Maine Legislature to review LePage rule changes on mental health services

Good morning from Augusta, where the end of the legislative session is in sight. There are no committee meetings on Friday, but starting Monday, the full Senate and House of Representatives will convene through Friday for the first time this year.

That’s all in hope of adjourning by April 20, but there’s lot of important business to be decided before then.

Yesterday, the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee got more: It’ll review proposed rule changes from the LePage administration that providers say would cut services for thousands of Mainers with mental illnesses.

Those rules aren’t typically reviewable by the Legislature, but affected individuals used a provision allowing them to petition the committee for review and got the five necessary votes. Now, there will be a public hearing and committee recommendation.

Democrats are expected to oppose the rules, with Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland a committee member, saying in a statement that the change “will leave many vulnerable citizens behind.”

It’s the second time the petition procedure has been used this year. The LePage administration withdrew proposed changes to services for people with autism and other developmental disabilities after concerns with transparency. — Michael Shepherd

Cain hits Poliquin on Pacific trade deal non-commitment

Democrat 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain criticized U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the Republican she’s looking to replace in November, on Thursday for a noncommittal stance on a trade deal with Pacific nations.

On Wednesday, Poliquin told members of a progressive coalition opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership that he’s still “poring through” the deal and hasn’t decided how he’ll vote if President Barack Obama sends it to Congress.

There’s a chance that Poliquin votes against it: He has criticized its “secretive” nature and voted with the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation to oppose granting Obama “fast-track” authority to negotiate it.

It’s an issue tying many in Washington into knots: It’s a rare point of agreement between the Democratic president and many Republicans, and it’s opposed by labor groups who say it’ll follow in the path of past trade deals that have sapped the American manufacturing base.

For example, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — who Cain has endorsed — said she opposed the deal in October after praising it while serving as Obama’s secretary of state.

However, Cain said in a statement that her stance is clear: The deal and others like it “don’t benefit Maine workers,” saying Poliquin’s “Wall Street-driven agenda and Washington political posturing are doing nothing to put Maine people back to work.” She got the endorsement of the Maine AFL-CIO on Thursday.

Poliquin was pressed on Wednesday by Attorney General Janet Mills for a stance, but he later said the Democrat’s question was “political” and he wouldn’t support it if it doesn’t help Mainers.

“It would be irresponsible for me to give a snap decision when we haven’t finished our analysis,” he said. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • Gov. Paul LePage will visit Madison for his next town hall meeting on Wednesday. Earlier this month, the Somerset County town’s paper mill announced it would shut down in May, laying off 214 workers.
  • U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat, will go to Cuba in May on a trade mission around organic food, according to the Portland Press Herald. President Barack Obama re-established diplomatic ties with the communist nation last year, and Republicans have been critical of it. Ande Smith, one of two Republicans vying to oppose Pingree in 2016, accused her in a statement of “gallivanting off to Cuba with other political elites.”
  • A bill inspired by Harvey Lembo, a Rockland man who shot an alleged intruder in his apartment and then was told he couldn’t have a gun there, passed the Maine Senate in an initial Friday vote. It would prohibit gun bans in publicly subsidized housing and faces more votes. The National Rifle Association supports it and Lembo’s legal effort against his landlord. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • A man tells a woman she was a “basket case” when he met her, but her love of sewing was “obvious.” Now, he hopes “the new undergarments are to your liking” and “I hope to see them out and about soon!!” Our hero says she knows where to find him — “if I am lucky underneath you ;)”
  • Lust in the Bangor courthouse: A man says a woman who was “sexy as hell” and “all dressed up” made eye contact with him “a couple times.” Here’s your soundtrack.
  • A woman who goes to World Gym is not impressed with a powerlifter who often lets the weight crash to the floor: “It sucks. It is startling and grating and loud and awful. You ruin my day every time I’m at the gym.”
  • Free goat, horse, chicken, alpaca and rabbit manure in Standish! But don’t be lazy. “No Tractor!” the ad says. “You must shovel it!” — Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.