ME Legislators Roll Out Comprehensive Bipartisan Drug Crisis Plan (VIDEO)

Posted on December 27, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Recorded 12/9/15 at Maine State House’s Welcome Center. The accompanying press release via Maine Senate and House Democrats reads:

Legislative Leaders Announce Bipartisan $4.8m Plan to Fight Drug Crisis in Maine

The plan provides equal funding for treatment as well as law enforcement

AUGUSTA | December 9, 2015 | Today, Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate President Mike Thibodeau joined other legislative leaders, including Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland, to present a $4.8 million dollar legislative package to fight the drug crisis in Maine.

The plan, a result of a bipartisan collaboration between legislative leaders, includes prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts.

“This plan is a first step toward a healthier Maine,” said Speaker Eves. “For too long, families and communities have continued to fight addiction alone. After working hard to come together we’ve crafted a targeted, comprehensive plan that addresses the reality of drug addiction in Maine “

The plan invests $2.4 million in treatment efforts over 18 months, including $1 million in funding for a new 10-bed detox unit. The plan increases access to inpatient and outpatient treatment for the uninsured and doubles the number of peer to peer support recovery centers across the state.

In addition to treatment, the plan provides $2.4 million to strengthen law enforcement efforts, including funding 10 new MDEA agents and a statewide coordinator to connect law enforcement to treatment providers. The plan also includes funding to launch programs at five police departments around the state modeled after the successful Operation Hope in Scarborough or the Law Enforcement Addiction Advocacy Program in Portland.

Officer John Gill of the Scarborough Police Department, site of Operation Hope, also spoke at the press conference in support of the plan. Operation Hope (the Heroin- Opiate Prevention Effort) consists of specialized law enforcement training, public education and outreach, and treatment and assistance among other services. The program served over 50 people in its first 50 days.

“This plan will provide critical support to law enforcement on the front lines and enable us to better serve members of our communities who need help,“ said Officer Gill.

Portland parent Julie Lawson, who is currently in recovery, recounted her experience with addiction and treatment services. Julie attended Mercy Hospital’s treatment program prior to its closure.

“Because of treatment I’m going to be there to watch my son grow up. I’m living proof that treatment works and that it can save families like mine,” Lawson said.

“Drug addiction has created a public health and safety catastrophe that is complex and multifaceted,” said Sen. Alfond. “So our response must be equally robust. We have to use every tool at our disposal to fight this battle on multiple fronts. This package, along with our existing efforts, will help Mainers trying to kick addiction as well as law enforcement trying to clean up our streets.”

Speaker Eves closed out the press conference by saying:

“Maine can and must do better by our families and communities, “ said Speaker Eves. “We stand with law enforcement, treatment providers, and parents in saying enough is enough. Over the next legislative session, we will work to implement these and other efforts to help keep our families and communities healthy and safe.”

The plan announced today joins five bills approved by Legislative Council last month that are also focused on addressing the drug crisis.

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Mainers Take Governor LePage Up On Offer, Writing to Ask For Resignation: A Compilation (UPDATED)

Posted on August 21, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

(To be updated as necessary; additions down below original post. ~AP)

quitDuring his July 30th radio visit with WGAN’s Ken and Mike Show (podcast link here), Maine Governor Paul LePage made the following statement:

    “If the people of Maine want me, I’ll do the job. If they don’t want me, just ask me to leave. You don’t have to impeach me… So far, I’ve only got four people write me that wanted me to resign.”

Since then, a poll conducted informally on one of the Bangor Daily News blogs has recorded that of almost 5400 Mainers responding, 89% want to see the governor resign.

Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ended her show with this:

http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_maddow_flapage_150820

Although LePage during the radio show stated that he had only had four requests for his resignation, a quick scan online finds many more than that are reported to have been sent to his office.

Here are a few of the confirmed letters and emails to Maine’s chief executive.

==========

1. Hilda Jones, Scarborough:

    Dear Governor LePage: When you first ran for Governor of Maine, I have no doubt you intended to do your best for our state. Today, doing your best means turning the reins over to someone better suited to the job. I hope you’ll consider this an earnest request for you to do the right thing and resign.

Ms. Jones also wrote to Micki Mullen, Governor LePage’s scheduler:

    “Dear Ms. Mullen: I would appreciate it if you would ensure the Governor sees my urgent request.

    I am asking him, in the name of common decency and for the benefit of all his constituents, to tender his resignation according to the established procedure, without unduly disturbing the regular and ongoing business of state government but as expeditiously as possible, hopefully within the week. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.”

Patricia Condon, LePage’s Director of Constituent Services, responded with the following (including smiley emoticon):

    Good afternoon!

    Thank you for your e-mail to the Governor.

    Our office appreciates hearing from you and will take your suggestion (s) under advisement.

    Thank you again for taking the time to write. Have a nice Day.
    🙂

2. Trudy Ferland, Pittsfield sent her request directly to Governor LePage and got this reply email:

    From: Governor
    Subject: Thank you for contacting Governor LePage
    Date: August 20, 2015 at 4:21:17 PM EDT

    Thank you for taking the time to contact me. This message is to confirm that my office has received your email and will be taking appropriate steps for follow-up.

    Comments and Requests for Assistance

    Your ideas and suggestions are important to me. Depending on the nature of your issue, your message may be assigned to one of my designees for direct follow-up with you. My staff and I are committed to providing you with a timely response to your issues and concerns.

    Scheduling Issues

    If your email is regarding a scheduling request, please make sure your message includes information about the time and location of the event and a brief summary of the agenda. Please resend your email with that information, if necessary.

