Collins, LePage wrangling to win debate on dead ACA repeal bill

Good morning from Augusta. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ opposition helped kill fellow Senate Republicans’ latest bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act after they announced on Tuesday that it won’t be taken to a vote this week. As a result, Gov. Paul LePage is back on the warpath.

Collins defended her vote against the Graham-Cassidy bill in a radio interview on Wednesday. Her Monday announcement opposing the bill came after proponents made it more favorable to Maine than a previous version. But it was never clear that block grants would have offset Medicaid cuts even in Maine and Collins told WGAN today that she was “convinced” that “Maine would have been a net loser.”

And LePage said she’s ‘not helping Maine.’ After Collins helped kill Republicans’ previous repeal effort in July, the Republican governor rallied supporters against the possibility of Collins running in 2018 to replace him. He was more diplomatic in a Tuesday interview with conservative radio host Howie Carr, saying Collins has been “a good senator,” but in this case, “she is not helping Maine.”


York County casino backers in first TV ad: Trust us

The backers of the York County casino referendum released their first ad. The effort backed by controversial U.S. Virgin Islands developer Shawn Scott provided the ad to the Bangor Daily News late Tuesday. It promises a casino and “entertainment venue” and touts the revenue it would give to the public — 39 percent of net income would go toward several causes, including education, health care, property tax relief and harness racing.

But some of this stuff isn’t guaranteed. The law that Maine will vote on in November only allows a casino and doesn’t require a concert venue. The ad features renderings already released by the campaign, but the law requires no minimum investment. A lobbyist for backers said in March that the Scott-led group plans to sell the rights to the casino if it passes, so who knows what it’ll look like? Remember all of that when you see these ads.


Reading list

  • LePage escalated his threat to fire Maine sheriffs on Tuesday by sending a letter directing all of them to cooperate with federal immigration officials. The governor said he would begin removing them from office if they didn’t honor requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold inmates past release dates. Some sheriffs want a request and warrant in those cases to shield their counties from lawsuits.
  • The LePage administration will restore state public health funds to four federally recognized Native American tribes in Maine. The decision comes nearly three months after the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention cut funds, leading to the layoff of a tribal public health liaison that was coordinating an expansion of addiction treatment services. The original decision was heavily criticized by public health advocates.
  • Could Maine reap rewards from a new wood construction technology? Cross-laminated timber — in which lumber is stacked and bonded to allow for mid-rise construction — is taking off in Europe, Canada and West Coast cities. Maine isn’t involved now, but it’s part of a plan for investors who bought a $100 million swath of land in the North Woods last year and that could be fleshed out by a grant-funded University of Maine project aimed at commercializing timber.
  • Maine coaches and athletes have diverse opinions on NFL players’ protests during the national anthem. A Hampden Academy football player said the timing of the protests was “silly,” but that his mother, a 30-year military veteran, “understands that it’s their right and that’s what she fought for.” Approximately 200 NFL players refused to stand during the anthem this weekend after President Donald Trump said owners should fire players who don’t.

No-hit wonders

The recent Daily Brief discussion of one-hit wonders revived foggy memories of my one fleeting opportunity to turn my high school tuba dalliance into musical fame.

In the mid-1980s, I palled around with some Boston area musicians who enlisted me to oompah as part of the Tower of Babel horn section on a tribute song to Jack Webb, the stone-faced star of the TV cop show “Dragnet.”

They needed horns to play the first few bars of the show’s theme before The Ironics could launch into the special brand of guitar-driven silliness that exemplified Boston ‘80s music. I did not join them on stage, but I did play on the EP “Shake Hands and Come Out Dancing,” although my musical muse there will always be listed as “Richard Long.”

We had no hits and were no wonders, although Leslie, the lead vocalist, later became the first female public address announcer at Fenway Park and Eli, the trumpet player, flew the WBCN traffic copter for years. I, obviously, slipped into total obscurity. Here’s your soundtrack. — Robert Long

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. 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.