(UPDATED) The Curious Tale of Governor LePage and the 19- scratch that- 70 “Pocket Vetoes” LAWS

Posted on July 12, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

7/12/15  12:05 am UPDATE: As Governor LePage took no action on the additional 51 bills listed below before the deadline minutes ago, those additional bills have now become law as well. This post will be updated with any new information as it becomes available, as well as any statements from legislators.

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A curious thing happened on Monday night, as Maine realized that Governor Paul LePage had failed to act on 19 bills sitting on his desk within the 10 day window for a decision to veto or sign them- and as such, they became law.

The next day, LePage and his administration denied that this was the case, stating that they were dead via the pocket veto option available to the chief executive… which is only true if the Legislature was not “at ease” but rather had “adjourned sine die” on June 30th (which they had NOT).

But while the Governor and his staff continue to insist that they are right, the Revisor’s office disagreed.

Here is the list of the 19 new laws.

Bills on Governor’s Desk Past the 10 Day Limit

LD 25 “An Act To Protect the Privacy of Citizens from Domestic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Uses” Sponsored by Representative Diane Russell
LD 78 “An Act Regarding Limitations on Certain Storm Water Fees” Sponsored by Senator Nathan Libby
LD 113 “An Act To Reduce the Penalties for Certain Drug Offenses” Sponsored by Senator Roger Katz
LD 234 “An Act To Adjust Appropriations and Allocations from the General Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2015” (Emergency) (Governor’s Bill) Sponsored by Representative Margaret Rotundo
LD 299 “An Act To Protect Children in Municipal and School Facilities by Requiring Boiler Inspections” Sponsored by Senator Dawn Hill
LD 369 “An Act To Align Municipal General Assistance Programs with the Immigration Status Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services” Sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey
369LD 522 “An Act To Clarify a Recently Enacted Law Designed To Expand the Number of Qualified Educators” Sponsored by Senator David Burns
LD 722 “An Act To Strengthen Penalties for Abuse of General Assistance” Sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey
LD 756 “An Act To Enhance the Address Confidentiality Program Regarding Property Records” Sponsored by Representative Michelle Dunphy
LD 822 “An Act To Allow a Former Spouse of a Member of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System To Begin Collecting Benefits When the Former Spouse Reaches the Member’s Retirement Age” Sponsored by Representative Patrick Corey
LD 870 “An Act To Amend the Maine Spruce Budworm Management Laws” Sponsored by Senator James Dill
LD 1013 “An Act To Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners” Sponsored by Senator Anne Haskell
LD 1039 “An Act To Amend the Polygraph Examiners Act” Sponsored by Senator Anne Haskell
LD 1085 “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee Concerning Receipt of a Request for Public Records” Introduced by Rep. Barry Hobbins
LD 1108 “An Act To Protect Children and the Public from Electronic Cigarette Vapor” Sponsored by Representative Jeff McCabe
LD 1134 “An Act To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Distribute Information Regarding Down Syndrome to Providers of Prenatal and Postnatal Care and to Genetic Counselors” Sponsored by Senator Amy Volk
LD 1185 “An Act To Establish the Municipal Gigabit Broadband Network Access Fund” Sponsored by Representative Norman Higgins
LD 1303 “An Act To Stabilize and Streamline the Department of Environmental Protection’s Ground Water Oil Clean-up Fund and Maine Coastal and Inland Surface Oil Clean-up Fund” Sponsored by Senator Thomas Saviello
LD 1391 “An Act Regarding the Treatment of Forensic Patients” Sponsored by Representative Richard Malaby

LePage’s lawyers Cynthia Montgomery and Hank Fenton quickly wrote to Grant Pennoyer, Executive Director of the Legislative Council, about the actions of the Revisor’s office.

And Pennoyer responded back, just as zippety-quick… and against Team LePage.

This sentence is key:

“Absent a legal opinion from an authoritative external legal source, such as an opinion of the justices or a written opinion of the attorney general, which the office has used as guidance in the past, the revisor’s office will continue to perform its administrative responsibilities in an absolutely nonpartisan manner.”

And here’s why it’s important. Moments ago, Maine’s Attorney General Janet T. Mills responded to requests earlier this week by Senators Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) and Asst Minority Leader Dawn Hill (D-York), on the question of whether or not the Legislature was adjourned sine die or not, as well as the status of the 19 now printed bills/ laws.

Mills’ response is below.

As of yesterday, it was announced that another 51 bills could also become law if the governor also ignores them until after 12:01 am July 12th (Sunday). Here is the list of those bills.

Who knows where next this goes– Maine may well see Paul LePage take the Legislature, the Revisor’s office, Grant Pennoyer and the Attorney General to court. It’s all anyone’s guess.

