Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.
SOME INTERIM COMMITTEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED
While most attention in Augusta now is on politics, specifically the ins and outs of the Governor’s race, some policy discussions remain ongoing in Augusta. This week, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee held an interim meeting to receive updates on various matters related to the State budget. The Government Oversight Committee also met this week to discuss ongoing oversight issues. Scheduled in the near future are interim meetings of both the Environment and Natural Resources and Veterans and Legal Affairs Committees. While few decisions can be made between sessions, these meetings do shape proposals that will be submitted when the Legislature reconvenes after November’s elections.
GOVERNOR REMOVES PRESIDENT OF MAINE TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
Almost two weeks ago, the Governor’s Office confirmed that Robert Martin, President of the Maine Technology Instituted (“MTI”) had been removed from that position. MTI was established in 1999 to provide financial and technical assistance to early-stage companies. The Administration provided few details regarding Martin’s removal, who was the second President to leave this position during the Governor’s tenure. Department of Economic Community Development staff person Brian Whitney has been named as Acting Director. Whitney is well known in business and economic development circles, as he worked in this field for a number of years for U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe.
GENERAL ASSISTANCE LITIGATION BECOMING MORE COMPLEX
In July, what was a disagreement between Governor LePage and Attorney General Janet Mills regarding the Administration’s ability to influence whether municipalities distribute General Assistance to “unlawfully present aliens” took a new turn when the Maine Municipal Association, along with the Cities of Portland and Westbrook, filed suit against the Administration in Maine’s Superior Court. Since that time, this litigation has only become more complex. Two asylum seekers in Maine, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and Maine Equal Justice Partners, have filed motions seeking to join this suit. The State has responded to the initial complaint by seeking to have this case removed to federal court and by alleging counterclaims against the Maine Municipal Association and the two cities. This will continue to be a high-profile case.
ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL WAITING ON PAY RAISES
This week, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee met to receive briefings on a number of issues, including pay raises for attorneys working for the Attorney General. The Committee learned that legislatively approved pay raises for Assistant Attorneys General have not been issued by the Governor, while raises for District Attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys have been issued. The Governor and Attorney General Janet Mills have clashed in recent months and the Attorney General said that this decision “seems political.” The Governor’s Office responded that this decision is simply a reaction to a budget shortfall within the Attorney General’s Office.