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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the list of the 19 new laws.

Bills on Governor’s Desk Past the 10 Day Limit

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

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

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

This sentence is key:

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

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

Mills’ response is below.

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

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

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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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LCRED Committee Takes Up 8 Minimum Wage Bills in Public Hearing

Posted on March 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

DSC_0010On Monday the 127th Maine Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee heard testimony on eight bills relating to modifying the state’s minimum wage, which currently sits at $7.50 an hour and has not been increased since 2006. A bill to raise it was passed by the 126th Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Governor LePage and later sustained.

Link here to the bills:

  • LD 36 (sponsored by Rep. Jeff Evangelos)
  • LD 52 (sponsored by Rep. Danny Martin)
  • LD 72 (sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann)
  • LD 77 (sponsored by Sen. Dave Miramant)
  • LD 92 (sponsored by Rep. Dillon Bates)
  • LD 487 (sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman)
  • LD 843 (sponsored by Rep. Gina Melaragno)
  • LD 739 (sponsored by Sen. Tom Saviello)

Some of the statements released yesterday are below.

    Rep. Gina Melaragno (D-Auburn): “Maine workers find themselves working at least full time but still living in or near poverty, while having to care for their families at the same time. They have seen the prices of everything go up except the price of their undervalued labor, and they are tired of being thrown a small token raise every five or six years. They want meaningful, lasting change.”

    DSC_0014Sen. Dave Miramant (D-Camden): “When I looked back at the value of the minimum wage, it hit an all-time high just as I was starting to work in 1969. The minimum wage was $1.60 per hour but that gave me the equivalent of a $10.19 wage in 2015 dollars. This is why we were able to start a large middle class through this period. We have been falling behind ever since! Because we have failed to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or some reliable method of indexing it to inflation, workers are being left behind in this state and in many others. The jobs that were supposed to be entry level and only short term have become an ongoing reality for far too many workers in our hobbled economy.”

    Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director: “People who work full time should not live in poverty. People who work hard should be able to earn enough to make ends meet. It’s long overdue that Maine workers get a raise. A meaningful increase in the minimum wage would improve the wages of hundreds of thousands of Mainers. It would spur economic activity and pump millions of dollars into the Maine economy. Its good economics, its the right thing to do, and it’s long overdue. We need to raise wages across the board. All throughout Maine, working families are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. Workers wages are simply not keeping pace with rising costs. Raising the minimum wage is a first step in a larger effort to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”

    100_5797Ben Chin, political director for Maine Peoples Alliance: “I’m here today to testify primarily in support of LD 843, “An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage and Index it to the National Average Wage,” sponsored by Rep Melaragno. We (MPA) believe that LDs 36, 52, 72, 77, 92, 487, and 739 offer encouraging steps in the right direction. But LD 843 offers the most significant movement towards a living wage for all Maine workers. The reality is that need an even larger increase than what LD 843 offers. A living wage in Maine for a single adult, on average, is $15.82. Fifty-five percent of job openings in Maine pay less than that. For every job that pays $15.82, there are twelve job-seekers on average. The most basic premise of the American economic social contract is that you can work forty hours a week and make ends meet. Our minimum wage of $7.50 an hour for non-tipped workers doesn’t get an individual even halfway there—let alone their families.”

    Ginette Rivard, President of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989: “Five and a half years ago years ago, on Oct. 1, 2009, Maine added 25 cents to its minimum wage, bringing it to $7.50 an hour. It’s been stuck there ever since – even as the cost of living has gone up for all of us.

    Take a look at what is happening in the rest of New England and you’ll see the State of Maine – and thousands of Maine’s working families – have fallen far behind when it comes to the minimum wage.

    100_5793Vermont’s minimum wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.50 in 2018.
    In Massachusetts, the wage is $9 – and rising to $11 in 2017.
    In Rhode Island, the wage is $9.
    And in Connecticut, the wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.10 in 2017.

    Yet Maine has been stuck at $7.50. Maine would be dead last in New England but for New Hampshire joining in a dangerous race to the bottom by falling back to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A Maine worker putting in 40 hours at minimum wage grosses $300 a week. That’s $15,600 a year, before taxes. That’s not nearly enough for one person to live on, let alone a family.”

