Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House 1.4.13

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House is a weekly update that provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. 

Legislature Reconvenes On January 8th

The Legislature’s first legislative day was December 5th, when members were sworn into office and various administrative matters were addressed. The Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on January 8th for its first day of regular business. General legislation will likely get off to a slow start, as bills start to come out of the Revisor’s Office for referral to legislative committees. Budget matters, including both a supplemental budget bill and the biennial budget bill, will, however, start progressing quickly.


The Legislature is largely organized, with committee assignments being announced in December. The presiding officers do, however, continue to work to create a Joint Select Committee to focus on workforce development and jobs issues.

The deadline for bill proposal submissions has been set for January 18th, giving legislators a bit more time than initially anticipated to come up with legislative proposals. This late cloture date may result in a large number of bills being submitted this legislative session.

Governor Issues $35.5 Million Curtailment Order

On January 27, 2012, Governor LePage issued a curtailment order reducing state spending by $35.5 million. The Governor is given the power to respond to anticipated budget shortfalls through curtailment orders, a power that has been used by various Administrations. These are temporary orders that can be made permanent or rejected by the Legislature through a supplemental budget bill.

This specific order reduces spending by $35.5 million, with many cuts scheduled to take place in the spring of 2013. A majority of the cuts come from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, Departments that account for close to 70 percent of the State’s budget. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is holding its first meeting of the 126th Legislature on January 4th to receive a briefing from the LePage Administration on the curtailment order. The Governor’s Office is expected to submit a supplemental budget bill early in January to balance the State’s budget for the current fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2013. This supplemental spending bill will address curtailed spending and additional issues, as the current budget is out of balance by significantly more than the $35.5 million in the curtailment order.

Governor’s Chief Energy Advisor Steps Down

This week, the Governor’s Office announced that the Director of the Governor’s Energy Office, Ken Fletcher, has stepped down from this position. Ken will be replaced by Patrick Woodcock, a former environment and energy policy advisor for Senator Olympia Snowe. Patrick is expected to start work on January 7th, just before the Legislature reconvenes. Patrick and Senator Richard Rosen, who recently took the helm at the Office of Policy and Management, may not be the only new faces within the Administration, as more job shuffling is likely at this halfway point in the Governor’s four-year term.

Maine’s Newest U.S. Senator Sworn into Office

On January 3, 2012, Maine’s newest U.S. Senator, Angus King, was sworn into office by Vice President Joe Biden. Senator King, an Independent, replaces retiring Senator Olympia Snowe in the United States Senate. Pierce Atwood’s Government Relations group Partner, Andrea C. Maker, travelled to our nation’s capital to witness the ceremony and to celebrate the swearing in with Senator King’s supporters and new Senate staff members.

Pictured (left to right): Scott Maker, Mary Herman, Andrea Maker, U.S. Senator Angus King.