Maine Supreme Judicial Court Hears Oral Arguments On 65 LePage Disputed “Vetoes”

Posted on July 31, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

AUDIO LINK HERE.

A full Court Room #12 awaiting oral arguments

A full Court Room #12 awaiting oral arguments

On July 17, Governor Paul LePage submitted the following questions to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Maine Constitution:

  • What form of adjournment prevents the return of a bill to the Legislature as contemplated by the use of the word, adjournment, in Art. IV, pt. 3, §2 of the Maine Constitution?
  • Did any of the action or inaction by the Legislature trigger the
    constitutional three-day procedure for the exercise of the Governor’s veto?
  • Are the 65 bills I returned to the Legislature on July 16 properly before that body for reconsideration?

The Court announced that they would hear the arguments within 2 weeks of the governor’s request. They also posted all documents submitted.

 

Documents:

From a media advisory:

STATE OF MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT Docket No. OJ-15-2 In the Matter of Request for Opinion of the Justices
ORAL ARGUMENT PROCESS

Governor LePage's legal council Cynthia Montgomery delivers her argument to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 7/31/15.

Governor LePage’s legal council Cynthia Montgomery delivers her argument to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 7/31/15.

The Justices will hold Oral Argument on the Governor’s Request for an Opinion of the Justices at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, July 31, 2015, in Courtroom 12 of the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland.

The argument will proceed as follows:

    1. Counsel for the Governor (Cynthia Montgomery) will be allotted fifteen minutes for argument. Up to three uninterrupted minutes may be reserved; up to two minutes may be reserved for rebuttal.

    2. Counsel for Representatives Kenneth W. Fredette, Eleanor M. Espling, and Jeffrey L. Timberlake (Clinton Boothby) will then be allotted up to five minutes for argument. No uninterrupted or rebuttal time is allotted.

    3. Counsel for the President of the Maine Senate and the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives (Timothy Woodcock) will then be allotted up to fifteen minutes for argument. Up to three uninterrupted minutes may be reserved, but no rebuttal time is allotted.

    4. Counsel for the Attorney General (Rosemary Gardiner) will then be allotted up to five minutes for argument. No uninterrupted or rebuttal time is allotted.

    5. Counsel for the Governor will then argue in rebuttal if time has been reserved.

Here is the full press pool video.

Photos from within the courtroom here.

Afterwards, Rep. Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner), Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) and former Secretary of State Senator Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland) met with press to discuss the just concluded Maine Supreme Judicial Court oral arguments heard regarding the 65 vetoes disputed by Maine Governor Paul LePage.

Democratic House leadership released statements.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick): “We thank the court for an incredibly fair, thorough and respectful hearing that reflects the seriousness of the issue. We are confident in our position that the laws in question must be enforced by the governor. We have faith the court will make the correct ruling on behalf of the people of Maine.”

House Majority Leader Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan): “It is unfortunate that the governor chose to waste our tax dollars on lawyers and trials instead of admitting he made a mistake. I am confident that the justices will uphold over 100 years of legal precedent and that the 71 new laws that passed with bipartisan cooperation will stand.”

No word as to when there will be a response from the justices, but it could be fairly quickly.

———-

*RELATED: (UPDATED) The Curious Tale Of Governor LePage And The 19- Scratch That- 70 “Pocket Vetoes” LAWS

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Veto Day: 15 of 48 Overridden, LD 1811 and New Nursing Home Funding Bill Killed

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

(12 pm: BILLS UPDATED BELOW WITH VOTE TOTALS) Also marking down if veto sustained. Quite possibly one of the easiest and most comprehensive graphics for tracking the vetoes is on the Bangor Daily News site; their “State and Capitol” live updates are worth reading as well.

(4:45 pm: UPDATE x2) Senate at ease until 6:30; House until 7pm.

(6am 5/2: UPDATEx3) 14 of 48 vetoes overridden; Appropriations Committee worked until midnight on the 2 bills that Governor LePage sent them earlier on Thursday (reintroduction of LD 1811 and a new nursing homes funding bill. After coming to agreements on both, they learned that the governor intended to veto them due to the amendments. So AFA voted them out to the Legislature “ONTP” (Ought Not To Pass). Some time afterwards, the 126th Legislature voted the bills dead and declared the 126th session sine die.

