Good morning from Augusta, where it’s one of those bizarre winter days when we could see just about every form of precipitation there is and possibly even some thunder.
I’ve never experienced thundersnow and as a long-time fan of things that go boom, I’m ready. I’m also starting to yearn for sunshine and warm weather. A little Zac Brown with Jimmy Buffett should help.
Anyway, the House and Senate have today off but there is a full day of committee activity planned, including work on some high profile bills. You can see the full list by clicking here, but here are a few highlights:
- The Health and Human Services Committee will hold a work session on LD 1473, which seeks to increase the reimbursement rate for outpatient opioid treatment providers from $60 to $80 a week. Later in the day, the committee will consider LD 180, which would allow terminally ill patients to access experimental treatment options.
- The Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee will work through the morning on bills aimed at improving telecommunications services in Maine, as well as a bill, LD 881, that would allow the Public Utilities Commission to contract for a liquefied natural gas storage site.
- The Education Committee will consider making a recommendation later this morning on LD 1459, which would delay the implementation of a new standardized test for public school students. The Department of Education is in the midst of creating a new contract with a New Hampshire company to replace the Smarter Balanced test.
- The Judiciary Committee will be the site of some emotional testimony this afternoon when bills related to protecting sexual assault and human trafficking victims are introduced.
- The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold a public hearing on LD 1572, An Act to Ensure Nondiscrimination Against Gun Owners in Public Housing. Check out what the BDN’s Stephen Betts wrote about this bill two days ago, and stay tuned for more coverage. — Christopher Cousins
Green Independent jumps into Biddeford Senate special election
The Biddeford-area District 32 Senate seat, left vacant earlier this year with the unexpected resignation of Democratic Sen. David Dutremble, continues to attract candidates. New to the race is Green Independent candidate Alan C. Brown, according to Maine Ethics Commission filings.
The Senate seat, which covers Biddeford, Alfred, Arundel, Dayton, Kennebunkport and Lyman, will be the subject of a special election on Tuesday, March 29.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated incorrectly that Brown will be a write-in candidate. His paperwork was filed with the Secretary of State’s office by the February 16 deadline for his name to appear on the ballot.
Also vying for the seat are Republican Stephen P. Martin and Democrat Susan A. Deschambault. Whoever wins will fill the seat until the general election in November. That election has another Democrat interested: former state representative Joanne Twomey. — Christopher Cousins
- Tissue machine sale ‘a nail in the coffin’ for Lincoln mill — Darren Fishell, BDN
- LePage, Medway Democrat team up against North Woods park — Michael Shepherd, BDN
- New drive to expand MaineCare eligibility begins — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
- Actress Susan Sarandon stumps for Bernie Sanders in Maine — Dawn Gagnon and Kathleen Pierce, BDN
- After legislative raids and funding delays, Maine’s public campaign finance money could run out — Steve Mistler, Portland Press Herald
- Inside the life and fall of a young Maine man addicted to heroin — Erin Rhoda, BDN
- Donald Trump wins Nevada caucuses, collecting third straight victory — Alexander Burns and Nick Corasaniti, New York Times.
Be warm, be sexy
I’m on the email list for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, which sends daily emails about how to keep yourself safe. Whoever writes them likes to have a little fun once in a while. Today’s headline was “Dress in layers for the latest in fashion safety.”
The tip was simple: Stay away from cotton especially as the layer closest to your skin. Use a synthetic fabric, which will wick moisture away, instead.
Past headlines included yesterday’s “Most of us don’t drive the Daytona 500,” which reminded us to use a safe following distance on the road, and “Love will help you weather the storm” on Valentines Day, which suggested “helping everyone you love to feel special today.” That one was very important, as anyone with a spouse will tell you.
Signing up for MEMA’s email list (by clicking here) will also funnel you frequent alerts from the National Weather Service, which will help you impress your friends when you know the weather forecast before the forecasters do.
But don’t you dare sign up for those emails unless you’re first subscribed to the Daily Brief email newsletter.
Stay safe. And informed. — Christopher Cousins