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Dem Weekly Message by Senator Dawn Hill (D-York): LePage has become the monkey wrench in government that he purports to despise

Posted on July 10, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

DEMOCRATIC RADIO ADDRESS

Hill says, “Gov. LePage has become the monkey wrench in government that he purports to despise.”

    These days, working in Maine politics is a bit like living with Alice – Alice in Wonderland that is. What is up is down and what is down is up. Logic is lost and nonsense rules the day.

    In our Wonderland, the governor tosses the Constitution aside to make up his own rules.

    dawn hillGood Morning. This is Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dawn Hill of York.

    During his five years in office, Governor LePage has become adept at vetoing legislation. In fact, he holds the record for the Governor who has issued the most number of vetoes. This session alone, he’s vetoed nearly 180 bills.

    Governor LePage has not been shy about exercising his veto authority. And, no one, can begrudge him that authority. But, this authority is not without limits.

    Under the Maine Constitution, during the first year of a legislative session, the governor has ten days to sign or veto a bill. If he takes no action, then the bill becomes law.

    During the second year of a legislative session, an additional method of veto, called a “pocket veto,” is available to the Governor. According to the Constitution, this is the only time a pocket veto can be used.

    And since we’re only at the end of the first year of the legislative session, the law is pretty clear on how he can veto.

    Whether Governor LePage was misusing a pocket-veto of a bill or, he lost track of the 10 day time limit for a veto, the Constitution is straightforward–those 19 bills ARE now law.

    The governor has threatened to take this all the way to the Maine Supreme Court. Why? There is no good reason–other than to point to more political gamesmanship. He often relishes in the idea of wasting lawmakers’ time–but what he’s forgetting by this latest round of threats–is that he is also wasting taxpayer dollars. He has become the monkey wrench in government that he purports to despise.

    The governor took an oath of office to uphold state law and the Constitution. Even as governor, he can’t pick and choose which laws to follow and which ones he can ignore. In this country, and in this state, no one is above the law.

    Governor LePage has overstepped and overreached; abusing the power that comes with the office of governor–again. Even his long-time political allies are unable to defend him. From Republican political pundits to lawmakers, one after another is stepping forward and condemning his actions. One Republican lawmaker publicly said that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back–adding, lawmakers must express “no confidence” in Governor LePage.

    What’s next? Well, hopefully nothing.

    Most of us want to return to the legislative session next week and do our job. We want to continue finding pathways of success–continue passing bills that will make our communities stronger, our citizens more successful, and our state more competitive.

    We’re not in Wonderland–we’re in Maine. So the Governor can either get out of the way of the Legislature or join the team of Democratic and Republican lawmakers who are getting things done.

    Thank you for listening. This is Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dawn Hill of York. Have a very good weekend.

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Maine Lawmakers Submit Bill Aimed at Prohibiting “Revenge Porn”

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

100_5145LR 326, “An Act To Prohibit The Unauthorized Distribution of Certain Private Images” was introduced by members of the 127th Maine Legislature in late February at a press conference held in the Welcome Center. Speakers included:

    House Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette (R-Newport)
    Senator Asst Minority Leader Sen. Dawn Hill (D-York)
    Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland)
    Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner)
    Julia Colpitts, ME Coalition to End Domestic Violence
    Cara Couchesne, ME Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Fredette partnered with the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence to sponsor the bill, which would make posting revenge porn a Class D crime with penalties including a $2,000 fine and one year in jail.

From a Maine House Republican post:

    More and more people are finding their intimate photographs and/or videos disseminated online without their consent with at least 3,000 active websites devoted to this practice. Many of them force victims to pay hundreds of dollars in order to have their images removed. This disturbing trend is now on the rise here in Maine, where the majority of the victims are women. Victims are publicly humiliated to the point where some of them are moving out of areas they have lived in their whole lives and in extreme cases, some are even committing suicide.

    In many cases these images are posted in an effort to exact revenge on a former girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband. In other instances, these videos and images are used as threatening leverage to keep victims trapped in an abusive relationship.

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette: “This is a despicable act that mostly targets women. In states like Maine, where there are no laws on the books to punish those responsible, these victims have nowhere to turn. This is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.”

Co-Sponsor Sen. Dawn Hill: “The practice of non-consensual pornography has no place in Maine. Victims of this despicable act serve a life sentence of humiliation and shame while those responsible are currently going unpunished. It’s time for Maine to join the other states who are putting a stop to this.”

