Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House 4.27.12

by Pierce Atwood LLP
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Augusta, ME

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 Highlights

Appropriations Committee Working Through Legislative Recess
Though the Legislature is in recess, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee continues to work diligently on a number of outstanding matters.  This week, the Committee considered a number of pending bills, perhaps, most important among them being bond proposals.

The Appropriations Committee pared down over 25 bond proposals to five:

  • $51 million for transportation and infrastructure
  • $20 million for research and development to be bid out through the Maine Technology Institute

  • $11.3 million for higher education

  • $8 million for water and sewer projects

  • $5 million for the Land for Maine’s Future Program

Interestingly, the Appropriations Committee did not package all of these spending items into one bond package but, rather, reported out five separate bond bills.  This is in reaction to statements made by Governor LePage that indicate he generally does not support bonds.  The Committee’s strategy is to avoid a gubernatorial veto of an entire package because the Governor disagrees with one or more elements of the package by sending separate pieces of legislation to the Governor for signature.  Any bond proposal must be approved by 2/3rds of both chambers and signed by the Governor before being sent to the voters for their approval in a statewide election.

Governor Signs Agency-Wide Supplemental Spending Bill
In one of its last acts before the four week recess, the Legislature passed an agency-wide supplemental spending bill, including language that reorganizes the State Planning Office.  As was widely reported, the Governor used his line-item veto authority to eliminate some spending in this bill.  The Legislature will respond to the line-item vetoes when it reconvenes in May.  With resolution of the response to the line-item vetoes, this bill was signed into law on April 24th and took effect immediately, as it was an emergency bill.

U.S. Senate Campaign Heating Up
The campaign to fill Senator Snowe’s U.S. Senate seat is moving forward in earnest this week and is beginning to get interesting.  Candidates are making regular appearances before many groups.  This week alone saw two large candidate forums: one for Republicans in Bangor on the 24th and one for all candidates at the University of Maine on the 25th.

At this point, the field remains crowded.  There are six Republicans competing for their party’s nomination in the June primary:

  • Former Senate President Rick Bennett
  • Scott D’Amboise
  • Assistant Senate Majority Leader Deb Plowman
  • State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin
  • Maine Attorney General William Schneider
  • Secretary of State Charlie Summers

There are four Democrats competing for their party’s nomination in the June primary:

  • Senator Cynthia Dill
  • Former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap
  • Representative Jon Hinck
  • Benjamin Pollard

There are also three Independent candidates seeking this seat:

  • Andrew Ian Dodge
  • Aaron Marston
  • Former Governor Angus King

Campaign finance reports became publically available recently.  This week was also marked by a number of commentators reading the tea leaves and discussing what these fundraising numbers really mean for the candidates for this seat.  This race will continue to command headlines in Maine in the run up to the June primary.

 

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