—–

Busy day ahead for the 126th Legislature: 48 vetoes to be dealt with (14 in Senate and 34 in House to start), reintroduction of LD 1811 and a brand new bill that doesn’t even have a designation in the calendars- let alone committee assignment, public hearing or work session. No word yet if the session will be extended past today. Links to watch or listen in are below.

  • Senate Video
  • Senate Audio
  • House Video
  • House Audio

    SENATE VETOES:

    1. Yea 31 Nay 4, HOUSE: Yea 118 Nay 28 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1827, “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support Maine Small Business and Job Creation”

    2. Yea 30 Nay 5, HOUSE: Yea 96 Nay 50 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1431, “An Act To Support School Nutrition and Expand the Local Foods Economy”

    3. Yea 27 Nay 8, HOUSE: Yea 126 Nay 21 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1824, “An Act To Provide Additional Authority to the State Board of Corrections”

    4. Yea 30 Nay 5, HOUSE: Yea 115 Nay 32 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 347, “An Act To Amend Insurance Coverage for Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders”

    5. Yea 21 Nay 14 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1833, “An Act To Improve Workers’ Compensation Protection for Injured Workers Whose Employers Have Wrongfully Not Secured Workers’ Compensation Insurance”

    6. Yea 30 Nay 5, HOUSE: Yea 111 Nay 35 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 440, “An Act To Support Community Health Centers through Tax Credits for Dentists and Primary Care Professionals Practicing in Underserved Areas”

    7. Yea 20 Nay 15 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1468, “Resolve, Directing the Public Utilities Commission To Study the Potential Benefits and Barriers Involved in Making Renewable Thermal Technologies Eligible for Qualification in Maine’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard”

    8. Yea 9 Nay 26 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1310, “An Act To Improve Access to Dental Care through the Establishment of the Maine Board of Oral Health”

    9. Yea 21 Nay 14 (SUSTAINED)
    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”

    10. Yea 19 Nay 16 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1641, “An Act To Amend the Workers’ Compensation Laws as They Pertain to Employee Representation”

    11. Yea 22 Nay 13 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1837, “An Act To Provide Former Employees of the Maine Military Authority the Ability To Sue for Severance Pay”

    12. Yea 20 Nay 15 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1750, “An Act To Amend the Maine Administrative Procedure Act and Clarify Wind Energy Laws”

    13. Yea 21 Nay 14 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1765, “An Act To Establish the Criminal Law Revision Commission”

    14. Yea 20 Nay 15 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1851, “An Act To Delay Implementation of the Maine Metallic Mineral Mining Act and Related Statutory Provisions”

  • HOUSE VETOES:

    1. Yea 134 Nay 12; SENATE Yea 35 Nay 0 – VETO OVERRIDDEN.
    LD 1858, “An Act to Achieve the Savings Required under Part F of the Biennial Budget and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law for Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015″

    2. Yea 131 Nay 15, SENATE: Yea 21 Nay 14 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 297, “An Act To Require Forest Rangers To Be Trained in Order To Allow Them To Carry Firearms”

    3. Yea 114 Nay 32, SENATE: Yea 31 Nay 4 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1043, “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue and To Assist in the Creation of Jobs through Regional Economic Development”

    4. Yea 123 Nay 23, SENATE: Yea 28 Nay 7 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1747, “Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Education”

    5. Yea 138 Nay 8, SENATE: Yea 20 Nay 15 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 933, “An Act To Establish a Separate Regulatory Board for Dental Hygienists”

    6. Yea 105 Nay 41, SENATE: Yea 20 Nay 14 Abs 1 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1719“An Act To Improve Education about and Awareness of Maine’s Health Laws and Resources”

    7. Yea 137 Nay 9, SENATE: Yea 35 Nay 0 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1729“An Act To Increase the Period of Time for the Calculation of a Prior Conviction for Operating Under the Influence”

    8. Yea 98 Nay 48, SENATE: Yea 33 Nay 2 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1600“An Act to Require Health Insurers to Provide Coverage for Human Leukocyte Antigen Testing to Establish Bone Marrow Donor Transplantation Suitability”

    9. Yea 94 Nay 52 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1367“An Act To Require Health Insurance Carriers and the MaineCare Program To Cover the Cost of Transition Services To Bridge the Gap between High School and Independence”

