Maine’s Republican Legislature Divided on LD 1066, Medicaid Expansion Bill

Posted on December 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

NOTE: Continuing to dust off past posts regarding Maine Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo), as news broke today that he is considering jumping into the GOP primary race for Mike Michaud’s open seat. Here is the clip linked below in the original write up.

*Related: “Maine Senate Floor Debate On Override Of LePage LD 1509 FY 14-15 Budget Veto (June 26 VIDEOS)”

(Originally posted 18 Jun 2013)

Last week saw a clear division among the 126th Legislature’s GOP caucus regarding whether or not to pass LD 1066, “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding”, as Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) proposed a “sunset provision” amendment that passed that chamber by a 23-12 vote.

Rising to speak against the provision were Minority Leader Sen. Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo), Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) , Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) , Sen. Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin) , Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) and Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) .

Over in the House, Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) offered a second amendment to the bipartisan Senate approved bill, adding a $100 million dollar fiscal note that was indefinitely postponed by a 88-61 vote.

From her prepared testimony: (shortened dramatically, due to available working space on this post. ~AP)

    “I rise before you today and present an amendment to LD 1066. This amendment seeks to set a clear and distinct priority in our MaineCare program and ensure that its original mission of caring for those who cannot care for themselves is fulfilled….

    Today I speak for the people that we legislators, policy makers and budgeters have shoved into the shadows. Today I’d like to bring them out in the light for you to see. Yes, these are the 3100 people being forced to languish on a waitlist, not receiving essential services because we don’t have the fiscal discipline to make the choices that need to be made in order to fund the care they need… not want… need. Some have been on this list for years….

    This amendment tried to rectify the abuses committed by the legislature and asks that you vote to insist that they begin receiving services by July 1 of THIS year….

    Yes, it will be expensive. This amendment carries a fiscal note of almost $100 million dollars over the upcoming biennium….”

Her colleague Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) rose to speak in support of the amendment:

Then Minority Leader Rep Ken Fredette (R-Newport) spoke in strong opposition, not just to the amendment but to the Medicaid expansion bill as well.

(Later, Fredette would rise again to speak infamously out against the expansion- but, we’ve already covered THAT today!)

Asst Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) then moved to indefinitely postpone the LD 1066 amendment.

When the House took the bill up again, as amended previously by Asst Minority Leader Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec), the vote results revealed some modest gains for the expansion, with 97 voting for enactment.

As expected, Governor LePage vetoed LD 1066 on Monday (now the second time he has vetoed Medicaid expansion), so now it awaits more votes in the Legislature.

Currently, House Majority Leader Seth Berry has moved for the bill to be tabled until later today (June 18) pending reconsideration.

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Maine House Floor Debate on LD 1509, Budget Veto Override (VIDEOS)

Posted on July 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

veto budgetSame as with their counterparts in the Senate, the House Republicans had nothing to say regarding the veto override vote (roll call).

Here are statements of House Democratic leadership and Appropriation committee member Rep. Peggy Rotundo (Lewiston), sent out via press release:

    “I thank the Maine lawmakers who worked tirelessly and came together to override this careless veto,” said House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “We put to rest the specter of a state shutdown that has loomed over the Legislature for months. We made the responsible choice to support a bipartisan budget that blunts massive property tax hikes, puts money back into our classrooms and helps our seniors and people with disabilities.”

    The House Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said the vote affirmed the “collaborative and responsible” work of the budget committee. “The bipartisan budget we again endorsed today will serve the people of Maine well. A government shutdown would not serve anyone,” said Rotundo.

    “I applaud lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for standing up to the governor’s reckless action and standing up for Maine people. The governor’s political games could have led to serious consequences: a shutdown of important services, property tax hikes, harm to workers and the health of our economy,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham.

    “No one got everything they wanted out of this compromise budget, but lawmakers were able to find common ground through hard work. They came together once again today for the well-being of our people and our state,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan.

Here is the order of speakers are the floor speeches from last week.

