Maine GOP considering new methods to pick 2016 presidential nominee

Good morning from Augusta, folks! Have you been wondering where the Daily Brief has been for the past two hours? Welcome to the Daily Brief, 10 a.m. edition!

With the legislative session just about wrapped up (we think) Mario and I here at State & Capitol have moved publication of the Daily Brief about two hours later than the in-session normal. The time change allows us to continue the Daily Brief year-round but watch a few sunrises instead of scrambling for a cup of coffee and plugging in the computer in the wee hours of the morning. I know Mario has already notified you of this change but I wanted to join in the fun. 

If you still haven’t signed up for the Daily Brief to be delivered to your email inbox every day, click here to do so. As has been demonstrated by Mario in the last few days (which I spent most of wearing swim attire), Daily Brief is often the place where we break political news or further explain the context for yesterday’s news.

Sometimes the political soup needs time to simmer and Daily Brief is perfectly timed to be your political brunch. — Christopher Cousins 

Pingree proposes cutting subsidies for the highest-earning farmers

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st Congressional District has proposed cutting federal subsidies to farmers who earn more than $750,000 a year. She argued Wednesday to the House Appropriations Committee and said the move would save billions of dollars and free up funding for other agricultural programs that among other things could help Maine farmers extend the growing season.  Watch the video by clicking here.

Pingree’s amendment would eliminate crop insurance subsidies for the richest farmers, which Pingree said comprise less than 1 percent of all farmers.

“Let’s take a moment and think about that number — $750,000,” said Pingree during testimony. “I don’t know about your parts of the country, but I can promise you that there aren’t many farmers in Maine clearing three-quarters of a million dollars this year.”

Pingree proposes spending some of the savings for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which helps farmers in a range of ways, including building hoop houses to shelter crops and extend the growing season.

Pingree has the cards stacked against her on this amendment — namely powerful lawmakers and lobbyists from states where agriculture is huge — which was rejected on Wednesday. However, Pingree pledged to reintroduce the idea when the 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill is considered on the House floor. — Christopher Cousins

How will the Maine GOP pick its next presidential nominee?

In response to changes being made by the Republican National Committee around how each states’s delegates vote for president at the national convention, Maine’s two Republican National Committee delegates, Alex Willette and Ashley Ryan, who sit on the Presidential Nominating Committee, will host two public forums next week to explain the rule change and discuss changes in Maine.

The forums, scheduled for next Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18 in Bangor and Portland, respectively, will center around choices: Should Maine, which currently relies on preference polls, move to a more formal caucus that binds delegates to vote for a certain candidate at the national convention, or should the delegates be free to vote for whomever they choose?

Whatever change is made won’t change how delegates are elected at the state convention; just how they are bound to vote at the national one. It’s an important decision that has to be made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

The public forums are being held as follows:

  • Friday, June 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business at 1 College Circle in Bangor.
  • Saturday, July 18, from 3 to 5 p.m. at The Lee Room at 133 Wishcamper, 88 Bedford St., Portland (GPS address is 44 Bedford St. in Portland).

In 2012, some of Maine’s delegates to the national convention were denied a vote at the national convention because they intended to support U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a libertarian from Texas, even though Paul had long since given up his presidential bid. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

The 19 bills in question

My colleague Mario Moretto has really nailed the story about Gov. Paul LePage’s attempt to veto a slew of bills without giving the Legislature a chance to override the vetoes, effectively killing the bills (see Mario’s most recent installments in the reading list above). Here is a list of the bills, along with links so you can read what they’re about.

  • LD 25 “An Act To Protect the Privacy of Citizens from Domestic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Uses,” sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland
  • LD 78 “An Act Regarding Limitations on Certain Storm Water Fees,” sponsored by Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Auburn
  • LD 113 “An Act To Reduce the Penalties for Certain Drug Offenses,” sponsored by Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta
  • LD 234 “An Act To Adjust Appropriations and Allocations from the General Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2015,” (Emergency) (Governor’s Bill) sponsored by Rep. Margaret Rotundo, D-Lewiston
  • LD 299 “An Act To Protect Children in Municipal and School Facilities by Requiring Boiler Inspections,” sponsored by Sen. Dawn Hill, D-Cape Neddick
  • LD 369 “An Act To Align Municipal General Assistance Programs with the Immigration Status Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services,” Sponsored by Sen. Eric Brakey, D-Auburn
  • LD 522 “An Act To Clarify a Recently Enacted Law Designed To Expand the Number of Qualified Educators,” sponsored by Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting.
  • LD 722 “An Act To Strengthen Penalties for Abuse of General Assistance,” sponsored by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn
  • LD 756 “An Act To Enhance the Address Confidentiality Program Regarding Property Records,” sponsored by Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town
  • LD 822 “An Act To Allow a Former Spouse of a Member of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System To Begin Collecting Benefits When the Former Spouse Reaches the Member’s Retirement Age,” sponsored by Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham
  • LD 870 “An Act To Amend the Maine Spruce Budworm Management Laws,” sponsored by Sen. James Dill, D-Old Town
  • LD 1013 “An Act To Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners,” sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland
  • LD 1039 “An Act To Amend the Polygraph Examiners Act,” sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland
  • LD 1085 “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee Concerning Receipt of a Request for Public Records,” sponsored by Rep. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco
  • LD 1108 “An Act To Protect Children and the Public from Electronic Cigarette Vapor,” sponsored by Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan
  • LD 1134 “An Act To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Distribute Information Regarding Down Syndrome to Providers of Prenatal and Postnatal Care and to Genetic Counselors,” sponsored by Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough
  • LD 1185 “An Act To Establish the Municipal Gigabit Broadband Network Access Fund,” sponsored by Rep. Norman Higgins, R-Dover Foxcroft
  • LD 1303 “An Act To Stabilize and Streamline the Department of Environmental Protection’s Ground Water Oil Clean-up Fund and Maine Coastal and Inland Surface Oil Clean-up Fund,” sponsored by Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton
  • LD 1391 “An Act Regarding the Treatment of Forensic Patients,” sponsored by Rep. Richard Malaby, R-Hancock. — Christopher Cousins
Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.