Legislator’s bill would limit welfare

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LIVERMORE – State Rep. Gary Knight attended the Board of Selectpersons’ meeting Tuesday night to report legislative bills he is co-sponsoring.

“Annually, there are 2,400 – and some odd bills – that are introduced in the Legislature,” he said, and one he is co-sponsoring with Scott Lansley of Sabattus would limit welfare.

“The bill would have a six-month residency provision and a five-year exit strategy,” Knight said.

Selectperson Brenda Merrill agreed with the idea, saying, “People in Maine are willing to help, but people are coming here from other states when that welfare runs out.”

Knight said it’s not uncommon for people to be on Maine’s system within 24 hours of arriving in the state.

Another bill addresses sexual predators. “Those towns that do not have police stations, such as Livermore, would be able to display photos of sex offenders,” the representative said.

Knight also co-signed a bill to reduce jail time from nine to six months at the county level. Currently, inmates released from the state prison in Warren are incarcerated at a county jail for up to nine months if found in violation of their probation.

“We are paying for their time at the county jail,” Administrative Assistant Kurt Schaub said.

“This would force the state to address this issue,” Knight said.

The board discussed the pros and cons of Gov. John Baldacci’s plan to reduce the number of school districts from 152 to 26.

Schaub said, “I think we have locally a great superintendent in Terry Despres, who has a very keen insight on this.”

Knight agreed, “Terry is working diligently on these issues.”

Selectperson John Wakefield told Knight, “I have served 28 years on the school board and here on this board about eight years now, and you’re the first representative, other than John Nutting, who has come to a meeting. I commend you for that.”

“Every day is a learning process,” Knight responded. “It’s a nonpartisan nature so far at the State House and the camaraderie is working quite well. I’d like to be here on a monthly basis.”

Chairperson Grace Jacques said, “We’d love to have you.”

In other business, Denny Blais and Matthew Dion, both of Livermore, have verbally accepted positions on the Planning Board. The board now has full membership and will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Livermore residents Jim Holt, Dick Parker and David Israelson will serve on the Comprehensive Planning Committee.

Livermore’s solid waste tipping fee to Jay will increase from $80.50 to $82.25 per ton. “This is a 2 percent increase and was anticipated in our budget,” Schaub said.

The Board of Selectpersons will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29, at the Town Office.

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