Here in order are videos (ten in all) of the entire day in LCRED.

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Complete Video Record of Maine House Debates LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”

Posted on March 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

In chronological order, here are clips from this week’s House floor debate on LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”. The bill passed the chamber, but as in the Senate last week, narrowly failed to garner a veto proof majority.

Whenever possible, the full text of the prepared remarks has been linked to each clip; for others, either direct quotes or summaries as provided by House Democratic legislative aides online has been shared.

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HHS Chair Rep. Dick Farnsworth (D-Portland) Presents LD 1487

Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)

Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) supporting LD 1487

Asst. Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. McCabe thanks lawmakers for this bipartisan effort. “This bipartisan health care bill can make a different to 70,000 Mainers — Our friends, our family, our neighbors.”

    Rep. Jeff McCabe on economic benefits of health care expansion: “Why not these jobs? Why not now? ”

Rep. Paul McGowan (D-York) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Paul McGowan on health problems he had: “I had that health experience with the security of health insurance. Everybody in this chamber has the security of health insurance.”

    Rep. Paul McGowan: “Can you imagine living in a society where if your house caught on fire and you called the fire department, and they said I’m sorry, you don’t qualify?”

Rep. Helen Rankin (D-Hiram) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Helen Rankin: “Our veterans who have sacrificed everything. Do we really turn away from them? I think not.”

    Rep. Rankin: “Who made us God to decide about the lives of these people who are so desperate? … I think it’s time for us to pay it forward.”

Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)

Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Matt Pouliot: “This bill is a valiant attempt to find a middle ground, incorporating many principles that are important to me. … I will be supporting this motion.”

Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 1

Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 2

    Rep. Craig Hickman reading from a constituent letter: “Are we really going to let these people down and say tough luck you’re on your own?… We are a better nation than that. We are a more compassionate people than that.”

House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. Seth Berry: “Health care expansion makes good business sense. There’s also the human cost of denying health care to 70,000 Mainers.”

    Rep. Berry on his younger brother: “He is one of the most hardworking Mainers you’ll ever meet. He is one of the Mainers who fall into the coverage gap caused by our failure to expand health care.”

Rep. Bobbi Beavers (D-S Berwick) in support of LD 1487

    Rep. Roberta Beavers : “In York County alone, about 82 hundred more people will gain access to health care. An additional $43 million will be spent each year on health care services by 2016, stimulating about $59 million in additional economic activity and 513 new jobs in my county.”

Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487 (full remarks here)

    “The argument that that everyone should go on the exchange is false. Yes, one can purchase an insurance plan for $50 per month with a $2,5000 deductable. When one makes less than $12,000 a year, this is an impossibility. Once again, lose your life or lose your livelihood. I ask, what choice would you make?

    It saddens me deeply that this debate has become more about politics than about people.”

Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Dr. Jane Pringle (D-Windham) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Jane Pringle, a retired doctor on why she’s in the Legislature: “I have watched the number of patients without health care grow. I have seen too many patients who could not get the health care they need until they were in crisis.”

    Rep. Pringle: “Imagine coming to me as your doctor with chest pain. And I say, ‘Have you worked hard enough today for me to give you health care?'”

    Rep. Pringle on the lack of belief in a system that will increase access, lower costs for all and save lives: “We have the power to do this. We just have to make this choice.”

Rep. Paulette Beaudoin (D-Biddeford) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Josh Plante (D-Berwick) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Dr. Ann Dorney (D-Norridgewock) supporting LD 1487

    Another patient of Rep. Dorney lost health coverage, ran out of insulin and ended up in the ICU with dangerously high blood sugars. The hospital gave her some insulin when she was well enough to leave.

Rep. Bernard Ayotte (R-Caswell) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Sheryl Briggs (D-Mexico) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Lisa Villa (D-Harrison) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. Brian Jones on health care needs in the community: “The collection plate in church and the donation jar in the store have demonstrated they cannot completely fulfill this purpose. Nor can directives to get a better job.”

Rep. Dr. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Steve Moriarty (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Tom Longstaff (D-Waterville) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Katherine Cassidy (D-Lubec) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. Katherine Cassidy about constituent with cancer: “They already put a portion of cancer treatment on their daughter’s credit card.”

Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487

Rep. James Campbell (U-Newfield) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 2)

Questions posed through the Speaker during LD 1487 floor debate

Rep. Dick Campbell (R-Orrington) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Karen Kusiak (D-Fairfield) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) supporting LD 1487

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Maine Senate Debates LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program” (VIDEOS)

Posted on March 15, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Here is the entire Maine State Senate LD 1487 floor debate from 3/12/14, unedited and in order of speakers.

Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Bill Sponsor Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Dick Woodbury (I-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Bill Sponsor Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) Speaks in Support of LD 1487 (PT 1)

Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Speaks in Opposition to LD 1487 (PT 1)

Sen. Linda Valentino (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. John Tuttle (D-York) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) Speaks in Opposition to LD 1487

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. David Dutremble (D-York) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Jim Boyle (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Brian Langley (R-Hancock) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Roger Sherman (R-Aroostook) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Rebecca Millet (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

ME Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 1)

ME Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 2)

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland) Speaking in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 2)

Sen. Tom Saviello Speaking in Support of LD 1487 (PT 2)

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Maine Senate Takes Up LD 1487, GOP (Katz, Saviello) Medicaid Expansion Bill

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

Senate video link to watch the floor debate.

Audio link here.

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Last week, the Health and Human Services legislative committee voted out two of three Medicaid expansion bills to the full Maine legislature, LDs 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People” offered by Speaker of the House Mark Eves and 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”, sponsored by Republican Senators Roger Katz, (R-Kennebec), who serves as Asst Minority Leader in that chamber, and fellow caucus member Tom Saviello (R-Franklin).

The last of the 3, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson’s sponsored 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”, has yet to be voted out by committee.

Earlier today, Democrats sent out a press release to remind about the positive effects of expansion for tens of thousands of Mainers and urging support of Senator Katz’s bill:

    The federal government has offered to pay 100 percent of the cost of health care for tens of thousands of Mainers under the Affordable Care Act. Key moderate Republicans and Democrats have worked on a bipartisan plan, LD 1487, to accept these funds.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

    “Expanding access to healthcare will strengthen our economy and create jobs and save money, but most importantly, it will save lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Each one of the 70,000 people waiting to see if we will step up and do the right thing has a story to tell, a family they love, dreams and plans for their future, and a life to live. Let’s not let them down.

    This is a common sense bipartisan proposal saves lives, saves money and creates jobs. The bipartisan plan includes a managed care program to lower the cost of health care and hold government and providers accountable for making sure people have access to appropriate care at an appropriate time, while also ensuring fair prices. It also puts in place a plan to reduce the wait list for home care services for Mainers with intellectual disabilities and adds two new Medicaid fraud investigators to step up fraud prosecutions.

    “We have a good-faith compromise that would accept federal dollars to provide life-saving health care to 70,000 Mainers,” said House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “We have an opportunity to change lives for the better and improve the health of thousands of our neighbors. It’s the right thing to do.”

Here are some of the impacts, listed by county:

    Androscoggin:

  • 5,829 people would gain access to health care.
  • An additional $30 million will be spent annually on health care services by 2016, stimulating about $45 million in additional economic activity.
  • Expansion would create approximately 378 new jobs in the county.

    Aroostook:

  • 4,615 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $24 million spent annually on health care services, $31 million total in additional economic activity
  • 280 new jobs

    Cumberland:

  • 12,018 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $63 million spent annually, $104 million in additional economic activity
  • 846 new jobs

    Franklin:

  • 1,878 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $10 million spent annually on health care services, $13 million in additional economic activity
  • 123 new jobs

    Hancock:

  • 3,235 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $17 million spent annually on health care services, $23 million in additional economic activity
  • 204 new jobs

    Kennebec:

  • 5,997 people would gain access to health car;
  • Additional $32 million spent annually on health care services, $43 million in additional economic activity
  • 367 new jobs

    Knox:

  • 2,317 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $12 million spent annually on health care services, $17 million in additional economic activity
  • 154 new jobs

    Lincoln:

  • 1,817 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $10 million spent annually on health care services, $13 million in additional economic activity
  • 124 new jobs

    Oxford:

  • 3,806 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $20 million spent annually on health care services, $25 million in additional economic activity
  • 231 new jobs

    Penobscot:

  • 8,447 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $45 million spent annually on health care services, $66 million in additional economic activity
  • 545 new jobs

    Piscataquis:

  • 1,067 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $6 million spent annually on health care services, $6 million in additional economic activity
  • 63 new jobs

    Sagadahoc:

  • 1,456 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $8 million spent annually on health care services, $3 million in additional economic activity
  • 34 new jobs

    Somerset:

  • 3,590 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $19 million spent annually on health care services, $23 million in additional economic activity
  • 207 new jobs

    Waldo:

  • 2,629 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $14 million spent annually on health care services, $18 million in additional economic activity
  • 161 new jobs

    Washington:

  • 2,601 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $14 million spent annually on health care services, $17 million in additional economic activity
  • 155 new jobs

    York:

  • 8,196 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $43 million spent annually on health care services, $59 million in additional economic activity
  • 513 new jobs

Here again is a clip of Senator Katz introducing his bill to the committee on February 26:

The HHS committee votes on both LD 1487 and 1578 were straight party line votes, even though 1487 is sponsored by two Republican senators, and is indicative of the strong pressure being put onto GOP lawmakers formerly open to expansion by the LePage administration may be having some effect.

*RELATED:

March 4: LePage’s “Fine Young Cannibals”- And Some Food For Thought

February 25: (UPDATED) Maine GOP- Yes, REPUBLICANS!- To Attempt Compromised/ Combined Medicaid Expansion Bill

February 4: Boomerang Bills: Medicaid Expansion, Revenue Sharing- Now Right To Work?

January 16: Speaker Of The House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) Presents LD 1578 Expanding Federally Funded Health Care In HHS Public Hearing (Video; Text)

January 16: Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) Introduces LD 1640 To HHS Committee (Video; Text)

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LePage’s “Fine Young Cannibals”- and Some Food For Thought

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

Last week on February 24, Maine Governor Paul LePage put forth a press release with an unusual claim- that Maine state agencies were being “cannibalized by welfare spending”, due to Maine’s expansions years ago.

lepage sots angry self

    “Because Maine already expanded welfare a decade ago, Medicaid is now cannibalizing funding from all other state agencies,” said Governor LePage. “That means the state cannot fully pay its 55 percent share of local education costs. It cannot hire more Maine State Troopers or repair National Guard facilities. The state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct research on our fisheries. It cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.”

    “We simply cannot keep throwing money at an inadequate welfare program. The state is not meeting the health care needs of vulnerable Mainers, and adding more people to the welfare rolls will only exacerbate the problem,” Governor LePage said. “Expanding welfare a decade did not increase access or improve the quality of care, nor did it help uninsured Mainers. Now it is threatening all of the other programs and services Mainers expect from their state government.”

    “Our state is facing a fiscal crisis, and we need to examine our spending practices, evaluate the delivery of services and gain control of our welfare system,” said Governor LePage. “Maine’s economic security and future is at stake, and we must make hard choices. My challenge as Governor and our challenge as a state is to find ways to help Maine families prosper, improve the business climate, foster better educational opportunities while still protecting those most in need with limited resources. We cannot do that while Medicaid is consuming an inordinate amount of our finite financial resources.”

The messages were repeat statements of LePage’s February 19 weekly radio address and an earlier address from January 15 with much of the governor’s proof of his claims coming from the faulty Alexander Report, now repackaged as “The Feasibility of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act” (PDF warning).

Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

What had started the Governor’s discussion on refusing to expand Medicaid (despite numerous reports of how beneficial such expansion would be for Maine and support from the Maine Hospital Association) were plans by Democratic leaders to introduce of a pair of Medicaid expansion bills:

  • LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People” sponsored by Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick)
  • 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” Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook)’s bill

To date, neither bill has yet been voted out of HHS committee.

But the final straw? Learning that despite all of his best efforts, TWO MEMBERS OF HIS OWN REPUBLICAN CAUCUS (Senators Roger Katz and Tom Saviello) WERE GOING TO OFFER UP A THIRD MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL!!