    Stay Informed

    For news and information on issues and upcoming events, please visit my web site at: http://www.maine.gov/governor

    Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Sincerely,

image002

3. Eleanor Cade Busby, Damariscotta:

    Dear Governor LePage,

    You said you would resign if enough people asked you to do so. Please keep your word.

    You have hurt people who needed help and never listened to anyone who tried to explain how what you were doing was harmful.

    You have disregarded and disparaged anyone who did not bow to your commands.

    You have treated the people of Maine with utter disrespect.

    You have behaved like a school yard bully with other elected officials and used name-calling as a tool to puff up your ego while never giving clear answers when questioned about your actions.

    It’s time to get Maine back to the place people love and stop driving away anyone who is not up to your estimable standards.

    No one elected you to become a petty dictator. You were elected to govern Maine according to the Constitution and the law, not according to your very flawed ideals.

    It’s time for us to go back to work making Maine a great state and erase the embarrassing stains you have put on our reputation.

    Eleanor C Busby

4. David Rowe, Portland:

    Dear Gov. LePage:

    roweIt pains me to write this, even though I’ve never been a supporter of yours. I dislike partisanship enough that I’ve never registered to a political party since I started voting as a teen, but I dislike the disarray you’ve brought to Augusta enough to write this brief note.

    Please step down as governor. You’ve embarrassed yourself and our fine state enough.

    You began with the best of intentions. I know that. You seem like an honest man, and I trust my instinct in this regard, but good intentions cannot be confused with leadership, and you seem to have been confusing them for 5 years now. Now, with dwindling support among members of your own party, you cannot possibly be expected to lead or to accomplish the lofty goals you set for yourself upon taking the oath of office. Please step down. I have no doubt that Mike Thibodeau would do a fine job picking up the disarray. I implore you, for the good of the state we both love. It’s time for Augusta to get back to work, and that just can’t happen with you at the helm.

    I wish you all the best in the future.

5. Bruce Forbes, Augusta:

    Dear Paul LePage:

    It is time for you to go. You are not qualified in intellect or temperament to be our Governor.

    I hope you leave soon.

6. Lenore Mullen, Augusta:

    Paul,

    I’m hoping you meant what you said regarding your resignation as Governor of Maine. You and your tea party friends have taken Maine to a new low. Your policy actions and bullying have become a joke with the National media, and a huge frustration for Maine taxpayers. I could go on for hours regarding the problems you have created for Maine citizens and taxpayers, but I’m sure you have heard it already.

    My hunch is this resignation statement you made is rooted in the legal advice your attorneys are providing. I believe articles of impeachment will be charged against you. I am not an attorney, or a member of the Maine Legislature, so I don’t honestly know if the votes are there to impeach you. However, I have observed that with each passing day more R’s in the Legislature are distancing themselves from the messes you have created.

    So, as a Maine taxpayer, I will sit back, make some popcorn and watch all this play out.

    Paul, do the decent thing that Maine taxpayers deserve and resign.

7. Mal Gormley of Damariscotta received the same form letter and smiley from Ms. Condon as noted above for this brief missive:

    Please resign.

8. Stefan Low, Thomaston:

    Dear Governor LePage,

    Please know there are more than four of us Maine citizens that would like you to leave office. I would like to add my voice to the hopefully growing chorus of those utterly tired of your buffoonery, misuse of power and obstructionism. You are a disgrace to this state and have no place holding a higher office. Methinks the entire concept of politics as compromise and mutual effort escapes you.

    Return to the private sector to be the dictator you so long to be, please, and allow someone worthy to occupy the office of Governor. I will refrain from the vulgarity that you, frankly, deserve. Please go. Now. Thank you for your time, but sadly not your service.

9. Joe Earley, Waterville:

    Dear governor lepage,

    I would VERY much like to take you up on your offer to resign if the people of Maine raise their voices against you.

    Not Your Sycophant

==========

Others who confirm they have written to Governor LePage, asking him to resign:

    10. Lisa Herzog, Pittsfield
    11. Nancy Glista, Bar Harbor
    12. Sherri Smith Robinson, Gray
    13. Wendy Knickerbocker, Castine
    14. Sandra Greene Miller, Vassalboro
    15. Jan Frost, Rockport

==========================================================

UPDATES/ ADDITIONAL LETTERS

16. Alan Tibbetts, Sidney:

    Dear Governor LePage,

    Since you asked, YES, please resign, soon. You probably don’t get much honest feedback, but there are many reasons why you are not a good fit for the position. If you would like to discuss those reasons at length we can do that.

    A resignation is in everybody’s best interests. I don’t begrudge you the pension; it is a cost of doing business.

    Enjoy the rest of your life!

    Respectfully,

17. Cecile Thornton, Lewiston:

    Dear Gov. LePage,

    As much as I would love to use expletives in the fashion that you do. I will remain polite and somewhat to the point.

    The people of our state have endured your lousy leadership for far too long. It is with as much respect as I can muster when addressing you that I very politely ask you to resign. Please, step down from the office of Governor of the great state of Maine.

    I am from Lewiston. I am of French Canadian heritage. I speak French and went to parochial school for eight long years.

    I am not from away. I have always lived in Maine and hope to live my life out here (I am sixty now).

    Many good, sane people are against your tea party-like leadership. We are embarrassed to have you in office. We never voted for you and know that the only way you got elected was because of Elliot Cutler’s run.

    Please step down, Governor. That’s what we want.

18. Nicole Anderson, Portland:

    Please resign as Governor of Maine. The people of Maine find you highly offensive and a complete embarrassment. Thanks in advance for stepping down as Governor. We are tired of your ineptitude and careless irresponsibility to actually represent the people of Maine.

