April 7, 2020 at 7:19 am
To our Members:
What a challenging time we find ourselves in! First and foremost, I hope this email finds you, your family, loved ones and coworkers safe and healthy. We hope that you are coping with all of the changes that have been thrust upon all of us. We are all in this together! Here at MEREDA, we are working remotely, taking things day by day, and hoping that things return to “normal” very soon! I am trying to appreciate the benefits of learning to use technology better to be able to work remotely, and to transact business without putting our clients, employees and others at risk. I am also cognizant of the tremendous hardships that the near shutdown has created for many Maine businesses and am also grateful for our healthcare workers who frankly don’t get nearly enough recognition or support for the work they do.
MEREDA has responded to the Coronavirus pandemic as most organizations have by postponing our events, at least through May. Understanding that things could still change, in the event that the CDC lifts its restrictions by this time, we have established a new date for the 35th Anniversary Gala – June 25th, still at Ocean Gateway. We are hopeful that we will be able to hold the 35th Anniversary Gala on June 25th, but we are prepared to push the event back again if the conditions require. Same for our May events. We have just rescheduled MEREDA’s May 7th Strikes for Scholars Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser to September 16th, and MEREDA’s May 21st Annual Spring Conference, to September 3rd.
We’ve also cancelled our board and committee meetings, at least through April. With the Maine Legislature shutting down early, our Public Policy Committee was able to wrap up its regular work. The Legislature accelerated its session schedule and adjourned sine die on the evening of Tuesday, March 17. Before adjourning, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Leadership and the Governor’s office worked together to develop a supplemental budget and other emergency legislation to provide supports for individuals and businesses in the face of the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. All legislation that did not reach final disposition has been carried over until a special session is convened. No date for that session has been set. But we expect that it will be held in the fall. Our Public Policy Committee will reconvene when the legislature schedules its special session but may conduct virtual meetings to address important current issues affecting our members if those matters are appropriate matters to address with lawmakers.
Behind the scenes, we are still doing advocacy, as needed or when called upon, and have participated in discussions for matters such as executive orders to establish ways to revise certain state laws to enable Mainers to transact business remotely and safely.
Lastly, as we do our best to carry on business as usual during this difficult time, MEREDA will continue to send out membership renewal packets as scheduled. If your business has been adversely impacted by this pandemic, and you need additional time to make your payment, please contact Shelly R. Clark to discuss payment terms. It’s helpful for us as we also plan and budget, and we are more than happy to work with you. We know that a MEREDA membership is valuable to your business, and we want to make sure that our members don’t have to give up their MEREDA membership over what we hope and expect will be a short term disruption.
We look forward to getting back to work with you in the near future!
Gary D. Vogel, MEREDA President
Attorney at Drummond Woodsum