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AFA, HHS Joint Committee Meet w/ DHHS Officials to Discuss CTS, Riverview Psychiatric Center Woes

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

HHS Committee member Rep. Henry Bear (Maliseet) speaks with HHS Senate Chair and new AFA committee member Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) before meeting begins. Also pictured is AFA Senate Chair Dawn Hill (D-York)

HHS Committee member Rep. Henry Bear (Maliseet) speaks with HHS Senate Chair and new AFA committee member Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) before meeting begins. Also pictured is AFA Senate Chair Dawn Hill (D-York)

Joint meeting by the Appropriations & Financial Affairs, Health & Human Services standing legislative committees held to discuss a number of topics with officials from DHHS and Riverview Psychiatric Center including CTS (transportation), safety concerns, training issues, re-certification efforts and more.

The committees submitted two pages of detailed questions to Commissioner Mayhew, who responded with a 27 page document and sent Stephanie Nadeau, Ricker Hamilton and Riverview superintendent Jay Harper in her stead.

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 1)
http://youtu.be/EJLhEDmND0M

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 2)
http://youtu.be/jLbETF0ueVg

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 3)
http://youtu.be/EZr0wWC6Xko

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 4)
http://youtu.be/uvSq6_H08UU

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 5)
http://youtu.be/VKeiXLa_R1k

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 6)
http://youtu.be/AOP8eDHN09I

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BREAKING: LePage Vetoes LD 1858, $32M Supplemental Budget Bill

Posted on April 25, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Late Friday news dump/ breaking news from Augusta, as Governor LePage vetoed LD 1858,“An Act To Achieve the Savings Required under Part F of the Biennial Budget and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law for Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015” moments ago.

The chairs of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Senator Dawn Hill (D-York) and Rep. Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston) were quick to denounce the Governor’s decision in an issued joint statement:

Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

    “For the past two years, Governor LePage has made himself irrelevant to the budget process and this veto letter only proves it. He demonstrates a lack of understanding for what this budget does and how government works. In fact, the very thing he calls a “gimmick” is actually a smart solution and it was proposed by members of his own party,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York, the Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “I am confident this veto will be overridden. Nearly every lawmaker supported this budget and they will stand by their vote and stand up to another one of Governor LePage’s tantrums. It’s time for the people of Maine to have a real leader to work with.”

    The measure was passed unanimously in the Senate with a vote of 35 to 0 and by a vote of 133 to 8 in the House.


    “Democrats and Republicans worked collaboratively to craft a responsible and life-changing budget for our most vulnerable people with disabilities and for our seniors,”
    said Rep. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston the House Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “It’s no surprise to see the Governor veto the bipartisan measure. He has refused to participate in solving the state’s budget problems from day one. If he had items he wanted funded or didn’t like our approach, he should have worked with lawmakers.”

    Governor Paul LePage refused to propose a budget despite shortfalls at his Departments, refused to allow his commissioners to provide information to the budget committee in public, and provided inaccurate information on the budget shortfall in the Department of Health and Human Services. LePage also never provided a funding source for his drug enforcement plan, which he claims was a top priority.

    The $32 million budget would:

    • Close a $17 million shortfall in the MaineCare program for fiscal year 2015
    • Provide $5 million to reduce and eliminate the Department of Health and Human Services’ wait lists for people with disabilities to get home care services
    • Increase reimbursement rates for nursing homes by $5 million and provides $2 million for the state’s court ordered mental health consent decree
    • Increase funds for safety and security at Riverview Psychiatric Center and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center
    • Invest in key education and workforce training programs, including $650,000 for the Bridge Year program, $300,000 in funding for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, and $750,000 for Head Start.

Veto letter here:

The bill will now be added with a ever-growing list of others and dealt with by the Legislature on May 1, aka “Veto Day”.

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Emerge Maine To Honor Senator Dawn Hill and Representative Peggy Rotundo as 2014 Women of the Year

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

Via press release:

Emerge Maine To Honor Senator Dawn Hill and Representative Peggy Rotundo as 2014 Women of the Year
AFL­CIO organizer Sarah Bigney named 2014 Rising Star

Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

Senator Dawn Hill and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, chairs of the legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, listen to testimony at a public hearing.

Portland­­- Emerge Maine, the premier political training program for Maine Democratic women, has named State Senator Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick and State Representative Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston as the 2014 Women of the Year. Previous Emerge Women of the Year are Clerk of the House Millie MacFarland (2010), the Honorable Libby MItchell (2011), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (2012), and Attorney General Janet Mills (2013).

Senator Hill and Representative Rotundo chair the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, the state’s budget­writing committee. In an economically challenging and contentious political environment, they lead by example demonstrating a strong commitment to bipartisanship, working together, and civility in politics. Under their leadership, the Appropriations Committee unanimously recommended a bipartisan budget that was approved by more than two­ thirds of lawmakers in the House and the Senate during initial votes and again during subsequent votes to override Governor LePage’s veto of the budget.