19. Jim Elmore, Bangor:

elmore postcard

20. Jenni Moroney Butler, Windham
21. Chad Thorne, Pittston

22. Scott Harriman, Brunswick:

    Governor LePage,

    Please resign. You are an embarrassment to the people of Maine and are causing serious damage to our state. Please just leave now.

    Thank you,

23. Gerard Pare, Augusta:

    I personally believe that Governor LePage should quit. He’s been nothing more than an impish childish bully. When I hear one of his tirades I picture a spoiled brat standing in a sandbox stomping his feet hoarding all the toys and not letting anyone else play because he’s not getting his own way. His actions have not saved taxpayers money but have cost us. He forgets that he represents all of the people of the State of Maine; not just the super wealthy and those who chose to play his games. Governor LePage is vulgar and has stained the reputation of Maine as being level headed. Though he could have been a great governor and did the hard work with couth and willingness to work across the aisle. He chose instead to act like an irrational buffoon who speaks before he thinks. If he truly cares about what is in the best interest for the State of Maine he will resign. I have a great deal of respect for the office of governor ; and the man in it has not earned my respect because of his blatant disrespect for others and blatant disregard for the laws that govern this state. Please Governor LePage resign so that we don’t have to impeach you.

24. David Hill, Saco:

    Governor Paul LePage,

    Please resign for the sake of the State of Maine.

    Thank you,

25. Dianne Hill, Saco:

    Paul LePage,

    It would be nice if you would resign so something gets done in this stae. (sic)

    Thank you,

26. Kate Rogers, Auburn

27. PeggyAnn Doak, Bangor:

    Dear Mr. La Page (sic),

    I am asking you, requesting that you exit your office in the quickest and most assured way that never will you return. The people of Maine need a mature, grounded and non partisan Governor if we are to survive this difficult times, let alone progress to a better position financially, educationally and morally. Your actions have been childish, play ground type antics that not only embarrass our great state of Maine, but also interfere with the welfare of the people who love it and choose to live here.

    I wish you good luck in your endeavors outside of political office. Perhaps one that does not include personal contact or decisions concerning the lives and future of other human beings.

    Most Gracious Regards,

================================================

*RELATED: (UPDATED X3) Governor LePage’s “Notes From The Edge”: A Compilation

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(UPDATED x3) Governor LePage’s “Notes From The Edge”: A Compilation

Posted on July 27, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UPDATE X2: A LePage letter to now House Majority Leader Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) is being added to this post. Frankly, with the two different pens and more scribbled appearance, it is harder to read than some of the others, but is related to bonds similar to that of the harshly worded one to Senator Patrick.

mccabe lepage letter

—–

UPDATE: A June 2012 note from the governor to State Senator John Patrick (D-Oxford) is being added to this post. It reads (emphasis mine):IMG_20150727_175457194_HDR

    “John

    You are a bald faced liar and cheat! Character eludes you. It is up to the Governor’s discretion on when bonds are sold, he has up to five years.

    Paul”

==========

(With apologies to Carrie Fisher et al)

Sometimes it is simply better to let the content tell the story.

1. First is this recent letter from retired librarian Louise Sullivan of Cape Elizabeth to Maine Governor Paul LePage, which read:

    “Dear Gov. LePage, please resign. You will save yourself time and embarrassment. You will save our state time and money. Sincerely, Louise Sullivan”

The governor wasted no time with his reply.

louise

2. For handwriting comparative purposes, there is this 2013 note sent by the governor to Rep. Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor).

hubbell

3. Governor LePage to supporter Victor Lister of Athens, dated July 6.

victorlister

Mr. Lister had sent a copy of a published LTE to the governor:

    “It’s time for the media to take the Constitution seriously. The paper has tyrannically silenced too many voices for too long, and it should watch its language.

    Why is Gov. Paul LePage called “bombastic”? I hear him denounced regularly, and I can’t figure out why.

    I don’t approve of “taking care of” legislators by making them heads of educational institutions.

    I’m a veteran and profit mightily from being one, but I question its cost to our nation.

    Clearly, we’ve entered the “Bread and Circuses” stage of decaying empires, and, though I personally profit from it, I think it is social diabetes. LePage is doing his darndest to put Maine on a diet; the least we can do is recognize the need.

    Victor Lister, Athens”.

4. A rather informative look at the sharp-toned division between Governor LePage and GOP legislative leaders are apparent with this note, sent to Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo):

5. Lest one think that the governor incapable of being polite to legislators, we have this note directed to Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst). Seems Governor LePage thinks more of Lockman’s potential leadership qualities than those GOP leaders currently serving:

larry

6. Sometimes the meaning of the governor’s words has been lost upon the audience, in this case, Maine principals. From September 2012:

loser cartoon lepage

Jonathan Nass, LePage’s then senior policy adviser, had sent the above image along with a letter to some Maine high school principals, which read:

Governor Paul LePage sits at Governor James G. Blaine's Congressional desk.

Governor Paul LePage sits at Governor James G. Blaine’s Congressional desk.

    “Governor LePage was recently given the attached cartoon and asked that I forward it along to all of the state’s high school principals. You will see that the governor added a hand-written note. Thank you for your time and best wishes for the new school year.”

Some reported reactions:

    Deborah Migneault, principal of Portland High School, said her first thought was: What did the governor pay for postage?

    “If he sent that to all principals, it seems like an incredible waste,” she said. “We have enough to think about. I don’t think that cartoon motivates us.”

    Christian Elkington, principal of Massabesic High School in Waterboro, said he understood the governor’s point that vocational and technical education should be encouraged as an option, but disagreed with the assumption that schools don’t do that already.

    “We aren’t forcing kids down one path or another,” he said.

LePage press secretary Adrienne Bennett attempted to clarify that “career and technical education has not been given the recognition it deserves.”