So, not satisfied that his words were getting through to the public or legislators, the LePage administration decided to go further- and employ a desperate sort of “throw everything against the wall until something sticks” technique, by emailing various state agencies and demanding the communications directors supply public statements in regard to how expansion would adversely affect their budgets.

The results see below were sent out as part of a February 24 press release.

But apparently that STILL did not have the desired effect and impact- so on February 26, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew hosted a large media event in Governor LePage’s cabinet room with a variety of department heads dutifully taking their turns and standing to speak to the gathered Maine press about how their budgets were being “cannibalized” by the monies going into DHHS, as well as a new LePage assertion that “Medicaid Expansion is Bad for the Environment”.

    Media Advisory: Medicaid Expansion is Bad for the Environment

    DSC_0027Medicaid expansion threatens programs, positions and services in all state departments. During the past three years, state government has eliminated and reduced funding in every state agency to pay for welfare costs.

    As Medicaid spending continues to consume the General Fund, there is less and less revenue for education, law enforcement, economic development and programs to protect our natural resources.

    On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the LePage Administration will hold a news conference with commissioners of natural resources agencies to focus on programs and services that will be impacted further should Medicaid expansion pass.

    media“Because Maine already expanded welfare a decade ago, Medicaid is now cannibalizing funding from all other state agencies,” said Governor LePage. “That means the state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct research on our fisheries. It cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.”

    In the 13 years since Maine expanded welfare, Medicaid enrollment has more than doubled, and its cost has grown by $1.3 billion. Medicaid now takes 25 percent of all General Fund revenue.

    More than $2 billion will be spent on Maine’s Medicaid program over the next two years. Even without expansion, Medicaid is projected to total more than 35 percent of the General Fund.

While the room was packed with currently serving GOP legislators, Republican legislative candidates, volunteers with signs held up opposing Medicaid expansion, bunches of Maine media and those speaking, Governor Paul LePage was nowhere to be seen and did not attend the press conference. Nor was his absence explained by staff.

Here are clips from that event.

A reminder: Mary Mayhew has time and time again, over the course of the three years since she took over the reins after the March 2011 abrupt firing of for Maine CDC Director then MaineCare head Dr. Dora Mills, never been able to get solid numbers on her department’s fiscal needs, outbound spending costs, over/ under payments, let alone satisfactory explanations of countless “IT issues”/ documented complaints to media or the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee in the Legislature.

So that the crux of the LePage administration’s argument being that “Medicaid expansion will cause DHHS’ budgetary needs to grow to the point that other state agencies to suffer” seems to be either utterly oblivious of Mayhew’s horrendous mismanagement at best or completely disingenuous in ignoring the demonstrated and documented missteps (arguably the true cause of the “cannibalism”) at worst.

Skipping past the third option that the “unfunded $400 million tax cuts to the wealthy” chickens have come home to roost…

The media circus didn’t stop Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec), who went before the HHS Committee a few hours later and presented the bill that he and fellow Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) sponsored, LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”.

Videos here of the public hearing on LD 1487:

The two Republican senators, in preparation of the bill’s introduction, had spoken previously with Portland Press Herald at length and in detail about LD 1487:

    Katz and Saviello stopped by the newsroom this week and laid out a clear, compelling and perfectly rational argument behind their proposal:

      Senator Tom Saviello (R-Franklin)

      Senator Tom Saviello (R-Franklin)

      It would expand MaineCare, at long last, to those at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. What’s more, it would do so through a new, managed-care model run not by the state, but by private-sector providers that would compete for the opportunity to deliver health care, at a set fee per patient, to Maine’s neediest population.

    • It would “sunset” automatically in three years, when the 100 percent federal funding begins dropping incrementally to 90 percent. And if the feds reneged on their 100-percent promise before then, the plug would get pulled immediately.
    • It would require a nonpartisan analysis to help future lawmakers determine whether the expansion achieved its goals (including a 5 percent reduction in health delivery costs) over those three years and, more importantly, whether the program is worth preserving beyond the three-year cutoff.
    • It would eliminate those abhorrent waiting lists for developmentally disabled adults who need non-health services (they already receive MaineCare) to live fulfilling lives.

Now, here’s where things get a little odd.