    “Senator Hill and Representative Rotundo exemplify what it means to engage in civil discourse in politics,” said Jill Barkley, the Executive Director of Emerge Maine. “These two incredible women have worked together to create and maintain our state’s budget while fielding more than one funding crisis. They remain calm and committed to the best outcome for our state. We are thankful for their leadership.”

dawn hillSenator Hill, a non practicing attorney, is currently serving her second term as State Senator representing Eliot, Kittery, Ogunquit, South Berwick, and York. Prior to her time in the Senate, she served two terms in the State House representing York. In May 2008, she graduated from the prestigious “Leadership Maine,” a program of the Maine Development Foundation, in the Omicron Class.

Senator Hill is the founder and owner of It’s a Dog’s World, a large canine training and activity facility in southern Maine. She also serves on the board of directors for MMG Insurance of Presque Isle, Maine.

    “I’m honored to be named one of Emerge’s women of the year,” said Senator Hill. “It is an even greater honor to share this designation with all of the previous women named, who have worked tirelessly for our great state.”

peggy rotundoRepresentative Rotundo was first elected to the Legislature in 2000. She served four terms in the State Senate and is currently serving her third term in the State House representing part of the city of Lewiston. During her time in the Legislature, she has sponsored legislation that has created greater public access to government information, a cleaner environment, greater educational opportunities for all Maine people and better services for veterans and the elderly.

She has also led in creating bipartisan state budgets. Rep. Rotundo has won numerous awards for her work on these issues and for her work in creating civil and respectful public discourse. Prior to her service in the Legislature, she served on the Lewiston School Committee, which she chaired for four years.

Representative Rotundo helped found the Center for Service­ Learning at Bates College in Lewiston in 1995, which has become a nationally recognized program that connects Bates students to the community through service. She currently serves as the Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives for the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships.

    “I am deeply honored to be recognized by Emerge Maine, which has done so much to encourage and support women interested in public service,” said Representative Rotundo. “We all stand on the shoulders of courageous women leaders who have gone before us. We honor their lives and service by encouraging and mentoring the next generation of great women leaders.”

Sarah Bigney and Sen. John Patrick (D-Rumford) at the State House.

Sarah Bigney and Sen. John Patrick (D-Rumford) at the State House.

Emerge Maine will also be honoring Rising Star Sarah Bigney of Hallowell. An Emerge alumna from the Class of 2009, Bigney is Director of Field and Member Mobilization at the Maine AFL­CIO where she advocates for workers’ rights and economic justice. Her work includes supporting the newly formed Maine Lobstering Union and recruiting and training union members to be candidates for the Legislature. She was named the 2014 “Mrs. Paul Bunyan” in her hometown of Bangor.

    “I’m humbled to be recognized by Emerge Maine. The training I completed with Emerge was such a terrific boost when I was first starting out working in politics,” said Bigney. “I greatly value the encouragement and support I receive from this powerful network of women leaders in public service in our state. Together we will make Maine a better place for working families to thrive.”

Emerge Maine is one of fourteen state Emerge programs across the country.

Emerge is committed to increasing the number of Democratic women in office, building a strong network of dedicated women leaders, and creating a pipeline of Democratic candidates at all levels of government. Emerge Maine has 140 alumnae, Emerge Maine alumnae make up ten percent of the House Democratic caucus, and there will be 20 Emerge Maine alumnae running for the State House in 2014.

Senator Hill, Representative Rotundo, and Bigney will be honored at the 2014 Woman of the Year reception Thursday, May 15, at the Senator Inn in Augusta.
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Maine Legislature Overwhelmingly Pass LD 1762, Restoring $40M in Municipal Revenue Sharing

Posted on February 12, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee listen to testimony regarding LR 2721 (LD 1762) at public hearing.

Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee listen to testimony regarding LR 2721 (LD 1762) at public hearing.

Yesterday the 126th Maine Legislature took up LD 1762, “An Act Related to the Report of the Tax Expenditure Review Task Force”, which originally passed the House last Thursday by a 114-21 vote on its first reading. The debate at that time was at times contentious, with Republicans divided on the merits of the bill and understanding their votes could have ramifications come November.

LD1762 came up again yesterday first in the House, where a slew of amendments were tacked onto the bill and many GOP members standing to speak in opposition to it. One by one, the amendments were indefinitely postponed. Reactions from House Republicans:

    House Republican Leader Ken Fredette’s floor amendment would task the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management with finding spending reductions to equal the $40 million needed for fiscal year 2015.

