A stronger sexual assault kit law

I vividly remember the rainy day last year when I met a nurse who told me her concerns about Maine’s laws around sexual assault kits. As a newly elected state representative, all my legislation came from constituents. I decided to look into this issue.

I learned that in Maine certain sexual assault kits are required to be stored for a minimum of just 90 days. These are so-called “anonymous” sexual assault kits, which are collected in cases where the survivor has not yet made an accompanying report to law enforcement.

This means a victim of a sexual assault has three months to decide whether to press charges before the kit could legally be disposed of and any evidence lost forever. That’s one of the shortest time frames in the country. After such a traumatic experience, many survivors need more time to make the decision to press charges.

I introduced LD 396 to extend the minimum time that kits must be stored to eight years. Advocates agreed this was a good step to improve Maine law around sexual assault kits and better protect the rights of survivors.

This bill proudly received bipartisan support. It was supported unanimously in committee and went “under the hammer” in both the House and Senate, meaning it passed by unanimous consent. Gov. Janet Mills signed LD 396 into law, and it goes into effect Sept. 19.

I hope that this bill will help more survivors get the justice that they deserve. We will keep working to strengthen our laws.

Rep. Chloe Maxmin

Another summer on Main

We concluded the 2019 Wednesday On Main season last week the same way we began: with a crowd of happy people enjoying fun, music and fellowship in a great downtown Bucksport space.

It’s been a wonderful summer, showcasing exceptionally talented players and singers. Puppeteers filled The Alamo with joyous children’s laughter. We went gaga over authentic Flamenco dance and the gospel according to Aretha. And we experienced a moving, powerful tribute to our papermaking community.

None of this could have been brought to Bucksport without the generous financial support of sponsors and grant funders, and donations from those attending our events. And some folks were regretfully turned away at the door because of sold out performances. To those, I offer my sincerest apologies and my thanks for your good and gracious natures!

Year round and summer visitors from in and out of the town, county and state joined us, some every week, and we are so grateful for your enthusiasm and support.

This was our fifth year of bringing live events to Bucksport’s Main Street, and it wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of our faithful volunteers and the local merchants and businesses who have been behind us every step of the way, every year. Our attendance was up, the programs were great and we’re beginning to plan our strategy for next year.

This amazing community has been so strong and positive since 2014, when everything changed, and we’re all so proud to be part of Bucksport.

Paula Kee
Chair, Bucksport’s Wednesday On Main

Building Maine’s skilled workforce

Recent letter-writer Brian Langley is exactly right that Maine’s economy needs every Maine student to pursue post-secondary education or training. Langley touched on efforts by MaineSpark, a coalition working to ensure that by 2025, 60 percent of Maine adults hold a post-secondary degree or credential of value.

More than 100 organizations are powering MaineSpark. They include Educate Maine, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Development Foundation, Finance Authority of Maine, University of Maine System and Maine Community College System. Together, we are committed to solving Maine’s skills gap. With most new jobs going to people with college degrees or other post-secondary credentials, we also are dedicated to positioning Maine people for success in today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.

And we’re making progress: Since MaineSpark launched, the percentage of Mainers who hold a degree or credential is up 4 percent in two years, to 46 percent. We are resolute in our commitment to continue our work to ensure employers have the workforce they need, and Maine people are well-positioned to succeed.

Jason Judd
Executive Director, Educate Maine