Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.
PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS SET STAGE FOR NOVEMBER BALLOT
On June 10th, Mainers went to the polls to vote in primary and local elections. The biggest primary contests were party nominations for candidates to fill the open second congressional district seat. Second district Democrats picked State Senator Emily Cain over State Senator Troy Jackson as their candidate. Second district Republicans picked former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin over former Senate President Kevin Raye as their candidate. Five State Senate primaries and twenty-one State House primaries were also decided on Tuesday along with municipal and local races. It may be dangerous to draw too many conclusions from the primary, which had a low turnout. The Maine Republican Party has touted that more second district Republicans voted on Tuesday than second district Democrats as evidence of an enthusiasm gap between the parties. The Maine Democratic Party, however, countered that this year’s gubernatorial race will bring plenty of Democrats to the polls in November.
GOVERNOR LEPAGE APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF OFFICE OF POLICY AND MANGEMENT
Last week, Governor LePage appointed Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte as the Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management. This Office was created just a few years ago and is designed to identify cross-agency efficiencies and budget savings in State government. LaBonte will be the second Director of this office, taking over from Richard Rosen, who was recently appointed as Acting Director of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. LaBonte will start in this position on June 16th.
MAINE’S BOND RATING UPGRADED
Last week, both Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and Moody’s Investor Services upgraded Maine’s bond rating. Moody’s now characterizes Maine’s debt as “stable,” which is an improvement over their previous ranking of “negative.” Some of the reasons cited for these upgrades relate to paying the State’s hospital debt, pension reforms and efforts to control Medicaid costs, while the size of the State’s “Rainy Day Fund” remains problematic. All of these factors have been hot-button political issues since Governor LePage has taken office.
GOVERNOR CONSIDERING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Last week, Governor LePage sent a letter to legislative leaders requesting that the Legislature be called back into session to deal with a number of issues. Unhappy with the resolution of a few bills at the end of this year’s legislative session, it has been rumored for some time now that the Governor is considering a special legislative session. Among the issues that the Governor considers to be outstanding are: (1) welfare reform; (2) funding for State positions to fight drug crimes; and (3) additional funding for nursing homes. Under Maine’s Constitution, the Legislature may convene at the call of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House. Further, the Governor may convene the Legislature, on extraordinary occasions.