    “The tax expenditure task force, which was responsible for closing this $40 million gap and was stacked with liberals, failed to complete its task,” said Rep. Fredette. “OPM, on the other hand, successfully completed its task of finding $35 million in spending cuts. My amendment would give the job to OPM since the majority Democrats and their task force have proven themselves incapable of balancing the budget in a responsible manner.”

    Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst) introduced an amendment that would reduce welfare spending as an alternative to raiding the rainy day fund.

    “When I talk about reducing the size of state government, some people like to ask me, ‘what, specifically, would you cut?’ as if I won’t have an answer,” said Rep. Lockman on the House floor. “Well, here’s my answer. Here are 25 million answers. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg that is sinking Maine’s economic ship.”

    Rep. Wayne Parry (R-Arundel) introduced an amendment to give $7 million in property tax relief directly to needy seniors and pay for it with revenue sharing reductions to municipal government.

    “Democrats talk a big game about helping the needy and the elderly, but it’s clear now where their priorities are,” said Rep. Parry.

    Rep. Dean Cray (R-Palmyra) had a very specific spending cut alternative to raiding Maine’s rainy day fund. His amendment proposed eliminating green energy subsidies to replace $14 million in reductions to the rainy day fund.

For some context on the amendments and those offering them:

  • The cuts Rep. Fredette referred to via OPM were detailed in this earlier post from last fall and include cuts such as $1 million for vaccinations and $500k to Head Start, as well as many cuts to the Department of Corrections.
  • Rep. Lockman’s amendment would have taken another $25 million from DHHS’ ever-changing budget requirements. It is very challenging to view his proposal seriously, as he earlier was one of a group of Republicans who, unhappy with the LePage budget and its cuts to revenue sharing, held a press conference at the State House to present their own budget alternative:

    At the 4:00 mark, Lockman discusses new taxes to be levied against Maine’s wealthiest non-profits, but relabels them creatively as “fair share recycling fees”. One wonders how Maine’s largest hospitals and colleges, which top the list of the state’s wealthiest nonprofits, would react to such “fees”?

  • Rep. Parry’s amendment would still not address the municipal shortages of the communities tasked with providing services such as police, fire and public works to the very senior and needy citizens that his proposal was supposedly aimed to help. A reminder: Recently as many as 100 municipalities were represented at a public hearing regarding this bill and spoke of the harm that revenue sharing was doing to their communities.
  • As for Rep. Cray’s offering… let’s just say that “renewable energy” will never be an honest focus of the LePage administration.

Ultimately the original bill passed under the hammer (ie, no second roll call vote) and went immediately to the Senate. And there something interesting happened…

The Senate voted to pass the bill by a 33-2 margin, with the only two voting against, Senators Pat Flood and Dick Woodbury, having already declared that neither was running for re-election. Via Senate Democrat press release, here are statements from some of the members:

    Senate President Justin Alfond: “Towns across our state have financially stretched budgets. They came to us with a problem that needed to be solved. Towns across our state, regardless of political affiliation, wholeheartedly support this measure because they know the state should and must keep its promise. In this business, you have to stand up and be accountable to the property taxpayers of your town. Passing this measure and keeping our promise is the responsible thing to do.”

    Senator Dawn Hill, the Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee and LD 1762 co-sponsor:
    “Last year we all worked across the aisle to make a promise to our towns; we pledged our best effort. We made a promise to towns to ensure good schools, police to ensure safety, and skilled firefighters. Now is not the time to upend all of that work. Restoring these funds will ensure our towns don’t have to raise property taxes or further reduce essential services like public safety or education, or do both.”

    Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson: “Once again, Governor LePage is threatening to hold Maine’s economy hostage if he doesn’t get his way. Today, the Senate sent a message that we will not be held hostage. We will stand up for our towns and cities and keep our funding promise.”

In December, Governor Paul LePage outraged many by labeling revenue sharing as “welfare” , a position he did not take as Waterville’s mayor in 2009. While LePage has indicated that he would either veto the bill or hold hostage $100 million in voter-approved bonds meant to pay for infrastructure projects were LD 1762 to pass, there has been no word yet from the second floor as to what comes next.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Senator Dawn Hill (York): Dems Working Across Aisle To Keep State’s Promise to Towns

Posted on January 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(NOTE: All stresses and links within the address below are mine and not as sent out to media. ~AP)

Audio link here:

      DEMOCRATIC RADIO ADDRESS

    Hill says: Some spend their time pointing out all that is wrong and offer no solutions, but Democrats are working across the aisle to see that the state keeps its promise with Maine towns.

    One of the most important tasks for any legislature is to work with the governor to put together a budget for our state. Budgets are built upon compromise and negotiation. And while each political party may have variations in their funding priorities, there’s often bipartisan agreement when it comes to meeting our financial obligations, especially when it comes to the towns and communities across our state.

    dawn hillGood Morning. This is State Senator Dawn Hill of York. I am the Senate Chair of the state’s budget writing committee.