Floor speech of Rep. Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Lawrence Lockhart (R-Amherst) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. David Cotta (R-China) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Ben Chipman (I-Portland) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Stacey Guerin (R-Glenburn) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Paul McGowan (D-York) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Jarred Crockett (R-Bethel) on LD 1509

Floor Speech of Rep. Jethro Pease (R-Morrill) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Stanley Short (D-Pittsfield) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. James Campbell (I-Newfield) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Dick Campbell (R-Orrington) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Erik Jorgensen (D-Portland) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Asst Minority Leader Rep. Alex Willette (R-Mapleton) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Ray Wallace (R-Dexter) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Rep. Wayne Parry (R-Arundel) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Majority Leader Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Andrea Boland (D-Sanford) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette on LD 1509

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Maine House Floor Debates, Passes LD 1113 Buffett Rule Bill; Senate Votes to Indef Postpone (VIDEOS)

Posted on June 25, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Among the many bills taken up during the last whirlwind that was last week’s legislative session was House Majority Leader Seth Berry’s sponsored LD 1333, “An Act To Provide Tax Fairness to Maine’s Middle Class and Working Families”, aka the Buffett rule bill.

LD 1113 Sponsor House Majority Leader Seth Beth (D-Bowdoinham) Speaks To His Bill

From his prepared testimony:

    “LD 1113 would apply the logic of the “Buffett Rule” on Maine’s state and local tax code. As you know, the Buffett Rule is a concept named for the wealthy investor Warren Buffet, who famously said his secretary should not be required to pay higher taxes than he pays.

    According to Maine Revenue Services, Maine’s secretaries- and truck drivers, and child care workers- are now paying higher taxes than their bosses. It is time for this to stop. It is time to reduce taxes on those who pay the most, and equalize them for those paying too little.

    At present, a mother of two, working full-time at minimum wage, pays, nearly twice as much per dollar of income as a person making $1 million a year. This is due to the regressive nature of property and sales taxes, as well as the “stacking” of income tax credits, exemptions and deductions by a select few.

    LD 1113 would correct this inequality. Through its credit mechanism, it would actually cut taxes for hundreds of thousands of middle and working class families. More immediately, the bill as amended would fully restore revenue sharing.

(NOTE: LD 1113 would have worked in addition to restoring the municipality revenue sharing portion not covered by LD 1509, the biannual budget vetoed by Governor LePage yesterday. ~AP).

IMG_4857

    Does equalization add complexity? Absolutely not. In fact, by simplifying the Circuit Breaker and incorporating it into the tax return, LD 1113 can actually reduce paperwork for hundreds of thousands of families, and add only 3 or 4 lines for the few making over $350,000.

    Are the wealthy already taxed enough? In some cases, yes. In fact, the average Maine household in the 95th to 98th percentile pays more than average already. That is why LD 1113 proposes an individualized equalization test, only for those in the top 1 percent.

    The questions LD 1113 poses to you are politic, economic and moral.

    Politically, a Maine Buffett Rule is supported by 4 in 5 voters. A national Buffett Rule is supported by Maine’s entire tripartisan Congressional delegation, including Senator Susan Collins. Can we stand with Maine people and with our entire U.S. delegation- or can’t we?

    Economically, research shows that fair taxes assist growth. When the struggling full-time worker has a little more money in her pocket, businesses like mine have more customers. Work is rewarded and productivity increases. Do we want a thriving economy and middle class- or don’t we?

    Morally, Maine people have always believed that we should each do our fair share, as we are able. Yet at present, our overall code is very unfair. Will we be the Legislature that asked each Mainer to do their fair share- or won’t we?

    With your leadership on this issue, I believe we can, we do, and we will.

    Thank you.

IMG_4851The House then voted to pass the bill, 88-51. But when it was the Senate’s turn, that body unanimously decided to table LD 1113 with a indefinite postponement vote that passed under the hammer. The House Democrats were quick to send out a press release, which read in part:

    The Senate early Thursday morning failed to pass a Buffett Rule for Maine that would have restored revenue sharing for communities and provided tax breaks for the middle class.

    “The Senate failed Maine’s middle class and local property taxpayers today. They had a chance to embrace tax fairness and prevent a property tax hike with this measure,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the bill’s lead sponsor. “These are issues many of us campaigned on. How can they face their constituents after breaking these promises?”

    “We have yet another situation here where the House has done good bipartisan work only to see it undermined by the Senate,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, a cosponsor of the bill.

