Under The Dome: Inside The Maine State House 7-11-13

by Pierce Atwood LLP
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Augusta, ME

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House is a regular update that provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. If you would like more specific information regarding an item in this newsletter or related to government relations, please contact a member of our Government Relations Practice Group: John Delahanty, Andrea C. Maker or Avery Day.

This Week's Highlights

Legislature Completes First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature

At 12:28 a.m. on July 10th, the Maine Legislature adjourned sine die, ending the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature. The House and Senate met on July 9th for what is termed a “veto day,” where both chambers consider gubernatorial vetoes of previously enacted bills. The Legislature considered roughly 30 vetoes issued by the Governor on the 9th and completed action on roughly 20 other bills before adjourning for the last time.

One of the big stories of the day was the number of vetoes issued by the Governor. Governor LePage had already broken records for the number of bills vetoed in a single year going into the last day of the session and the roughly 30 additional vetoes only added to this total. The Governor vetoed 83 bills in total this session, with the Legislature overriding only 5. Vetoes were issued on bills both big and small, based on various principles articulated by the Governor, like opposing increases in fees and taxes.

While the focus yesterday was on the number of vetoes issued and sustained, various other numbers are now available on adjournment. For example, 1577 bills were introduced during the First Regular Session. To put this in perspective, during the First Regular Sessions of the 124th and 125th Legislatures, 1496 bills and 1588 bills, respectively, were introduced. Of this year’s 1577 bills, a little over 500 will actually become law. Another 213 bills have been carried over to the next legislative session. To provide a perspective, during the First Regular Sessions of the 124th and 125th Legislatures, 87 and 130 bills, respectively, were carried over. Over 90 carry over bills remain before the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, as the Committee has deferred action on bond proposals and all of the bills on the Special Appropriations Table that were not funded this year were carried over, as opposed to killed, which has been the practice in other years.

We also now know that adjournment this year fell 21 days after the statutory adjournment date for this year’s session. Also with final adjournment, we can now calculate the effective date of non-emergency legislation, which will be October 9, 2013.

Bond Discussion Delayed

Legislative leaders opted to delay consideration of bond bills and did not vote on any bonding proposals before adjourning the First Regular Session. Rather, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee has been directed to meet over the coming months to put together a bond package, which will likely be considered during a Special Session of the Legislature this fall in order to get a bond package added to the ballot in November. This course of action, however, was not without controversy, as the Governor and Republicans in the Legislature opposed the proposal to bundle certain bond bills into one package. Rather, Republicans wanted transportation bonding to appear as a separate item on the ballot. The Governor and Republicans in the Legislature also urged action on a transportation bond before the Legislature adjourned, as opposed to considering this issue during a Special Session.

Governor LePage Confirms He is Seeking Reelection

After a brief period of speculation that Governor LePage would not seek reelection, the Governor confirmed last week that he would indeed be seeking reelection. The Governor confirmed his plans to seek reelection during a political fundraiser hosted by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. With the Governor’s confirmation that he is seeking reelection, the major contenders for Governor are all but set, with the Governor (Republican), Congressman Mike Michaud (Democrat) and Eliot Cutler (Unenrolled) all vying for this seat.

Senator Goodall Resigns from the Senate, New Leadership Elected

With the adjournment of the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature, Senator Seth Goodall resigned his seat in the Maine Senate. Senator Goodall had already announced his intentions to resign based on his appointment as Regional Administrator for the federal Small Business Administration. With Senator Goodall vacating this seat, a special election will be held to fill the vacancy.

Senator Goodall served not only as the representative of Senate District 19 but also as Senate Majority Leader. With his departure, Senate Democrats were required to elect new leadership and they wasted no time in selecting new leaders. On July 10th, Senate Democrats voted unanimously to elect Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson to the vacant position of Senate Majority Leader. With the election of Senator Jackson as Senate Majority Leader, a replacement was required to fill his previous position. Senate Democrats voted unanimously to elect Senator Anne Haskell from Portland to the position of Assistant Senate Majority Leader, adding a new face to the leadership ranks. Senator Haskell, the Senate Chair of the Taxation Committee, is serving her first term in the Senate. She previously has served six terms in the House.

Shake Up in Leadership of the State Republican Party

Last week, it was announced that both the Chairman and Vice Chairwoman of the Maine Republican Party had resigned. Chairman Rich Cebra, a former legislator, and Vice Chairwoman Beth O’Connor, also a former legislator, both stepped down in rapid succession, leaving the Party without formal leadership. Replacements for both positions will be selected in the near future by the Republican State Committee.

Summary of New Maine Laws to be Published Soon

Each year, Pierce Atwood produces a summary of newly enacted Maine laws that are of particular interest to our clients and the business community in general. With final adjournment, we are working on producing this year’s summary and expect to publish this summary shortly. Please watch your e-mail inbox for this document.

Under the Dome Schedule

Now that the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature has adjourned and the pace of legislative developments is expected to slow, we intend to issue Under the Dome on an every other week basis, beginning with the next edition, which will be sent to you on July 19th.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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