Candidates for Governor Report 2017 Fundraising Totals

Maine's gubernatorial candidates filed their 2017 end-of-year fundraising numbers with the Maine Ethics Commission. Leading the fundraising race is Democrat Adam Cote, who raised $546,000, followed by Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, who raised $352,575. On the Republican side, business owner Shawn Moody leads with $301,705, including $150,000 of personal funds, and former Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mary Mayhew follows with $198,000. Independent Alan Caron has raised $30,195 to add to a personal contribution of $250,000. It's too early to say whether these numbers will change the still-crowded field of 29 registered candidates.

Attorney General Faces Criticism Over Submittal of Abortion Access Bill

Republican lawmakers are criticizing Democratic Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills' submission to the Legislature of a bill that would expand the types of health care professionals authorized to perform abortions. Tradition in Maine is that Constitutional officers are allowed to submit legislation without prior authorization from the Legislature, but in this case Republicans are arguing that Mills should not have used her office to submit the legislation because, they claim, it is politically motivated and outside the purview of the AG's office. The bill is LD 1763, An Act to Authorize Certain Health Care Professionals Who Are Not Physicians to Perform Abortions, sponsored by Rep. Joyce McCreight on behalf of the Attorney General’s office. There has been no public hearing scheduled yet for this bill.

Governor LePage Says Farewell to Long-Time Chief of Staff, Welcomes Familiar Face to the Role

Governor LePage’s longtime Chief of Staff John McGough recently resigned to take a position with the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. His position has been filled by Holly Lusk, a familiar face in the Governor’s office. Ms. Lusk served as a policy aide for the Governor until 2015, when she left to work as a lobbyist. She returned to work for the Governor this past November to serve as his Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, and now is serving as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director.

Clean Elections Fund Needs Additional Money for 2018 Races

As candidates begin to enter the races for Governor and the Legislature, the Maine Ethics Commission estimates that up to $11 million may be required from the Maine Clean Election Fund to finance candidate races, but the Fund only has about $9.4 million available. With a large field of gubernatorial candidates and an uptick in legislative candidate recruiting, the current Fund will be stretched thin if candidates take advantage of most of the available monies. The Commission has submitted legislation asking for additional funding. The bill, LD 1780, titled An Act to Transfer Funds to the Maine Clean Election Fund to Provide Adequate Funding for Maine Clean Election Fund Candidates, has been referenced to the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, and would transfer $1.7 million before September 1, 2018 from the General Fund to the Maine Clean Election Fund. No public hearing has been scheduled yet for this bill.

Legislators Hear Reports on Workforce Development

Two task forces focused on building Maine’s workforce reported to the Legislature on Thursday, January 18, 2018. The Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development and the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs heard a presentation from the Task Force on Maine’s 21st Century Economy and Work Force. This Task Force, established by a joint order in the First Regular Session of the 128th Legislature, met six times last year prior to releasing a final report, which includes seven recommendations for alleviating Maine’s workforce crisis. The Task Force focused much of its attention on the nursing shortage, and the majority of its recommendations address that industry. But the Task Force also made a recommendation that it receive authorization through 2018 to allow it to focus on broader business and economic development workforce needs. Following that presentation, the Education Committee heard an update from the Computer Science Task Force, which was also established in the First Regular Session. This Task Force, led by Jason Judd, Program Director of Project>Login, presented strategies that would strengthen and expand computer science education in Maine’s K-12 public schools.