    Starting in the two-year period beginning July 1, the measure would add approximately $75 million to the revenue-sharing system between the state and municipalities, thanks to an amendment from Rep. Michael Carey, D-Lewiston.

    The governor’s budget would have eliminated revenue sharing, but the bipartisan budget passed by the Legislature would restore two-thirds of it. The amendment from Carey, a member of the budget-writing committee, fully restores revenue sharing to its current levels.

    “On the Appropriations Committee, we worked hard to blunt the tax shift to local property taxpayers in the governor’s budget. We were able to get two-thirds of the way to full restoration but not any further until this amendment was added to the measure,” Carey said. “Property taxes are the most regressive of our taxes and hit our middle class particularly hard.”

Here are the remainder of the videos from the House floor debate, in order of speakers.

Rep. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls) speaks against LD 1113 (Pt 1)

Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) Speaks Against LD 1113 (Pt 1)

Rep. Joe Brooks (U-Winterport) Speaks for LD 1113

Rep Adam Goode (D-Bangor) Speaks in Support of LD 1113

Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz (D-Orono) Speaks in Support of LD 1113

Rep Mike Carey (D-Lewiston) Speaks in Support of LD 1113

Rep Gary Knight poses question on LD 1113

Rep Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan), Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) Speak in Favor of LD 1113

Question of Rep Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner), Answer by Rep Berry on LD 1113

Rep Peter Stuckey (D-Portland) speaks in favor of LD 1113

Rep Roger Jackson (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1113

Rep Mike Carey (D-Lewiston) answers question on LD 1113

Rep Justin Chenette (D-Saco) Speaks in Strong Support of LD 1113

Rep Keschl (R-Belgrade) Rises Again in Opposition to LD 1113

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Democrats McCabe, Millett Urge Support of LD 1185, Enhancing School Efforts To Use Locally Produced Foods

Posted on April 13, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Maine would take a step toward increasing the use of locally produced foods in schools under a measure sponsored by Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan. McCabe’s bill, LD 1185, “An Act To Enhance Efforts To Use Locally Produced Food in Schools”, would require school districts to include its use of local foods in its existing annual reporting on their school meal programs. The addition of local foods to the report would require only a minor change to the existing reporting website.

jeff full education cmteOther bill details include the following rating of schools:

  • “Gold Medal Eat Local School” = 30% or more locally produced foods usage
  • “Silver Medal Eat Local School” = 20-30%
  • “Bronze Medal Eat Local School” = 10-20%
  • The designations would be included on the state Department of Education website.

    Wiscasset Primary School, which purchases food from eight local farms, has had success in incorporating local foods into its cafeteria offerings, according to Abby Plummer, program director and farms-to-school educator for Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools.

      “The food service staff feels very proud to be able to serve fresh, healthy, local foods to children, and to support our local farmers and the economy,” Plummer said in testimony. “The children are excited every time there is a new local food item on their tray. Students who are exposed to local foods are learning lifelong healthy eating habits and simultaneously gaining a sense of respect, responsibility and appreciation for farming, their state, their community and their environment.”

    A typical food item in the United States travels 1,500 miles from farm to its final destination, and industrial agriculture is responsible for 20 percent of the nation’s fossil fuel consumption, Alexandra Fields, preservation associate for Environment Maine said in testimony. Locally produced foods reach their destinations in a more efficient manner, are less likely to have been produced with excessive chemicals and do not lose nutrients in a long shipping process, she said.

      “And, when schools buy seasonally, they are serving the freshest and best-tasting fruits and vegetables available, which is exactly what Maine’s kids deserve,” she said.

    The bill, co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, also has the support of other supporters including Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Maine People’s Alliance.

    Here is the testimony of the bills’ lead sponsor, House Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan).

    Rep. McCab answers questions of Rep. Mattie Daughtry (D-Brunswick)

    Rep. McCab answers questions of Rep. Mattie Daughtry (D-Brunswick)

      Good afternoon Senator Millett, Representative MacDonald and distinguished members of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. My name is Jeff McCabe and I serve as State Representative for District 85, the town of Skowhegan. I am pleased to present to you LD 1185, “An Act to Enhance Efforts to Use Locally Produced Food in Schools”.

