California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy

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California is going all in on clean energy. Legislators just passed a bill that puts the state on a path to become 100% reliable on clean energy by 2045, making it the largest economy in the world to enact such an environmentally friendly policy. Governor Jerry Brown has until the end of next month to sign the bill and make it official.

This is not the first eco-friendly move in the California state legislator. The state previously had a goal to become 50% reliant on clean energy by 2030, a goal… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building



Bill Gates-backed startup will give you real-time video of nearly anywhere on Earth

Start-up EarthNow is promoting its proposed service of offering real-time video, taken from space, of any point on our planet. Backed by such high-profile supporters as Bill Gates and Airbus, EarthNow promises to boldly go where no one has gone before through a proposed “constellation” of satellites that will offer clients their pick of locations and angles from which to capture real-time video of Earth. EarthNow promises the delivery of video with only a one-second delay, without the need to wait… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Public rejects bill that would have sold 3 million acres of public land

If you’ve ever worried calls to your representatives don’t make a difference, here’s a story to persuade you otherwise. After Congress paved the way to toss out 640 million acres of American land, one Utah representative put forth a bill that would have disposed of three million acres of public land from 10 different states. After Americans resoundingly said they were against the bill, the representative, Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, announced on social media he will withdraw the bill. View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Wyoming lawmakers launch bill that would ban selling renewable energy

In a move that puts the “R” in regressive, a group of Republican lawmakers in Wyoming just launched a bill that would effectively ban selling wind and solar power in the state. The measure proposes to fine utilities for purchasing energy produced by large-scale renewable power projects.

According to Inside Climate News, the bill is chiefly sponsored by representatives from the state’s main coal-producing counties. If enacted, it would force utilities to use power from only approved… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Bill Nye the Science Guy backs revolutionary solar company

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA8fKlfcA7E

Related: Rayton’s new super-efficient, affordable solar panels could trump fossil fuels View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Senate passes weak GMO-labeling bill, nullifying Vermont’s pro-consumer requirements

The United States Senate passed a controversial bill Wednesday that would require food makers to disclose genetically modified food ingredients—at least, sort of. The version of the bill passed this week outlines a compromise that would allow companies to avoid printing “contains GMOs” on food packaging, in lieu of a digital QR code that links to a disclaimer or, for smaller companies, simply a phone number or website. This weaker version of a nationwide mandatory GMO labeling is being considered… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Maine’s Death with Dignity Bill Clears the Joint Standing Committee for Health and Human Services

This is a report from last Friday’s working session at the Maine Joint Standing Committee for Health and Human Services by our long-time supporter and volunteer, Valerie Lovelace.

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Valerie Lovelace is the executive director of the nonprofit It’s My Death, which she founded to honor a promise to her sister Dee, dying of cancer, “to teach others how to be with dying, how to speak and listen to one another the way we had learned to speak and listen, and how to go on even when afraid.” She is an inter-faith minister, ordained by calling, studying and practicing in the traditions of her elders and teachers, who are Native American, Christian, and Buddhist. She is a hospice volunteer, artist, and the parent of three adult children. She is also a homeopathic practitioner and a Reiki Master, retired from the U.S. Navy, and a trained EMT. She lives in Maine.

The 127th Maine legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services approved LD 1270, An Act Regarding Patient Self-Directed Care at End of Life, on May 22, 2015 by a vote of 7 to 5 in a working session lasting less than one hour. Twelve of the committee’s thirteen members were present for the session.

The week prior, the Committee heard verbal testimony for several hours and received 44 pieces of written public testimony.

The bill, which will allow qualified terminally ill patients to ask for and ultimately receive a life-ending prescription medication from a physician, was first introduced April 7, 2015, and referred to the Joint Standing Committee for public hearing. Having passed that wicket, the bill must now pass sessions with the House and Senate.

Something quite special about LD 1270: it is the product of four bills independently introduced by different sponsors: Senator Roger Katz (R, Kennebec), and Representatives Roberta Beavers (D, District 2), Stephen Wood (R, District 57), and Patricia Harlow (D, District 36). None knew the others were working on a bill for patient self-directed end-of-life care. The four sponsors soon joined forces to submit a single bill, and the result of that effort is LD 1270, a strongly bipartisan proposal endorsed by six additional co-sponsors: Representatives Erik Jorgensen (D, District 41), Richard Campbell (R, District 130), Kathleen Dillingham (R, District 72), Brian Hubbell (D, District 135), Diane Russell (D, District 39), and Senator Dawn Hill (D, York).

“Ultimate Civil Liberty”

A particularly strong sentiment behind this bill is that of liberty. Two committee members spoke passionately about the end of our lives being a place of intimate privacy where “ultimate civil liberty” ought to prevail. That sentiment echoed through the room and I spoke with a number of folks afterward who repeated those words.

I have to be honest: the expression brought tears to my eyes, too. Having sat by the bedside of a number of dying people who spoke of the need for such a freedom, it was music to my ears hearing it from members of the committee.

