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Homeland Security Comes to Maine
And big news for the islands: Last week I learned that the Maine State Ferry Service did not get a waiver they had applied for from the U.S. Coast Guard for homeland security requirements. Without this waiver the state will be required to install new security equipment and personnel to search vehicles and possibly passengers traveling to AND from the islands on a permanent basis. I believe this policy is an excessive federal mandate that could raise our fares and, if you agree, I need your help in convincing our federal Senators and Representatives.
I have done my best to stir up the press on this issue to help encourage our federal delegation and I got a chance to speak to Senator Snowe last week at the Fisherman's Forum. Initially, she didn't believe this made sense and said she would look into it.
Of course, we all support heightened security measures in airports and other high-risk targeted areas, but this level of security on 17 or 13 car ferries coming to and from our islands is extremely excessive in my opinion. The worst of it is that the cost will be partially borne by all Maine taxpayers in an upcoming bond question (for purchase of security equipment at $250,000) and by fare-payers in the likely event of a ticket price hike. I have heard that the Ferry Advisory Committee recently met and considered a fare-hike to pay for these required measures.
While I will continue to press the DOT to do more to avoid this situation, it appears the DOT has no choice, as this is a federal requirement. I believe that some intervention from our federal delegation may help. Write, call or email our Senators & Congressmen if you feel strongly about this issue today! See their contact information below.
Senator Olympia J. Snowe
Tel: (202) 224-5344
Fax: (202) 224-1946
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1903
Rep. Tom Allen, 1st District
Tel: (202) 225-6116
Fax: (202) 225-5590
1717 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Michael Michaud, 2nd District
Tel: (202) 225-6306
437 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515