Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House

by Pierce Atwood LLP

Pierce Atwood LLP

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

Community Health Options to Focus on Maine by Leaving New Hampshire
In 2017, New Hampshire residents will no longer be able to select Community Health Options (CHO) as an insurance provider. CHO requested to be removed from the New Hampshire market in an effort to focus on its Maine business, and the request was approved by the Maine Bureau of Insurance the week of September 5.  CHO is one of seven health exchange co-ops still operational of the original 23 created nationwide under the Affordable Care Act.  Despite being the only co-op to record a profit in 2014, its first year of operation, CHO reported more than $30 million in losses in 2015.  CHO’s withdrawal from the New Hampshire market will affect more than 11,000 people. 

Maine Weathers Political Storm
Maine’s political waters have been in upheaval, following Governor Paul LePage’s angry outburst on August 25 in a voicemail to a legislator, and the subsequent flurry of activities to denounce his behavior on the one hand, and to support his gubernatorial accomplishments on the other.  A poll of legislators asking whether to convene a special session to discuss and take action against the Governor failed.  Governor LePage has apologized to the legislator, said he will not resign, and vowed to only talk to the media through “appropriate” radio talk show hosts.  Democrats are expressing outrage at the reluctance of Republicans to address the situation.  Interesting questions arose during this tenuous time.  Answers to some of the common questions include:  the Senate President is next in line should a sitting governor leave the post; Maine’s governing documents provide no clear answer on how to censure a governor; and it would cost approximately $43,000 per day to convene the Legislature for a special session. 

Maine Politicians Support Start Up of Two New Paper Machines
St. Croix Tissue, in economically challenged Washington County, publically announced the completion of two new tissue machines representing a $150 million investment and 80 new jobs.  Although one machine began production in March and the other earlier in August, the grand opening to celebrate the start of official operations was held Wednesday, August 31. U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins, U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin, and local state legislators, Rep. Joyce Maker and Rep. Will Tuell attended the event to join in the celebration.  A joint press release by Sens. King and Collins stated “[t]his investment underscores our belief that there is a strong future for the forest products industry in the state of Maine.”  Governor LePage did not attend Wednesday’s event having previously met with mill leaders the day before the celebration.

Pierce Atwood Holds Environmental Law Seminar
On September 8, Pierce Atwood’s Environmental Practice Group hosted its 26th annual Environmental Law Seminar at the Woodlands Club in Falmouth.  More than 60 attendees learned about recent environmental law updates and heard Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Paul Mercer discuss current DEP priorities. 

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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