story here:
Maine suffers record number of fatal drug overdoses in first half of 2016

Rubin Quoted on Biofuel Development

Professor Jonathan Rubin was interviewed for a Bangor Daily News article on research to develop energy from trees in Maine. Rubin’s economic research focuses on how to commercialize biofuel development for use in the transportation industry. Last month the U.S. Department of Defense announced a $3.3 million investment into ongoing research at the University of Maine, some of which may assist UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative in its efforts to develop a wood-based biofuel from Maine’s forests. The recent article in the Bangor Daily News appears here:

Maine trees could fuel military jets, but as long as oil costs $40 a barrel, it’ll be a while

Summer Government Interns Meet in the State House

This summer 39 student interns are serving in state, regional, and municipal government offices in Maine.  The interns recently convened in Augusta  to each discuss their summer internship position and tasks. Hosted in a wide range of government agencies and offices, the internships vary greatly in content, with topics ranging from communications, geographic information systems, and education policy to traffic design and wildlife monitoring.  The interns heard a presentation about the status of Maine’s labor market and workforce from Ruth Pease of the Center for Workforce Research and Information. The afternoon was spent at the State House hearing from staff in partisan and non-partisan offices about their work and how they came to their jobs. While most interns had been to the State House before, for many it was their first visit and chance to hear from the dedicated people who contribute to the Maine Legislature.

The Maine Government Summer Internship Program, administered by the Policy Center, was started in 1967 to provide opportunities for students to contribute to government and benefit from the work experience. Internships last twelve weeks and are full-time paid employment in a state agency, municipal or regional government, or quasi governmental organization.