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.
Governor LePage Issues First Vetoes of 126th Legislature
This week, Governor LePage vetoed two bills: LD 49, An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Payment of Fees to Registers of Deeds, and LD 272, An Act to Reduce Youth Cancer Risk. These were the first vetoes of the 126th Legislature and likely will not be the last time the Governor uses his veto pen this year.
LD 49 was a noncontroversial bill related to fees collected by registers of deeds and the Governor’s veto was unexpected. When the Governor’s veto was considered in the House, all but six members voted to override the veto. When this vetoed bill was presented to the Senate, however, the Senate narrowly voted to sustain the Governor’s veto by a margin of just one vote, killing the bill.
LD 272 relates to the use of tanning beds by individuals under the age of 18. This bill was the subject of heated debate when it initially proceeded through the Legislature and party line votes were taken on this bill in both the House and the Senate. The Governor vetoed this bill and his veto will likely be considered by the Legislature next week. Initial votes in both chambers indicate that there likely is not sufficient support for this bill to override the Governor’s veto.
Minimum Wage Proposal Sent to the Governor’s Desk
This week, the Legislature completed action on LD 611, An Act to Adjust Maine’s Minimum Wage Annually Based on Cost-of-living Changes, which would raise the minimum wage by 50 cents per hour each year for the next three years, to bring the wage to $9.00 per hour. This proposal would also adjust Maine’s minimum wage for inflation annually, beginning in 2017. This bill, which was opposed by Republican lawmakers, proceeded through the legislative process in an expedited manner and is now on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his decision. If this bill is vetoed by the Governor, there may not be sufficient support for this measure to overcome a gubernatorial veto.
House and Senate Take Initial Votes on Tax Measures
This week, the House and Senate voted on two very different tax proposals. Both chambers voted, largely along party lines, in favor of a bill that would increase Maine’s earned income tax credit and against a bill that would reduce Maine’s income tax on capital gains. The capital gains proposal, LD 65, is now dead. The earned income tax credit proposal, LD 455, is subject to further deliberations. Many in Augusta anticipated that tax policy would be a major point of departure between the Democratic and Republican Parties this session and these two bills may be “test cases” that prove these suspicions.
Polling Data Released
This week, Pan Atlantic SMS Group released polling data that touched on the 2014 gubernatorial race. With the election nearly a year and a half away and with little sense of who may actually be on the 2014 ballot, polling data may not mean much. That reality did not limit discussion of this poll, which, among other things, showed Governor LePage winning a three-way race. Interestingly, this poll also showed that while over 70 percent of those polled do not approve of the Governor’s style of governing, over 60 percent of those polled do approve of the Governor’s policies.