      I think we can all agree that providing our students with fresh, healthy food sets them up for success in the classroom. Research shows that healthy eating can improve children’s concentration and classroom behavior and help them perform better in school. It also helps to lay the groundwork for healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. One great way to achieve this is to increase the amount of fresh, locally produced food that is available to our students.

      This bill seeks to simply ask schools to add this once-a-year report to the nutrition and pricing reporting that they are already required to submit to the Maine Department of Education. The reporting is designed to be simple and integrated into the system that school nutrition professionals are already using to track and report the meals they serve, utilizing the same website that schools are currently using for this purpose. This minor addition to the current reporting requirements would provide parents, educators and lawmakers with a wealth of information about the food schools are serving our kids.

      I was surprised to learn that even though Maine is a rural state with a proud farming and fishing tradition, we import more of our food than any other state in the continental United States. That sad reality can easily result in serious consequences for our state’s overall health, educational achievement, environment and economy.

      Rather than make guesses or assumptions, based on anecdotal information, this processes would give the Department useful data when making school nutrition choices in the future. I urge the committee to support the bill and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

      Thank you.

    Chair Senator Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland) also testified on behalf of LD 1185:

    rebecca millett

      Good afternoon Representative MacDonald and fellow Members of the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. I am Senator Rebecca Millett, representing District 7, which includes South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and a part of Scarborough. I am pleased to come before you in support of LD 1185, “An Act to Enhance Efforts to Use Locally Produced Food in Schools.”

      We all know eating locally is better for the environment. When the produce and animal products we consume come from our neighbors’ farms, the fossil fuels used to transport these goods is dramatically reduced thus lowering carbon emissions. But it is also better for us. When produce is sourced locally, it is fresher than produce that has been shipped from across the United States or even from other countries. When they are harvested, fruits and vegetables begin losing vitamins such as A, some B, C and E. Eating local produce means eating fresher, more flavorful and more nutritious foods.

      When we increase the percentage of local foods in our school, we increase the nutrients our children consume. When our children consume healthier, nutritious diets, they are better able to focus, learn and strive in schools.

      LD 1185 will encourage schools to source food for our children from local farms within our state. By creating an incentives program, schools will not be forces to make drastic changes but have an interest in improving the percentage of local produce over time. Schools across the state have been working hard in recent years to improve the nutritional content of the meals they serve, but we can make further improvements by increasing local content.

      I ask you for your unanimous support for LD1185. Thank you for your time and I would be happy to answer any questions.

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    Hey Dave- Thanks bunches for illustrating again why Maine Dems won BIG in November. Now, Shush!

    Posted on March 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Awhile ago, House GOP hatchet guy, er, communications director David Sorensen shared on Twitter a photo taken of yesterday’s Democratic leadership media availability press conference:

    Here again is the entire press conference for context:

    And who can forget Dave’s work during the last election cycle? He did such a great job in getting Tom Martin re-elected, huh?

    Senator Lachowicz, who is seeing constituents today, sends her love, btw…

    orc

    Thanks bunches, guy!

    Well, such is what happens when one captures a moment of time and tries to make a statement out of it, with none of those pesky supporting facts and such.
    Certainly we on the left could do the same!

    Let’s give it a try.

    Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau lulls House Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette to sleep with a soothing fairy tale told to Maine media... shush everyone, now!

    Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau lulls House Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette with a soothing fairy tale told to Maine media… shush, now!

    See how this works? It is cheap political theater at best; mean-spirited nonsense at worst. It does nothing to work on the serious issues at hand; it doesn’t tell the truth of what is being said or done.

    To quote the Governor from 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2009/2013, “It’s bullshit.”

    Goodness knows, Sorensen is quite skilled at shaping conversations even against members of his own party!

    Oh- such good times, good times. From last May:


      Two individuals have been identified as participating in this attempt to sow convention confusion. One is Maine House Majority Office Policy Aide David Sorensen, who reportedly nominated the fake Paul slate from the floor. Before and during the convention, Sorensen mocked the Paul people, who he termed “Ronulans,” on Twitter and implied that they believe conspiracy theories about the United Nations and black helicopters (which, to be fair, many of them do).

      paulPaul supporters fault Sorensen both for engaging in a dirty trick and for taking precious convention time with his actions and making the entire event take longer, possibly costing the state party extra money in rental fees for the Civic Center.