    “The governor is simply saying let’s do better, let’s provide students with the choices that will provide successful outcomes,” she wrote. “Every child learns differently; our teachers recognize this and so does the governor.”

7. Finally is this note from Governor LePage on his 2014 re-election campaign letterhead to then Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).

As the two share a “history”, no explanation from Bennett or anyone else on the second floor is needed, and unlike the above notes to Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Lister, this was not in response to a letter from Senator Jackson, but rather the governor taking the initiative to write first.

11801939_10204851265063671_1577496542_n

    “Troy,

    Until you’ve walked in my shoes you have no idea what abuse and poverty is. I’ve never attempted to throw your wife and kids or challenge your pension as you did to my family. I know what abuse is and you must realize it doesn’t always come from industrialized landowners. You talk a good game, but I saved the pension fund without you helping. I’m very sorry you felt the need to attack my family and tried to throw us on the street, but I guess actions do speak louder than words.

    P.”

It is being reported that WGME spoke with Ms. Sullivan and that the segment will air later tonight, and that the governor’s staff will not be responding.

————–

UPDATE X3: Portland Press Herald political reporter Steve Mistler linked back to this MPW post with his Aug. 17 story, “LePage’s handwritten notes show failings in Maine’s record retention law”. Some crucial points made regarding the handwritten notes, existing Maine law, and the ongoing Good Will-Hinckley investigation:

    Neither LePage nor his staff apparently makes copies of his letters – even when the topic at hand involves state policy or other matters of public interest connected to his official duties as Maine’s chief executive.

    For example, LePage’s threat to strip Good Will-Hinckley school in Fairfield of $530,000 in state funding if it hired House Speaker Mark Eves as its next president was communicated in a handwritten note from the governor to the school’s board chairman, Jack Moore. Moore has said he may have discarded the note, and a copy was not among the documents the governor’s office released to the Portland Press Herald last week in response to a Freedom of Access Act request for all records related to the Good Will-Hinckley matter.

    The administration has taken the position that LePage’s handwritten notes are not subject to the public records law because they are personal communications, not official business.

    But current and former state archivists disagree, as do experts on the Freedom of Access Act.

—–

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Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee Unanimously Votes to Investigate Governor Paul LePage

Posted on July 1, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On the heels of yesterday’s citizen rally at the State House (LePage Admits To Threatening Good Will-Hinckley Re: Eves Hiring, Denies Actions Were “Blackmail”) came news late in the afternoon that the Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee (GOC) would be meeting today to take up the investigation requests by Republican State Senator Tom Saviello of Wilton and a trio of Representatives, Independents Jeff Evangelos of Friendship, Ben Chipman of Portland and Democrat Charlotte Warren of Hallowell.

DSC_0019Committee Members

Senate: Roger J. Katz, Chair (R-Kennebec)
David C. Burns (R-Washington)
Paul T. Davis, Sr. (R-Piscataquis)
Christopher K. Johnson (D-Lincoln)
Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland)
G. William Diamond (D-Cumberland)

House: Chuck Kruger, Chair (D-Thomaston)
Robert S. Duchesne (D-Hudson)
Anne-Marie Mastraccio (D-Sanford)
Michael D. McClellan (R-Raymond)
Richard H. Campbell (R-Orrington)
Deborah J. Sanderson (R-Chelsea)

Governor LePage through his legal counsel Cynthia Montgomery sent a letter to the committee, questioning their authority to conduct any sort of investigation into the chief executive officer.

The 12 GOC members met with Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) Director Bath Ashcroft for almost an hour, decided that they did indeed have sufficient authority to look into the serious allegations, and proceeded to discuss the scope of the investigations to be conducted by OPEGA.

Here is video of the meeting, with the sole agenda item for GOC being “NEW BUSINESS- Requests for an OPEGA Review of Matters Relating to Funding for the Goodwill- Hinckley School”.

After almost an hour of discussion, the committee agreed by an unanimous 12-0 vote to have OPEGA look into the concerns. Specific goals and parameters were set by the committee as to the scope.

Afterwards, some of those involved were willing to issue quick statements.

The committee will meet again at 9 am on Friday, July 17.

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Cathy Breen of Falmouth (Finally) Wins Long-Contested Senate District 25 Race

Posted on December 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Was the dispute less about the Senate and more about back room shenanigans?

Chair Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) asks Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn a question during Tuesday's hearing. Also pictured (L-R) Senators Stan Gerzofsky, Garrett Mason, Bill Diamond, Dawn Hill, Andre Cushing and Tom Saviello.

Chair Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) asks Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn a question during Tuesday’s hearing. Also pictured (L-R) Senators Stan Gerzofsky, Garrett Mason, Bill Diamond, Dawn Hill, Andre Cushing and Tom Saviello.

Maine got a preview of what to expect in 2015 thanks to the now-resolved “Who won Senate District 25?” question last week. For a month, Mainers had speculated as to what occurred. It seemed impossible that 12% more ballots than actual participating voters materialized out of thin air; something funky had to have happened. But what? No one knew for sure, but everyone had an opinion.

A petition calling for officials to “investigate potential voter fraud” garnered 3200 signatures. Representative Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) took a sterner approach:

    “One of two things has to happen to put this matter to rest: the state attorney general or the U.S. Attorney should immediately conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation of the circumstances of this discrepancy, one that involves questioning all relevant witnesses under oath and forensic experts.”

Senate President Mike Thibodeau went against Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s recommendations by provisionally seating Manchester:

    “The fact of the matter is that we have had a recount and the results of that recount left Cathy Manchester as the apparent winner. Because some folks are not happy with that outcome, they’re throwing around some pretty wild accusations.”

