Mainers could be voting on another casino in 2017

There are very few slow news days in state government. Take today, for example. It’s one day before a holiday weekend and state offices are closed but that doesn’t stop the news. Luckily for you, the Daily Brief has got your back.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced Thursday afternoon that proponents of a new casino in southern Maine have submitted signatures for “An Act to Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County.” If enough signatures are verified as registered Maine voters, that means Mainers could vote on the issue during a statewide referendum in 2017. A similar bid to put the question on a ballot failed earlier this year after Dunlap ruled more than half of 91,000 signatures submitted were found to be invalid.

Proponents of that measure challenged Dunlap’s decision in court but in April 2016, Superior Court Judge Michaela Murphy rejected their appeal.

In this latest bid for the ballot, the secretary of state’s office has 30 days to validate or invalidate the signatures.

If all goes as signature gatherers planned, this could mean voters will see at least two citizen-initiated referendums in 2017. Proponents of expanding Medicaid in Maine have said they have enough signatures to force a referendum but they have not yet submitted those signatures for verification. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Site chosen: Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon of Freeport told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday that the LePage administration has settled on a state-owned building in Bangor as the site of a controversial new forensic psychiatric facility. We’ve contacted sources within the administration for comment but have yet to hear back. Read more about that by clicking here.
  • Who’s on what committee?: Today is the day that lawmakers in the new 128th Legislature learn their legislative committee assignments for the next two years. Gideon said Thursday that the assignments had been nearly finalized and that she expects the list to go out today. Stay tuned for more on that.
  • Real Real ID problems: Maine state-issued identification cards, including driver’s licenses, are out of compliance with federal Real ID laws. Maine’s request for an extension was denied and New Hampshire’s extension is scheduled to expire in October. According to Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, this will cause problems for veterans and their families who receive medical care at Pease Air National Guard Base in Newington, NH, where a Real ID-compliant driver’s license is required for access. Veterans can use a valid passport or a combination of their license and VA health identification card, but Pingree is asking the Air Force to make an exception before Jan. 31, 2017, when Department of Homeland Security Laws will require Real ID-compliant identification for access to military installations. Approximately 500 Maine veterans receive their primary care at Pease. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Yule love these soundtracks (maybe)

Daily Brief readers know by now that they can count on a soundtrack most days. Two days before Christmas, we’ve assembled some music that you probably won’t hear on the radio. In some cases there is clearly a reason for that.

From the Daily Brief to you and yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Photo Illustration Graphic Two photos edited together and adorned by Troy R. Bennett

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.