Good morning from Augusta, where the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee is scheduled to convene for its end-of-summer meeting.
Though what the committee could discuss often includes some surprises, the committee does have a published draft agenda that gives us some hints. It includes some issues that received a lot of attention this year.
- A status update on payments to county jails by Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick. Lawmakers worked for most of this year’s session on a fix-it bill for the jail system after a prior attempt was scuttled by Gov. Paul LePage early this year. In June, LD 186 was enacted by the Legislature and became law without Gov. Paul LePage’s signature. The law effectively returned control of the county jails to the counties, as opposed to the Department of Corrections, but there are still problems. Last month, for example, officials at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset announced that they would no longer accept inmates from other counties without reimbursement. The attorney general’s office is reviewing the flow of funding from the state to the counties and also between the counties, which is one of the same problems that has been causing strife and dysfunction for years.
- Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew will provide an update about operations at Riverview Psychiatric Recovery Center in Augusta, including staffing, substance abuse contracting and federal funding related to the center’s decertification earlier this year.
- State Treasurer Terry Hayes is scheduled to give lawmakers an update about general obligation bond requests and issuances.
- Attorney General Janet Mills is tentatively scheduled to report on the distribution of assistant district attorneys with new money approved earlier this year by the Legislature.
LePage conflict with LMF growing
Bangor Daily News blogger George Smith reported today that Gov. LePage is withholding operating funds from the Land for Maine’s Future program. These funds are separate from the more than $11 million in voter-approved conservation bonds that LePage is also blocking.
According to Smith, who cites unnamed LMF board members, LePage is forbidding the organization from spending any of about $2 million it already has in cash on hand from previous bond sales.
Earlier this year, after blocking the sale of the bonds for months, LePage inserted officials from his Office of Policy and Management into an extensive review of the agency, the results of which are due later this year. An update about that report is scheduled for the LMF Board’s regular meeting Tuesday afternoon in Augusta.
Also on the agenda are votes on several conservation projects, but those votes require a quorum to move forward. Three commissioners were absent at the board’s July meeting, which blocked the presence of a quorum and delayed votes on several projects. The LePage administration has said that it hasn’t ordered any commissioner to skip LMF board meetings.
Walter Whitcomb, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry did attend a board workshop last month in Augusta during which the report to the Legislature was discussed at length.
At any rate, Tuesday’s meeting should be interesting.
Candidates chosen for Standish-area House of Representatives seat
The Republican and Democratic candidates for a Nov. e special election to fill the Standish-area District 23 House of Representatives seat, which was vacated last month with the resignation of Democratic Rep. Mike Shaw, have been chosen in local caucuses.
Democratic Standish Town Councilor Lynn Olson will face off against Republican Lester Ordway, who was the Republican candidate for the seat in 2014.
Ordway is an automotive technology instructor at Central Maine Community College and former member of the Standish Planning Board. Olson, who has previously served as an administrator at St. Joseph’s College and the Maine Community College System, owns a consulting firm that works with area businesses, according to a press release from the Maine Democratic Party.
The special election for this seat, as well as an open Sanford-area seat, is scheduled for Nov. 3.
Aging summit scheduled for Tuesday
The Maine Council on Aging and the Maine Legislative Caucus on Aging will host an all-day summit Tuesday that they say will attract some 500 participants to the Augusta Civic Center.
You can see the full agenda by clicking here, but a major focus of the summit looks to be the presentation of data about Maine senior citizens who are living in poverty. There is a long list of state and local leaders scheduled to give presentations, including House Speaker Mark Eves, a Democrat, and Sen. David Burns, a Republican, who will kick off the event at about 9 a.m.
- Maine education officials release online test results, but what good are they? — Nick McCrea, BDN
- Good Will-Hinckley fight deepens dysfunction at Maine State House — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- LePage, Mills promote different approaches to battle Maine’s drug crisis — Bill Trotter, BDN
- Timber harvest on Maine state land fuels $8 million question — A.J. Higgins, MPBN
- (Oof…) Study: Young people are better educated but will be poorer than their parents, grandparents — Erin Rhoda, BDN
- This BDN quiz tests how politically biased you are — Dan MacLeod, BDN
- Health insurance costs keep rising. And this year, the biggest cause was prescription drugs — moneytips.com
- Some Maine farmers farm organically but pass on certification — Abigail Curtis, BDN
- Jeb Bush vows to come out swinging in next Republican debate — Steve Holland, Reuters
- Trump now running neck-and-neck with Clinton — Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement, Washington Post
Love is a good, love is a good, love is a good thing
I’ve heard from a few friends and loved ones recently who are having some difficulties. Money, medical problems, relationship strife, worrying about their heating bills. Y’know, the unfortunately normal challenges of everyday life.
If you’re a regular reader of the Daily Brief, you’ve probably picked up by now that for me, music is more than just noise. It’s salve for the soul.
Click here for a beautiful musical reminder of what’s important in life, and what can pull us through the rough bits. It’ll set you on track for a good Monday, I promise. — Christopher Cousins