    More than forty years ago, state government made a promise to each town and city in Maine: give five percent of sales and income taxes collected from towns, by the state, back to the municipalities. This is called revenue sharing. The goal of this promise was to provide property tax relief to homeowners and commercial property owners.

    The state has kept its promise— until recently.

    Last year, Governor LePage broke this promise by proposing the complete elimination of revenue sharing. During the public hearing, we heard days of testimony from Mayors, City Managers, and Selectboards—each narrating the devastating impact this would have on communities in every corner of our state.

    The Legislature responded.

    Democrats led the way to restore revenue sharing. And while we restored a good portion of it, we were thwarted by some Tea Party Republicans, and were unable to fully fund revenue sharing.

    Last month, Governor LePage doubled down on his pursuit to completely eliminate revenue sharing. He even went so far as to call it “welfare.” Ask any town manager if they agree with Governor LePage’s label.

    I can tell you that town officials from our biggest cities to our smallest towns have responded in outrage.

    Belfast. Standish. Brewer. Eddington. Portland. And dozens more.

    Towns are telling us their budgets are as tight as can be. They depend on the state’s revenue sharing, and cannot tolerate placing any more unnecessary pressure on local taxpayers.

    If the state doesn’t keep its promise, no town will escape the choice between cutting bare-to-the bones services or raising property taxes. And, many will have to do both.

    Last week, my co-chair and I proposed a measure that will honor the state’s promise to our local towns. Without this, towns will lose an average of sixty-two percent of revenue sharing toward their budgets.

    So why does revenue sharing matter?

    As you drive—or walk—around your town, look around.

    • Are your streets plowed, paved?
    • Do you have sidewalks?
    • Are there street lights directing traffic? What about trees lining your Main Street?
    • Are the restaurants in your town clean and up to code? And let’s not forget about the police and firefighters who keep us safe. And our schools, that teach our kids.

    Revenue sharing matters.

    While some in Augusta spend their time pointing out all that is wrong with our state—and offer no solutions, Democrats are working across the aisle to see that we uphold our share of the bargain for our towns. And because of that, I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in fulfilling the state’s commitment.

    This is State Senator Dawn Hill. Thank you for listening. Have a good weekend. And, let’s remember to honor Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday.

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Governor LePage’s OPM Director Lays Out Nearly $34 Million Cuts To Balance State Budget

Posted on October 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Director of Office of Policy and Management former state senator Richard Rosen (R-Bucksport)

Director of Office of Policy and Management former state senator Richard Rosen (R-Bucksport)

As part of the biennial FY ’14-15 budget bill enacted in June that called for the Governor’s newly formed Office of Policy and Management department with finding $33,750,000 in cuts, OPM Director Richard Rosen presented a 115 page report before Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) last week. This is the first report by Rosen to the committee.

Among the cuts listed:

  • $1 million in the closure of the Maine Revenue Services’ Houlton office (Note: This closure has already occurred, resulting in 12 jobs lost).
  • $9.6 million in administrative expenses in cuts to education.
  • Nearly half a million dollars in HeadStart funding.
  • $1 million cut to vaccines for children and cuts to the state’s reimbursement to towns for General Assistance for struggling families.
  • $1 million in innovative technology investments at Maine Technology Institute.
  • Multiple Department of Corrections cuts/changes, including:
      -$1.1 million by reducing overtime.
      -$800k by cutting the Prisoner Boarding Account.
      -Allowing prisoners with 18 months left on their sentences, as opposed to current 12 months, to participate in work-release programs, creating an additional $85k in revenue.
      -Privatizing DOC’s kitchen staff, saving $374k.
  • Elimination of more than a dozen inactive state boards and commissions. Negligible savings.

    Here are some quick videos of Mr. Rosen addressing the committee, the first as he starts to lay out the cuts to the committee and the second including questions by AFA committee members:

    Democrats were critical of the cuts:

      “There are strong concerns that the administration’s proposed cuts will harm our state’s economy and Maine families,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York who also serves as the Senate chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs committee. “We are prepared to make hard decisions and know that we must work together on solutions. But these solutions must be strategic and smart, not harmful and regressive for our working families and our towns.”

      “This proposal is a ‘greatest hits’ list of rehashed ideas that have been rejected by both parties, It’s hard to believe this is a serious proposal.” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the House chair of the Appropriations committee. “Now it is our job to find proposals that work.”

