It’s a quiet morning in Augusta after the Maine Legislature wrapped up work last week by overriding 20 of Gov. Paul LePage’s 33 session-ending vetoes.
But with help from House Republicans, the governor’s veto pen won one key battle, killing a solar reform bill that was heavily lobbied by the industry and environmental groups.
They’re not happy: In a Facebook post, Vaughan Woodruff, the owner of Insource Renewables in Pittsfield, called LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, “disingenuous as s–t” for their opposition to the bill, saying they must be “bounced from leadership and extracted from Augusta.”
The bill would have changed how solar producers are paid by auctioning 20-year contracts to producers. It was billed as a way to save and grow industry jobs. But the governor assailed it for “above market” rates and his negotiations with Democrats broke down over his demand for a price cap.
As many energy debates are, it was alway a debate between short-term and long-term costs: Public Advocate Tim Schneider said while ratepayers would bear a cost of $6.9 million in the most expensive year, long-term revenues would “significantly exceed the prices paid” and drive down costs in the end.
But it’s a debate that’s not going away if Woodruff’s post is any sign. We’ll hear more about this going into the 2016 legislative campaigns. — Michael Shepherd
Bid to create Libertarian party continues in extended court bid
A bid to create an official Libertarian Party in Maine isn’t dead yet, even after a judge rejected the party’s suit against the state last month. That reminds me of an old Monty Python scene.
Anyway, the Libertarian Party of Maine, Inc., has filed a motion for reconsideration of U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock’s decision in a case that sought to reverse Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s ruling against the party’s 2015 voter registration effort. The Libertarians, through their attorney, John Branson, argued in a court filing on Friday that Woodcock mistakenly made his decision based on this year’s primary election date of June 14 when he ruled that giving the fledgling party until the end of May to complete its enrollment drive would be too burdensome for the state.
The Libertarians say they hope to nominate state-level candidates at their May 15 convention, which won’t interfere with the primary date. Branson said paper volleys over the next couple of weeks will culminate in a May 16 hearing in Portland, which obviously is after the convention and the nomination of state-level candidates. Presidential candidates from the Libertarian Party can put themselves on Maine’s ballots whether there is an official party here or not.
Even with the court victory and a restoration of more than 5,000 voter registrations that were thrown out last December, the Libertarians would have to attract 10,000 registered Libertarians to the polls this November.– Christopher Cousins
- U.S. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, will attend a tour and roundtable at the VA Maine Healthcare System in Togus on Monday with top U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials. It’s a response to January revelations that less than half of Maine veterans seeking health care under a new VA program got appointments. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat, called for the firing of a contractor managing the program last week.
- Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, may eventually support her party’s presidential front-runner, Donald Trump. But she “almost giggled” last week when The New York Times asked if she’d be his running mate, saying “I’m not waiting by my phone.”
- King told Portland radio station WJBQ last week that he didn’t have “enough information to answer” a question on pop star Justin Bieber. He may consider a mea culpa for ducking the question, but it’s too late to say sorry. — Michael Shepherd
- Maine competes on energy costs, so why ‘misrepresent the real facts?’ — Darren Fishell, BDN
- With session’s end come gains and losses for Maine lawmakers — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
- LePage’s frustration with job is evident, associates say — Randy Billings, Portland Press Herald
- Manna Ministries owes state $1.3 million for clinic mismanagement — Nick McCrea, BDN
- Pingree, chefs, business pros head to Cuba on an organic mission — Kathleen Pierce, BDN
- Chellie Pingree’s island lodge expansion can stay, judge rules — Stephen Betts, BDN
- Proposed inland storage sites add to Maine natural gas review — Fishell
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- This week, the “Missed Connections” headline “dam ur beautiful and sexy omg” caught my attention. A man saw a woman at the Westbrook Hannaford and thought to himself, “dam god got be missing a angel cause u definitely got it going on dam u carry it well wow.” Here’s her soundtrack.
- Do you need a $1,250 life-sized pirate statue? (You don’t, but a Portland marine salvage store calls it great for a “nautical man cave.”)
- Is your McDonald’s Monopoly board missing a few key pieces? This Bangor person has Park Place, States Avenue, Illinois Avenue, St. James Place and the B. & O. Railroad. But hurry — “must PICK UP asap.” — Michael Shepherd
NOTE TO READERS: With the 127th Legislature and veto day behind us, the Daily Brief email newsletter will resume its off-season schedule of being sent at 10 a.m. every weekday. That’ll give us a little more time every morning to dazzle you with the latest developments in what is sure to be a busy and interesting campaign season. Sign up here.