DISAGREEMENT REGARDING GENERAL ASSISTANCE GOES TO COURT
In recent weeks, Governor LePage and the Department of Health and Human Services have disagreed with Attorney General Janet Mills regarding the Administration’s ability to influence whether municipalities distribute General Assistance to “unlawfully present aliens.” Municipalities have been caught in the middle of this fight, with no clear guidance regarding how this issue should be handled. On July 10th, this disagreement entered a new venue, when the Maine Municipal Association along with the Cities of Portland and Westbrook filed suit against the Administration in Maine’s Superior Court. These entities have challenged the Administration’s recent action and this will likely be a high-profile lawsuit over the months leading up to November’s elections.
LITTLE POLICY, MUCH POLITICS IN JULY
Aside from state agencies pursuing rulemaking changes, Augusta has been quiet over the past few weeks in terms of formulating policy. With November’s elections approaching, however, politics has taken a front seat. For July, that has seemed to translate into actions by gubernatorial candidates or their supporters to generate media attention. This includes a “property tax road show” by Independent Eliot Cutler as well as a federal law suit by his supporters, challenging an aspect of Maine’s campaign finance laws. This week, a pro-Congressman Michaud PAC has pledged to spend $2 million on television ads this fall in support of his gubernatorial bid. Though, it appears this group, consisting of the Democratic Governors Association, unions and the Maine People’s Alliance, has not yet raised all of these funds. After the release of a portion of a book critical of Governor LePage, there have been a number of news stories (and stories about news stories) reporting that the Governor met repeatedly with a group whose views have been categorized as anywhere from “bizarre” to “extreme.” These are all attempts by campaigns and their supporters to vie for voters’ attention at a time in the year when the average voter is not yet thinking about this fall’s elections.