    10.  Yea 82 Nay 64 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 38“Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 201: Provider of Last Resort Service Quality, a Major Substantive Rule of the Public Utilities Commission”

    11. Yea 83 Nay 62 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1761“An Act To Ensure That Large Public Utility Reorganizations Advance the Economic Development and Information Access Goals of the State”

    12. Yea 113 Nay 33, SENATE: Yea 29 Nay 6 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1806“An Act To Implement the Recommendations Contained in the State Government Evaluation Act Review of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System”

    13. Yea 96 Nay 50 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1816“An Act To Address Recommendations from the Report by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability Regarding the Public Utilities Commission”

    14. Yea 93 Nay 53 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1809“An Act Concerning Meetings of Boards of Trustees and Governing Bodies of Quasi-municipal Corporations and Districts That Provide Water, Sewer and Sanitary Services”

    15.  Yea 137 Nay 8, SENATE: Yea 21 Nay 14 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1821“An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee”

    16. Yea 134 Nay 12, SENATE: Yea 33 Nay 2 (OVERRIDDEN)
     LD 1479“An Act to Clarify Telecommunications Regulation Reform”

    17. Yea 124 Nay 22; SENATE: Yea 35 Nay 0 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 906“An Act to Permit a School Administrative Unit Discretion Concerning Participation of Students from Charter Schools in School Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities”

    18. Yea 88 Nay 58 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1120“An Act To Improve Maine’s Tax Laws”

    19. Yea 96 Nay 51 (SUSTAINED)
     LD 1185“An Act to Enhance Efforts to Use Locally Produced Food in Schools”

    20.  Yea 133 Nay 14, SENATE: Yea 29 Nay 6 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1194, “An Act to Protect Social Media Privacy in School and in the Workplace”

    21. Yea 92 Nay 53 (SUSTAINED)
     LD 1247, “An Act To Expand Coverage of Family Planning Services”

    22. Yea 91 Nay 54 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1345“A Resolve to Study the Design and Implementation of Options for a Universal Health Care Plan”

    23. Yea 104 Nay 42, SENATE: Yea 25 Nay 10 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1463“A Resolve to Develop a Process for Tax Expenditure Review”

    24. Yea 93 Nay 54 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1593“A Resolve to Eliminate Financial Inequality in MaineCare Reimbursement for Community-based Behavioral Health Services”

    25. Yea 110 Nay 37, SENATE: Yea 20 Nay 15 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1757“A Resolve to Establish the Blue Ribbon Commission on Independent Living and Disability”

    26. Yea 94 Nay 53 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1772“Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 200: Metallic Mineral Exploration, Advanced Exploration and Mining, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection”

    27. Yea 83 Nay 63 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1794“An Act To Cancel the No-bid Alexander Group Contract To Produce Savings in Fiscal Year 2013-14″

    28. Yea 94 Nay 53 (SUSTAINED)
    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”

    29. Yea 87 Nay 59 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1820“An Act To Reduce Abuse of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Electronic Benefits Transfers”

    30. Yea 87 Nay 58 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 222“An Act Designating the Chief of the State Police as the Only Issuing Authority of a Permit To Carry a Concealed Handgun”

    31. Yea 128 Nay 16, SENATE: Yea 22 Nay 13 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1154“An Act To Establish the Maine Length of Service Award Program”

    32. Yea 94 Nay 53 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1578“An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People”

    33.  Yea 139 Nay 7, SENATE: Yea 24 Nay 11 (OVERRIDDEN)
    LD 1850“Resolve, To Establish the Commission To Strengthen the Adequacy and Equity of Certain Cost Components of the School Funding Formula”

    34. Yea 125 Nay 21, SENATE: Yea 21 Nay 14 (SUSTAINED)
    LD 1744“An Act To Protect Maine Lakes”

    ———

  • ADDITIONAL BILLS

    1. LD 1811, “An Act To Appropriate and Allocate Funds To Strengthen the State’s Efforts To Investigate, Prosecute and Punish Persons Committing Drug Crimes”

    2. Press release (4/30/14) from Governor LePage’s office: Maine Nursing Homes Facing Closure, Elderly At Risk

    ———–

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

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

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

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

    —–

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

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

    —–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    14. LD 1858, “An Act to Achieve the Savings Required under Part F of the Biennial Budget and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law for Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

      The $32 million budget would:

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

    Veto letter here:

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

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    Maine Legislature Overrides LePage Veto of LD 1353, “An Act To Further Reduce Student Hunger”

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

    Last week, both chambers of the Maine Legislature took up and voted to override Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1353, “An Act To Further Reduce Student Hunger”. The Senate first took up the veto, sponsored by Senate President Justin Alfond.