Why the rush? Simply put, Republicans needed her vote later that same day on the Constitutional officers, as they were within one vote of replacing Attorney General Janet T. Mills. Seating Manchester gave one more vote to their surprise candidate, Bill Logan, the GOP recount attorney.

Got that? Manchester was quickly shoved into office so she could vote for her own lawyer. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Thibodeau eventually named a seven member Investigative Committee. Spoiler alert: Democrat Cathy Breen’s originally reported 32 vote lead held.

Tuesday’s public hearing was held in the packed Legislative Council chamber with only live audio feed available for those not in the room.

Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn was the first witness. Sworn in before a room full of media, lawyers, candidates and election officials, armed with a 4″ binder full of documentation and 25 years of recount experience, she confidently gave detailed testimony for hours. Frankly, it was pretty dry stuff and with 30 people scheduled to speak after her, a quick resolution seemed unlikely.

To break it down, imagine the 171 ballots as a deck of cards, but divided into 3 piles of 50 with a leftover stack of 21. Take each stack individually and divide into 3 smaller groups: Breen, Manchester and Other (No Votes). Write down the results from that first group, rinse and repeat for the rest of the stacks, then add them up. Long Island officials tallied 95 Breen, 65 Manchester and 11 Other equaling 171 votes cast, but the Augusta recount team came up with 21 more for Manchester, totaling 192. The ballots had been bundled with tally sheets designated as “A1, A2, A3 and A4″.

One 50 ballot lot had a total of 21 votes for Manchester, catching the eye of former Secretary of State Senator Bill Diamond (D-Windham). He remarked to Flynn, “On A3… it just jumped out at me, because Manchester had 21 votes … is there any way… that number could be, could have been… is there anything unusual about that number?”

Flynn had no answer and appeared momentarily flustered. She did not answer and continued to discuss the next lot.

The committee decided next to examine the ballots and it was quickly surmised that Diamond’s instincts had been spot-on, as the first lot had only 29 ballots instead of 50. A second recount immediately confirmed the 21 A3 ballots had been added in twice.

Manchester addressed the senators to announce her intention to offer a formal letter of resignation to President Thibodeau and congratulated Senator-elect Breen on her win.

The governor issued a statement, “I thank Senate President Thibodeau for his integrity throughout this process, in which liberals falsely accused Republicans of trying to manipulate the election with so-called ‘phantom ballots’. President Thibodeau followed the proper procedure to ensure the electoral process was upheld while awaiting the final decision from the Senate committee. It is unfortunate that Cathy Manchester had to endure a situation that was created entirely by the Secretary of State’s office during the recount.”

As for Thibodeau, his only response was, “You can’t read my word balloon, man.”

The Senate will meet in January and will have to vote to seat Breen.

—–

(Published in the 12/18/14 edition of DigPortland)

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UPDATED: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Recount*

Posted on December 1, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

UPDATE: Despite the fact that the panel of seven senators that will be tasked with resolving the SD 25 election has not even yet been selected and named, let alone met to take up the messy problem, the Maine State Senate webpage has been amended to give the win to the Republican candidate, Cathy Manchester:

    About the 127th Maine State Senate

    All members of the 127th Maine Senate have been elected to serve a two-year term. Of the 35 members, there are 21 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Eight are women (4 Republicans and 4 Democrats) and 27 are men (17 Republicans and 10 Democrats).

The link to NEW Contact Information for Members of the 127th Maine Senate (excel spreadsheet) continues to have Democrat Cathy Breen as the winner.

A pair of press conferences were held on Monday with each side repeating their stance as to whether what occurred was a mistake or something more deliberate:

    “It appears that there was just a clerical error that 21 ballots didn’t get counted. And we’re glad they’ve been counted. But we want to find out for sure,” said Senator Roger Katz, R-Augusta.

    “We expect Republicans to share this concern of potential ballot tampering because, again, this is not about a political party, it is about the integrity and confidence we can all have when we cast our ballot,” said outgoing Senate President Justin Alfond D-Portland.

———-

Senator Elect Nate Libby of Lewiston is congratulated by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

Senator District 21 Elect Nate Libby of Lewiston is congratulated by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.


Before Thanksgiving, the Secretary of State’s office was tasked with settling a handful of disputed elections, as happens periodically. At one point, WCSH and MPBN reported there would be recounts in Senate District 2 (Aroostook County) and 13 (Lincoln County). But later it was confirmed that the requests for both had been withdrawn.

That left three races for resolution in Senate Districts 11, 21 and 25. These recounts were a result of either being automatically generated due to the closeness of the initial tallies or per request of a candidate. Preliminary totals via BDN:


    Senate District 11 (Waldo County), Democrat Jonathan Fulford versus Mike Thibodeau. According to unofficial election results compiled by the Bangor Daily News (the Secretary of State’s office has not yet posted its results), the incumbent Thibodeau won the seat 9,064 votes to 8,949, a 115-vote margin. Thibodeau, the former Senate minority leader, was nominated by his Republican peers Friday to be president of the Senate for the 127th Legislature, though that is subject to approval by the full Senate when it convenes in December.

    Senate District 21 (Lewiston), Democrat Nathan Libby versus Republican Patricia Gagne. According to the BDN’s unofficial results, Libby was victorious by a vote of 6,636 to 6,572, a 64-vote margin. This seat was formerly held by Democrat Margaret Craven, who opted not to seek re-election.

    Senate District 25 (part of Cumberland County), Democrat Catherine Breen versus Republican Cathleen Manchester. According to the BDN’s unofficial results, Breen took the seat by a vote of 10,897 to 10,890, a seven-vote margin. This seat was previously held by independent Richard Woodbury, who opted not to seek re-election.

