There is a mini-drama unfolding in the Legislature with a conflict between two of the different worlds in which I live: the world of medicine and the world of politics.  

What happens when these worlds collide is unfortunately not just the stuff of good theater — it has major health consequences for our children.

The matter in question is whether Maine should ban the use of tanning salons for children under the age of 18.

It is medically proven that when young people tan, they’re more likely to be afflicted with an extremely difficult to treat and often-deadly form of skin cancer: malignant melanoma.

According to medical studies, even minimal exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds before the age of 25 can increase the risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, by 75 percent.

Melanoma is the second most common cancer in high school and college students, and the most common cancer in those ages 24 to 29. Because melanoma is deadly, prevention is the best cure.

This is why I sponsored L.D. 272, a bill passed by the Legislature, to prevent children under the age of 18 from using tanning salons. The proposed Maine guidelines are already in force in California and Vermont, and earlier this month, Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey signed a similar law.

This is not partisan politics; this is a public health issue and a public health hazard. Unfortunately, our governor has chosen not to put kids first and has vetoed the bill.

There are times when science and medicine should supersede politics, and this is one of those times.

Both the Senate and the House are expected to take up the bill again this week. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to put kids first. Ask them to put public health before politics and vote to override the governor’s veto.

State Sen. Geoff Gratwick, M.D., D-Bangor

Time for state to put end to cruel bear-hunting practices

Some traditions must end because they are cruel and no longer acceptable to a majority of modern-day citizens. Hounding black bears with attack dogs or trapping them near bait piles and then executing these helpless bears are two such barbaric traditions that must go.

Black bears are gentle and shy beings — they are not dangerous war criminals. It is horrible animal abuse to allow GPS-collared, trained attack dogs to chase Maine’s black bears through the woods of our state.

Bears are subdued and often torn apart alive by these dogs. If they make it up a tree, they are terrorized until the “brave hunter” gets out of his truck, follows the GPS signal and shoots the terrorized bear out of the tree. They are often still alive when they fall to the ground. The dogs attack and tear into them.

Is this ethical? Is it fair chase hunting? Maine is one of only a handful of states that still allows such “hounding” of black bears.

Maine is the only state that allows bears to be snared and trapped. Bears are lured to rotting piles of food where snares have been laid out.

A trapped bear can suffer for many hours, sometimes even a day or more, until their executioner arrives and shoots them at point-blank range. Is that ethical, fair chase hunting?

Some bear hunters sell bear parts to China or other Asian buyers where they are used as ineffective medicines. Should Maine black bears be persecuted and killed for “fun” or for phony medical cures?

The Humane Society of the United States is sponsoring the Maine Bear Protection Act, which will outlaw these cruel and unethical attacks on Maine’s black bears. Please contact your state legislators and ask them to support this humane legislation.

Robert Goldman

South Portland

Correction: The title of this letter has been corrected to reflect the content of the legislation.

Job creators threatened with ‘punitive’ tax hikes

The president is talking about reducing the federal deficit without crippling the budget — great promises on an extremely important issue.

However, instead of talking about spending cuts, he’s attacking the oil and gas industry and planning to raise taxes on energy companies.

The so-called “stimulus” bill that is being circulated by President Obama includes provisions that would skew the global playing field against U.S.-based oil and natural gas companies.

He wants to do this by changing existing “dual-capacity” rules — tax laws that grant tax credits to American companies generating income in foreign countries, enabling them to use taxes they’ve already paid abroad to offset additional domestic taxation on that same foreign income.

By eliminating dual-capacity rules, Obama’s measure would double-tax our domestic oil and natural gas producers — putting them at a competitive disadvantage with foreign operators.

This is unacceptable to me. As a Mainer, I firmly believe that President Obama and Congress should work to maintain our domestic industries’ competitive edge.

The federal deficit should be tackled with reduced spending and an increase in job production — not punitive tax increases on proven job creators.

Jon Stinson


LePage veto of tanning bill draws on dubious rationale

Paul LePage has vetoed a bill that would bar those under 18 from using tanning machines (“LePage vetoes bill to ban youth tanning,” April 4). His rationale is that parents would make the right decisions for their children.

No doubt LePage would also remove age restrictions on drinking, driving, viewing adult movies and having sexual relations.

I wonder if LePage ever stops to think through the consequences of his strange ideas. Maybe he simply doesn’t understand.

Daniel Harris


Calico’s death sad reminder of dangers cats face outside

She lay in the middle of the street. The driver did not stop.

She looked up at me, her eyes filled with pain, and gave a silent cry. A stranger walking by helped to move her to the side of the road, and together we grieved as she died.

This lovely calico cat did not go home last Monday, April 1. She was killed on Capisic Street.

Please, please do not let your cats wander. Keep them safe.

Betty Grant