Maine lawmakers will vote again today to end shutdown. Don’t hold your breath

It’s day three of Maine partial government shutdown and though the Legislature will return to the State House today to try to end it, some of the same issues that have been blocking it remain outstanding.

As my colleague Michael Shepherd reported to you late last night — after who knows how many hours at the State House over the past few days — the budget committee of conference recommended another proposal last night, but like before the proposal was not unanimous.

Rep. Tom Winsor, R-Norway, who represents the House Republican caucus on the committee, cast his influential vote against the latest plan because it still would raise the state’s lodging tax from 9 percent to 10.5 percent, which probably means most of the rest of House Republicans will, too.

He also said after the vote that there’s “no chance” that Gov. Paul LePage would sign the bill. So even if the Legislature passes it today, the Republican governor could veto it — setting up another legislative vote requiring two-thirds support in each chamber — or simply hold it for the 10 days he’s allowed under state law, extending the shutdown into mid-July.

We’re not going to belabor Daily Brief this morning, mostly because I’ve got to get headed to Augusta and this story has been written enough times that you must have it memorized by now. Here’s your soundtrack. You can click here to see all the updates from yesterday and the ones to come in the Bangor Daily News’ shutdown live blog. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • State workers will be paid for Monday — and probably beyond, eventually. About 3,000 of Maine’s 12,000 state workers will be on the job on Monday despite the shutdown, but LePage gave the rest of them a paid day off while the budget continues to be negotiated in Augusta. Employees who work will earn compensatory time, meaning they can take another day off. The Legislature’s budget panel also voted unanimously to add back pay to all state workers for lost time, but lawmakers have to pass a budget before employees get that money. The state employees labor union has scheduled a rally to protest the shutdown this morning outside the State House.  — Michael Shepherd and Christopher Cousins
  • Maine’s U.S. representatives weighed in on the shutdown on Saturday. In a statement, Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, blamed “obstructionist politics” for the impasse, calling it “harmful to working families in Maine to put their livelihoods in jeopardy with no end game in sight.” A spokesman for Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, said he “hopes lawmakers can move forward in a direction that will allow Maine to prosper and continue to grow jobs.” — Michael Shepherd
  • LePage has vetoed a pay equality bill. One thing we can expect in these days of not knowing what to expect is more vetoes from LePage. On Friday, the governor shot down (not shut down) LD 1259, which would amend the Maine Human Rights Act to bar discrimination between the genders when it comes to getting paid for equal work. The bill would also make it illegal for a prospective employer to inquire about a job applicant’s prior wage history. LePage wrote in his veto letter that the bill is redundant to current law and could actually drive starting salaries down. Just an interesting coincidence: This marks the 3rd time LePage has vetoed a bill with the 1259 LD number. Lawmakers would be wise to stay away from that number in the future. — Christopher Cousins

Shutdown reading list

Shutdown soundtracks

We’re tired. Everyone’s nerves are raw. So we won’t try to be witty or pithy. Let’s just get to the soundtracks.

Here is your obvious soundtrack. Here’s another one.

Here is our soundtrack for lawmakers.

Here is Gov LePage’s soundtrack.

Here is the press corps’ soundtrack.

Let’s hope music can lead us out of this mess. To that effect, here’s one more soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins, Robert Long and Michael Shepherd

Programming note

We could well be at the State House on Tuesday, but the Daily Brief is off for the Fourth of July. It will return on Wednesday. Here is America’s soundtrack. Happy birthday.

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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.