Look at that earlier Governor’s Cabinet press conference Q&A clip again, paying particular attention to the 1:42 mark.

Mayhew is interrupted mid-explanation to WCSH’s Don Carrigan by an unseen woman speaking (to Mary’s right) and prompting the commissioner with a talking point. And Mayhew took it in stride, as if it was not a rather egregious breech to interrupt an administration official while on camera during a press conference.

Cumberland County GOP members instructed how to be props for LePage admin anti-Medicaid expansion press conference

Cumberland County GOP members instructed how to be props for LePage admin anti-Medicaid expansion press conference

Who was that woman? Well, let’s back up here, by about 2 hours- because between 9-11am that same morning down in the State House Welcome Center, a rather large group of supposed volunteers were assembled for a “legislative lobbying training session”.

In reality, the group were a bunch of well organized members of the Cumberland County Republicans, including chair/ state committee member Eric Lusk, vice chair Bill Gardner, former state senate candidates Michael Coleman, Eric Brakey (who also heads Maine’s Defender of Liberty PAC), Kristen Martin (who was the woman who later jumped in while Commissioner Mayhew was speaking at the press conference), former House GOP press officer Vic Bernadelli and others.

A few interesting moments on the clip:

    1. At 8:50 after summing up what had already been discussed including lobbying instructions, Lusk asked those who can stay to be up at the Governor’s office at 12:15, “there may be something of a gathering”, “please grab some signs”.

    2. At the 9:40 mark, Gardner discusses the placards as needing (paraphrase) “to get back the signs, they belong to Susan Dench of Informed Women’s Network; she takes them all over the place” (to events).

    3. Martin from 9:56 discusses reimbursements, as well as opines that the poor can get free care at the hospitals, with no bills to be paid.

    4. At the 10:45 mark Lusk is asked by an audience member why the younger citizens are targeted by the expansion and admits that the most cynical answer is that Democrats are trying to buy votes.

pacman thumbHang on a minute- because the “cannibalism” LePage meme first started out as a 1980s video game reference… PAC-MAN!

In late January, another anti-expansion group met in a similar gathering in the Welcome Center. Former Maine Legislator now head of Americans For Prosperity Maine Carol Weston held a press conference, speaking in opposition to Medicaid expansion and giving examples of how expansion would create financial challenges for local municipalities:

    Opponents of Maine’s controversial Medicaid expansion proposal say expanding the low income health insurance program will take away critical funds from schools and other state programs. The group called Americans a For Prosperity Maine said passage of the law will lead to what it called a “Medicaid Pac-Man” that will gobble up money needed for other essential services.

Carol Weston, Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity, introduces Gov. Paul R. LePage at Hall of Flags rally in June 2013 (photo courtesy of The Maine Wire)

Carol Weston, Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity, introduces Gov. Paul R. LePage at Hall of Flags rally in June 2013 (photo courtesy of The Maine Wire)

Notice how none of the speakers in the above clip mention how their local communities were at risk or would suffer adverse affects due to Governor LePage’s zero revenue sharing budget from last year.

It should be noted that the Legislature overwhelmingly passed LD 1762, restoring $40M in revenue sharing to Maine’s towns and the bill silently went into law unsigned last week.

Yet the same imagery of “cannibalism”, albeit via a Medicaid-fueled scribbled 1980’s PAC-Man hand drawing by Weston herself, was employed.

Coincidence that a similar AFP movement occurred in Virginia, despite that state’s hospitals pushing for expansion?

Doubtful.

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(UPDATED) Maine GOP- Yes, REPUBLICANS!- To Attempt Compromised/ Combined Medicaid Expansion Bill

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

(11:45 AM UPDATE) The plan has now been released and as anticipated, it involves combining proposals from Senator Roger Katz and Speaker of the House Mark Eves:

      A key Republican senator on Tuesday will release his proposal to expand the state’s Medicaid program to more than 60,000 low-income Mainers, a move that could reshape a fiercely partisan debate that has raged at the State House for over a year.

      The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, the assistant minority leader, is the result of a six-month effort to build support to expand a publicly funded health insurance program that has traditionally provoked fierce ideological and philosophical opposition among Republicans for its results and costs.

      Lawmakers will take up Katz’s bill before they tackle a separate expansion proposal sponsored by House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.