    As required by the budget, $11 million of the proposed cuts would occur in fiscal year 2014 and do not require the approval of the Legislature. The remainder of the proposed cuts would occur in 2015 and would need to be approved by lawmakers when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

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  • (UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Warns that “126th Isn’t Over Yet”; “Playing Politics is Easy, Governing is Hard”

    Posted on July 12, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

    UPDATE: Apparently Senate President Justin Alfond also took offense with much of the Governor’s weekly address, as he issued this statement moments ago:

    Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, right, and House speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speak to reporters after both the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of the state budget, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.  (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, right, and House speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speak to reporters after both the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the state budget, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

        ALFOND RESPONDS TO GOVERNOR’S RADIO ADDRESS

      AUGUSTA— Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland released a statement in response to the following assertion made by Governor LePage in his radio address:

        “Playing politics is easy; governing effectively is hard. As Chief Executive, I take my responsibilities on behalf of the people of Maine seriously.

        Our Administration has worked hard to change the attitude within government and has brought more transparency to government than any recent administration. We work with citizens and businesses to solve problems. We strive to be efficient and responsible with taxpayer dollars. And we only introduce public policy that benefits Mainers and our state.”

      President Alfond replied:

      “The governor certainly has changed the tone in Augusta. He has made politics one of the most contentious and divided in our state’s history. He has vetoed more bills than any other governor, he has lobbed insults that require censorship on TV, and he has continued to put his stubbornness ahead of the best interests of Maine people. We deserve better than this.

      The governor’s radio address shows no connection to what he does every day. It’s insulting that he thinks Mainers aren’t paying attention and that he thinks he can get away with his irresponsible behavior.”

      ###

    Audio link and link to address as shared by the governor’s office.

    All other links below are not as originally shared, nor are stresses. ~AP

    ——————————————————————————————–

    St. Patty's DayMaine’s first 126th Legislative session was plagued by misguided priorities and political games.

    Democratic leadership chose their strategy, which was to attack and delay.

    Hello. This is Governor Paul R. LePage.

    Playing politics is easy; governing effectively is hard. As Chief Executive, I take my responsibilities on behalf of the people of Maine seriously.

    Our Administration has worked hard to change the attitude within government and has brought more transparency to government than any recent administration. We work with citizens and businesses to solve problems. We strive to be efficient and responsible with taxpayer dollars. And we only introduce public policy that benefits Mainers and our state.

    There are nearly 500 new bills that will become law in October or earlier as a result of this session.

    In one of the most appalling moves of the session, however, some Democrats took a stand against the Administration at the expense of our military men and women. A Governor’s bill was submitted supporting Maine’s uniformed military members having access to public schools.

    Military recruiters told our Administration several schools in southern Maine only allow minimal access of recruiters. Those high schools brought to our attention were Oak Hill, Noble, Wells, York, Kennebunk, Gorham and Yarmouth. We also were informed that two additional high schools, Portland and Yarmouth, refused uniformed recruiters from stepping on campus.

    Democrats have claimed there is no problem, but in the same breath some Democrats have said uniformed military service members may intimidate high school students. So, the father or mother who arrives in uniform to pick up their child from school is threatening? The thought is preposterous.

    Paul LePageOne Democrat even said he’s “more inclined to believe our local superintendents than a military recruiter.”

    I’d bet my life on the word of a recruiter over a superintendent any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    As I prepare to go to Gettysburg, I am disgusted by these behaviors. The Democrats blatant rejection of this bill sends a message to all military service members – past and present – that they are not welcome in Maine’s public school system. The disdain is evident and it is a sad day for Maine when we cannot come together in agreement to support our troops.

    Maine has a proud and long-standing tradition of service to our state and country. We have the largest number of veterans per capita in the nation and we owe our heartfelt gratitude to our troops who defend our freedom and sacrifice time with their family, friends and communities to serve.

    ———————————————————-

      NOTE: It is well known that our governor himself, unlike many men of his age, was not in the military during Vietnam and in fact, was living in New Brunswick raising his first family at the time. Paul LePage never served in the military in any capacity and has in fact been a harsh critic on numerous occasions of our nation’s Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama.

      Maine's First Lady Ann LePage attends VA ribbon cutting ceremony in Lewiston with US Congressman Rep. Mike Michaud, who is now running for her husband's office in 2014.

      Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage attends VA ribbon cutting ceremony in Lewiston with US Congressman Rep. Mike Michaud, who is now running for her husband’s office in 2014.

      Repeatedly the job of honoring Maine’s citizens who have served their country has fallen to First Lady Ann LePage, who has done a far better job of representing our state well than her husband ever could; our state is and should be grateful for and proud of our First Lady’s tireless work. That Governor LePage is speaking up so strongly is just another example of odd and inappropriate behavior, which the state has gotten rather used to over the course of his tenure.

