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Rep. Ellen Winchenbach (R-Waldoboro), freshman member of the LCRED Committee.
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For Immediate Release

Date: 11/22/13

Labor, Commerce Committee Members Praise Unemployment Rate Drop

Lawmakers who focus on jobs, workforce say LePage reforms matter

AUGUSTA - Lawmakers on the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee on Friday said they were not surprised by the Department of Labor's news that Maine's unemployment rate is at a post-recession low of 6.7 percent—six points below the national average.

The committee handles all legislation relating to the Department of Labor and various state boards and agencies, such as those overseeing labor relations, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, professional licensing, and small business loans.

"We've implemented many, many serious economic reforms through this committee during the LePage Administration's tenure, and although we have a long way to go, I see those reforms paying dividends," said Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), the ranking House Republican on the LCRED Committee. "There were many laws and regulations in place in 2010 that made it much harder for businesses to expand and scared off investment in our state. We've changed many of those."

Rep. Brian Duprey (R-Hampden), who previously served in the Legislature during liberal governorships in 2001-2008, said the sea change is noticeable. "As the CEO of a large company, my business rises and falls based on the unemployment rate," he said. "I am having a record year thanks to the policies Governor LePage has put in place, hiring 20 new employees in the last 6 months."

Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) has been an outspoken champion of implementing workplace freedom, or right-to-work, laws in Maine. "Although we haven't convinced the Democrats to do it yet, the Governor understands the need for this reform because business leaders from out of state tell him point-blank that they can't move to Maine unless we reform our antiquated labor laws," said Rep. Lockman. "The Governor has been making the case for that change, and I'm confident that in time we can make it happen."

Rep. Ellen Winchenbach (R-Waldoboro) is a 36-year licensed cosmetologist. "I've seen firsthand Maine's economic stagnation over the years, but thanks to Governor LePage and Republican reforms, it's a new day in Maine. We caught a break in taxes, regulations are more reasonable, and government is finally responding to the needs of sole proprietors and other small businesses."

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Maine House Republicans
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