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 a member of our Government Relations Practice Group: John Delahanty, Andrea Cianchette Maker, or Avery Day.
Committee Assignments Announced
On December 23rd, the President of the Senate, Mike Thibodeau, and the Speaker of the House, Mark Eves, announced committee assignments for the 127th Legislature. There are significant changes to the composition of each committee due to the number of new legislators elected in November and due to the fact that Republicans gained control of the Maine Senate, resulting in a new slate of Senate committee Chairs. Due to gains in the House, Republicans will hold a majority of seats on the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; and Marine Resources Committees, while Democrats will retain majorities on the thirteen remaining joint standing committees of the Maine Legislature.
Cloture Fast Approaching
The deadline for legislators to submit new bills for the 127th Legislature, known as cloture, falls on January 2nd at 4:00 P.M. If you have questions regarding requesting the introduction of legislation during the 127th Legislature, please contact us for more information.
Legislative Agenda Taking Shape
Governor LePage appears to have a very aggressive agenda heading into the 127th Legislature. Some hints as to what issues the Administration will make a priority were disclosed when a list of agency bill titles were made available earlier this month. The Governor will fully articulate his agenda during his annual State of the State address at the end of January. Before that address, however, the Governor will submit his biennial budget proposal to the Legislature by the January 9th deadline. Many policy positions are necessarily taken based on taxing and spending decisions found in the biennial budget.
The Governor’s agenda is wide-ranging and has the theme of “prosperity, not poverty.” The Governor has indicated his proposals will likely touch on welfare reform; broad tax reform (with a focus on reducing/eliminating Maine’s income tax); lowering energy prices; expediting the Judicial Branch’s civil docket; education reform; addressing student debt; and reducing the size of government in Maine.
Senate President Mike Thibodeau and Republicans in the Legislature may closely align with the Governor’s agenda. President Thibodeau has highlighted the need for welfare reform, including supporting welfare to work initiatives, and reducing energy prices. Additionally, he has discussed the time and attention by the Legislature that is required to enact a biennial budget. Speaker of the House Mark Eves has said that Democrats in the Legislature are focused on jobs and the economy. This focus includes continued efforts aimed at addressing workforce development needs in Maine. Also a priority for the Speaker is his initiative to support seniors “aging in place” through bonding for affordable housing for seniors and other proposals aimed at assisting this segment of Maine’s population.