On Friday, January 6, Maine Governor Paul LePage released his biennial general fund budget for 2018-19. The Governor's proposed biennial budget and briefing document can be found here. The main priority in the Budget is reducing Maine’s top income tax rate from 10.15 percent to 7.15 percent this year, and then implementing a flat tax of 5.75 percent by 2020. The Budget also purports to make changes to how General Purpose Aid to Education is distributed to public K-12 schools, eliminate State support for General Assistance, eliminates the cap on public charter schools, elevates information services and cybersecurity to a new Cabinet-level Department, tightens eligibility requirements for Medicaid, creates a new statewide public defender system, allows municipalities to assess municipal service fees on large not-for-profit entities, and eliminates 500 state government jobs (300 of which are currently vacant).

Three days later, on Monday, January 9, the Maine Legislature made available its list of proposed bill titles for the first regular session of the 128th Maine Legislature. The full list of titles, organized by subject, is available here. At this point, there are nearly 1900 titles covering issues from the environment, to insurance, to energy, to professional licensing. Although the bill title list only includes titles, not the bills themselves, we anticipate that those bills that do come forward will be printed or posted online at a rate of 100-200 per week. We further anticipate that, of the 1900 +/- titles published, about 10-20% of the titles will not come forward as bills due to attrition, consolidation, or missed deadlines.

In the world of banking, there are a range of proposed bills likely to affect the financial services industry that we expect to come forward. Those bills would impact credit card fees, elder financial abuse, mortgage foreclosure, real estate title, the creation of a state bank, credit union charters, the closure of inactive bank accounts, allowing consumers to shop for credit without impacting their credit scores, placing more restrictions on debt collection, further limiting predatory lending practices, and a bill to permit “community lending circles.”