Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House

by Pierce Atwood LLP

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. 

Maine Legislature Opens with Bipartisan Efforts to Curb Maine's Drug Epidemic 

The 127th Maine State Legislature reconvened for its Second Regular Session on Wednesday, January 6th. The day prior to opening session, three committees held a joint public hearing on a bill that aims to curb the rising opiate epidemic in the State.  The bill is sponsored by a strong bipartisan panel of legislators including Senate President Thibodeau and Speaker of the House Mark Eves. This bipartisan effort underscores the severity of the drug crisis in Maine and the ability of our legislators to work together to address a significant issue.  Governor Paul LePage, who is also very interested in addressing this crisis, has indicated that any dollars allocated should be administered through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Senate President Mike Thibodeau has responded by saying that the bill is a “vehicle,” and that there is still a great deal of work to be done on its specifics.  

Maine House of Representatives Delays Introduction of Impeachment Order against Gov. Paul LePage 

Contrary to rumors and speculation, on opening day of the session the Maine House of Representatives saw no floor action on any censure or impeachment proceeding against Governor Paul LePage.  Some House Democrats have indicated interest in bringing up a measure that would censure or begin impeachment proceedings against Governor LePage for his actions last year related to the firing of Speaker of the House Mark Eves from a private sector employment position.  According to the Maine constitution, an impeachment order must be introduced and passed in the House of Representatives and then moved to the Senate for a judgment.  The House Democrat’s current posture is that they have chosen to delay any such action.   

As Second Regular Session Starts, Legislators Eye Election Year in Which Term Limits Could Play a Key Role in the House Elections

As the Maine State Legislature, with a divided House and Senate, starts its work in the Second Regular Session, it will undoubtedly be marked by concerns and opportunities in the upcoming election this fall.  Only two members of the Senate, both Democrats, will term out this year, while the House will see 14 Democrats but only two Republicans term out.  Republicans will focus their efforts on holding the Senate and winning seats in the House, while Democrats will be working hard to regain control of the Senate and maintain possession of the Speaker’s gavel in the House.

Governor Paul LePage Announces nominations to Judiciary, Turnpike Authority Board of Directors, and Department of Environmental Protection

Governor Paul LePage has announced three judicial nominees for the Maine District Court: Cynthia Montgomery, who has served as the Governor’s Chief Counsel since February 2015; Charles F. Budd Jr. who is a partner at Rudman Winchell and focuses on criminal law and divorce/family law; and Thomas Nale Sr. of Nale & Nale Law Offices of Waterville who specializes in divorce, family matters and litigation. Their confirmation hearings are scheduled for January 26th at 1:00 p.m. at the State House. Additionally, the Governor has nominated Michael Cianchette to the Maine Turnpike Board of Directors. Finally, Governor LePage has named Paul E. Mercer, as the nominee for Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. Mr. Mercer currently serves as the Assistant to the President for Sustainability at Maine Maritime Academy.  

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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