Good morning from Augusta, where the schedule looks thin today. After working late into the evening on Tuesday, the House adjourned until Thursday at 6 p.m., when a heavy parade of bills will continue through the process. The Senate is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. today.
It looks like we’re in a holding pattern, folks, but it probably won’t last long. Following the passage of a supplemental budget bill Tuesday night, one development we’ll be looking for is whether Gov. Paul LePage will veto all of the bill or just line-item veto some of it. The governor said Tuesday that he could support $4 million or so of new spending this year, but indicated he’d go along with that only if Democrats allow a competing measure onto the November ballot regarding the state’s minimum wage.
That’s unlikely to happen, meaning that LePage will have to either soften his stance or walk away from some initiatives he cares about, such as providing raises to the Maine State Police, game wardens and marine wardens, and funding education tax credits to help ease student debts. House Republicans appear staunch in their opposition to new spending, which means they can block a two-thirds vote and LePage and his veto pen have all the power right now. — Christopher Cousins
- Conservative radio host Howie Carr has announced that he will broadcast his show live from the 2016 Maine Republican State Convention on April 22. Tickets are $20 apiece, which marks the first time I’ve heard of an admission fee for a state-level political convention.
- Former Republican Rep. Kathleen Chase of Wells, who was nominated by Gov. LePage for the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, made it through the Legislature’s committee-level vetting process with a 6-5 vote. Rep. Robert Duchesne, D-Hudson, voted with Republicans in favor of Chase’s nomination, which now goes to the Senate for confirmation. The Natural Resources Council of Maine, which earned a spot on one of LePage’s “job killer” wanted posters, testified against Chase’s nomination. Last week, LePage withdrew three nominations after the labor committee voted against his recommendation of Steven Webster to the Unemployment Insurance Commission.
- One of the issues simmering in Augusta is what the Legislature will or won’t do regarding rules proposed by the Department of Health and Human Service that would change eligibility guidelines for adults with serious mental illnesses who are receiving case management and other services under Section 17 of the state’s Medicaid program. More than 300 people turned out last week, mostly to condemn the proposal. The Health and Human Services Committee is awaiting permission from legislative leaders to meet this afternoon about the issue.
- Professional Logging Contractors of Maine and the Maine Farm Bureau will throw their support behind two bills that would boost industries that rely on natural resources today at a press conference at the State House. LD 1676 would provide short-term contracts to biomass electricity facilities that will allow them to operate. LD 1481 would exempt loggers and farmers from paying taxes on off-road diesel fuel.
- Maine regulators may seek Emera management audit — Darren Fishell, BDN
- Maine House Republicans stall spending package — BDN staff
- Bill directing DHHS to implement child care worker fingerprinting advances — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- LePage asks Massachusetts to consider rule change to aid biomass industry — Fred Bever, MPBN
- Report: Maine can’t do much to ensure hayride safety — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
- These Aroostook County employers who can’t fill jobs are asking how to recruit immigrants — Anthony Brino, BDN
- Legislators reject LePage attempt to trim tree growth tax break — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
I’ve known some drug addicts, both up close and as acquaintances or friends of friends. I’ve noticed differences in why they’re addicted. Some want the high. Some use so they can forget the terrible circumstances of their lives. Some are so brimming with unspent creative energy that they need drugs to tamp down their brilliance.
She was an artist. She was a mother and sister and a daughter. She was a bright light. She cared about people. She was my sister’s best friend.
Yesterday, she died in a Subaru in a parking lot in Lewiston, with a needle in her arm. Here’s her soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins