Governor Names Two Commissioners
This week, Governor LePage officially notified the Legislature that he has nominated Richard Rosen as Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services and Dr. Joseph Fitzpatrick as Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Neither of these nominations were a surprise, as both men have been serving as Acting Commissioner of their respective departments for a number of months now.
Rosen has a deep background in Maine’s budget process, having served in the Maine Senate, including serving as the Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. This background will help him in overseeing Maine’s taxing and budgeting Department. Dr. Fitzpatrick has worked for the Department of Corrections for over 20 years, serving in a number of roles there. Both nominations are subject to legislative approval.
Governor’s Nominee for Public Utilities Commission Receives Unanimous Committee Approval
Last week, the Governor’s Office announced that the Governor nominated Carlisle “Carlie” McLean as a Commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission. Carlie joined the Governor’s staff at the beginning of his Administration after over five years of private practice and has served in various roles in the Governor’s Office since then, most recently as Chief Counsel. On January 22nd, the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee held its confirmation hearing on this nomination. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee voted unanimously in favor of McLean’s nomination. This nomination will now proceed to the full Senate for its approval.
Representative Dickerson Submits Resignation Letter to Speaker
This week, the Maine House received an official communication that Representative Elizabeth Dickerson, who represented Owls Head and Rockland, has resigned her House seat. With her resignation now official, these towns can request that the Governor declare a special election. A special election for this seat will likely be followed with great interest in Augusta, as the partisan margins in the House are quite close. A number of potential candidates have expressed their interest in running for this seat.
Legislature Still Focused on Preliminary Work
This week, the House and Senate were in session two days during which they focused primarily on referring newly printed bills to their respective committees of jurisdiction. Committees are starting to meet regularly attending to orientation matters such as committee business and process, and receiving briefings from State agencies and interested parties that regularly appear before them. Next week committees will continue to focus on preliminary matters. Public hearings on bills are now being scheduled for the first week in February.
Governor’s Office Preparing Legislation to Change Structure of Maine Government
This week, the Governor’s Office confirmed that it is preparing legislation that would propose an amendment to the State Constitution regarding Constitutional Officers. Currently, Maine’s Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer are elected by a majority of legislators from both the House and the Senate in a Joint Convention. Initial reports indicate that the Governor may propose replacing the Secretary of State with a Lieutenant Governor, who would assume the duties of the Secretary of State and be next in the line of succession to fill a vacancy in the Governor’s Office (Maine’s Senate President fills this role now). This proposal will likely propose that the Lieutenant Governor appear on the ballot with the Governor. This proposal will also likely give the power to appoint the Attorney General and State Treasurer to the Governor. Currently, the process to fill these positions is set forth in Maine’s State Constitution so a constitutional amendment would be required to make these changes. A 2/3rds vote of support from both chambers of the Legislature is required to present a Constitutional amendment to all voters on a state-wide ballot.