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VPC Backgrounder on Ruger, the Manufacturer of the Assault Rifle Used in the Lewiston, Maine Mass Shooting

October 31, 2023

On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, Army reservist Robert Card entered a local bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. Equipped with a Ruger SFAR assault rifle, he killed 18 victims and wounded 13 others before taking his own life. Days after the attack he was found dead, the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.This backgrounder offers information on the Ruger SFAR assault rifle and other assault weapons manufactured by the company, additional mass shootings that have been committed with Ruger firearms (including foreign civilian mass shootings), firearm production data, voluntary "safety alerts" warning of defects in specific Ruger firearms, the company's financial support of the National Rifle Association, and links to its social media outlets.

Nonprofit Workforce Shortage Survey In Maine

September 5, 2023

In April 2023, more than 1,600 charitable nonprofit organizations throughout the United States completed the nonprofit workforce shortages survey designed to gauge whether job vacancies continue to be a problem for the missions of those organizations, how the vacancies impact communities, and what actions have been taken and are proposed for alleviating the challenges. More than forty Maine nonprofits provided insights that provide the substance of this report.

Practical Guidance: What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying in Maine

January 8, 2023

Bolder Advocacy's Practical Guidance – What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying state law resource series is designed to help nonprofits determine if lobbying rules in their state might apply to their state or local work, and if they do, how best to navigate them!Each Guide Includes:Summary of lobbyist registration and reporting triggers in the stateKey critical takeaways for nonprofit organizationsFAQs – giving practical perspective on how to interact with the state rulesCase study for a hypothetical small student voting rights organizationList of helpful additional resourcesWho are these Guides For?Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations: Leaders and staff of nonprofit organizations that work on (or are thinking about working on) advocacy initiatives at the state or local levelLawyers: Lawyers and compliance professionals interested in working with nonprofit advocacy organizations doing state and local level workFunders: Funding organizations working to ensure strong organizational capacity and infrastructure for the groups they fund doing advocacy work at the state and local level

Feeling the Pinch: Inflation and corporate consolidation

June 20, 2022

Prices are rising and Mainers are feeling the pinch. At the same time, some of the world's largest corporations are reporting record profits.The mismatch between Mainers feeling the pinch as corporate profits rise is the result of choices made by policymakers over time, particularly at the federal level, that have given corporations greater power over people to set prices and control the flow of goods and services. Now, corporations are using this power to extract even larger profits under the cover of current global supply chain disruptions.Prices on everyday items that we all rely on including meat, milk, bread, fuel, and electricity have gone up as much as 16 percent in the last year. That's well above the average increase in the costs of goods and services as a consequence of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and changing consumer behavior. From April 2020 through December 2021, corporate profits accounted for 54 percent of each dollar increase in prices compared to just 11 percent on average during the 40 years prior to that period. As a result, corporate profits are the highest they've ever been since the late 1940s.Against this backdrop, policymakers must work to reduce corporate consolidation and power while also helping to buttress Mainers against ongoing price increases. 

How the Child Tax Credit was spent in Maine

May 13, 2022

The improved and expanded monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) has been one of the most successful and popular American Rescue Plan Act programs, providing flexibility to parents to buy food, make rent, afford child care, and other routine but essential family expenses. It dramatically lowered the number of U.S. children living in poverty -- and the ripple effect made our economy stronger by increasing spending in local economies and supporting jobs as families use the money to purchase food, pay bills, and cover school and childcare expenses.National studies confirm CTC payments succeeded in reducing adversity for kids and improving economic stability across the country. And in MECEP's report, How the Child Tax Credit was spent in Maine, we can now see specifically how it benefited Maine families as well.

A Better Path for Maine: The Case for Decriminalizing Drugs

March 21, 2022

No one should die or have their life derailed because they, or someone they love, uses drugs. But that is what is happening in Maine because of criminalization: There are very real economic and social costs because Maine criminalizes drug use and possession. We talked to more than 150 people -- those who have been arrested for drug crimes, their family members as well as prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers, and harm reduction workers.In these pages, we'll detail the enormous toll that drug laws take on our communities. Our data is pulled from interviews conducted in person, over the telephone, and on Zoom. We also submitted public records requests and reviewed academic public health research, as well as local and national media stories covering drug policy.The report illustrates the harm that criminalization does to individuals and their families and how much money the state has spent to do so. Our recommendations will not only help people who use drugs, but will mean wiser investments of public funds.We hope this report will make a new way in Maine, one that turns away from old systems of punishment and towards an investment in communities and connection.

