Archive for February 20th, 2014

BREAKING: Governor LePage Reneges on $100M Jobs Bonds; Bounces $59M State of Maine Check

Posted on February 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

bounced check(Breaking story; this will be updated)

Via Maine Senate and House Democrats came the following press release within the past half hour:

      LEPAGE RENEGES ON STATEWIDE JOBS BOND CONTRACTS
      Seven months after authorization, Governor changes mind

    Augusta – In an email to State Treasurer Neria Douglass, Governor Paul LePage reneged and cancelled his authorization of nearly $100 million in bond monies for projects across Maine.

    Douglass shared the message with the state’s budget writing committee on Thursday afternoon during a previously scheduled briefing on the state’s debt service or interest for the bonds.

      “Governor LePage has broken a $59 million contract with businesses and workers across Maine. The line has been crossed when the governor’s emotional volatility starts hurting Maine’s economy and Maine’s workers,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “I am concerned for the businesses and projects that have started their work and now hear that the governor has changed his mind.”

    According to Douglass, per the directive from Governor LePage, she has already issued $59 million in funding from the state’s cash pool to help fund key projects in the administration’s work plan. These projects were approved and signed off on by Governor LePage and his department officials on July 31, 2013.

      “The Treasurer raised serious concerns about the message the Governor is sending to credit agencies and businesses. He’s broken his word,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe from Skowhegan. “Worse, he’s playing games with critical investments in construction projects like roads and bridges that will help Maine’s economy.”

    LePage has a track record of using bonds as political leverage with the Legislature. He refused to issue the voter-approved economic investments during his first two years in office, stifling economic growth and job creation.

    Two weeks ago, during a Maine Chamber of Commerce event, LePage threatened again to withhold bonds if the Legislature passed a measure restoring the state’s funding promise to towns and cities across Maine. Both bodies of the Legislature passed the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support, reaching a veto-proof, two-thirds passage with votes of 33 — 2 in the Senate and 120 — 17 in the House.

    Maine now ranks 50th among all other states in private sector job growth since January 2011, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Data.

Below is the email that Treasurer Neria Douglass sent Governor LePage on February 10th:

    From: Douglass, Neria R
    Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 5:03 PM
    To: Millett, Sawin; Butera, John
    Subject: Bonds in FY2014


      Hello, Sawin and John.

      I am concerned that recent newspaper reports state that the Governor is now saying he will not go to market and will withhold state bonds.

      So far the Treasurer’s Cash Pool has expended $52,114,073 in funds that will have to be replaced by the sale of bonds before the end of this fiscal year. We have requests for $84,042,798 that include $21 million for Transportation, together with a long list of other projects. Maine Maritime, the University of Maine, and the Maine Community Colleges are moving forward with projects that I expected to fund from the TCP and then reimburse from the sale of bonds.

      I would appreciate your thoughts on this problem. I am reluctant to continue funding while these statements are being made publically. Of course underwriters and others read the newspapers too.

      Best,
      Neria

    Neria R Douglass JD CIA
    Maine State Treasurer

lepage sots angry selfHere is the reply Douglass received this morning and shared with Democratic leadership, as referred to in the above press release:

    From: Mullen, Micki
    Date: February 19, 2014, 8:45 AM EST
    To: Douglass, Neria R
    CC: Butera, John , Millett, Sawin , Newman, Kathleen
    Subject: FW: Bonds in FY2014

      Treasurer Douglas,

      The Governor responded to your email as follows:

        Neria,

        I will not approve going to market until there is $60 MM in the Rainy Day Fund. I will not subject the state to further credit reduction. In the past the Treasurer would keep the Governor updated on cash expenditures, you have chosen not to.

        Governor Paul R. LePage

      Thank you,

      Micki

    Micki Mullen
    Executive Assistant to Governor Paul R. LePage
    State House Station #1
    Augusta, Maine 04333-0001
    Phone: 207-287-3531
    Fax: 207-287-1034
    Visit: http://www.maine.gov

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UPDATED x2: Maine House Votes Down Controversial Religious Discrimination Bill LD 1428, 89-52

Posted on February 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Rep. Andrew McLean (D-Gorham) addresses colleagues during LD 1428 debate.

Rep. Andrew McLean (D-Gorham) addresses colleagues during LD 1428 debate.