      “A lot of Republicans are making a fuss out of this, at least in Androscoggin County,” said Chris Dixon, a convention delegate who witnessed some of Sorensen’s actions and has written about them on Twitter and on a Ron Paul forum. “A bunch of us really want clarification on it, because here’s someone who’s directly employed by the party who’s doing a deliberate sabotage effort. He’s causing disarray for whatever reason and putting the Party on the hook for $20,000.”

      Sorensen, reached for comment, repeatedly and pointedly refused to discuss any aspect of the convention, including the actions of which he is accused.

    Here is a clip, as to show the full context and not just a snapshot- it clearly discusses and illustrates the fraud mentioned above:

    Memories… ah, back to the present. Another tweet sent out by Dave from yesterday:

    But here’s the reality that the GOP doesn’t want Mainers to know or remember: The Democrats when in charge of the Legislature HAVE been paying down the hospital debt that occurred under the McKernan and King administrations, have been making solid payments for years and have not let up once on honoring their commitment!

    From October 2006, this article penned by former Speakers of the House John Richardson and Hannah Pingree:

      For three administrations – two under an independent and one under a Republican

      – state government refused to pay hospitals back payments that were due to them. That was bad for local hospitals, all of which are non-profit and many of which are small community-supported organizations and the life center of health care for their regions.

      It was also bad for patients, who rely on hospitals’ continued coverage of Medicaid and Medicare patients. And the trickle-down impact of unpaid debts to hospitals goes even further, affecting the premiums we all pay for health insurance as hospitals have to increase charges to cover unpaid debts and charity care.

      Gov. John Baldacci inherited 11 years of unpaid debts on his first day in office. With a structural gap of $1.2 billion, demands for increased school funding, and many other legitimate and pressing needs competing for scant dollars, Gov. Baldacci might have been forgiven if he had let the unpaid debts go unpaid a little longer.

      Instead of taking the easy route, the governor showed his typical unrelenting commitment to fiscal responsibility by putting the state on a path to pay off these debts. As of this week, Maine has paid hospitals for all outstanding debts owed from 1992 to 2004. We have moved from 11 years in arrears to less than two years.

    And what have the Democrats done since then? Oh, not much- wait a sec…

    Via Maine House Democrats comes this information released to media yesterday:

      MYTH: Democrats don’t care about paying hospitals

      FACT: Maine has been steadily and increasingly paying down hospital debt for the past decade. Democrats strongly believe paying back the hospitals is a priority. That’s why we’ve been doing it for over a decade.

      · Maine has already paid back more than $3.7 billion to hospitals over the past decade.

      · From fiscal year 2005-2010, the combined state and federal settlement payments to hospitals totaled $742 million, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review. Under the LePage Administration, in fiscal year 2011-2013, hospitals will recoup $274.9 million in state and federal dollars.

      · Moreover, in an effort to prevent the debt cycle, Democrats led the change to a “pay as you go” system. The law changing the system was passed in 2009 before LePage took office. The change was fully implemented in 2010.

      o The 124th Legislature in PL 2009, Ch. 213 moved to abandon the Prospective Interim Payment (PIP) system of reimbursing hospitals which requires a settling up of bills after the fact with reimbursements based upon DRGs (Diagnostic Related Groupings) and APCs (Ambulatory Procedure Codes). APCs cover outpatient services provided by hospitals, DRGs are related to inpatient services. Both apply only to noncritical access hospitals. Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) continue to be reimbursed on at 107% of the Medicare rate for services. Title 22, § 3174 LL and MM contain the results of PL 2009, Ch. 213.

      o Move to DRGs

      o Move to APCs

    settlesettle2

    Hush now, Dave… Ken is sleeping!

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    Democratic Leadership Denounce Gov’s Veto Threat; LePage to Maine: “See ya next January!”

    Posted on March 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

    IMG_2629Members of the Democratic Majority leadership held a media availability press conference this afternoon to discuss Governor LePage’s threat to halt the work of the Legislature by abusing his veto power and shutting down state government. During a radio interview this morning, LePage “promised” to veto every bill that crosses his desk until his convoluted liquor bill becomes law.