State of Working Maine 2021: COVID-19 Reveals Urgency to Protect and Empower Maine Workers

November 3, 2021

The arrival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) in the United States in early 2020 led to massive social and economic upheaval. The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated drastic public health measures and resulted in some of the most dramatic economic shifts in the last century. The pandemic simultaneously created new challenges and exacerbated existing ones. It both required the prompt adoption of innovative policy solutions and refocused attention on policies that had long been identified as necessary to improve working conditions in the US.State of Working Maine 2021 details the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working Mainers and examines the effectiveness of policymakers' responses. It illustrates the ways in which policymakers must learn from the pandemic in crafting new policy that improves conditions and supports, and the opportunities which are presented in this moment of rebuilding to create a fairer economic system that works for everyone -- not just those at the top. In particular, by placing additional strain on an already-disparate system, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened existing challenges for women and people of color. 

Success Story: What it Took to Bring Open Primaries to Maine

September 8, 2021

Open Primaries and Open Primaries Maine launched an effort in 2017 to enact semi-open primaries legislation. It passed after a multi-year campaign in June 2021. This report will shed light on this multi-year process and offer political reform advocates ideas and practical lessons learned that can be useful in other venues.

Field Notes: Equity & State Climate Policy

September 5, 2019

For more than a decade, states and cities across the country have served a leadership role in advancing science-informed climate policy through city, state and multi-state efforts. The rapid pace by which state climate policy is emerging is evidenced by the number of new laws, directives and policies adopted in 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone. Currently, there is an active ongoing dialogue across the U.S. regarding the intersection of climate and equity objectives with efforts targeted at addressing needs of disadvantaged communities and consumers. This climate/equity intersection is due to several factors, including recognition by many cities and states that climate change is and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations and will exacerbate existing stressors faced by disadvantaged communities and consumers. Research indicates that a greater proportion of environmental burden exists in geographic areas with majority populations of people of color, low-income residents, and/or indigenous people. It is well known that certain households (including some that are low-income, African American, Latino, multi-family and rural) spend a larger portion on their income on home energy costs. States and stakeholders are realizing that a transition to a low-carbon future by mid-century will require significantly increased participation of disadvantaged communities and households in the benefits of climate and clean energy programs.

Engaging Families, Empowering Children

July 30, 2019

As the country becomes more diverse, schools that successfully engage all families will transform learning and leadership. This executive summary captures "takeways" from partnerships forged by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to create environments where teachers, families and community members can effectively collaborate and share power.

Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund

January 1, 2019

The Maine Legislature established the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund (22 MRSA c. 252 §1322-E) in 2005. The bill was the outcome of an effort led by a coalition of environmental activists. It authorizes a fee of 25 cents per gallon on all paint sold in Maine. The fee is imposed on paint manufacturers or brand label owners. It provides a waiver for payment for those who sell low quantities. Revenue from the fees fluctuated between$700,000 and $800,000 in the initial years. Revenue decreased during the recession but is currently stable at around $650,000 annually.The Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund (LPPF) is administered with the help of an Advisory Board by the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Unit (CLPPU) within the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Maine Department of Health and Human  Services (DHHS). Resources from the LPPF are used to accelerate progress towards eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Maine through statewide and community-based  activities that enable the public to identify lead hazards and take precautionary actions to prevent exposure to lead.

Study of the Engage New England initiative, cross-site learning brief 1: Learnings from the cohort 1 planning process.

October 29, 2018

In 2017, the Barr Foundation launched Engage New England (ENE), a signature initiative that provides a unique opportunity for local education agencies and nonprofits to plan for and develop innovative schools designed to serve students off track to high school graduation. School design partner Springpoint is leading three cohorts of grantees through a three-phase planning year: Understand, Design, and Build. During the Understand phase, grantees conduct research to understand the needs of their student populations. In the Design phase, the grantees design a school model to meet those needs; planning to launch that model begins in the Build phase. The first cohort of grantees received planning year grants for the 2017–18 school year and included a combination of new schools and school redesigns. During the planning year, these grantees assembled teams to lead the design work, collected and analyzed data to learn about their current or potential students and community needs and capacities, articulated design priorities, and began to plan for the launch of the new or refined school model. SRI Education, the research partner for the ENE initiative, captured the learnings from the planning process through interviews, classroom observations, and student focus groups conducted during March and April 2018. The findings in this brief are based on the reflections of the school and design leaders and staff members involved in the design process as well as Springpoint staff members who supported the design process. This brief is designed to benefit all three cohorts of ENE grantees as they plan and build their schools and to highlight key elements of planning for innovative school models.