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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

ME naval workers seek state-backed loans in case of government shutdown

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Monday, March 11, 2024   

Federal workers in Maine are backing legislation to help ensure they can pay their bills in case of a government shutdown.

Those who might be furloughed or required to work without pay are requesting access to state-backed, no-interest loans.

Alana Schaeffer, president of the Metal Trades Council at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, said the 6,000 workers overhauling the nation's submarines deserve support.

"I watch the anxiety of our workers who are just trying to feed their family, pay their bills, lace up their boots and come in and serve their country every day," Schaeffer observed.

Schaeffer pointed out the loans would be repaid when the government reopens and employees receive retroactive paychecks. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, president of the Senate, and received little pushback in a committee hearing. The next federal funding deadline is March 22.

Legislation to fully fund federal agencies was supposed to have been enacted into law by October 1, the start of the 2024 fiscal year, but lawmakers have instead relied on a series of stopgap spending measures to keep the government open.

Schaeffer noted while Congress debates immigration and foreign aid packages, federal workers are left wondering about their next paycheck, and area businesses are wondering if they can remain open.

"That's money that people are paying at our local restaurants, at the gas station down the road," Schaeffer explained. "When they have to make cuts, the rest of our local community also see the ripple effects of that."

The 2018 government shutdown left federal employees without being paid for 35 days. Schaffer added she trusts Maine lawmakers will support the workers who remain dedicated to America's defense, regardless of the political climate in the nation's capital.


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