Katz’s proposal includes a three year “sunset provision”, which he floated out to lawmakers as an amendment during last year’s LD 1066 floor debate. That motion passed the Senate by a 23-12 vote.

Democrats released more information on the proposal and statements from leadership:

    Democratic Leaders Issue Statement on Republican Health Care Expansion Proposal

    AUGUSTA — Top Democratic leaders in the Maine House and Senate issued the following statements in response to a proposal from Senate Republican Leader Senator Roger Katz of Kennebec to accept federal funds to provide healthcare coverage to 70,000 Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans.

    In addition to accepting the federal funds, Sen. Katz’s proposal would:

    • Put in place a plan to reduce the wait list for individuals with intellectual disabilities seeking MaineCare services like home care;
    • Call for managed care to reduce healthcare costs;
    • Fund two new Medicaid fraud investigators in the Attorney General’s office;
    • Conduct a feasibility study to review Arkansas’ and Iowa’s plans to use the federal dollars to purchase private insurance;
    • Include a sunset provision after three years when federal reimbursement reduces to 95 percent and an opt-out provision if the match rate goes below 100 percent during the first three years. 

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash sponsored two separate measures to accept federal funds, and issued the following statements.

    DEMOCRATIC STATEMENT ON REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

    “We view the proposal as a step forward after months of debate over how to ensure more families can have access to a family doctor,”  said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Our priority has always been securing life-saving health care for 70,000 Maine people. While we have been skeptical of managed care programs in the past, we look forward to hearing the details of the Republican proposal. We will want to make sure that the emphasis is on quality treatment; not simply denying care.”

    “The people of Maine are counting on us to do right by them. They’ve put their faith and their trust in us and asked us to represent them to the best of our abilities,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Health care is a right, and lawmakers who get health care from the state should think twice before denying it to their constituents.”

    Senator Katz is expected to present the Republican proposal to the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

    ###

——————————————————

Rumor overnight via Maine Wire about state GOP lawmakers making a move to expand Medicaid seems to be accurate:

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

A pair of Republican state senators are set to roll out a bill that would expand the state’s Medicaid program, MaineCare — a proposal that so far has been largely opposed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage and rank-and-file members of the party. On Tuesday, state Sen.’s Tom Saviello, R-Wilton and Roger Katz, R-Augusta, will unveil their plan to members of their party during a caucus meeting and then take their pitch to the editorial boards of two of the state’s daily newspapers.

Democrats have also been uncharacteristically quiet about the measure, which would allow the state to accept federal funding to expand the state’s low-income health care system under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But state Sen. Margaret Craven, the Senate chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, said she was setting aside time Wednesday for her committee to hold a public hearing on the measure.

The bill, LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program” was carried over last July and as such, needs a simple majority to pass both chambers. However, it would need 2/3s vote as an emergency bill and to override a veto from Governor LePage, who is vehemently opposed to expansion.

Current thought is that LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People”, would be tacked on as an amendment to the bill.

The Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services is scheduled for 3 pm work sessions tomorrow on LDs 1636 and 1663 after the conclusion of the legislative session (audio link here).
The news has garnered some positive and negative reactions among Republicans. Former LePage communications director Dan Demeritt posted on Twitter:

House GOP Communications Director David Sorensen fired off a press release before the senate caucus to media. Here is a portion:

      “Medicaid Mythbusters Round 1”

    Many of those eligible for Medicaid under an expansion would already be eligible for a federal health care subsidy, were they to buy their own health insurance on the private market.

    – The U.S. Congress, “can’t be trusted to sustain its Medicaid funding promises,” suggesting the state would be stuck footing the bill for any health care expansion.

    – An expansion of Medicaid would cause further defunding of existing state government programs including those that help pay for nursing home care.

Sorensen later took to Twitter himself, to share the following slap-down:

So what does all of this mean?

It would finally mean expansion of Medicaid to 70,000 Mainers, which Democrats have tried to do but been unsuccessful both as LD 1546, “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract” , the combination hospital debt payoff- Medicaid expansion- liquor contract bill and as the stand alone bill LD 1066, “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding”.

This story is still unfolding and will be updated.

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