    L-R: Asst House Majority Leader Rep. Jeff McCabe (Skowhegan)
    Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall (Richmond)
    Asst Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (Allagash)

    Meanwhile, the Maine Democratic Party shared a clip from this morning where Paul LePage doubled down on his statement reported earlier:

    “I made a commitment this morning and the next bill I sign as Governor will be the hospital bill. Whatever it takes. And if they’re not willing to bring it to me fast, why don’t they just pull the session and go home, spend time with the kids and we’ll see ya next January.”

    At some point it must be acknowledged that this guy is far more interested in working on his golf game in Florida than actually doing his job. This is not leadership, not by a long shot.

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    (UPDATED) Maine Gov LePage Threatens Blanket Vetoes & Govt Shutdown; Dem Majority Leaders Fire Back

    Posted on March 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

    (11:45 am UPDATE– A media availability press conference has now been announced for later this afternoon with the entire Democratic majority leadership members.)

    A busy morning, as Governor Paul LePage, just returning from a “blink and you missed it” trip to DC and his annual Florida family vacation has once again blustered himself into some media coverage that is sure to get more national attention:

    huffy lepage

      During a Bangor radio station interview this morning, Gov. Paul LePage said he will veto every bill that crosses his desk until his plan to repay hospitals goes into law. That includes the bill that will allow bars to open at 6 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on a Sunday this year.

      LePage was speaking to Rik Tyler, on the George Hale/Rik Tyler Show on WVQM 101.3 and WVOM 103.9. The governor said he will veto any and all bills — including his own — until the emergency legislation he submitted is signed into law. LePage said he notified legislators of that intent last week.

    More via Portland Press Herald:

      Tyler, the radio show host, was caught off guard by the governor’s veto comment. LePage elaborated, saying the Legislature had passed emergency legislation to allow bars to open early on Sunday for St. Patrick’s Day and an emergency moratorium on public inspection of concealed weapons permit holder information.

      LePage urged passage of the concealed weapons bill.

      “If that’s more important than paying the hospitals then I think we have a problem,” LePage said.

      He added, “Until they move forward … I’m not going to move forward on any legislation,” he said.

      LePage added that the veto threat applied to his own bills.

    Within hours, some of the Democratic majority leaders fired back with the following press release:

      DEMOCRATS DENOUNCE LEPAGE SHUTDOWN, VETO THREATS

      Democrats call on Republicans to reject “do nothing” politics

      AUGUSTA — Democratic leaders on Friday denounced Governor Paul LePage’s threat to halt the work of the Legislature by abusing his veto power and shutting down state government until his hospital repayment plan becomes law.

      goodall“In one week we’ve heard ongoing threats to shutdown state government if Republicans don’t get what they want. Today, the Governor promised to veto every bill that comes across his desk if he doesn’t get what he wants. This is not governing. This is not leadership. It is the type of political gamesmanship that doesn’t belong here in Maine,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “I suspect the people of Maine want leaders not schoolyard bullies. We have serious challenges facing our economy and we should be focused on finding solutions not making threats.”

      During a radio appearance early Friday morning, the Governor promised that he will veto all bills that cross his desk until the Legislature passes his borrowing scheme to make the final payment to Maine hospitals. Republicans have failed to acknowledge that the hospital debt has been continuously and increasingly paid back, thanks largely to a plan developed by Democrats. The Governor’s threat to shutdown state government follows Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette’s prediction of a shutdown last week.

      Seth Berry File Photo 2012 cropped“First, Republican leaders start throwing around the possibility of a state government shutdown and now the Governor is threatening to go on a veto spree. This type of brinksmanship is even worse than what we’re seeing from the GOP in Washington. Maine people deserve better than this from their leaders,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham.

      Democrats are focused on legislation to strengthen Maine’s workforce, public schools, and the middle class. The Governor is threatening those and other important efforts.

      jeff mccabe“The Governor is telling us it’s his way or the highway. His obstructionist bullying will derail important legislation on domestic violence, public safety and economic development,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan. We call on our Republican colleagues to reject such do-nothing politics.

