Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.
PROJECTS FUNDED BY $127 MILLION BOND SALE ANNOUNCED
On July 24th, State Treasurer Neria Douglass made available a list of projects funded by a June $127 million bond sale. Some of these projects were approved as long ago as 2009.
LEGISLATION FROM 2014 SESSION NOW EFFECTIVE
August 1st was the effective date for almost all legislation enacted during this year’s session that was not deemed “emergency” legislation. This has prompted a round of recent articles detailing some of the more notable bills that took effect at the beginning of this month. Please see our 2014 Summary of New Maine Laws.
JUDICIAL NOMINEES CONFIRMED, MORE NOMINEES ANTICIPATED
On July 31st, the Senate convened for a confirmation session to confirm Justice Jeffrey Hjelm as a member of the Maine Law Court and Deputy Attorney General William Stokes as a member of the Superior Court. Both nominees were unanimously supported by the Senate and this session was very brief.
Governor LePage has yet to name a number of additional nominees for various state boards and commissions that require legislative approval. At this time, the Governor’s Office is working to vet applicants for these various open positions and is working toward another Senate confirmation session, likely in September.
STATE ENDS FISCAL YEAR WITH A SURPLUS
Last week, the LePage Administration reported that the State ended its fiscal year on June 30th with a surplus. Unanticipated revenues combined with unobligated funds produced a $62 million surplus. Some of this balance can be used to help build the next biennial budget, while, pursuant to statute, other portions of this surplus were directed to existing accounts, like the State’s “rainy day” fund.
STATE EXPLORING DRUG TESTING SOME TANF RECIPIENTS
This week, Governor LePage announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will begin rulemaking to require Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients with previous drug-related convictions to take drug tests in order to receive cash benefits. Democrats argued that the law authorizing this testing is years old and its enforcement now is more about election year politics than sound policy. The Department, however, has countered that it has been slow to roll this policy change out in order to ensure this proposal was on sound legal footing. This policy change must be implemented through agency rulemaking before it will become effective.