Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House 8.24.12

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Augusta, ME

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House 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 Hints at Special Session

While speaking at a fundraiser last week, Governor LePage indicated that he was considering calling the Legislature in for a special session.  He did not disclose what he wanted to accomplish but did state that Democrat legislators would be displeased.  These comments touched off wide-spread speculation the Governor’s agenda and whether or not there would be a special session.  At this point, the purpose of any special session is still largely speculation but is thought to involve paying hospitals some or all of the payments that they are due from the State.  This speculation may be all for naught, as other statements from the State House indicate that the possibility of a special session looks less likely.

East-West Highway Study Slowed

Earlier this year, the Legislature authorized the Maine Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study for an east-west highway bisecting the State.  Last week, state Senator Doug Thomas, who represents a district where that highway would likely be sited and a past proponent of the feasibility study, asked the Governor to halt the study.  This proposal has become an election year hot potato, with many in northern Maine expressing concerns regarding eminent domain and other issues.  Governor LePage agreed to significantly slow, but not suspend, the study, bringing the likelihood of this project advancing further into question.

Confirmation Session Scheduled, Nominees Being Announced

The state Senate will convene on September 6th to confirm a number of gubernatorial nominees.  The first week in September should be relatively busy at the State House, with nominees first appearing before committees of jurisdiction before they are sent to the full Senate on the 6th

With the confirmation session coming up, some nominees have been announced.  On August 20th, the Governor announced eleven judicial nominees.  Nine of these were actually re-nominations of sitting judges.  The two new nominees, Daniel Billings and John Lucy were nominated to serve as District Court Judges.  Dan Billings currently serves as Governor LePage’s legal counsel.  John Lucy is in private practice in Bangor, where he has practiced since 1990.

In addition to judicial nominations, the Governor also announced on August 20th that he is nominating John Gallagher to serve as Director of the Maine State Housing Authority and Robert Martin to serve as the Director of the Maine Technology Institute.  Gallagher has worked in the public and private sectors, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Westbrook Housing Authority.  Martin has extensive experience in business, serving as an executive in a number of businesses.   

Maine Delegation to the Republican National Convention Up in the Air

In May of this year, supporters of Ron Paul for President succeeded in electing a slate of delegates to attend the Republican National Convention, which meets next week.  This delegation has been challenged based on claims of procedural missteps at the convention.  The challenge is winding its way through various Republican National Committee procedures.  At this point in time, Avery Day of Pierce Atwood’s Government Relations practice group is an Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention, though the status of Maine’s delegation has not been particularly stable.  In any event, Avery will be attending the Convention and will be live tweeting from Tampa next week.  You can follow him at @averydayME.