Here in Maine, like other rural states, our legislators split their time between representation and full-time occupations elsewhere. Among committee members who supported LD 1270 are a physician, a family nurse practitioner, a healthcare program manager, a real estate broker, a human services provider, and a program manager for a statewide hunger relief organization.

Apprehension arising from testimony and the working session revolve around two central themes: conscious, voluntary choice for anyone participating (including pharmacists whose beliefs may be in conflict), and concerns for placing vulnerable populations at risk, including those whose health insurance may want to opt for the least expensive options.

Refuting Opposition Arguments

Insurance concerns arise from allegations that LD 1270 will ultimately lead to slippery slopes. Yet, 17 years of data and a lot of research say that isn’t so. Cases often cited in the argument are that of Randy Stroup and Barbara Wagner, both of Oregon and both of whom were initially denied on-going treatment for cancer by their state-operated health insurance plan. The two were notified by letter that their diagnoses qualified them in Oregon for all end-of-life services, including palliative/hospice care, home services, and/or an end-of-life prescription. The allegations, truthfully, point to problems in the 2008 administrative limitations of Oregon’s Health Plan, and not to problems in Oregon’s Death with Dignity law. The cases are typically cited out of context and generally don’t share the entire story. It is absolutely unconscionable that these two people felt harmed by their insurance company’s limitations. In both cases, the individuals did receive the treatments they sought after contacting media. And well they should have.

The obvious safeguard in these laws, of course, is that there is a lengthy, formal process that must be initiated by a qualifying patient’s request to their physician for a life-ending medication. Neither Mr. Stoup nor Ms. Wagner made such a request, either verbally or in writing, nor were they ever at risk for being forced to choose life-ending medication.

It feels certain that concerns will always arise with legislation like Maine’s LD 1270. I certainly hope so. Having the discussion is an integral part of the process to crafting careful legislation that ultimately will provide an end-of-life prescription choice for those who wish to have it available, and safeguarding for those who want to choose otherwise.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

A Report from Maine Death with Dignity Bill Hearing

This is a report from last Friday’s Maine House Committee Hearing on LD1270 – An Act Regarding Patient Self-Directed Care at End-of-Life by our long-time supporter, Valerie Lovelace.

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Val is the executive director of the nonprofit It’s My Death, which she founded to honor a promise to her sister Dee, dying of cancer, “to teach others how to be with dying, how to speak and listen to one another the way we had learned to speak and listen, and how to go on even when afraid.” She is an inter-faith minister, ordained by calling, studying and practicing in the traditions of her elders and teachers, who are Native American, Christian, and Buddhist. She is a hospice volunteer, artist, and the parent of three adult children. She is also a homeopathic practitioner and a Reiki Master, retired from the U.S. Navy, and a trained EMT. She lives in Maine.

Maine’s Motto is “Dirigo” or “I Direct” or “I Lead” and its tagline “The Way Life Should Be.” I’m proud of how hard my legislators work to ensure our laws are fair, straight forward, and seek to ensure as much freedom as possible. It’s a balancing act, for sure. What I love about the process is that at the end of the day, when a piece of legislation is enacted, it’s been hammered over to produce the best and safest possible piece of legislation.

Attending the First Hearing for LD1270

Maine’s LD1270, An Act Regarding Patient Self-Directed Care at End-of-Life, enjoyed its first public hearing on Friday, May 15, 2015, in Augusta before the Joint Standing Committee for Health and Human Services. The bill, sponsored by Senator Roger Katz and co-sponsored by nine others, is closely modeled on Vermont’s Act 39, Patient Choice and Control at End of Life.

I was excited to go to the hearing for a number of reasons.

  • Foremost, I am committed to the needs of dying people and believe our dying is the most intimate event we will ever experience – our final act of living. As such, I hold it sacred to the individual.
  • Secondly, it was my first time to the State House and first time being an actual participant in the legislative process as a concerned citizen.
  • Finally, the bonus for me is that it was my birthday.

Legal, Professional, and Emotional Testimonies

It was a rare gift, indeed, to hear testimony after testimony regarding the need for a safe, legal end-of-life prescription process in Maine. Senator Katz spoke eloquently about the bill and what it offers, what it safeguards, and how it addresses concerns generally voiced in opposition. He was followed by a number of co-sponsors who also testified, some with profoundly personal stories of loss. Following that testimony, citizens had three minutes each to speak for, against, or neither-for-or-against the bill.

Supporters came forward with both professional and deeply moving personal stories, demonstrating a clear understanding of the bill. Voices in support, voices in opposition, voices offering neither for-or-against critiques: all heard, all noted, and all to be taken into working session.

I spoke briefly and submitted written testimony. My feeling is that the personal stories and experiences of all who came to support LD1270 sent a clear, unified message to our legislators: “Dirigo.” The way life (and the end of life) should be: self-directed.