      Here are statements released from Maine veterans serving in the 126th Legislature, regarding LD 1503, link to the various roll calls here:

      “I’m a Vietnam veteran. I have a Bronze Star. I belong to the American Legion. But I don’t want to see this sort of cynical misuse of patriotism for political ends,” said Rep. Charlie Priest, D-Brunswick. “This issue is about local control. It’s not about whether we love the military or not. Of course we love the military.”

      Priest is a Navy veteran who earned a Bronze Star for his service in the Republic of Vietnam in 1970 and 1971.

      “I’m very disappointed that this bill was used as a political tool to try to divide us. I’m a veteran and I’m a patriot. I know what side I’m on,” said Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Navy and is a member of the American Legion. “As far as I can tell, the ‘problem’ the bill addresses doesn’t exist. No factual evidence of a problem has ever been produced.”

      “This bill is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t appear to exist. We want our military to succeed and we also want to leave decisions to educators and parents in keeping with our time-honored tradition of home rule,” said Rep. Bruce MacDonald, D-Boothbay, the committee’s House chair.

    ———————————————————————–

    Military service is not for everyone and this bill did nothing to force students into serving. It simply forbade school administrators from refusing recruiters in uniform to visit with students interested in exploring life’s options.

    I encourage Mainers to find out where politicians stand on this important common sense bill before they cast their next vote. I assure you that this will not be the last time this bill is introduced.

    I do not form opinions about policy based on party lines. Our Administration identifies the problem, reviews the options, and develops a plan. I stand by my principles and I don’t know any other way than to fight for what I believe in.

    Maine has challenging issues that must be addressed. While we have the lowest unemployment rate in years, we need to become more competitive.

    Electricity prices must be lowered and government spending must be curbed. I want Maine businesses to have the opportunity to thrive and create new jobs, and I want you to keep your hard-earned money not give it to government.

    Furthermore, the taxes the Legislature just raised on you were completely unnecessary.

    ——————————————————————-

    NOTE: Um… who’s zooming who? His own PARTY offered their own late budget, as it became readily apparent that the LePage budget was set to force municipalities to raise taxes on every Mainer, to counter the unfunded $400 million tax cuts to the wealthy passed by the GOP led 125th Legislature.

    Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), called the proposal from legislative Republicans to restore $368 million to the state budget “a step in the right direction.” But he cautioned members of the Legislature’s budget-writing appropriations committee to reject the Republican proposals to tax nonprofits and take over the assets of the Maine Health Access Foundation to raise additional revenues and seek other “realistic revenue alternatives.”

      “Yesterday, legislative Republicans acknowledged the need to break with the governor and restore $368 million to the state budget in order to avoid property tax increases on hardworking Maine families,” Martin said. “Some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party joined in this appeal that includes new revenue. MECEP has maintained all along that Maine working families need a budget that funds our schools, protects our elderly and disabled, and gives our economy a boost without crushing property tax increases. Republican admission that additional revenues are needed to balance the budget is a step in the right direction.

      Yesterday’s proposal did not include realistic revenue alternatives,” Martin said. “The proposals to tax nonprofits and take over the assets of the Maine Health Access Foundation amount to a ‘hail Mary’ pass in the wrong direction. There are much better alternatives that we urge members of the appropriations committee to consider.”

    Perhaps Governor LePage was somehow unaware of the effects of his budget as proposed upon his former city of Waterville… a reminder, via current Mayor Karen Heck:

      Karen Heck, Waterville’s Mayor, has long been outspoken in her criticism of tax cuts and how those cuts affect municipalities, as was her predecessor, Paul LePage. She laid out a bleak picture:

      “Even the best of these (Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee) proposals means a loss of nearly 50% million to municipalities over the next two years. We have been cutting services and trimming payroll for several years. We simply cannot absorb that kind of cut without raising taxes. Revenue sharing is an obligation, a bill the state should pay.”

    He also has yet to acknowledge this clip:

    ——————————————-

    I don’t know what Mainers will remember most about this first session. Perhaps it’s the recruiter bill or maybe that the hospital welfare debt was finally paid. Quite frankly, the tax increases disturb me the most.

    ——————————————

    (Or maybe it will be these… )

    More on that last, as LePage’s repeated statements of how the Administrations’ words were not heard by Appropriations is an out-and-out bald-faced lie. Both Commissioners Mayhew and Millett were heard by the AFA committee and the Governor knows this to be true. The Governor’s arrival to AFA on May 19th’s special session was at the 15 minute mark of this 45 plus minute recording:



    ——————————————————————————

    And the way I look at it: the 126th isn’t over yet. So, in January we will have a plan. A plan that repeals the tax increases and is designed to move Maine forward.

    The question is will Democrats choose to fight against me again or work for the Maine people.

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