Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.
Governor LePage Names Richard Rosen Acting DAFS Commissioner
On May 29th, Governor LePage announced that he is appointing Deputy Commissioner of Finance Richard Rosen as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. This appointment is effective June 1st, the day after the retirement of current Commissioner, Sawin Millett.
Rosen has served in a number of capacities in State government, mostly centered on the State budget, which is helpful preparation for this new position. Rosen served in the Legislature for a number of years, serving his last term as Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. From there, he held the role of Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management, an office devoted to identifying cross-agency efficiencies and budget savings. Most recently, Rosen joined the Department of Administrative and Financial Services as Deputy Commissioner of Finance.
Rosen’s appointment did not come as a major surprise, given his recent move to the Department of Administrative and Financial Services and Commissioner Millett’s announced retirement. The Governor’s announcement, however, makes this speculation official.
June 10th Elections Less Than Two Weeks Away
June 10th is a state-wide Election Day in Maine. This is largely a chance for party members to pick their candidates for the general election in closed party primaries. The biggest contests on the 10th are the primary elections of candidates for the open second congressional district seat. State Senators Troy Jackson and Emily Cain are challenging each other to be the Democratic nominee in this election and former Senate President Kevin Raye and former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin are squaring off in the Republican primary. There are five contested primaries for State Senate seats and almost twenty contested primaries for State House seats that will also be decided that day. Additionally, there are some bottom of the ballot primary contests for county offices and municipal elections and local ballot questions to be decided on June 10th.
Eliot Cutler Submits Signatures to Gain Access to November’s Ballot
On May 29th, Independent Candidate for Governor Eliot Cutler delivered signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office in order to qualify for November’s ballot. As an Independent Candidate, Cutler does not face a primary election. The Secretary of State’s Office will now review the signatures presented by Cutler, and upon verifying sufficient valid signatures, will place him on November’s ballot.
Alexander Group Contract Suspended
Last fall, the LePage Administration awarded a $925,000 contract to the Alexander Group to study and recommend improvements to Maine’s human services laws. This contract was quite controversial due to the lack of a competitive bidding process to select the research firm, the reputation of the Alexander Group, the scope of the research and the amount of the contract. Additionally, this contract was awarded during the highly contentious legislative debate on Medicaid expansion and was seen as an effort to shore up the opposition to expansion efforts, which were opposed by the Governor. During this year’s session, legislation was introduced to cancel this contract, though it did not become law. In any event, this contract remained very controversial and when the Alexander Group delivered its final report, last week, the controversy escalated due to allegations of plagiarism by the Alexander Group. In light of these allegations, the Governor canceled this contract and said he would withhold unpaid sums to the Alexander Group. Moreover, the State is exploring recovery of sums already paid. This is likely not the end of this issue, as it continues to receive considerable attention in the media.