Under the Dome: Inside The Maine State House 1-18-13

by Pierce Atwood LLP

Augusta, ME

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.

Pace of Legislature Beginning to Pick Up

For the most part, the Legislature is still getting up and running. This week, roughly 60 bills were printed and referred to committee and these bills are now being noticed for public hearing. Committees that met primarily received briefings from the State agencies that they oversee and some committees allowed stakeholders to introduce themselves through brief remarks.

A Joint Order was considered to establish the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. Senator Seth Goodall (D – Sagadahoc) and Representative Seth Berry (D – Bowdoinham) will chair this committee and additional committee members will be named soon.

Legislators continued to be occupied with submitting legislation this week. The deadline for submitting bills was 4:00 p.m. today, January 18th. As with any deadline, there has been a flurry of activity in the past few days by those seeking to get bills submitted under the wire.

The one major exception to the Legislature’s slow start is the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, which met throughout this week to receive briefings on a number of issues, including the Governor’s supplemental budget proposal. This Committee has already scheduled public hearings on the supplemental budget and will begin hearing from the public on Wednesday, January 23rd.

Taxing, Borrowing and Spending

On January 11, 2013, Governor LePage released both his supplemental budget proposal to balance the State’s budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2013, and his biennial budget proposal to fund State Government for the following two years. Those who closely follow State spending continue to review the details of these mammoth documents. While the finer points of these two proposals are being examined, the broad brush strokes of both budgets are now being discussed in Augusta.

The supplemental budget largely involves finding savings so that the State can account for over $87 million in unanticipated MaineCare spending during the current fiscal year. Savings are found through initiatives included in a recently issued curtailment order and through other proposed cuts. In addition to these savings measures, the supplemental budget proposes transfers, including a $40 million transfer from the State’s “rainy day fund,” in order to balance the current budget. While some may disagree, the supplemental budget does not seem to contain major policy initiatives wrapped in budget language. Rather, this proposal is largely about balancing the State’s books.

The Governor’s biennial budget proposal is a $6.3 billion spending plan for the next two fiscal years. Unlike the supplemental budget, this proposal certainly has a number of policy decisions baked into the budget numbers, with the largest policy issue being State support for municipalities. This proposal reduces funding for municipalities across programs, including suspending municipal revenue sharing, reducing funding for teacher retirement, capping general assistance and reforming excise taxes. Those who are starting to voice opposition to the Governor’s proposal are quick to point out that funding cuts for municipalities may result in increased property taxes. Further, they argue that support for municipalities could be restored, at least partially, by delaying income tax reductions scheduled to go into effect this biennium. Those who support the Governor’s proposal argue that reducing support of municipalities may spur reforms and efficiencies at the local level, averting property tax increases. Further, supporters of the Governor’s plan firmly reject the need to increase revenues by delaying income tax reductions enacted by the previous Legislature.

With a document as large as the biennial budget, there are, of course, more issues over which there will be considerable debate. Included among these miscellaneous items is a directive that the recently created Office of Policy and Management find $30 million in savings over the next biennium as well as a directive that this office identify 100 State positions to be eliminated by October of this year. Also included in the biennial budget is language that would authorize a $100 million bond for construction at the Windham prison. One issue that may receive the attention of the Maine press is a proposed repeal of a sales tax exemption on publications like newspapers.

The ball is now in the Legislature’s court and the Appropriations Committee will soon begin working through these proposals line by line. In fact, the Appropriations Committee will begin holding public hearings on the supplemental budget next week. These budget proposals will evolve during the legislative session as the Appropriations Committee negotiates these documents.

Related to State spending but not contained in these budget proposals is the Governor’s recently announced plan regarding bonding. In a January 15, 2013 press conference, Governor LePage announced that he was submitting emergency legislation that would authorize the State to borrow against future liquor revenues generated by the state's liquor distribution business in order to pay the State’s debt to Maine hospitals. The Governor also said that once this plan to pay the hospitals was in place, he would then be in a position to issue approved bonds. The Governor’s decision to delay issuance of approved bonds has been a simmering issue for some time, as those who will benefit from these bonds are eager to access this funding. The Governor’s announcement regarding bonds just adds more moving parts to the Legislature’s consideration of State taxing, borrowing and spending for the next two years.

Pierce Atwood Hosts Members of Legislative Leadership

Neither snow nor cold prevented Pierce Atwood’s latest Inside Policy Series event on January 16th. Roughly 60 people ventured out on a snowy morning for a breakfast presentation by members of legislative leadership. The audience heard from Senate President Justin Alfond, Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau (House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette was one casualty of the bad weather, as he was not able to make the trip from Newport). Leaders talked about their priorities for the session, the Governor’s biennial budget proposal and their intention to work together this legislative session. While some obvious policy disagreements were discussed, there was also common ground among these members of leadership.

Written by:

Pierce Atwood LLP

Pierce Atwood LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.