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
Final Budget Bill Coming Together
Other than receiving an updated revenue forecast on Monday, the Appropriations Committee did little publically this week to advance the Department of Health and Human Services supplemental spending bill. Negotiations, however, are taking place off microphone to put this final spending bill together.
The Appropriations Committee appears to have all of the information that it needs to complete this budget bill. Commissioner Mayhew has put a $10.7 million price tag on the computer error that allowed thousands of ineligible people to receive MaineCare benefits. With this information, the Department of Health and Human Services shortfall is now calculated to be $82 million – this is the gap that the final spending bill must close.
The Committee received updated revenue numbers on April 30th that show $49 million in unanticipated revenues. Obviously, these additional revenues are good news for appropriators who need to close a $82 million budget hole. Legislators, however, do not agree on how the additional revenues should be allocated. Republican lawmakers would like to send some of the additional revenue to the State’s rainy day fund, while Democrat lawmakers would like to allocate more of the additional revenue to closing the Department of Health and Human Services budget gap. This allocation and a myriad of other issues will be decided soon, as the Legislature is scheduled to meet again on May 15th to consider this budget bill and a few more measures that must be resolved before final adjournment for the year.
Governor LePage Nominates New Member to the Public Utilities Commission
On May 3, 2012, Governor LePage nominated Mark Vannoy, an engineer with Wright-Pierce and a resident of Waldoboro, to serve as the next Commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission. Vannoy is a Commander in the Navy Reserve and has an engineering degree from Cornell. This nomination must first go before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and then before the full Senate.
2012 Maine Republican Party State Convention this Weekend
The Maine Republican Party State Convention will be held this weekend at the Augusta Civic Center. Convention goers will hear speeches from Scott Romney, Governor Mitt Romney’s brother, Senators Snowe and Collins as well as the Republican contenders for Senator Snowe’s U.S. Senate seat. Among other business, delegates to the convention will adopt a Party platform and elect Maine’s representatives to the Republican National Convention this summer, who will officially decide the Party’s Presidential nominee. The Maine Convention may produce some interesting results, as there appears to be some tension between delegates supporting Governor Romney and those supporting Congressman Ron Paul. Avery Day of Pierce Atwood’s Government Relations group is a delegate to the Convention and will be tweeting live from the convention floor. You can follow him at @averydayME.