Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.
Oversight Committee’s Investigation into Good Will-Hinckley Hiring Controversy Concludes
On Thursday, December 3, the Maine State Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee concluded its investigation into Governor Paul LePage’s role in the controversy surrounding Good Will-Hinckley’s decision to rescind an employment offer to Maine House Speaker Mark Eves. Voting 7-5, the Committee agreed to adopt a report from the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability which found that Gov. LePage and his staff improperly interfered with Good Will-Hinckley’s decision to hire Speaker Eves to serve as its next president. Despite the investigation being concluded it has been reported that two House members, Rep. Jeff Evangelos (I-Friendship) and Rep. Ben Chipman (D-Portland), are pursuing two impeachment orders against Gov. LePage. It only takes one legislator to initiate the impeachment process but if initiated, the process faces the tall hurdles of a majority vote in the House followed by an investigation and two-thirds approval vote in the Senate.
Canadian Power Thought Not to be the Solution to Reducing Maine Electricity Prices
At Envision Maine’s summit last week, two former Maine public utilities commissioners, Thomas Welch and David Littell, asserted that Canada is not likely to provide cheap power for Mainers, stating their views that Canadians would only sell hydro-electric power at the New England market price, which is typically higher than Maine’s. Both former commissioners emphasized the need to invest in energy efficiency and diversify the energy market in Maine by investing in solar and offshore wind power.
Majority of Maine’s Congressional Delegation Expresses Concern about National Monument in Maine
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, together with U.S. House Representative Bruce Poliquin sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week urging him not to sign an executive order establishing a national monument in Maine on about 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park owned by the family of Roxanne Quimby. If, despite their objections, the President does want to designate this section of Maine’s north woods as a national monument, the three members of Congress would like to see a number of conditions imposed, including “express permission for all traditional recreational uses” (including hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling), as well as preserving “robust forestry activities” (including logging, trucking and timber harvesting).
Maine Lawmakers Oppose Gov. LePage’s Plan to Fund Heating Assistance with Timber Harvest Proceeds
The Maine State Legislature’s Commission to Study Public Reserved Lands has decided not to adopt Governor LePage’s recommendation to use timber harvest proceeds from Maine’s public lands to help fund Maine’s heating assistance programs. The Commission based its decision predominantly on State Attorney General Janet Mills’ opinion that the proposed plan was not in line with constitutional limits on how revenue from timber harvesting can be spent. Instead, the study panel has recommended that some of the surplus timber revenue be used to improve recreational opportunities on Maine’s public lands, and to strengthen legislative oversight of the fund’s current expenditures.
Mike Michaud Approved as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veteran’s Employment and Training
The U.S. Senate this week approved former U.S. Representative and Maine gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud for a post with the Department of Labor as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veteran’s Employment and Training. In Congress, Representative Michaud was the ranking member of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and was an outspoken advocate for the nation’s veterans. In his new role, he will oversee veteran’s career service and preparation training programs.