Good morning from Augusta, where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are above average. … Wait, I think that’s somewhere else?
Anyway, Gov. Paul LePage today is in Bellevue, Washington, where he’ll deliver remarks at the Heritage Foundation’s Resource Bank Meeting, which the think tank describes “as a must-attend conference for today’s top conservative leaders—policy experts, think tank CEOs, activists, and donors—filled with strategy sessions, networking, coalition building, and policy collaboration.”
He is scheduled to return to Augusta tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the state’s top Democrats are bringing their roving budget-proposal road show to Brunswick, where they’ll present their “Better Deal for Maine” at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church. It’s the third such town hall-style meeting for House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, who are pitching their plan as a counter proposal to LePage’s budget.
In the State House, a few bills of note will be debated, and possibly voted on, in committees:
- Criminal Justice will continue to workshop a bill by Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, to return jail administration to the counties.
- Marine Resources will take up the effort by Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, to create a permanent state effort to fight ocean acidification.
- Labor will workshop the handful of right-to-work and other bills targeting unions.
- Judiciary will consider a bill by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, meant to prohibit the state from the kind of bulk-data gathering conducted by the NSA.
As always, the full list of committee work can be found here. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Daily Brief, here. And please join me in crossing your fingers that the recent spate of good weather continues for a long, long time. — Mario Moretto.
House passes funding boost for community colleges, but bill’s future still unclear
The House on Tuesday approved a bill by Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, that would give a 5 percent funding increase to the Maine Community College System for each of the next two years, or about $6 million.
“Enrollment is growing in the Maine Community College System,” McCabe said in a written statement. “In the past five years it has grown 11 percent. As costs go up, we need to ensure that we continue to fund these programs that are benefiting so many Mainers.”
McCabe has cast the bill as a “fix” to LePage’s budget, which gave additional state money to the University of Maine System and to Maine Maritime Academy, but not the community colleges. It’s widely believed the slight was an effort by LePage to punish former MCCS President John Fitzsimmons, with whom he was feuding.
LePage forced Fitzsimmons to resign earlier this year, but it’s still unclear whether the governor will sign McCabe’s bill if it passes in the Senate. Plus, the 80-67 vote with which it passed the House on Tuesday is well short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a potential veto. — Mario Moretto.
Congressional Native Americans weigh in on Penobscot lawsuit against Maine
Five members of the Congressional Native American Caucus have filed a brief with the U.S. District Court in Maine, supporting the Penobscot Nation in its lawsuit against the state over hunting and fishing rights in the river that bears the tribe’s name.
The five members of Congress are Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota; Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma; Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Arizona; Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin; and Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, according to a report in the Indian Country Today Media Network.
In the report, Cole said:
“We applaud the Penobscots for going to court to defend their rights. The battle they’re fighting is not just for themselves. If sovereignty is diminished anywhere it’s diminished everywhere. If any of our tribes have their treaties unilaterally altered without the permission, consent and participation it hurts every single tribe in the country. I’m glad they decided to fight it; the least we can do is express our support.”
The tribe is seeking an injunction to keep Maine game wardens from policing the river and preventing tribal members from engaging in sustenance fishing. The state has said the tribe has the authority to regulate hunting, trapping and the taking of other wildlife on Indian Island and the islands that the tribe owns north to Medway, but not on the Penobscot River itself. — Mario Moretto.
- Decades in decline: The fall of unions in Maine — Christopher Burns, BDN.
- PUC refuses to release energy forecast documents — Darren Fishell, BDN.
- Lawmakers wrestle with whether Maine can afford to eliminate the income tax — Mario Moretto, BDN.
- Bill to increase state authority over autism treatment stumbles in committee — Christopher Cousins, BDN.
- Mike Huckabee joins field of 2016 GOP presidential candidates — Steve Barnes, Reuters.
- Pingree makes bid to allow US consumers to buy meds from Canada — Jackie Farwell, BDN.
- Governor convenes search committee for new Maine National Guard chief — Mario Moretto, BDN.
- Maine wind energy advocates unveil study touting industry’s benefits — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal.
- LePage joins effort to repeal concealed carry permit law in California — Christopher Cousins, BDN.
- House Democrats thwart Voter ID law — Christopher Cousins, BDN.
- LePage wins veto fight over bill to limit insurance surcharge for smokers — Christopher Cousins, BDN.
In Maine or not in Maine, that is the question
While lawmakers are still deciding just how far the state should go in wooing film production companies to the Pine Tree State, movie producers just can’t seem to stop setting films in Maine settings both real and fictional.
We like to think of our state as unique, but landscapes and towns that mimic those in Maine are plentiful. That means it can sometimes be hard to tell whether a movie set in Maine was really shot here.
I can hear you all now, saying, “Well, maybe that’s true for you, Mario, but I could tell.” Well, challenge accepted. Take this quiz by our own Pattie Reaves to test how well you can tell Maine from its cinematic doppelgangers. — Mario Moretto.