    Here is the floor speech he delivered to his colleagues, urging they join him in voting against the Governor:

      When I was 9 years old and living in Dexter, Tom was my classmate. We were friends and he liked to play sports. Back then, and through my 9-year old eyes, I remember he was “that kid” who got called down to the principal’s office. He was “that kid” who stayed in during recess. He was also “that kid” who missed a lot of school. What I realized later, with my adult eyes, is that Tom was “that kid” whose family–although they worked hard–didn’t have enough money to make sure Tom got enough food. He was hungry. I am sure that we all knew or know a Tom? Maybe there are a few of us in this room that was Tom?

      justin alfondAs a past member of the education committee, I now know that hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to learning. A child who doesn’t have enough to eat, won’t do as well in school. They’re more likely to get sick more often—and, less likely to finish high school. Tom was “that kid”.

      That was more than 25 years ago.

    • Today, there are 84,000 students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
    • Today, twenty percent of Maine kids are food insecure–that’s nearly one in five.
    • Today, the state of Maine ranks third–only two other states in America have more children in hunger.

      That’s a list that we shouldn’t be on. In fact, that’s a ranking we should be ashamed of.

      Sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest. This bill is one small step–one common sense step toward making sure a hungry kid in Maine has the opportunity to get one meal a day during the summer-vacation months.

      Feeding hungry students is nothing new. We already have a program in place for making sure hungry students get fed during the school year. It’s a federal program, that Maine schools take part in. It’s called the National School Lunch Program.

      And feeding students during the summer is nothing new. In fact, the first summer food program began in 1968.

      Government–and our society–has long seen the need, and accepted the responsibility, to help provide nutrition to our neediest children.

      Today, if you all join me in supporting this bill (again), we can make a difference to 84,000 Maine kids who currently qualify for free or reduced lunch. Today, all we are asking–and expecting–is for the adults to have a conversation about the hungry children at their school, in their community. Today, we are asking schools who already offer summer programming like a rec program, to consider whether a summer food program is right for them.

      The food costs are paid for. The federal Summer Food Program picks up the food costs.

      The bill even allows schools to partner with churches or nonprofits or other community and civic organizations. In my home town of Portland, there’s a summer food program in the park—at Deering Oaks. The goal is to go to where the kids are and make it as easy as possible.

      But even still, if a school doesn’t want to participate, they can opt out. Ultimately, it’s a local decision.

      Some may ask, “Why is this necessary if schools already can ‘opt-in’ to a summer food program?”. The answer is simple: because there are still 70,000 kids across our state, in each of our districts, who are not getting fed in the summer. They are hungry.

      The question I ask each of you is, “Why wouldn’t we do this now?”

      Again I will ask you: “Why wouldn’t we do this now when food insecurity for Mainers is increasing?”

      This bill is more than just a bill, it’s a pledge, it’s a commitment by all of us that we need to change course; we need to build momentum to help our most precious assets, the children of our state.

      Today, you have a second chance to help feed our state’s hungry children so that we can make sure all of our kids, even the hungry, have the basic building blocks to go toe to toe with their classmates or in fact with anyone, anywhere.

      I hope you will join me.

    Senator Colleen Lachowicz added: “At a time when more families are struggling to make ends meet and more children are hungry, it is irresponsible and unconscionable of us not to do everything we can to reduce student hunger.”

    The Senate voted 25-10 in support of the override; it then next went to the House. Some quick notes taken during the resulting floor debate:

      Reps Ben Chipman, Tori Kornville rose in support; now Jeff McCabe. Peter Johnson (r-Greenville) spoke in opposition, saying that it should be left to local communities.

      Now Corey Wilson, (R-Augusta). He tells the chamber again of how he was one of these children and urges support in overriding the veto.