The manual examinations included recounting all ballots separately for each municipality within the district, searching for any potentially overlooked ballots accidentally tucked into stacks of absentee envelopes, ensuring that the overseas ballots from other areas of the state were either not accidentally included or that overseas ballots were not accidentally omitted and investigation of all rejected ballots.

The process of recounting the ballots is methodical, meticulous, slow and tedious work, carried out by Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn and her staff in the Florian Room of the Maine Public Safety Building in Augusta. The entire proceedings, open to the public, included teams made of an official from the Secretary of State’s office working with both a registered Democratic and Republican volunteer. There were attorneys for both parties available throughout the recounts to weigh in on disputed ballots, irregularities and the like, as well as other support staff tabulating the final tallies before the final certification for each race.

Results were made public by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap in press releases and on Facebook.

Senate District 25 recount began at 9am.

Senate District 25 recount began at 9am on November 18.

    (Friday, Nov. 14) Senate District 11: “In the State Senate District 11 recount, results show that Republican Michael Thibodeau is the winner. Jonathan Fulford (D) received 8,974 votes, while Thibodeau received 9,109 in the recount.”

    (Monday, Nov. 17) Senate District 21: “The State Senate District 21 (City of Lewiston) recount is now complete. Results show that Democrat Nathan Libby remains the winner, with 6,646 votes to Republican Patricia Gagne’s 6,563.”

    (Tuesday, Nov. 18) Senate District 25:

And here’s where “a funny thing happened”.

By 5 pm on the 18th, not only was there no clear winner after all of the present ballots were re-examined, but it was told to this reporter that a box of ballots had been discovered to still be in Westbrook and being brought to Augusta by Maine State Police- an unusual turn of events that meant a further delay of SD 25’s final results.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap

Even funnier- later on that evening, Secretary of State’s office issued the following statement:

    The State Senate District 25 final results will be decided by the Senate. The recount showed a reversal in the apparent winner, with Catherine Breen (D) getting 10,916 votes and Cathleen Manchester (R) getting 10,927, but the results were not accepted by both candidates.

    When the Legislature convenes in January, its standing Senatorial Vote Committee will review the situation and make a recommendation to the full Senate on which candidate should be seated for the full term. (The committee is made up of four majority and three minority members.) The Senate will then make the final determination of which candidate to seat, typically no later than January.”

Soon it was learned that at the center of the dispute were not ballots from Westbrook, but rather almost 2 dozen new GOP ballots from Long Island. Immediately calls for a full investigation into potential voter fraud began:

    Unanswered questions remain about 21 ballots from the town of Long Island that can’t seem to be attributed to any voter. The ballots were discovered on Nov. 18, the night of the recount, and all of them contained a vote for Republican Cathleen Manchester of Gray, who had requested the recount.

    During an election, wardens at each polling place keep track of which registered voters have cast ballots. This ensures that no one gets to vote twice. The incoming voter list, or “voter manifest,” in Long Island indicated that 171 residents cast ballots either in person or absentee in this year’s election.

    Attorneys Katherine Knox (D) and Bill Logan (R) examine a disputed ballot.

    Attorneys Katherine Knox (D) and Bill Logan (R) examine a disputed ballot.

    That’s the same number of votes presented by warden and Town Clerk Brenda Singo in unofficial results relayed on election night to the Bangor Daily News and the Associated Press. Long Island, a town of about 230 residents, has only one polling place, and Singo was the only warden.

    However, when the locked box of ballots was opened during the recount, 192 ballots were found. Put simply, there are 21 more ballots from Long Island than there are documented voters.

Incoming Senate President elect Mike Thibodeau, who himself had been subject to a recount, had this to say:

    “I think the committee could convene and go over the results on swearing-in day. We’ve got to figure out if Cathy Manchester has the most votes. It’s unfortunate to throw around terms like that without some sort of substantial evidence. The fact of the matter is that we have had a recount and the results of that recount left Cathy Manchester as the apparent winner. Because some folks are not happy with that outcome, they’re throwing around some pretty wild accusations.”

Rep. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) represents House District 47, which consists of Yarmouth, Long Island and Chebeague Island, has called for Attorney General Janet Mills to look into the matter.

    “One of two things has to happen to put this matter to rest: the state attorney general or the U.S. Attorney should immediately conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation of the circumstances of this discrepancy, one that involves questioning all relevant witnesses under oath and forensic experts.

    Senate Asst Majority Leader Andre Cushing, President Mike Thibodeau and Majority Leader Garret Mason

    Senate Asst Majority Leader Andre Cushing, President Mike Thibodeau and Majority Leader Garret Mason

    Our state Constitution provides that it’s up to the Senate to decide the qualifications of its members. However, that does not absolve state or federal prosecutors from doing their job. The Senate president-elect says he will appoint a special committee to look into the matter. However, whether or how independently that investigation is conducted is up to them. Because a majority of the committee will be members of the same party as the recount winner, the outcome is bound to be suspect as politically biased unless the investigation is truly impartial and thorough.

    It’s entirely appropriate for a political body to make political decisions, as we do on proposed legislation or nominations. Sometimes, however, the Legislature must act in a quasi-judicial role, which is not easy.

    Years ago, I was counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in an impeachment case concerning removal of a federal judge for alleged conspiracy to commit bribery. The case came to the House with a massive record from a criminal trial, grand jury and independent counsel’s investigation. Nevertheless, the House also conducted its own investigation, subpoenaing and deposing witnesses under oath, conducting forensic investigations, etc. We then presented our case first to the House of Representatives and then to the U.S. Senate. For the most part, the proceedings followed judicial rules of evidence. The judge was impeached, convicted and removed from office.