Next Steps for Maine’s Death with Dignity Bill

I’m awestruck by the enormity of the task that lay ahead for this committee, who will enter working session for the bill on May 22, 2015. They will read mountains of testimony, research key points they want to understand better, dig into the legislative workings of the bill, challenge whether safeguards are reasonable, whether choice is reasonable, and whether, in the grand scheme of our living and dying, it makes good sense to embrace this end-of-life option for Maine.

I trust the process. Each of these legislators, I believe, will do their best to comprehend the bill, learn about end-of-life prescriptions and how LD1270 proposes to make that a safe process for competent, terminally ill adults who want to choose an end-of-life prescription to use as their death becomes more imminent.

We here in Maine took a good first step.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

VT Gov Shumlin Signs Historic Assisted Death Bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: Peg Sandeen, MSW, Executive Director
              Death with Dignity National Center
              503-228-4415
              psandeen@deathwithdignity.org

Death with Dignity National Center, the nonprofit organization which advanced and defends the groundbreaking Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts, applauds Vermont lawmakers for making Vermont the third state in the US allowing for safeguarded assisted death. With Governor Peter Shumlin’s signature today, Vermont took a historic step forward by becoming the first state to pass a law modeled on the groundbreaking Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts through a legislative process.

“Twenty years ago this summer, I led a small group which proposed a new idea: terminally ill adults should be able to determine the timing and manner of their deaths within certain, well-defined guidelines if they desired. What was once a novel idea, has become model legislation, codified in other states.” said Eli Stutsman, lead author of the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts and founding board member of the Death with Dignity National Center.

“We applaud the lawmakers in Vermont for taking a bold step toward expanding end-of-life options for terminally ill Vermonters,” said Peg Sandeen, Executive Director of the Death with Dignity National Center. “Vermont’s new law echoes the growing call throughout the US for policy reform around assisted death.”

Today’s historic event comes after over 10 years of diligent work by Patient Choices Vermont. Sandeen added, “We have been committed to policy reform efforts in Vermont for over 10 years, and we are proud to partner with the dedicated individuals involved in Patient Choices Vermont. Vermont lawmakers have shown their commitment to respecting their constituents’ wishes for more end-of-life options.”

The new Vermont law emulates the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts and provides guidance for terminally ill individuals seeking a peaceful death by ingesting prescribed medication. With the new law, patients are able to die in the comfort of their own homes and say their final goodbyes to loved ones.

The Death with Dignity National Center is proud to have partnered with Patient Choices Vermont to bridge the US in advocating for safeguarded assisted death laws like the ones in Oregon, Washington, and now Vermont.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

For Immediate Release: Vermont Senate Passes Amended Death with Dignity Bill

Contact: Peg Sandeen, MSW, Executive Director
              Death with Dignity National Center
              503-228-4415
              psandeen@deathwithdignity.org

The Vermont legislature is in a position to enact historic legislation in the next few days. Should the Vermont House vote to concur with a Senate amendment passed on Wednesday, May 8, Vermont will become the first state in the nation to pass a Death with Dignity law through the legislative process.

The bill has had a difficult journey to passage and faces two more hurdles: the above-mentioned House concurrence and signature by the Governor. In past statements, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has promised to sign carefully-safeguarded Death with Dignity legislation, and he issued the following statement today:

I understand the deep convictions held by Vermonters on all sides of this extraordinarily personal issue. But I also know how important it is for those who face terminal illness and tremendous pain to have this choice, in conjunction with their physicians and loved ones, in the final days of their lives. I am grateful for the Legislature’s continued hard work on this difficult issue.

Legislative committees have heard days of emotional testimony from opponents and supporters, including Ann Jackson, former Executive Director of the Oregon Hospice Association and George Eighmey, who helped terminally ill Oregonians navigate the Oregon’s Death with Dignity law for 12 years. Lawmakers themselves participated in days of debate and several rounds of voting. The House concurrence vote, likely to occur in the next few days, will be the bill’s second trip to the House this year.

In fact, legislators have been exploring this issue since 2003 in the Green Mountain State, when a bill entitled the Vermont Death with Dignity Act was introduced by 38 sponsors in the House and 8 members in the Senate. According to Peg Sandeen, Executive Director of the Death with Dignity National Center, “We are so pleased that legislators in Vermont have taken another bold step toward expanding end-of-life options for terminally ill Vermonters. We have been committed to policy reform efforts in Vermont for over 10 years, and we are proud to partner with the dedicated individuals involved in Patient Choices Vermont.”

As with any legislation, there are no guarantees the House will support the Senate’s version of the proposed law. Sandeen added, “While there are no promises nor guarantees when it comes to the legislative process, our research shows Vermont has led the nation on improving indoor air quality, marriage equality, prescription drug access and Medicaid reform, we believe Vermont will take the lead on end-of-life care reform, also.” Should the Vermont House concur with the Senate version of the bill, Vermont will become the third state in the US, following Oregon and Washington, with a carefully-safeguarded law allowing terminally ill and mentally competent adults to hasten their deaths.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center