Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage has returned from his annual vacation to Jamaica and where the good folks at Maine Revenue Services will be scrambling to process your last-minute tax returns. Maybe they’ll have some classic Beatles cranked in the office and be discussing why George Harrison didn’t do more singing.
The governor will be right back in the limelight this afternoon with another public appearance to tout his tax reform proposal. LePage will unveil a new online “tax calculator” that will help you compare what you’d pay under his plan versus current law. What the calculator won’t show — and what LePage has so far been vague on — is how his tax cuts will transform state government and affect services, especially two or three years from now when the proposal would be fully in place. I expect Democrats, who have their own tax reform proposal in the wings which includes major changes but fewer overall cuts, will riff on that topic in response to LePage’s press conference.
Alongside LePage will be members of the very conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, who will discuss the “smaller government” advocate’s 8th edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” a document that “focuses on specific policy choices throughout the 50 states that have led to prosperity in some states and caused others to fall behind in economic growth.”
Watch bangorddailynews.com after 3 p.m. today for coverage of the event.
In the Legislature, committee action starts early today. Look for some bleary-eyed lawmakers from the Education and LCRED committees, both of which heard public testimony late into the evening on Tuesday. Long days and occasional long nights will become routine at the state capitol between now and the end of session.
In the Criminal Justice Committee, Rep. Joyce Maker, R-Calais, will introduce An Act to Prohibit the Selling of Humans, which would strengthen penalties for human trafficking, an issue from which Maine is unfortunately not immune.
The Education Committee will continue what is already days of work on a handful of bills that have to do with funding public charter schools. The Environment and Natural Resources Committee will consider three bills related to solid waste disposal. Early in my career, I was convinced that this issue, which is unlikely to get much attention in the public, is the elephant in the room when it comes the sustainability of local governments. Where does the trash go?
The Health and Human Services Committee will take testimony on bills to improve funding for nursing homes and other elder care facilities and programs and the LCRED/jobs committee will consider making a recommendation to the full Legislature on a bid to allow small grocery stores of less than 10,000 feet to be open on Sundays.
The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on An Act to Prohibit the Sale and Possession of Powdered Alcohol. Never heard of it? Read this recent explainer story by BDN Health Editor Jackie Farwell.
It’s also likely that the Criminal Justice Committee will make recommendations on making tired driving a crime and requiring OUI offenders to pay up to $2,500 for the cost of having emergency agencies respond to their bad choices. Check out this recent BDN coverage on those bills.
The Health and Human Services Committee will be introduced to several bills related to the administration of General Assistance programs in the state. Six out of the seven welfare reform bills on that committee’s docket this afternoon are sponsored by freshman Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn.
The State and Local Government Committee will take up another very high profile bill: a resolution to amend the Maine Constitution to make the election of the attorney general, the secretary of state and state treasurer popularly elected by statewide vote.
Phew, that’s a lot of interesting bills! It’s days like this that make the Daily Brief not so brief. On the other hand, this is why Mario Moretto and I write it: so we can sift through the day’s events and you don’t have to. Are you reading this on the BDN’s home page? That’s great and thank you, but we can make it even easier if you sign up to have this report delivered to your email inbox. — Christopher Cousins
Mainer hired as top adviser in the Hillary for President bid
Ann O’Leary, an Orono High School graduate and daughter of the late Charles “Chick” O’Leary, a long-time Maine labor leader and president of the Maine AFL-CIO, has been hired as one of Hillary Clinton’s three senior policy advisers.
According to an article in the New Republic, one of O’Leary’s priorities will be instituting the right for Americans to take paid time off from work to recover from giving birth, to care for a new baby or tend to a sick relative. She will also work to make equal pay for men and women a central plank in Clinton’s campaign platform.
O’Leary has long worked for the Clintons, starting as a volunteer clipping news articles for Bill, later as a staffer for Hillary during her stint in the U.S. Senate and later for the Clinton Foundation
National advocates like Debra Ness of the National Partnership for Women and Families say that O’Leary’s involvement is a signal that Hillary is serious about finding movement on some issues that have stagnated for years.
“It’s clear that selecting Ann as a top adviser means that women and working families will be at the center of the candidate’s message and policy platform,” Ness told the New Republic. — Christopher Cousins
- Maine ‘religious freedom’ bill backed by entire Senate GOP leadership team — Mario Moretto, BDN
- Senate leader’s infertility bill includes marriage, STD clauses — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Maine prosecutor says teens must learn dangers of ‘sexting’ — Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN
- New Maine state senator pushes for longer Maine Senate terms — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
- Maine Senate votes to ban use of hand-held cellphones while driving — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
- Unorganized Territory residents still demand Wind Energy Act fix — Mario Moretto, BDN
- Egg seller Jack DeCoster, son get prison time for salmonella outbreak — Erin Jordan, The Sioux City Gazette
- (With graphics by Darren Fishell!) Women make up less than a quarter of Maine’s top earners — Darren Fishell, BDN
Which NBA players are which presidents? (or vice versa)
These are fun. Slate magazine recently published an article that imagined which National Basketball Association players are most like all 44 U.S. presidents. It’s timely, given the beginning of the NBA playoffs and the Boston Celtics’ maybe improbable entrance into the playoff race this week.
As the article said right in the beginning, the obvious question is which president gets Michael Jordan? More on that later. This is a fun list and must be the first time in history that Rutherford B. Hayes has been compared to Patrick Ewing.
Boston sports fans should be proud that George Washington is equated with Celtics great Bill Russell. Lyndon Johnson: Larry Bird.
Ronald Reagan: Kobe Bryant. You’ll have to go to the Slate article to see why.
Bill Clinton is matched with infamous ladies man Wilt Chamberlain, but the article insists it’s because of both men’s “wealth of natural talent.” I assume they’re talking about politics and basketball?
Barack Obama is equated with Derrick Rose (“Arrived with all-world hype. Will he ever live up to his early promise?)
OK so who did Slate pair with Michael Jordan? It turns out there are two, one for MJ’s heyday and one for his mediocre late-career return: Abraham Lincoln (“More than four scores better than anybody else”) and Grover Cleveland (“Probably shouldn’t have come back”).
Who would Maine politicians be if they were NBA players? Email your ideas and reasons to email@example.com. If I get enough responses, you’ll read about them soon in the Daily Brief.
Just be careful who you give Dennis Rodman to. — Christopher Cousins