    This is what a quasi-judicial legislative inquiry should look like. Whether the Maine Senate is prepared to go to this length remains to be seen. Frankly, they don’t have the resources or the expertise, even if they had the will.

    That’s why we should leave it to professional prosecutors to conduct the inquiry. The Senate can seat whom it wants, but whether that decision stands or is set aside by the courts would very likely hinge on the outcome of a professional inquiry. Nothing less will do.

*Apologies to Stephen Sondheim et al

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Incoming 127th Maine Legislature Picks Leaders (UPDATED w/ Statements)

Posted on November 13, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Senate President Mike Thibodeau, Majority Leader Garrett Mason and Asst Majority Leader Andre Cushing

Senate President Mike Thibodeau (Waldo), Majority Leader Garrett Mason (Androscoggin) and Asst Majority Leader Andre Cushing (Penobscot)

Last week, the Republicans in both legislative chambers of the Maine State House selected their leadership.

With Friday’s recount of Senate District 11 between Sen. Mike Thibodeau of Waldo and challenger Jonathan Fulford of Monroe concluding that the district re-elected the incumbent by a 135 vote margin, the make-up of the Senate Majority leadership team selected last week will be: Senate President Mike Thibodeau, Majority Leader Garrett Mason and Assistant Majority Leader Andre Cushing. Each issued statements:

Senate President Mike Thibodeau:“I cannot begin to express what this means to me. It is a true honor to be chosen by such an outstanding group of people to lead not only them, but the entire Maine Senate.

“At the same time, I recognize it is an awesome responsibility. The people of Maine spoke very clearly in this week’s election. They are demanding action on critical issues such as job creation, energy costs, and welfare reform. We cannot let them down. Delivering real results will take the efforts of both Republicans and Democrats to put their partisan differences aside and work in a collaborative manner on behalf of the people of Maine. It is what we were elected to do and we must rise to the challenge.”

Majority Leader Garrett Mason: “I am very honored to have earned the trust of my Republican colleagues who chose me to be the majority leader. I look forward to working with my fellow senators, members of the House of Representatives, and Governor LePage to find real solutions for the people of Maine.”

Assistant Majority Leader Andre Cushing: “I am looking forward to the opportunity to go to work on the agenda items that are most important to the citizens of Maine.”

As has been noted in the past, both Thibodeau and Cushing have long-standing ties to ALEC, as do a number of other returning Maine GOP senators and incoming Kim Rosen, wife of former State Senator Richard Rosen of Bucksport.

Over in the House, Republicans chose to retain 126th Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport to serve again in the 127th in that office and replace outgoing Alex Willette, who resigned to take a position with the LePage re-election campaign, with Rep. Eleanor Espling of New Gloucester.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves, , Majority Leader Jeff McCabe and Asst Majority Leader Sara Gideon

Speaker of the House Mark Eves (N. Berwick), Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (Skowhegan) and Asst Majority Leader Sara Gideon (Freeport)

On Wednesday, Democrats held separate caucuses to select their leaders. The House Democrats had lost a few seats in the recently concluded elections, but managed to retain their majority.

While Speaker of the House Mark Eves was not challenged for his seat, the other two leadership positions went up to votes by the caucus, with Rep. Barry Hobbins going up against Assistant Majority Leader Jeff McCabe for the Majority Leader spot last held by termed-out Rep. Seth Berry (Bowdoinham), and 126th freshmen Rep. Lori Lister Fowle (Vassalboro) taking on Rep. Sara Gideon (Freeport) for McCabe’s chair. Ultimately the body selected McCabe and Gideon to join Eves as their 127th Legislative leaders.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves: “It is an honor and privilege to lead our strong and historic 83 seat majority. With Election Day behind us, now is the time govern. We must come together with Governor LePage and our Republican colleagues to address the challenges we face as a state. We cannot allow the partisan battles of the past dictate our future.

“Too much is at stake for leaders to put their party ideology ahead of common sense solutions. Democrats and Republicans can see eye to eye on smart and strategic investments in our state, on property tax relief, on lowering energy costs and helping seniors and veterans. We must focus on areas of common ground, not conflict.”

Majority Leader Jeff McCabe: “We need to move Maine forward and do everything we can to improve the lives of Mainers. We must establish an economic message and policy that works statewide. The voters sent us a message on Election Day. They don’t care about party labels or partisan ideology. They care about government that works.”

Asst Majority Leader Sara Gideon: “Now that these long and divisive campaigns are over, it’s time to show the people of Maine that we are about action, that Democrats will deliver while holding steadfast to our values, that Democrats own the idea of prosperity for everyone. We will work with all our strength to protect the values of Maine people: women’s economic security and basic rights, workers’ ability to organize, a clean and sustainable environment and the integrity of excellent public school systems.”

The Senate-elect Democrats, who saw their 18 majority shrink to a 15 seat minority last week, held a caucus Wednesday evening in Hallowell.

Democratic Senators congratulate Dawn Hill as being selected as Assistant Minority Leader. To her right is Senator Justin Alfond, who will be moving from the podium as exiting Senate President to serve as Minority Leader for the upcoming 127th legislative session.

Democratic Senators congratulate Dawn Hill as being selected as Assistant Minority Leader. To her right is Senator Justin Alfond, who will be moving from the podium as exiting Senate President to serve as Minority Leader for the upcoming 127th legislative session.

They chose outgoing Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland to serve as their Minority Leader in the upcoming 127th legislative session. Alfond is in his final term and served in the 125th Legislature as Assistant Minority Leader to then-Senator Barry Hobbins’ Minority Leader.

Senator Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick, who chaired the 126th Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and was honored as Emerge Maine’s Woman of the Year along with fellow AFA Chair Rep. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston, was chosen to serve as Assistant Minority Leader for the next two years.

