Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House.  If you would like more specific information regarding an item in this newsletter or related to government relations, please contact Andrea Cianchette Maker.

Governor LePage Takes Tax Package on the Road 

By far, the most discussed piece of legislation before the Maine Legislature thus far in the session is the tax reform components the Governor’s biennial budget proposal.  This tax package has garnered state-wide and national attention, given the aggressive reforms proposed.   

On February 11th, Governor LePage held a town hall meeting in Westbrook to answer questions from the public regarding his tax package.  This event drew about 300 participants and was an opportunity for the public to ask the Governor questions about his proposal.  The Governor fielded questions for about an hour on almost all elements of the package from municipal revenue sharing to tax protections for the elderly to the income tax.  The Governor is clearly passionate about this plan and he came ready to explain the proposal as he sees it.   

Legislature Enacts First Bill of the Session 

On February 12th, the House and Senate completed action on LD 138, legislation to conform Maine’s tax code to recent changes enacted by Congress to the federal tax code.  Tax conformity legislation is normally a routine matter before the Legislature, but some objected to language in LD 138 related to bonus depreciation, which provides incentives for new business equipment placed into service.  On February 10th, the Appropriations Committee voted unanimously in support of this bill, which retained the bonus depreciation language, and the bill was quickly moved through the House and Senate, making it the first bill enacted during the 127th Legislature.  LD 138 was expedited in order to get the provisions of this bill in place before the upcoming tax season.    

Another Nomination Complete 

On February 12th, the Maine Senate unanimously confirmed Joseph Fitzpatrick’s nomination by Governor LePage to serve as the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections.  Dr. Fitzpatrick has worked for the Department of Corrections for over 20 years, serving in a number of roles at the Department, including Acting Commissioner for a number of months.   

Legislature at Recess Next Week 

During the week of February 16th, the Maine State Legislature will be at recess.  The House and Senate will not hold session days and legislative committees will not meet.  There is one notable exception, however.  The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Taxation Committee will be meeting jointly on February 17th, 18th and 19th to begin the process of hearing from the public regarding the Governor’s biennial budget proposal.  These Committees are starting with the most complex portion of the budget first and will be hearing the public’s reaction to the Governor’s tax package.  This will begin the weeks-long process of holding public hearings on the biennial budget.