While most lawmakers have been focused on campaigning in recent months, Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick has been busy promoting his Keep ME Home program, which is designed to help senior citizens in Maine live independently for longer.
It remains to be seen whether Eves will continue in his role as House Speaker — Democrats will convene in Augusta to decide that and other things on Wednesday — but he will undoubtedly continue his work on the initiative regardless.
Eves has been holding public forums across Maine in recent months to discuss the plan, which he began to hatch in 2013 with a series of round-table talks to explore the issues facing Maine’s senior citizens. Eve’s plan involves the creation of affordable housing for seniors in all 16 counties with a $65 million bond, boosting pay for in-home, Medicaid-funded care workers who have not had a raise in nearly a decade and expanding property tax credits for seniors.
Eves, who intends to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to forward his goals, has said he is interested in building support ahead of the legislative process. In August, Gov. Paul LePage voiced support for the concept during a call to a political talk radio show, according to a report in the Portland Press Herald.
A spokeswoman for Eves said that in addition to submitting legislation, Eves is intent on creating a “bipartisan aging caucus” to work on the plan beginning in January. Keeping seniors in their homes as long as possible — and out of more expensive and often less dignified nursing homes — has long been a goal of virtually everyone in state government. Maine is the oldest per-capita state in the U.S.
“I look forward to working with Gov. LePage and Republicans to address these concerns,” said Eves in a prepared statement. “This is an area we must find common ground.”
Deconstructing last week’s elections
What led to such widespread gains by Republicans last week? What are the implications for the future?
These are some of the questions that will be explored Wednesday in a forum hosted by the Bangor Daily News, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, University of Southern Maine and VOX Global. The panelists include:
- Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce;
- Anthony Ronzio, director of news and new media for the Bangor Daily News;
- Ronald Schmidt Jr., associate professor of political science, University of Southern Maine;
- Michael Cuzzi, senior vice president of VOX Global and Maine Sunday Telegram political columnist;
- MaryEllen Fitzgerald, president and founder of Critical Insights, Inc.; and
- Lance Dutson, communications director for Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ re-election campaign.
The free forum, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Abromson Community Education Center in Hannaford Hall at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on Wednesday, requires advance registration here.
7 stories you need to read, November election edition
- What’s the path to progress in Augusta following Republican gains that sent Republican LePage back to the Blaine House and created mixed majorities in the Legislature? Matthew Stone has this keen analysis.
- At the center of LePage’s re-election goals was the development of a new energy policy. Republican gains here and in other New England states could fast-track that goal, according to the BDN’s Darren Fishell.
- In one of his first interviews following his re-election, LePage said a top priority is making major changes in the attorney general’s office. Check out my report here.
- Fishell has been keeping you up-to-date on the money race throughout the campaign, but this report on how the campaigns used their checkbooks in the final days was especially interesting.
- What does the new balance in the Legislature mean for public policy in Maine over the next two years? My take is more bipartisanship. Another effect of the elections is that the Maine Democratic Party needs a new chairman.
- Republican Sen. Mike Thibodeau of Winterport and Rep. Ken Fredette of Newport were voted back to their leadership positions last week, but some new faces have also joined the Republican party’s upper ranks. Also, my colleague Mario Moretto has the inside scoop on what might happen when Democrats elect their leaders on Wednesday.
- The second bear-baiting referendum in 10 years in Maine went much like the first one did, overall, but how did your town vote? The BDN has all the details.