      Rep. Helen Rankin (D-Hiram) speaks to address her colleagues in the House (2013).

      Rep. Helen Rankin (D-Hiram) speaks to address her colleagues in the House (2013).

      Bruce Macdonald, one of the committee chairs, spoke and now Karen Kusiak.

      GOP Rep. McClellan of Raymond opposes on funding concerns later on. He also opposes it as a mandate. Unhappy that schools are giving medical care, etc and not simply teaching (paraphrase).

      Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner) asks questions re: whether or not this is allowed in school; Seth Berry answering.

      Anne Graham speaking in support, tells how health and nutrition work together.

      Diane Russell (D-Portland) rises to ask “how did we get to a place where we are debating whether or not to reduce student hunger”?

      Jennifer DeChant (D-Bath) discusses her work in 1992 with national campaign to end hunger.

      Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) asks question re: better to educate schools on the program.

      Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) gives personal story of how the reduced lunches helped.

      Elizabeth Dickerson (D-Rockland) next, telling of her communities’ 40% lower income poverty that kids in her school live in, every day. That she has taught algebra and discovered that some kids have not eaten all day- she and other teachers routinely keep snacks in their desks for these students.

      Jeff McCabe )D-Skowhegan) answers the earlier Keschl question; now Brian Jones… Strong statement regarding body’s charge if taking care of common welfare of Maine citizens.

      Matthea Daughtry (D-Brunswick) next, another committee member.

      Scott Hamann (D- South Portland) talking about going to a school pantry in Biddeford yesterday and Hannaford’s helping.

      Terry Hayes speaks of how she just came from an ethical meeting. “We continue to add to what schools need to do”… Will vote to override, but understands the GOP argument.

      Paul McGowan of York also answers Keschl.

      Now Ray Wallace (R-Dexter) asks what folks had for breakfast or lunch when they were kids- grew up in family of 8 kids and single mom, no help. Did not suffer and was able to learn. Let the parent raise the child. They get food stamps; are they spending it on food… Or something else? Let the parent feed them!! If they aren’t gonna feed them, cut the welfare!

      Rep Soctomah next, was raised on state reservation. Speaks of her own background, very emotional issue for her.

      Rep. Helen Rankin addresses House; urges support of override.

    Bangor Daily News reported the following quotes from legislators:

    Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) interviewed by WCSH in 2013.

    Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) interviewed by WCSH in 2013.

    Rep. Victoria Kornfield (D-Bangor): “Vetoing this bill did not save the state funds. Instead, it left federal funding on the table. … Frankly, I am surprised that the chief executive vetoed this bill because the summer program is exactly the compassion he talked about in his State of the State speech.”

    Rep. Peter Johnson (R-Greenville): “The fact that we have to pass a law to have adults have a conversation says something about this bill. I think we should have the confidence in our citizenship to allow them to do that without passing another mandate.”

    Rep. Michael McClellan (R-Raymond): “If we don’t look at issues like this and come up with the root of the problem and why it’s happening, then it’s a Band-Aid and we’ll be here again in a year or two to deal with it again. I don’t think it’s just or fair to keep burdening our schools with these things.”

    Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta): “I grew up quite poor and relied on food from the food pantry. I also did receive free breakfasts and free lunches from the school and I’m thankful for that. I rise in support of overriding the veto. It’s just the right thing to do. We have an opportunity here to feed children and I feel that if we ever have that opportunity, we should go for it. … I want to see the children in my community have the ability to simply be fed.”

    Rep. Karen Kusiak shared her floor speech:

      Thank you Mr. Speaker, Women and Men of the House:

      I rise to speak in support of the motion before us; we must override the unfortunate veto of LD 1353, and Act to Further Reduce Student Hunger.

      Rep. Karen Kusiak of Fairfield

      Rep. Karen Kusiak of Fairfield

      One of the school districts I represent, MSAD 49 – where I served on the school board – has cooperatively participated in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for a number of years. We serve children and youth who attend a community supported summer recreation program and children who attend a summer school program.

      (It may be that other school districts in my legislative district have summer food service programs, I don’t know for sure.) But I do know that my county, Somerset, has over 55% of our students qualifying for the federal lunch program. Our county, like other poor counties in the state, have children who rely on the school lunch programs for their basic nutrition. Children and youth up through the age of 18 who live within the geographic boundary of a school district with such a high participation in the school lunch program can participate in the Summer Food Service Program.

