Budget Hearings Exceed 100 Hours and Counting

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee has already held over 100 hours of public hearings on Governor LePage's proposed budget for fiscal years 2018-2019. Budget hearings typically draw a lot of interested Mainers, and this year is no exception. The committee will continue to hold public hearings and work sessions on the budget, and, if past years are any indication, will likely not conclude its work until early June.

Governor Spends Time in DC

Governor LePage has spent a fair amount of time in Washington, DC recently, visiting President Trump, appearing on a national news show and attending a conference. This trip has led some to speculate that the Governor may be seeking a position within the Trump administration, and wondering what that would mean for the state. This week, Governor LePage said he is not seeking such a position but does intend to head back to Washington soon to speak with Republican lawmakers in connection with efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He was quoted recently as saying “I don’t think this is an improvement” and is concerned that the proposed ACA replacement will increase costs to Mainers.

Considering York County Casino

Earlier this year the Secretary of State’s office received more than 87,000 signatures in support of constructing a casino in York County. In February, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap certified more than 61,123 signatures, the number needed for the petition to move forward. The legislation sought by the petition is now embodied in LD 719, An Act to Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County, and has been referred to the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs for consideration. The legislature has the option to enact the legislation as presented, or to pass out one or more other versions (“competing measures”) which would appear on a statewide ballot along with the original language. The voters would then have the option to approve one, or none, of the versions presented.

Mining Rules Under Attack Again

Maine’s metallic mineral mining rules were revised by the legislature in 2012; since then, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to modify those rules. Among the many bills under consideration this legislative session is one that would repeal the 2012 rules and reinstate the 1990 version, as well as a bill that would restrict mining on a number of public lands. These bills will be considered by the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee before being sent to the full House and Senate.

Maine DOT Seeking ME-NY Barge Service

The Trump administration has expressed interest in expending a significant amount of money to upgrade the country’s infrastructure. To that end, Maine’s Department of Transportation has submitted a half-billion dollar proposal to the federal government for projects ranging from improving roads to creating a barge service between Maine and New York City. The exact details regarding the funding sources for this infrastructure work have not been provided at this time.