Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House 3.30.12


Friday, March 30, 2012

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

Maine Legislative Session in Final Stages

The Maine Legislature is progressing toward adjournment, as the Legislature focuses its work on moving legislation through the House and Senate.  Committees are finished with their work, except for a few straggler bills, and all the action now is in debates and votes on the floors of the House and Senate.  Controversial Committee reports on legislation are being debated, and non-controversial bills are simply moving under the gavels.  This week was expected to be very busy, with “double sessions” tentatively scheduled for multiple days in each chamber.  Ultimately, though, the House held one “double session” on the 27th when they met at 10:00 am and again at 5:00 pm.  With next week targeted as the last week of session, longer days are expected.

Budget Bills Remain Largest Impediments to Adjournment

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee met throughout the week to consider LD 1903, an agency-wide supplemental appropriations bill for the remainder of the current fiscal year which ends this June 30th, and the next fiscal year which will run from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.  This bill contains both budget allocations and a dose of policy matters, including the reorganization of State Planning Office functions into other agencies.  The Appropriations Committee has begun voting on specific aspects of this bill and could finish its work on it as soon as this weekend. 

As LD 1903 is being wrapped up in Committee, another supplemental appropriations bill to address the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget shortfall during the next fiscal year is anticipated to be introduced.  This may arrive as early as next week.  Should this bill be brought forward, the scheduling of the adjournment of the Legislature will certainly be complicated.  One possible scenario is that the Legislature might recess to give the Appropriations Committee time to work on this additional budget bill.  Then the Legislature would re-convene later in April or early May to act on the bill.  At this time, the schedule remains unclear.

Washington Politics Meets Maine Politics

As the nation followed the arguments over the Affordable Care Act at the Supreme Court this week, some of Maine’s political figures had a front-row seat.  State Representative Sharon Treat visited the Supreme Court to watch oral argument, as did U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree and Maine Attorney General William Schneider. 

While Mainers were in Washington this week, Washington also came to Maine as President Obama is scheduled to attend two fundraisers in the Portland area on the 30th.  The President’s trip is scheduled to take him to Southern Maine Community College and the Portland Museum of Art.


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