May 1 aka “Veto Day” Score Card: 30, no, 46, wait- 48- And Counting

Posted on April 29, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UPDATE x2: 15 vetoes on Friday became 30 on Monday, then became 46 on Tuesday as Paul LePage’s veto spree continues with no end in sight.

Wednesday: Now at 48 with LDs 1043 and 1744 added so far.


lepage sots angry selfGovernor Paul LePage held true to his vow during last weekend’s GOP Convention in Bangor regarding vetoes and added 15 new ones to the existing stack of 15 previous ones for the 126th Legislature to wade through when they reconvene on Thursday. Here is the list so far; no doubt that this list will be updated as more are thrown back to legislators.

So far, LePage has vetoed 163 bills. The previous high water mark was Jim Longley’s 118.


1. LD 38, “Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 201: Provider of Last Resort Service Quality, a Major Substantive Rule of the Public Utilities Commission”

2. LD 1431, “An Act To Support School Nutrition and Expand the Local Foods Economy”

3. LD 1719, “An Act To Improve Education about and Awareness of Maine’s Health Laws and Resources”

4. LD 1747, “Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Education”

5. LD 1761, “An Act To Ensure That Large Public Utility Reorganizations Advance the Economic Development and Information Access Goals of the State”

6. LD 1806, “An Act To Implement the Recommendations Contained in the State Government Evaluation Act Review of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System”

7. LD 1816, “An Act To Address Recommendations from the Report by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability Regarding the Public Utilities Commission”

8. LD 1820, “An Act To Reduce Abuse of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Electronic Benefits Transfers”

9. LD 1851, “An Act To Delay Implementation of the Maine Metallic Mineral Mining Act and Related Statutory Provisions”

10. LD 1829, “An Act To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Report Annually on Investigations and Prosecutions of False Claims Made under the MaineCare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Food Supplement Programs”

11. LD 1821, “An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee”

Paul LePage12. LD 1809, “An Act Concerning Meetings of Boards of Trustees and Governing Bodies of Quasi-municipal Corporations and Districts That Provide Water, Sewer and Sanitary Services”

13. LD 1479, “An Act to Clarify Telecommunications Regulation Reform”

14. 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”

15. LD 1468, “Resolve, Directing the Public Utilities Commission To Study the Potential Benefits and Barriers Involved in Making Renewable Thermal Technologies Eligible for Qualification in Maine’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard”

16. LD 1120, “An Act To Improve Maine’s Tax Laws”

17. LD 1247, “An Act To Expand Coverage of Family Planning Services”

18. LD 1772, “Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 200: Metallic Mineral Exploration, Advanced Exploration and Mining, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection”

19. LD 1794, “An Act To Cancel the No-bid Alexander Group Contract To Produce Savings in Fiscal Year 2013-14”

20. LD 1641, “An Act To Amend the Workers’ Compensation Laws as They Pertain to Employee Representation”

21. LD 1729, “An Act To Increase the Period of Time for the Calculation of a Prior Conviction for Operating Under the Influence”

22. LD 347, “An Act To Amend Insurance Coverage for Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders”

23. LD 906, “An Act to Permit a School Administrative Unit Discretion Concerning Participation of Students from Charter Schools in School Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities”

24. LD 1600, “An Act to Require Health Insurers to Provide Coverage for Human Leukocyte Antigen Testing to Establish Bone Marrow Donor Transplantation Suitability”

25. LD 1463, “A Resolve to Develop a Process for Tax Expenditure Review”

26. LD 1194, “An Act to Protect Social Media Privacy in School and in the Workplace”

27. LD 1593, “A Resolve to Eliminate Financial Inequality in MaineCare Reimbursement for Community-based Behavioral Health Services”

28. LD 1345, “A Resolve to Study the Design and Implementation of Options for a Universal Health Care Plan”

29. LD 1185, “An Act to Enhance Efforts to Use Locally Produced Food in Schools”

30. LD 1757, “A Resolve to Establish the Blue Ribbon Commission on Independent Living and Disability”

31. LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People”

32. LD 222, “An Act Designating the Chief of the State Police as the Only Issuing Authority of a Permit To Carry a Concealed Handgun”

33. LD 1750, “An Act To Amend the Maine Administrative Procedure Act and Clarify Wind Energy Laws”

34. LD 1640, “An Act To Enhance the Stability and Predictability of Health Care Costs for Returning Veterans and Others by Addressing the Issues Associated with Hospital Charity Care and Bad Debt”

35. LD 1827, “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support Maine Small Business and Job Creation”

36. LD 1837, “An Act To Provide Former Employees of the Maine Military Authority the Ability To Sue for Severance Pay”

37. LD 444, “An Act To Improve Workers’ Compensation Coverage for All Injured Workers”

38. LD 1367, “An Act To Require Health Insurance Carriers and the MaineCare Program To Cover the Cost of Transition Services To Bridge the Gap between High School and Independence”

