Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House 9.7.12

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 a member of our Government Relations Practice Group.

Senate Holds Confirmation Session

On September 6, 2012, the Maine Senate held a confirmation session to confirm a number of gubernatorial nominations.  Throughout this week, various Committees held confirmation hearings on 72 nominees named by Governor LePage.  This included the confirmation of two cabinet-level Commissioners, Jeanne Paquette as Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Colonel James Campbell as Adjutant General and Commissioner of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.  Other notable confirmations include:

  • Robert Martin as Director of the Maine Technology Institute
  • John Gallagher as the Director of the Maine State Housing Authority
  • Three new members of the Maine Board of Tax Appeals
  • Eleven judicial nominations, with Judges and Justices at every level of the State Judiciary

In total, Governor LePage put forth 72 nominations, with 70 of those requiring a vote of the full Senate and two just requiring Committee confirmation.  Though a handful of nominations were controversial, all nominees were confirmed.

Reductions in MaineCare Enrollment End up in Court

A budget bill that passed the Legislature at the end of the most recent session contained language that would reduce the number of people eligible for MaineCare.  The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is now working to implement this directive, requiring a State Plan Amendment to be approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”).  It is uncertain if the Amendment will be approved due to maintenance of effort requirements found in the federal Affordable Care Act.

On August 1, 2012, Governor LePage wrote to CMS to request expedited review of the State Plan Amendment so that assumed budget savings could go into effect as planned.  On August 31, 2012, CMS responded saying that under federal regulations, it has 90 days to review this Amendment and will work toward a prompt decision.  That letter prompted the State of Maine, through the Attorney General’s Office, to petition the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals to review CMS’s failure to perform an expedited view, seeking costs for any delay past October 1, 2012, when these changes were assumed to take effect.  On September 7, 2012, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee received a briefing regarding the progress of this matter and the decision to seek judicial relief. 

Pierce Atwood Hosts a Discussion with U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins

On September 5, 2012, Pierce Atwood hosted United States Senator Susan Collins at its Portland offices for a discussion on federal issues affecting Maine and the nation.  More than 50 representatives from various businesses and organizations attended the event, which is part of the firm’s on-going Inside Policy Series.  Senator Collins discussed several key issues facing Congress, such as tax reform, reducing the federal debt, and providing for adequate cybersecurity, as well as the importance of legislating in a bipartisan manner.