Governor Paul LePage Signs Executive Order to Pay for Bills Passed in Second Regular Session of Legislature

Recently, Governor Paul LePage urged members of Maine’s legislative leadership to convene a special session of the 127th Legislature to take up funding for four bills that he claimed were passed unfunded during the Second Regular Session: LD 1465, Resolve, to Require the Department of Health and Human Services to Conduct a Study of Ambulance Services; LD 1552, An Act to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality Related to Injected Drugs; LD 1614, Resolve, To Provide Funding for the County Jail Operations Fund; and LD 1645, An Act to Address Employment Recruitment and Retention Issues at State Mental Health Institutions. Maine’s legislative leaders declined to hold a special session, asserting that the funding for the laws was provided. This week Governor LePage signed an executive order, which took effect on June 30, directing the Department of Health and Human Services to take actions to fund the laws through any of the following methods: “1) Transfer any remaining balances within the Low-Cost Drugs to Maine’s Elderly Program; 2) Transfer any funding that can be generated by a redistribution of a Fund for a Healthy Maine; and 3) Transfer any savings that can be created by actively managing personal services at State mental health institutions, which includes implementing a hiring freeze and other cost-saving measures Department-wide.”

Order of Ballot Questions Set

Following the approval of the wording for the ballot questions, on June 27 the Maine Secretary of State’s office released the order in which the five citizen-initiated referendum questions will appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot. Next, the Secretary’s office will compile a Citizens’ Guide to the 2016 election which will provide a brief description of the legislation behind each question. Determined by a random drawing, the questions will appear in the following order:

  • Question 1: An Act to Legalize Marijuana: “Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”
  • Question 2: An Act to Establish the Fund to Advance Public Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education: “Do you want to add a 3 percent tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education?”
  • Question 3: An Act to Require Background Checks for Gun Sales: “Do you want to require background checks prior to the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers, with failure to do so punishable by law, and with some exceptions for family members, hunting, self-defense, lawful competitions, and shooting range activities?”
  • Question 4: An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage: “Do you want to raise the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9 in 2017, with annual $1 increases up to $12 in 2020, and annual cost-of-living increases thereafter; and do you want to raise the direct wage for service workers who receive tips from half the minimum wage to $5 in 2017, with annual $1 increases until it reaches the adjusted minimum wage?”
  • Question 5: An Act to Establish Ranked-Choice Voting: “Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and to have ballots counted at the state level in multiple rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins majority?”

In addition to the five citizen-initiated questions above, there will be one request for a bond authorization on the November ballot:

  • An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Improve Highways, Bridges, and Multimodal Facilities: “Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities, equipment, and property acquisition related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds?”

Trump Rally in Bangor Draws 4,000

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made a campaign stop in Bangor on June 29. The rally, which took place at the Cross Insurance Arena, drew over 4,000 supporters and interested Mainers. Trump’s stop in Bangor indicates that he is likely hoping to split Maine’s two Electoral College votes and pick up the vote in the 2nd Congressional district. Maine has never split its vote before, but the 2nd district is considered more conservative and seen as a better chance for Trump than southern Maine, which historically votes Democrat in Presidential elections. At the rally, Trump railed against trade agreements that he says have “drained businesses out of Maine,” and promises to bring manufacturing jobs back by eliminating similar trade deals. Governor Paul LePage, who publicly endorsed Trump in February, attended the rally, but Maine’s other top Republicans, U.S. Senator Susan Collins and U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin reportedly did not attend.