39. LD 297, “An Act To Require Forest Rangers To Be Trained in Order To Allow Them To Carry Firearms”

40. LD 1824, “An Act To Provide Additional Authority to the State Board of Corrections”

41. LD 440, “An Act To Support Community Health Centers through Tax Credits for Dentists and Primary Care Professionals Practicing in Underserved Areas”

42. LD 933, “An Act To Establish a Separate Regulatory Board for Dental Hygienists”

43. LD 1154, “An Act To Establish the Maine Length of Service Award Program”

44. LD 1310, “An Act To Improve Access to Dental Care through the Establishment of the Maine Board of Oral Health”

45. LD 1850, “Resolve, To Establish the Commission To Strengthen the Adequacy and Equity of Certain Cost Components of the School Funding Formula”

46. LD 1765, “An Act To Establish the Criminal Law Revision Commission”

47. LD 1043, “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue and To Assist in the Creation of Jobs through Regional Economic Development”

48. LD 1744, “An Act To Protect Maine Lakes”

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Democratic Radio Address by Sen. Geoff Gratwick (Penobscot): LePage War on Poor A Cyincal Political Campaign Strategy, Witch Hunt

Posted on April 11, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Audio here.

Gratwick says: The Governor’s war on the poor is a cynical political campaign strategy, a witch hunt

gratwick in senateIn his office, Governor LePage rings alarm bells on a daily basis about fraud and abuse. But his choice of when to sound the alarm is selective. He does not ring the alarm for all fraud and abuse, only when he talks about the poor.

Good Morning. This is State Senator Geoff Gratwick of Bangor.

Make no mistake, fraud and abuse, of any sort, is wrong; it is cheating, it is stealing. Where ever it exists, it must be prosecuted–and our laws must be strong.

Here’s the thing: our laws are strong.

The Maine Attorney General’s office and Department of Health and Human Services have active divisions dedicated to investigating and prosecuting fraud and abuse. In fact, in the past several years, lawmakers passed a measure giving the state an additional $700,000 per year to fight fraud. We hired an additional seven fraud investigators so we now have a total of 17. To put that in perspective, the state only has 12 investigators inspecting the safety of daycare centers for infants and children in Maine.

And so it seems, Maine has all the tools needed to investigate potential cases of fraud.

While Governor LePage is holding press conferences with glossy photos of EBT cards, a closer look at where recovered funds actually come from gives a more accurate picture of the true extent of the problem. And, it suggests that perhaps the Governor is more interested in politics than in protecting the public purse in his pursuit of fraud and abuse.

Over the last four years, from 2010 to 2014, Maine has prosecuted and recovered funds related to fraud and abuse by individuals and large corporations. Here are the facts: you decide which group deserves more attention.

Maine, along with the federal government, has prosecuted 48 medical and pharmaceutical corporations and recovered $55 MILLION DOLLARS. To their shame, these businesses include some of the largest and best known medical companies in the country – Walgreens, Johnson and Johnson, Avandia, and Merck.

The state also prosecuted 37 individuals for abuse of SNAP and TANF benefits. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan (SNAP) and TANF is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Recent data from DHHS indicates that less than half of one percent of folks, that is one in every 200 people receiving benefits have abused these programs. The guilty folks have been sentenced to jail for up to a year and returned $489,000 to the state treasury.

The evidence simply does not support accusations of widespread problems.

So compare: big corporations fraudulently took $55 MILLION DOLLARS, and individuals fraudulently took less than HALF a MILLION DOLLARS.

Make no mistake. No amount of fraud is acceptable. But in a time of scarce resources, is it unacceptable that the Governor is spending more than $700,000 to recover less than $500,000 from individuals.

The Governor has focused our attention solely on the low income people in front of us in the grocery line buying food with an EBT card because they are an easy target. It’s easier to rail against the poor than it is to make sure our system works for all Mainers.

Just this week, Senate Democrats voted in support of a measure that would have banned the so-called “Prohibited Five” from purchase with TANF dollars. The items on this list include alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, bail, and strip clubs. It makes common sense that in order for a program to work effectively and help families and children in crisis get back on their feet, it is essential that these dollars not go toward things like alcohol and cigarettes.

But for all the tough talk, not a single Republican supported the measure to ban the “Prohibited Five”–even though it was nearly identical to a bill sponsored by Governor LePage. One has to wonder why.

The Governor’s war on the poor is a cynical political campaign strategy, a witch hunt; he has chosen to demonize people who are poor–even if they are the working poor- for political advantage.

The poor and the powerless have been easy scapegoats since history began. It easier to stoke popular fear and resentment of the ‘other’, to blame the victim, than it is to find real solutions to difficult problems.

