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Maine Women's Lobby

Big Talk: Eliza Townsend

Suzanne Murphy and Alan Brewer talk with Eliza Townsend of the Maine Women's Lobby.

Download this episode here. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Child Labor Laws on Governor's Rollback Agenda

There seems to be a trend emerging here. Augusta these days has more to do with regression than progression. First our Governor proposed  peeling back all environmental protections to the federal standard, and now there is  a bill to eliminate some child labor protections in Maine – taking us back decades!

Maine's child labor laws were first enacted in 1847, and strengthened repeatedly over the years. The reason? Educators complained that students forced to work long hours outside of school were falling asleep in class. The current law limiting working hours for 16 and 17 year-olds was forged through bipartisan agreement about the need to balance employer interests with the health and welfare of Maine children.

The bill on the table seeks to eliminate significant protections regarding working hours for 16 and 17-year-olds. It would make it legal for teens to work up to six hours a day, and as late as 11pm, totaling 32 hours in a week! Under current Maine law, a teen can work up to 20 hours a week, with a maximum of four hours a day, and as late at 10pm.

Our current child labor laws match our values: working teens should be protected from being pushed to work unreasonable hours, especially during the school year. After all, a teen's number one priority should be success in school. Read more »

Fallout Continues from LePage's "Beards" Remark

Paul LePage's strange remarks about why he doesn't support banning the toxic chemical bisphenol-A and his joke that it causes women to grow "little beards" have continued to spread far and wide today, as I discuss at Down East.

The Maine Women's Lobby has set up a handy tool if you'd like to send a message to LePage expressing an opinion about his statement.

Also, Dirigo Blue notes that the state's web page on BPA facts has undergone some recent changes.

Getting the Facts Straight on TANF

If you are like me, you’re tired of hearing anecdotes passed off as justification for policy. Because the decisions of state legislators will have an impact on thousands of Maine people, I expect them to rely on sound data and accurate information. I want a public policy that moves beyond assumptions, one that is founded in facts and is inline with the real experiences of Mainers.

If we misdiagnose the problem, our solutions will be wrong. If we understand the problems correctly, we can shape thoughtful, common sense solutions. There’s no greater need for an accurate analysis than in the debate about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Unfortunately, much of this debate so far has been driven by stereotypes, NOT credible information.

That is precisely why, a year ago, the Maine Women’s Lobby and Maine Equal Justice Partners commissioned a study on the TANF program with a survey of more than 1,000 families receiving assistance from TANF, followed by focus groups. The goal was to better understand TANF’s impact on families and the Maine economy. The result is the most comprehensive and rigorous study of TANF families in Maine conducted since 1995.

The well-being of 25,000 Maine children and their families is at stake in this debate.

Here’s what we learned: Read more »

Looking Back

Some of the work of the 2009 session of the 124th Maine legislature is still underway, as the appropriations committee works to cut an additional $30 million in state spending. Some of the biggest bills passed this session are still in limbo, as well, as religious groups work to repeal equal marriage and the Maine Republican Party seeks to repeal the tax reform legislation.

The major work of the session, however, has been over for several weeks and most of Maine's citizen legislators are now back at their real jobs.

WVII looks back:

So does Sarah Standiford, the Executive Director of the Maine Women's Lobby.