LePage proposes elimination of Maine estate tax

Good morning, and happy Super Tuesday. A dozen states hold their primaries or caucuses in the presidential race today.

If Super Tuesday is a reason for being happy, it means one of a few different things:

  1. It’s your birthday.
  2. You’re a politics junkie and you can’t get enough. (You should really get that looked at).
  3. You’re a confused superhero fan and you think a new Superman movie is being released today.
  4. You’re happy to see a major milestone in what has already been a years-long presidential campaign come and go.

There are only four days left until the caucuses start in Maine, so that’s where much of the political oxygen is being burned, though mostly behind the scenes. At the State House, business continues as usual. The Senate is scheduled to consider several nominations to boards and commissions, all of which were supported unanimously at the committee level. Bills from committees are beginning to hit the House and Senate floors. You can check out today’s calendars by clicking here for the Senate and here for the House.

One interesting note from the House calendar: Gov. Paul LePage has proposed to eliminate Maine’s estate tax — which has long been his goal — in LD 1622. The bill, if passed, would be effective on Jan. 1, 2017.

In committees, numerous bills are up for debate and recommendations. Check out the full list here.

Time for the soundtrack. I don’t know about you but I need a pick-me-up after working a whole extra day this year yesterday, and Jack White usually does the trick.

Until next time, — Christopher Cousins

King introduces substance abuse treatment measure

The U.S. Senate is gearing up for debate on a number of bills aimed at combatting drug abuse. Among the bills will be one co-sponsored by independent Maine Sen. Angus King, The Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion Act.

According to a news release, the bill would abolish a decades-old Medicaid policy that limits the use of federal Medicaid financing for substance abuse treatment facilities that have more than 16 beds. King’s bill, which is co-sponsored by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, would raise that cap to 40 beds. There are at least five facilities in Maine that could expand their treatment capacity under the new law, according to King.

The legislation also includes a new $50 million grant program that would fund inpatient substance abuse treatment for Medicaid recipients younger than 21 and who live in rural communities. It comes as the Senate begins debate on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • King and Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who are both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have co-sponsored legislation aimed creating a commission of national experts to explore new ways to increase digital security for individuals and organizations. Both senators are scheduled to speak in favor of the bill today on the Senate floor. The commission’s recommendations would be due in one year. Click here for more  information about the bill.
  • Gov. Paul LePage will hold his weekly town hall at 6 p.m. today at Medomak Middle School, 318 Manktown Road in Waldoboro. The meeting is open to the public.
  • Just a few days after actor Susan Sarandon stumped in Maine for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is sending star power to the Pine Tree State. Highly decorated U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan, who has won five world championships and two Olympic medals, will make at least three public appearances today. In addition to her accomplishments on ice skates, Kwan has served as senior adviser for public diplomacy and public affairs and the first public diplomacy envoy for the U.S. State Department. Today’s events are scheduled for 12:45 p.m. in Bangor, 3:45 p.m. in Augusta and 5:30 p.m. in Portland. For more details about how to attend any of those events, click here.

Reading list

The most expensive book club ever

BloombergPolitics reports that U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has been running a little-known fundraiser that is built around a book club. Lobbyists for Wall Street banks, insurance companies and accounting firms gather about once a month to “discuss literature” with a Republican member of the Financial Services Committee, such as Maine 2nd U,S, House District Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

“Discuss literature” in this case means writing big campaign contribution checks. The book club meetings typically end up benefitting Republican lawmakers’ re-election campaigns to the tune of $60,000 to $80,000.

As a literature geek, I’m interested in what book Poliquin brought.

Something from Stephen King? Never. King’s too much of a Democrat.

Lost on a Mountain in Maine? Nope.

Blueberries for Sal? Sorry, Robert McCloskey.

According to the article, Poliquin offered a history of L.L. Bean. That works, I guess. — 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.