LePage’s power to oust Maine sheriffs targeted in new round of proposed bills

Good morning from Augusta. Last week, the Maine Legislature unveiled a list of 272 proposed bill titles that will be screened by a panel of legislative leaders that controls whether or not they will be considered during the 2018 legislative session.

Five constitutional amendments are being floated, including one targeting the governor’s power. Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, wants to strip the chief executive’s constitutional power to oust elected sheriffs, which Gov. Paul LePage has recently threatened to exercise in a dispute on jails’ interactions with immigration officials. Two Republican proposals look as if they would tighten Maine’s referendum process, while Chenette wants to bar legislators from changing citizen-initiated laws for a year. Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, wants to increase senators’ terms from two years to four years.

What are some of the other interesting bills? House minority leader and gubernatorial candidate Ken Fredette, R-Newport, wants a bond issue aimed at student debt consolidation and repayment — something he broke with LePage to block earlier this year. Chenette wants a lifetime ban on legislators becoming lobbyists. Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York, wants all-electronic toll collection on the Maine Turnpike and Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham, wants a tax credit on gun safes to promote safety.

But many of these bills will be difficult to pass and most won’t be considered. The session will be highly charged, with many top legislators running for higher office. The constitutional amendment will needs two-thirds support in both chambers and a statewide vote. And an equally divided Legislative Council — the panel of legislative leaders that is only supposed to allow “emergency” bills in even-year sessions — let through roughly a quarter of these bills in 2015. They’re expected to meet later this month to discuss the bill requests.

Hayes brings on well-known independent operative

State Treasurer Terry Hayes of Buckfield, an independent gubernatorial candidate, has hired Kyle Bailey as her campaign manager. Bailey of Gorham ran the 2016 referendum campaign to implement ranked-choice voting in Maine and was finance director for the 2012 same-sex marriage campaign and independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler in 2014. He also runs Maine Independents, a new home base for unenrolled legislative hopefuls. Hayes of Buckfield is one of two independents running so far, alongside Alan Caron of Freeport.

Reading list

  • One of the most horrible things about heroin addiction is the broken lives of the children it leaves behind. Hailey LeClair, 14, of Bradley, is one of those people. The young woman, who is a writer, and the BDN’s Erin Rhoda teamed up for a touching story about her struggles.
  • First lady Ann LePage is being courted from on high to launch a run for the U.S. Senate. Stephen Bannon, a former senior adviser for President Donald Trump, is trying to recruit candidates from across the country for the U.S. Senate to topple Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Ann LePage is among the candidates Bannon has his sights on but she has made no public comments about the possibility and it’s unclear if she has political ambitions.
  • A Maine man convicted of a 1989 murder is back in court today trying to clear himself months after the state’s key witness recanted her testimony. The proceedings in the case of Anthony Sanborn are expected to last 10 days and could exonerate him, get him a new trial or send him back to prison. He was released on bail in April after the person who the state said was the only eyewitness to the killing of 16-year-old Jessica Briggs said she didn’t witness the killing and was coerced into testifying by police.
  • Environmental groups are rallying against Trump’s climate plan. President Trump and his environment chief, Scott Pruitt, are moving toward issuing a new set or rules that would override the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. As the administration decides to do it with or without seeking congressional approval, left-leaning states and environmentalists are squawking. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, for example, has vowed to sue.

Happy [belated] birthday, Mr. Governor

With the Daily Brief on holiday hiatus on Monday, we missed our opportunity to wish the state’s top elected official a happy birthday. LePage turned 69 on Monday.

We don’t want to show up on any of campaign finance reports so we offer the following gifts: A free subscription to the Daily Brief (it isn’t technically a newspaper, a medium that we know he hates) and a soundtrack fit for a chief executive.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and 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.