Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.
Governor Vetoes Medicaid Expansion Legislation
On April 9th, Governor vetoed LD 1487, a bill that combined a proposal to implement managed care in the MaineCare system with an accompanying proposal to expand Medicaid. Considering the Governor has already vetoed two previous attempts to expand Medicaid, this veto did not come as a surprise. This veto will now be sent back to the Legislature for its consideration. When this bill was initially considered, it did not receive sufficient support in either the House or the Senate to override a veto, meaning this veto is expected to be sustained, killing the proposal.
The decision on whether or not to expand Medicaid has been the biggest political issue of this year’s legislative session. The Governor’s veto of LD 1487 will likely not be the last word on this issue. In fact, there is an additional proposal to expand Medicaid, LD 1578, introduced by Speaker of the House Mark Eves that is now pending in the House. Of course, once the Legislature adjourns, this issue will prominently be discussed in the context of this year’s elections in November.
Appropriations Committee Completes Work on Second Supplemental Budget
After working all night, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee unanimously voted in support of a supplemental budget for fiscal year 2015 at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. This supplemental spending bill closes a roughly $30 million budget gap for the State’s next fiscal year, which starts July 1st. This action comes on the heels of a supplemental budget for the current fiscal year becoming law last week without the Governor’s signature. The fiscal year 2015 supplemental budget bill will now be considered on the floors of the House and Senate. It appears likely that this bill will have sufficient support in the Legislature to be enacted, given some early statements made by members of both parties regarding this spending package. The Governor, however, has said he will not support this bill because he disapproves of some of the savings included in the bill that result from changes in the timing for Medicaid payments to providers.
Legislature Close to Completing Its Work, Will Soon Turn to End of Session Decision-Making
Statutory adjournment for the current legislative session now is less than a week away and the Legislature appears to be on track to complete almost all of its work by that date. Both the House and the Senate continue to complete action on pending legislation and the number of contentious bills left to be considered is dwindling. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee completing action on the fiscal year 2015 supplemental budget bill also goes a long way toward clearing the decks for adjournment.
As the Legislature draws closer to adjournment, end of session decisions will begin to be made. This includes making decisions on bills that have fiscal implications that are now pending on the Special Appropriations Table. Some of these bills were considered by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on April 11th. Also considered that same day by the same Committee were the myriad of bonding proposals. Final action on bills with fiscal implications and action on a final bond package, however, will not be taken until a later date. Other end of session decisions include action on bills affecting highway funding, which are now pending on the Highway Table, and action on bills establishing legislative study committees, which are now pending on the Study Table. Studies will be considered on Monday, April 14th by the ten members of legislative leadership, known as the Legislative Council,. Bills affecting highway funding are expected to be considered by the Transportation Committee sometime next week. While the vast majority of the Legislature’s work is done for the session, many important decisions remain.
Governor Issues Additional Vetoes
In addition to vetoing LD 1487, the bill proposing to expand Medicaid and to establish a managed care program, Governor LePage also vetoed two other bills this week. The first, LD 1060, An Act to Address Rising Electric Transmission Rates, would have modified the net energy billing program. On April 8th, this veto was sustained in the House, killing this bill. The second, LD 1671, An Act to Prohibit Motorized Recreational Gold Prospecting in Certain Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout Spawning Habitats, proposes limitations on motorized gold prospecting in certain areas. On April 8th, both the House and Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of this bill, enacting this bill into law over the Governor’s objections.