      The LePage administration is pushing a convoluted plan that pulls the state’s wholesale liquor business into a deal that would put Maine in debt to Wall Street to make the final payment to hospitals. The plan gambles the value of the liquor contract and is being used to hold hostage other bonds that already have approval from Maine voters.

      troy jackson nmt
      “Today the Governor told the people of Maine that the hospitals are more important than they are. I disagree,”
      said Assistant Majority Leader Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash. “I think the people of Maine want lawmakers focused on getting folks back to work, earning more money and improving our schools.”

      Maine has paid more than $3.7 billion to hospitals over the last decade.

      Jackson added, “We need to get the best deal for Maine and that requires us working together. I think everyone agrees that ten years ago we rushed this deal and could’ve done better. Now, we cannot gamble the future of Maine because the Governor is having another temper tantrum.”

    Interesting timing for the latest outburst from LePage- could it be to deflect attention from the fact that starting today, all of the… um… “inaccuracies” that former Rep. Jon McKane and the rest of the 125th GOP legislators told to get LD 1333/ PL 90 shoved into law are being exposed as such?

      About 7,000 Maine customers of Mega Life and Health Insurance Co. will be affected by a rate change set to take effect March 1.

      While some policyholders will see their health premium costs drop by nearly 33 percent, others will be hit with rate hikes of up to 47 percent, according to Mega’s filing with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. The average rate increase across all policyholders amounts to 6.5 percent.

      The rate change affects Mega’s individual policyholders, or people who purchase health coverage on their own rather than through an employer. The 6,990 policies involved provide coverage to about 12,600 people, including the policyholders’ dependents.

    It is also worth noting that one of the loudest critics of Dirigo Health, created by the Maine Legislature in 2003 to offer an affordable option to small businesses or self-employed individuals, and a co-sponsor of PL 90/ LD 1333, termed out former Rep. Jonathan McKane of Newcastle, was selected to sit on Dirigo Health’s board.

    More to come.

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    Asst House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) Speaks to Co-Sponsored Emergency Bill, LD 576

    Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

    Link here to LD 576, An Act to “Resolve, To Protect Concealed Handgun Permit Information on a Temporary Basis”, sponsored by Asst Majority Leader Senator Troy Jackson, Asst House Majority Leader Representative Jeff McCabe, Minority Leader Senator Mike Thibodeau, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette and Asst House Minority Leader Alex Willette.

    “Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

    Men and women of the house, I rise today in support of the… uh… pending measure.

    I am glad that Democrats and Republicans could come together to provide some breathing room around this highly sensitive issue and provide this temporary shield and I personally feel that this will allow us to informatively and carefully evaluate this complex matter.

    I think this measure deserves all of our support.

    Thank you very much.”

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    Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) Addresses House on Emergency Bill, LD 576

    Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

    Link here to LD 576, An Act to “Resolve, To Protect Concealed Handgun Permit Information on a Temporary Basis”, sponsored by Asst Majority Leader Senator Troy Jackson, Asst House Majority Leader Representative Jeff McCabe, Minority Leader Senator Mike Thibodeau, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette and Asst House Minority Leader Alex Willette.

    “Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

    Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House,

    I would like to point out for the record that we are voting on a bill today that would limit the public’s right to know- and we are doing so, without a public hearing.

    This is a bad public process precisely because there has not been a public process.

    I also wanted an opportunity to allow the public to weigh in on this, and as Representative Brooks stated, it is the part I staunchly oppose.

    I will vote for the 60 days today, but I’d like the record to show that this is not a good process.

    We are much better than this.”

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    ME Majority Leadership Weekly Media Availability Press Conference

    Posted on January 17, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

    The first of a weekly “open topic” media availability opportunity for all press to meet with members of the Maine Democratic Majority Leadership from both chambers. Conferences also include call-in capabilities, for those members of the press unable to attend in person. This was recorded yesterday afternoon in President Alfond’s office.

    Topics included:

  • President Obama’s gun control initiatives
  • Governor LePage’s 900 page proposed budget, with focus on the selling of liquor contracts to help assuage the ourstanding hospitals debts, tax increases and direct impact upon Maine’s middle class families
  • Revenue sharing cessation from the state to municipalities, with questions regarding the reactions from rural Maine communities

    From left to right: House Majority Leader Seth Berry (Bowdoinham), Senate President Justin Alfond (Portland), Speaker of the House Mark Eves (North Berwick) and Asst House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (Skowhegan).

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