The Washington County legislative delegation today sent an open letter to Governor Janet Mills appealing for resolution to the unemployment compensation issues which have delayed payment to many small entrepreneurs.
The full text of the letter is contained below.
Dear Governor Mills,
As you know, our Washington County Legislative Delegation is a very tight-knit group that has worked tirelessly to put our own individual politics aside where the county we call home is concerned. We want to start by thanking you for all you have done for our region during the past year and a half – specifically for reopening the Calais DHHS office and committing to rebuild and reopen the Down East Correctional Facility. Knowing that you care deeply about each of our communities and the people of Washington County is very comforting during times like these.
It is that concern which compels us, as elected members of the Washington County Legislative delegation, to write today urging you to take immediate action to resolve the myriad of issues around unemployment compensation and establish a clear, concise timeline by which all eligible persons – especially the many thousands of self-employed individuals in our county which have gone without income for nearly a month – can reasonably expect to apply and receive benefits approved by the United States Congress.
Maine has a rich tradition of small- and micro-entrepreneurship businesses. This tradition is only stronger in Washington County where big box stores are a novelty and most people work for small, independent businesses that have been shuttered during the pandemic. These fishermen, clam diggers, hairstylists, contractors, restaurant and lodging owners are genuinely at their wits end with nowhere else to turn.
Governor, now is the time to act. We are not suggesting that you risk people’s health or fall into the trap of pitting lives against the economy. Those are decisions you must make in consort with business, healthcare and legislative leaders from all parties. We can advocate for folks like David and Julie Barker who own Helen’s Restaurant in Machias – who rebuilt their third-generation family restaurant from the ashes of a devastating fire four short years ago. They, and many like them, are truly in a bind needing a lifeline from our state and federal government.
We ask you to use your executive powers and your platform to advocate for, and institute immediate steps to help self-employed access benefits which they have been repeatedly promised. While the Legislature is out of session, and Congress is unable to act, we pray that you can and will – even if that means diverting discretionary state resources until federal compensation is available.
We believe, if small and micro-businesses around our county were receiving benefits, the state and county we all love could have a calm, clear, rational discussion about what the future looks like and how we can rebuild and reboot Maine’s economy.
We pray that you hear us and will leave no stone unturned in addressing the economic impacts of this pandemic. We thank you again for stepping up in the waning days of the 129th Legislature.
Senator Marianne Moore
Representative William Tuell
Representative Rena Newell
Representative Anne Perry
Representative Kathy Javner
Representative Robert Alley