Good morning from Augusta, where at least 36 vetoes from Gov. Paul LePage will await lawmakers who return next week in a session that has now stretched into the dog days of summer with no end in sight just yet and plenty of big issues to be decided.
The Maine Legislature will return on July 9 to handle these bills. Eventually, it will try to reach accord on the outstanding issues of the session that are being held up by one party or the other in a battle for leverage, including tax conformity, a fix releasing Clean Election funds for the 2018 campaigns and authorizing a new $105 million transportation bond.
The vetoed bills included several aimed at Maine’s opioid crisis. Many of the vetoes were announced and widely anticipated, including one providing startup Medicaid expansion funding and two supplemental budget bills totaling $66 million to increase reimbursement rates for services for Mainers with disabilities, expand opioid addiction treatments and fund county jails, among other items. But the Republican governor vetoed many other bills big and small, including several bills aimed more squarely at the state’s opioid crisis.
Two of the vetoes inked by LePage on Tuesday would create a $1 million pilot addiction treatment program for homeless people and one using federal funds in Washington County. In letter, he criticized the first for being unnecessary and the other for benefiting just one provider. He also vetoed a bill that would create a substance abuse disorders cabinet.
LePage is still trying to link the Legislature’s work from here on out with other issues. The governor was on WGAN on Thursday continuing his crusade for a hospital tax to pay for Medicaid expansion and a slow-down of Maine’s voter-approved minimum wage increases, saying the state’s economy is starting to “overheat.”
But it’s unlikely that Democrats would accede to such big policy changes anyway, much less this late in a legislative session. We’ll see how they settle these outstanding battles and what new ones come up by next week.
Ballot recounts unfolding in Augusta
The Secretary of State’s office is scheduled to begin a ballot recount Friday in the Republican primary for a House of Representatives seat that covers parts of Waterville and Oakland. Unofficial tallies from the June 12 primary show a 7-vote split, with Mark Andre receiving 210 votes to Jacob Imes’s 203. The winner of the primary will face incumbent Rep. Colleen Madigan, D-Waterville, in the November election where she’ll be favored.
This is the second recount this year. On Monday, a recount was conducted to determine whether Ronald Pulchlopek, an unopposed Republican write-in candidate for House District 1 in part of Kittery, received the necessary 50 votes to proceed to the general election. However, Pulchlopek received only 40 votes, leaving Rep. Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, to run against Green candidate Andrew Howard of Kittery.
- A federal customs and border protection unit is in talks to move to the Old Town airport. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Unit currently based in Houlton could move into a new hangar and command center built by the city for a 15-year lease. An official with the agency’s Northern Border Operations said the organization has been searching for a site in central Maine, closer to Maine’s western and southern borders. Negotiations are in the early stages.
- Trump suggested invading Venezuela. The president’s comment came during an August 2017 Oval Office meeting during a conversation about sanctions against the South American country. The report of the conversation by the Associated Press was based on a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
- The Cat ferry is considering resuming runs between Nova Scotia and Bar Harbor. After an eight-year hiatus, the Canadian company that runs the vessel is eyeing the move after town voters last month approved the purchase of the former Marine Atlantic ferry terminal from the state, according to Maine Public. The Bar Harbor Town Council could see a formal proposal by its meeting on July 17.
Not unlike I did when I was his age, my 13-year-old spends most of his time dreaming about what his first car will be when he earns his license.
To prevent and intensifying of his jabbering about it I have tried to remain mostly noncommittal, but recently told him I thought he should have an old pickup truck because 1) he’ll be unable to pack more than one or two of his friends into it, which I think is safer and 2) Dad needs a pickup every now and then.
My first vehicle was a 1986 Ford Ranger, for that same reason. I paid $500 for it and drove it for three years. I’m a little teary thinking about Old Blue, even now.
Anyway, that sent my boy straight to car websites, where he immediately found a Toyota for “only” $7,000. However, with a little more searching he found a Jaguar sports car for the same price. He has the site bookmarked.
“How much do you think a brake job costs on a Jaguar versus a Toyota?” I asked. He was quiet for a minute, considering both the answer to and reasons behind my question. But two days later, he’s still talking about the Jaguar.
At least I’ve finally nudged him away from a Lamborghini — for his first car, at least — so I guess that’s progress. Here’s your soundtrack, son. Listen carefully. — Christopher Cousins
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this 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.
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