12:45pm UPDATE: House just voted 89-52 to accept the Judicial Committee “ONTP” (Ought Not to Pass) recommendation moments ago, 89-52.

This was the final vote on LD 1428; it is now dead.

Roll call vote shows 5 GOP members broke with their party to join Democrats: Reps. Beaulieu of Auburn, Campbell of Orrington, Libby of Waterboro, MacDonald of Old Orchard Beach and Maker of Calais. 2 House Democrats voted for the bill: Rep. Stan Short (D-Pittsfield) and Steve Stanley (D-Medway).

Over 2 dozen rose to speak on the measure in a lengthy floor debate. Some quotes:

    Rep. Matt Moonen (D-Portland): “Please vote to end the war on gay people in our state.”

    Rep. Justin Chenette (D-Saco): “Religious freedom is important, but this bill makes me feel like a second-class citizen… Name me an issue in Maine — I still haven’t heard one. There isn’t an issue. This is a bill searching for a problem, rather than solving one. This wastes taxpayer money… It’s fiscally responsible to oppose it.”

UPDATE #2 (1:45pm): Maine House Democrats issued a press release with more quotes from legislators:

    “This is not a bill about religious freedom; it will only create religious discrimination,” said Rep. Charles Priest of Brunswick, who chairs the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. “Maine’s law and constitution has strong protections for religious freedom. This bill is not necessary.”

    “This fight will continue across the country. Many states still do not have a human rights law that covers sexual orientation. But in Maine our voters have settled this, ” said Rep. Matt Moonen of Portland, during the floor debate.

    “This bill moves Maine backwards on equality and women’s rights,” said Rep. Mattie Daughtry of Brunswick. “This is not religious freedom, it is legalized hate.”

National coverage here:

1. Breaking: Maine Rejects ‘Religious Freedom’ License To Discriminate Against Gays

2. Maine House Rejects ‘Right to Discriminate’ Bill

Reminder: The Senate voted down the bill 19-16 on Tuesday. The one Democrat who voted for the bill with the Republicans was Senator John Tuttle.

Link to House video here; session starts at 10 am. LD 1428, “An Act To Protect Religious Freedom” is listed as item 6-3 in the Divided Reports of the House Calendar.

Via press release this morning:

      Maine House to take up controversial religious discrimination bill
      Discrimination carve-out would undercut human rights, women’s rights

    Augusta — The Maine House today will take up a controversial bill that would undercut human rights protections and women’s rights by creating a loophole in the state’s strong non-discrimination laws.

    The religious discrimination bill, LD 1428, would carve out an exception for religious beliefs in the state’s non-discrimination laws, such as the Maine’s Human Rights Act.

    “Religion should never be used as a cloak to discriminate,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, whose father served as a pastor in the U.S. military. Eves attained his master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

    The Maine Senate rejected the GOP-sponsored measure earlier this week in a largely party-line vote of 19-16.

    “Maine has led the country with our anti-discrimination laws,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. “This bill is a big step backwards. There should be no exceptions or loopholes when it comes to discrimination.”

    Maine is one of 32 states that does not allow for religious exceptions in non-discrimination laws. In the last 10 years, only six states have enacted similar bills.

    Nationally laws like LD 1428 have been used to infringe upon women’s access to health care. In Texas a municipal bus driver refused to drive a woman to a reproductive health clinic on his bus route. At the federal level, corporations are trying to use the religious exception or loophole to avoid providing employees with health care that covers reproductive health.

    “This measure would take Maine backwards on women’s rights and equality,”
    said Rep. Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan the Assistant Majority Leader. “The Maine legislature and courts have a track record of being careful and deliberate about protecting religious liberty while balancing other rights. This bill is not necessary. ”

    During the public hearing on the bill, one survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, spoke about his experiences coming to America to escape persecution and asked the committee to oppose the bill.

    The bill has met with strong opposition from a broad group of organizations, including ACLU of Maine, Coalition for Maine Women, Equality Maine, Family Planning Association of Maine, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Choice Coalition, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Maine Education Association, Maine LGBT Coalition, Maine Medical Association, Maine People’s Alliance, Maine School Management Association, Maine State Employees Association, Maine Women’s Lobby, Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, Secular Coalition.

    ###

*Related: Maine Senate Votes 19-16 Against LD 1428, “An Act To Protect Religious Freedom”

*(UPDATED) Maine Takes Up LD 1428, “An Act To Protect Religious Freedom”

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