      The SFSP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and run by the Maine Department of Education. The Maine DOE already encourages school districts to participate in the program. Look at their child nutrition programs page – there is plenty of information about getting a SFSP started and suggestions for making the reporting and paperwork relatively easy.

      From the DOE Website: “The Summer Food Service Program provides meal reimbursement to eligible summer programs. Communities throughout Maine have opened the door to the SFSP and helped close the door on summer hunger. Sponsors include schools, community recreation programs, nonprofit organizations and camps. Maine has over 87 sponsors with an estimated 254 sites for children to have a summer meal at no cost. Almost 481,000 meals and snacks were served in 2012.”

      Yet, even with the 87 sponsors and 254 sites, still the Maine Center for Economic Policy calculated in 2011 that Maine was using only about 10% of federal USDA funds that we are eligible to receive for Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP.) That means that children and youth in Maine who are eligible for the program are not able to participate, and are likely going hungry or not eating balanced meals.

      More Maine children and youth can be served through SFSP. Holding more school districts responsible for SFSP is the right thing to do.

      Opting out is permitted – a school board need only publicize that it will be conducting a public hearing on opting in or out of the program and vote on the question in a public meeting. A School Board may opt out, for example, after noting and telling the community that a local recreation program offers the SFSP for children and youth in their community. However, where no such program is provided, this bill will encourage local school districts to participate in the program or provide an opportunity for local residents to urge – through the public meeting – that schools participate in the program.

      It is very simple. Overriding this bill is the right thing to do for hungry, developing (growing) children who need good nutrition, and it provides support for poor and working class families.

    Here is the floor speech of Rep. Scott Hamann:

      Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, Men and Women of the House.

      Yesterday I visited a food pantry at an elementary school in Biddeford. I saw wonderful families file through, gratefully gathering their groceries. Volunteers greeting them at the door, and offering their help. Hannaford was there. They had a nutrition specialist ready to answer questions and offer recipe suggestions specific to the types of food that was being distributed by the school pantry. Some girl scouts set up a table and were giving out free books.

      This is where community happens. In our schools. Our community activities and activity centers. That’s why it’s the perfect place to implement and optimize an available federal resource – the Summer Food Service Program – to address child hunger…something that no reasonable person would consider anything other than a dire concern.

      Rep. Scott Hamann (D- South Portland) speaks at a press conference is support of raising minimum wages.

      Rep. Scott Hamann (D- South Portland) speaks at a press conference is support of raising minimum wages.

      Hunger…doesn’t happen just 9 months out of the year. The hunger pains don’t go away just because a child finishes second grade and begins their summer vacation. They have three months to wait to start third grade, get back to school, and get back to more predictable nutrition. That’s not right. That student doesn’t come back in September equally as prepared as a student who spent their summer knowing where their next meal was coming from. That’s not fair. And that is what the Summer Food Service Program is designed to address, and why this food is fully funded by the federal government.

      We talk about opportunity, self reliance, education, an educated workforce. The building blocks of all those things is food security in childhood. If we want a world class labor force, we need to make sure that kids’ stomachs are full and their developing brains are getting the nutrients they need.

      In that respect, the Chief Executive’s veto of LD1353 is shortsighted. Why would we ever want to handicap our next generation’s workforce? Why wouldn’t we do everything in our power to ensure that we are delivering Maine’s business community the best employees possible? A generation raised free from food insecurity. This bill is a step in that direction.

      At a time when pantry lines… are almost longer than the list of excuses why we can’t rise to the challenge of addressing child hunger… hopefully this vote is unanimous to reflect how both parties unequivocally support the morally right and responsible effort to address child hunger. Hopefully both sides of the aisle can work together in the future as well to take further steps to address what ought to be one of the most bipartisan…nonpartisan issues in the state house – protecting a child’s next meal.

    Ultimately the House also voted to override the veto by a 2 vote margin, 92-45. Only four GOP members joined Democrats in overriding the veto: Rep. Corey Wilson, Rep. Joyce Maker (R-Calais), Rep. Matthew Pouliot (R-Augusta) and Rep. Ellen Winchenbach (R-Waldoboro).

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