Committee Deadlines Set

While it seems just a few weeks ago that committees were getting underway with their first public hearings, Legislative Leadership has set deadlines for those committees to vote on their bills and to report them out.  Of the bills referred to committees, they are charged with voting on 60% by April 10 and 100% by May 22, and reporting 100% of them out of committee by May 29.  These deadlines will require Committees to maintain an intense pace of public hearings and work sessions.  Meanwhile, the Revisor of Statutes continues to print bills at a healthy clip, surpassing 1150 of the roughly 1500 anticipated bills.   

Senate President Thibodeau Shuffles Chairmanship of State and Local Government Committee

This week, Senate President Thibodeau communicated with both bodies that he was rescinding his December appointments to the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government and appointing Senator Rodney L. Whittemore of Somerset as Chair, and Senator Michael J. Willette of Aroostook and Senator Nathan L. Libby of Androscoggin as members.  This change shuffled the positions of Senator Whittemore and Senator Willette on the Committee. 

Vibes on Third Floor Indicated Something was Amiss

The House gong and Senate bell were expected to ring around 9:45 on Tuesday morning to convene both bodies, to settle into their business for an hour then to convene in a joint session to hear from General James Campbell, Adjutant General of the Maine National Guard on the State of the National Guard.  Instead, the bells remained silent, and members of legislative leadership and Gubernatorial Staff scurried about as they learned that Governor LePage had fired the Adjutant General that morning.  In the ensuing hours and days, it became apparent that the Governor lost confidence in the Adjutant General based on an internal review of a series of documents related to the Adjutant Generals’ intention to swap Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion with an out-of-state infantry unit. 

Ohio Governor Kasich Calls for Constitutional Amendment in Maine Capitol

Surrounded by a security detail from Ohio and Maine, Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio held a press conference in the cabinet room of the Maine Capitol to call for a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget.  An amendment to the US Constitution may be triggered by a two-thirds majority vote in both the US House and Senate or by a constitutional convention called by two –thirds of the states.  If one of those steps is achieved, then the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, or 38 of the 50 states must ratify the amendment for it to become effective. Kasich is exploring a run for U.S. President in 2016.  

Wildlife Management Issues may be Spared Initiated Petition Process 

This week, a resolution was printed that proposes to amend the state Constitution to except wildlife management issues from citizens initiated petitions.  Sponsored by Representative Dunphy of Old Town and cosponsored by Senator Brakey of Androscoggin and 37 other Representatives, this bill, LD 1084 is now before the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs.  If enacted by the Legislature, the question “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to provide that laws governing wildlife management may not be proposed thorough a citizen initiative?” will be sent to the voters in an upcoming statewide ballot election. 

Freedom of Access Act Laws face Changes 

The Maine Right to Know Advisory Committee released sweeping recommendations in four separate legislative documents printed this past week. These bills propose changes to, among other things, add a member to the Advisory Committee who has information technology expertise, establish time frames for certain steps in the process, require confidentiality for certain types of information being disclosed, require judicial venues in the county in which the requestor or agency is located, and allow denials of requests that are deemed unduly burdensome and oppressive.  One bill also sets a schedule for review of public records exceptions by the Advisory Committee over the next fifteen years. 

More Judicial Nominations Confirmed 

On Thursday of this week, the Maine Senate confirmed the nominations of the Honorable Richard W. Mulhern of Falmouth for reappointment as a District Court Judge, and the Honorable Patricia G. Worth of Belfast for reappointment as a District Court Judge. 

Correction:   

In the March 20, 2015 issue of Under the Dome, we incorrectly reported the status of two nominations.  The correct information is that Lloyd LaFountain has been nominated to continue as Superintendent of the Bureau of Financial Services, and Will Lund has been nominated to continue as Superintendent of the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.  Their confirmations are pending.  We apologize for the error.