Monday, February 25, 2008

Those energy saving lightbulbs

Here are a few bits and pieces of interest today.

>>>>>Maine’s income woes have grown. It had earlier been announced that the state would suffer a $95 million shortfall in the current two cycle budget. Today the governor announced that figure will be slightly more than $200 million. And there will be many who will predict it will grow even more before the cycle is finished. Significantly more. I believe some pretty darn poor and overly optimistic income shortcoming caused the lower than expected income. Some simple facts should have been considered more carefully before projecting the state’s income. We are the highest taxed state, tied with Oregon as the #1 welfare benefit state, have the highest insurance rates, and many other places where our government takes our money. We simply don’t have as much money to spend on goods which leads to sales taxes and this pays a goodly portion of state government. And then our forecasters did some really foolish predictions, estimating about $25-million in non-used gift card sales. The state had asked gift card vendors nationwide to send the unused money to Augusta. Don’t work too hard on this question: How much money did that really generate?

>>>>>The Legislature is working today on revising drivers’ license requirements. In Maine, as you know by now, anyone can get a driver’s license without having to prove residency in the state, or the United States for that matter. A couple of recent incidents have added a little urgency to the proposed changes. One incident happened when an illegal alien got a Maine license and used it to buy a gun. He used the gun to attempt to rob a bank. In fairness, I should point out that the man had been here legally but had allowed his visa to expire. The other incident was just last week when a man was arrested for transporting a car full of illegals to Maine to get licenses. He told authorities that everyone in his New Jersey community knew that Maine asked no questions about residency. However, transporting people to the state for such purposes could result in a five year prison term and a hefty monetary fine.

>>>>>Last year the Legislature passed a law requiring consolidation of school districts in an attempt to reduce the cost of education. Among many provisions of the law is a requirement that beginning this year, school districts must put their local budgets out to referendum, not the town meeting kind but rather the secret ballot type. That part of the law has gone over like the proverbial lead balloon. (In fact, much of the law has created considerable controversy.) Some districts are flatly ignoring the law at this time and others have put so much pressure on the legislature that there is an attempt to put off implementing that part of the consolidation law until next year. It will take an emergency measure to stop the law for this year, and there is some doubt there are enough votes for an emergency passage. But there may be another legislative trick waiting in the wings: normal passage of the delay, a quick adjournment so the mandatory wait time will pass, and an immediate recall into session by the governor. The Maine Legislature has the ability to take and to take away.

>>>>>Here’s a great one. The legislature is considering a bill to require all incandescent light bulbs in Maine to be replaced by fluorescent ones. It is a consideration happening in Washington, too. But what few people are mentioning is the hazard factor of the new bulbs. If one breaks, there are several steps that have to be taken to clean up the mercury that the new bulbs contain. And those steps vary depending on the type of surface the bulb lands on. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection even goes so far as to suggest that a person replacing a new bulb first lay a drop cloth to catch any debris if the bulb gets dropped. Among the procedures is to use some sort of collection device, such as a stiff paper, and gently brush the broken glass and mercury onto the paper, and then deposit the material in a glass container for disposal. I have also read that a sealable plastic bag be used. For full instructions on disposing a new fluorescent bulb, visit the Maine DEP web site at For your own safety and for the safety of children and pets, these new energy efficient bulbs must be disposed of properly. It might be a good idea to stock up on the old bulbs and avoid the new ones as long as possible.


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