Minority Leader Senator Justin Alfond:“Even though, as Democrats, our political beliefs may be different from Paul LePage and Republicans in the Legislature, there are areas in which we agree–and we must build off of that common ground in order to serve the Maine people. I will extend my hand with to Governor LePage, Senate President-elect Thibodeau and others to find that common ground and forge the relationships needed to move ideas forward that work for Maine people.”

Asst Minority Leader Dawn Hill: (sent a message of listening to her fellow lawmakers to ensure that) “we all carry the distinct stories and values of our districts. Listening is how we define our plan and our purpose going forward.”

The 127th Legislature will be sworn into office on December 3 by Governor Paul LePage.

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Maine Senate Takes Up EBT- TANF- GA Bills LDs 1829, 1822, 1820, 1842, 1815 and 1844 (VIDEOS)

Posted on April 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

(NOTE: All of these will be separated and written up over the rest of the week. In the meanwhile, for the sake of sharing quickly, here are all 44 video clips taken during the Monday afternoon/ evening second session in order of debate.)

1. 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”.
ROLL CALL: 21 Yeas – 14 Nays

HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1829 to Senate

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1829

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting LD 1829

Asst Minority Leader Sen. Roger Katz Opposing LD 1829

Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) Supporting LD 1829

2. LD 1822, “An Act To Increase Integrity in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Expenditures”.
ROLL CALL: 18 Yeas – 17 Nays

HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1822 (OTP as amended by H-787) to Senate

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by H-787

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting H-787 amended LD 1822

Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by H-787

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Offers SAS 505 to amend LD 1822

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) opposing LD 1822 SAS-505

HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 1)

Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing LD 1822 CAH 787, SAS 505

Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 1)

Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) concludes supporting remarks on LD 1822, SAS-505

Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 2)

3. LD 1820, “An Act To Reduce Abuse of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Electronic Benefits Transfers”.
ROLL CALL: Yeas 20 – Nays 15

HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1820 as amended to Senate

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) opposing LD 1820

Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) supporting LD 1820

4. LD 1842, “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program”.
ROLL CALL: Yeas 20 – Nays 15

HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1842 to Senate w/ ONTP committee recommendation

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing ONTP on LD 1842

Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing “ONTP” on LD 1842

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland) supporting ONTP on LD 1842

Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

5. LD 1815, “An Act To Require a Work Search for Job-ready Applicants for Benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program”.
ROLL CALL: 20 Yeas – 15 Nays

HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1815 (“ONTP”) to Senate

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing ONTP on LD 1815

Sen. Ron Collins (R-York) Opposing ONTP on LD 1815

Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) opposing ONTP on LD 1815

Asst Majority Leader Anne Haskell (D-Cumberland) supporting ONTP on LD 1815

Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) supporting ONTP on LD 1815

6. LD 1844, “An Act To Increase Local Responsibility for General Assistance”.
ROLL CALL: 22 Yeas – 12 Nays

HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1844 (ONTP) to Senate

Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) opposing LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

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Dems, GOP Leaders Hold Matching Pre-LePage State of the State Press Conferences

Posted on February 4, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

In a rather unusual move yesterday, legislative leadership from both parties held press conferences before Governor Paul LePage gives his annual State of the State address tonight, with points that contradicted each other’s stands on whether or not the LePage administration has helped or harmed Maine, whether or not the policies of the Governor have been effective, whether or not there has been economic progress made, etc.

One interesting exchange that media picked up on was whether or not there have been quid pro quo discussions between LePage and leadership of both parties regarding right-to-work legislation and Medicaid expansion.

Here are full video clips from each meeting.

First, Democratic leaders Senate Majority Troy Jackson and House Majority Leader Seth Berry:

    “Governor LePage has divided Maine and pitted us against each other. He’s insulted us and turned Maine into a punch line on the nightly talk shows. Instead of offering solutions to poverty and unemployment, his administration has vilified and shamed working people,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “He hasn’t done right by the people, but tomorrow night, he has an opportunity to offer solutions to problems, instead of the same old political rhetoric.”

    “These are complex problems that require the Legislature and the governor to come together to craft meaningful solutions,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. “Instead, Governor LePage has offered stale political rhetoric, or remained silent on some of the most pressing issues facing his administration, from the struggles of the middle class to federal investigations to department mismanagement.”

    “There are two federal inquiries looking into the actions of his people at the Department of Labor and the CDC,” added Senator Jackson. “And where does he stand? Who knows? He’s remained silent. Well, he won’t be silent tomorrow night. And he shouldn’t be. It’s time to be accountable.”

Next, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette and Senator Ron Collins (York):

Although not present, a statement by Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau was distributed to the press as part of a joint release from Fredette’s office:

    “Governor LePage’s reforms have significantly reduced Maine’s unemployment rate and the drop is because the people are finding jobs, not quitting the search,” said Rep. Fredette, referring to the December jobs report showing Maine’s 6.2% employment rate and higher than average employment to population ratio. “With reforms to Maine’s tax, welfare, regulatory, and energy policies, we are finally seeing economic growth after decades of Democratic party rule.”

    “Democrats are proposing to expand the very welfare program that has given us a budget shortfall as is responsible for racking up the massive hospital debt that Gov. Lepage and the Republican lawmakers pushed to pay off,” said Sen. Mike Thibodeau. “Gov. LePage has made it clear that he’s focused on making Medicaid work for the disabled Mainers that it was originally meant to help, not able-bodied adults, and I think we can expect him to make that argument Tuesday night.”

The GOP press release concluded by reminding that the State of the State Address can be watched on MPBN, without mention of the efforts the LePage administration made to slash funding for MPBN years ago.

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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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