Pence ‘disappointed’ in Susan Collins’ opposition to ACA repeal bill

Good morning from Augusta. The fallout from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ Monday announcement that she’ll oppose Republicans’ latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act started to show itself on Tuesday, when Vice President Mike Pence appeared on a Maine talk radio show.

Pence said the administration is ‘certainly disappointed’ in Collins’ decision. But the Republican told WGAN that “we hope” that it won’t kill the Graham-Cassidy bill. However, Collins was the third Republican to come out against the bill yesterday. If the White House and Senate Republicans can’t win one of them back, the bill won’t move forward.

And Collins’ move came after a full-court press from Republicans. On Friday, Pence was with Gov. Paul LePage in Washington, D.C. lobbying for the bill’s passage. On Sunday, the bill’s sponsors made the package more favorable to Maine relative to an earlier version. On Monday, Collins told The Washington Post that President Donald Trump called her to urge her to vote for it, but she rebuffed him. They’ll now have to go someplace else.


Oxford Casino starts PAC to fight proposed York casino

The casino-on-casino campaign has begun. Oxford Casino registered a PAC called A Bad Deal for Maine on Monday and its parent company, Kentucky-based Churchill Downs, has already spent nearly $27,000 in polling on the race to fight a new York County casino proposed by controversial U.S. Virgin Islands developer Shawn Scott on the November ballot.

Oxford also got two well-known Republican operatives to fight their battle. The PAC is run by Trevor Bragdon and its treasurer is Roy Lenardson. They’re both former Maine legislative staffers who run their own advocacy shops — Bragdon at Rockwood Solutions, which is working for 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mary Mayhew, and Lenardson at Strategic Advocacy.


It’s marijuana day in Augusta

The committee overseeing marijuana legalization is having a public hearing on their omnibus regulatory bill. They’ll start at 9 a.m. and are expected to take testimony on their roadmap for Maine’s voter-approved recreational marijuana system for most of the day. Work sessions are scheduled on the bill today and tomorrow.

What are the high points of the bill? The proposed bill — which is 70 pages long — would raise the tax rate on marijuana products from the referendum’s rate of 10 percent to 20 percent, scrap the voter-approved cap on cultivation and allow online and drive-through sales. However, smoking would be banned in Maine’s first-in-the-nation marijuana social clubs and the clubs would be delayed until 2019.

And what will advocates say? The Marijuana Policy Project, which led the referendum push, is OK with the higher tax rate and generally supports the committee’s bill, but doesn’t want social clubs to be delayed. The Maine chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-marijuana group, tweeted this morning that they’ll oppose the entire bill.


Reading list

  • LePage threatened to remove sheriffs for what he called lack of cooperation with federal immigration officials. Though it’s unclear who the governor was referring to, he told a conservative radio host that two Maine sheriffs could be “removed from their duties.” It comes after Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said he wouldn’t hold inmates past their release dates for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a warrant.
  • Bangor city councilors placed a six-month moratorium on LePage’s proposed psychiatric facility. The move will frustrate the governor’s plan for a “step-down” facility that he sited in Bangor after Democratic legislative leaders blocked it from going on state land in Augusta. Bangor councilors have said the LePage administration hasn’t communicated well with them and have criticized the proposed location — which abuts an apartment complex.
  • The mother of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds wants justice — not money — in a probate case that could declare her daughter dead. “I don’t have hope of finding her body, but I have hope of getting her justice,” Trista Reynolds of Portland told the BDN. “I have hope of getting the people prosecuted for what they have done.” Ayla disappeared in late 2011 from the home of her father, Justin DiPietro, and her blood was found in his basement. The Maine State Police have said the girl is likely dead and that adults in the home have withheld information.

It’s OK if they had two hits

In yesterday’s Daily Brief, we celebrated National One-Hit Wonder Day and asked for suggestions to include today. We were roughed up a little for not recognizing that Monday was also National Lobster Day but here in Maine we celebrate lobsters EVERY day.

Anyway, there were some good submissions. One reader suggested Howie Day’s “Collide.” She wasn’t wrong. That video has more than 32 million views and all for a kid who was born in Bangor and grew up in Brewer.

We won’t reveal all of our internal discussions here, but someone close to the Daily Brief said this: “He was a big deal for like 6 months when I was 13.” There you have it.

Another reader went all 80s dance scene, suggesting Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart.” Want to have a groovy day? Crank that one.

We didn’t intend to manufacture angst among our readers, but we did for at least one.

“So, I was about to just email this link, but then I realized (apparently) they had a second hit. Darn it,” she wrote. “I LOVED this song when I was a kid.”

If Looking Glass had another hit, we couldn’t find it, Becky, so you’re safe. Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and edited by Christopher Cousins. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

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.