The only way we can curb fraud and abuse by individuals is by using the proven levers that help people escape poverty: education, jobs and health care. The only way we can curb corporate abuse is to have a government that functions well. This is a job that must involve us all, including the Governor.

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Geoff Gratwick. Have a great spring weekend.


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“Put Up or Shut Up” Time! Maine Legislature Takes Up LD 1829, Directing DHHS to Report EBT/ TANF Fraud

Posted on April 7, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Gov. Paul LePage discusses his EBT/ TANF reform bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842 at a press conference.

Gov. Paul LePage discusses his EBT/ TANF reform bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842 at a press conference.

When Governor LePage and others in March held a press conference in the governor’s cabinet room and rolled out a slew of EBT/ TANF welfare reform bills, they were widely seen as election year politicized moves and characterized as a “bait and switch”tactic by LePage:

    “The governor maintains that “millions” of dollars in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families EBT card transactions must be fraudulent because, well, they were spent out of state. Yet even though it’s perfectly legal to spend TANF funds beyond Maine, the governor is determined to eliminate the transactions entirely.

    And he isn’t letting the facts get in the way of a good election year issue.

    The actual total of so-called “questionable” out-of-state TANF transactions in 2013 was about $1 million, or about .0002 percent of Maine’s biennial budget – or almost exactly what the governor spent on his no-bid, politically rigged and economically flawed Alexander Group “welfare report.”

    But if that’s not enough, the governor can’t actually prove that any of these transactions were fraudulent because the government doesn’t track the purchases. Instead, all he can do it spout anecdotes, allegations and breathless hyperbole.”

After the bills’ public hearing, the HHS Committee chairs minced no words in their criticism of the governor’s tactics:


    Sen. Margaret Craven of Lewiston: “Governor LePage’s proposals will not help people get a job and get back on their feet. They will simply make it harder for struggling families to survive. The right route to reform is through education and training. We certainly should not be passing the buck to our towns and shirking on our responsibility.”

    Rep. Dick Farnsworth of Portland: “If there is fraud, no matter how small, it should be investigated and prosecuted, not politicized. We are directing the Governor to investigate that fraud and prosecute it, if it is real. He should stop using it to pull the rug out from struggling families, especially at a time when Maine has one of the worst job growth records in the nation. Governor LePage has built his election campaigns on cynically stereotyping poor Mainers under the guise of welfare reform. The reality is that his policies have only led to a rise in homelessness and an increase in child hunger.”

Upon hearing about the bills initially and their intent, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills sent a letter last month to Democratic leaders, urging them to “put this matter into perspective”, “go after big fish as well as small” and “not elevate one over another”. Her 3 page missive is below.

To that end, HHS Committee member Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) put forth a bill, LD 1829 “An Act To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Report Annually on Investigations and Prosecutions of False Claims Made under the MaineCare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Food Supplement Programs”, to combat the claims of the Governor’s office of fraud and do exactly what the attorney general urged.

Here are his prepared remarks as delivered before the legislature’s standing HHS committee at the bill’s public hearing, held immediately after those for LDs 1815, 1822, 1820, and 1842:

More from a Maine House Democrats press release:

HHS Committee members Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) and Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) listen to testimony during the public hearings for LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842.

HHS Committee members Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) and Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) listen to testimony during the public hearings for LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842.

    According to a report in the Portland Press Herald, despite the effort, the number of successful prosecutions has increased from eight in 2010, to 10 in 2011, to 15 in 2012. The amount of restitution that courts have ordered increased from $92,339 in 2010 to $104,341 in 2012. In 2012, only 13 people were convicted of welfare fraud .

    “What we see from the Governor and the administration is more smoke and mirrors. The Governor has the tools and resources to fight fraud. But he’s not doing the job,” said Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, who serves on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services committee. “Not only are his proposals unconstitutional and unenforceable, but they deflect attention from the real waste and mismanagement on his watch.”

    Under Governor Paul LePage, the Department of Health and Human Services has been plagued by chronic mismanagement and budget shortfalls that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

    The Department has squandered taxpayer dollars on a failed MaineCare rides contract and the controversial Alexander report, it has overpaid long-term care providers, and lost the state’s certification and federal funding for the Riverview Psychiatric Center. The Department is also under scrutiny for document shredding at the CDC and tampering with the public bidding process for smoking cessation dollars.

    Gattine has a proposed a measure, LD 1829, which would increase accountability and prevent fraud in the state’s anti-poverty and Medicaid programs. The bill would require an annual program integrity report on all fraud waste and abuse activities including provider and consumer prosecutions and on-going DHHS management issues.

    “We need to shed light on what’s happening at the Department,” said Gattine.

The bill as amended passed the House last week, but only by a 92-52 margin. It next goes before the Senate this afternoon, as do LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842.

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