Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House is a weekly 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 Higlights
Governor’s Veto Pledge Hangs Over Augusta
Last week, Governor LePage appeared on a morning radio show and announced that he will veto all legislation that is sent to him until the Legislature enacts his proposal to rebid Maine’s liquor contract and use liquor revenues to pay the State’s debt to Maine hospitals. Obviously, this pronouncement has had major implications for work at the State House and there is plenty of speculation as to how this situation will eventually play out.
Democratic leaders have spoken out publically against the Governor’s pledge and held a press conference this week to say that the Governor is holding authorized bonds as “hostage” during this negotiation over payment of Maine’s hospital debt. The Governor’s Office responded this week with a web video featuring street interviews of Mainers saying the hospital debt should be paid. This issue will come to a head soon. The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Governor’s proposal on Monday, March11th. Additionally, the Legislature sent five bills to the Governor’s desk on March 7th. The Governor has ten days, excluding Sundays, to veto these bills or they will take effect without his signature. Given the potential for this issue to color every other issue before the Legislature, this issue will be closely watched over the coming weeks.
Appropriations Committee Schedules Public Hearing on Biennial Budget
Next week, the Appropriations Committee will begin holding the public hearing on the biennial budget. The Committee will hear public testimony, dividing up the schedule based on agency budgets affected. Testimony will begin the morning of Monday the 11th and the Committee has already scheduled this hearing out until Friday the 22nd. Given the scope of this bill and hearing logistics, the Committee has established various procedures regarding delivering testimony (e.g., limited to 3 minutes, 40 copies of written testimony must be provided, etc.). Those interested in providing testimony or written comments can find more information regarding protocol here.
Legislature Meets in Joint Convention to Hear State of Education Address
On March 7th, the Legislature met in a Joint Convention to learn about the state of education in Maine. Chancellor Page of the University of Maine System, President Fitzsimmons of the Community College System and President Brennan of the Maine Maritime Academy each addressed the Legislature regarding the future of their institutions. Much of this address spoke to efforts at these institutions to address Maine’s workforce development challenges, a key issue of consideration during this legislative session.
Workforce Development Committee to Hold Public Hearing
The Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future has scheduled a public hearing on LD 90, the bill that will act as the primary package of reforms enacted by this Committee. The public hearing will be the morning of March 18th in room 211 or the Cross State Office Building. The Committee has received a number of recommendations during its preliminary meetings and this hearing will be an opportunity for the public to comment on these recommendations.
View Document: Joint Select Committee on Maine's Workforce and Economic Future: List of Recommendations
Congressman Michaud Considering a Run for the Blaine House
This week, Congressman Michaud announced that he was considering a run for Governor in 2014. This was the first indication by the Congressman that he was considering running for this position. The announcement then triggered speculation about who would seek to fill Maine’s Second Congressional District seat, should Congressman Michaud not seek reelection for this position. State Senator Emily Cain of Orono has expressed interest as has Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci. Campaign season does not start in earnest any time soon and candidates have many months to go before they must decide for which seat they are running.