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home : politics
October 23, 2017

Eye on Augusta: A Few of Maine's 436 New Laws
Maine State house in Augusta
Maine State house in Augusta
With all of the political drama in Augusta, it's easy to overlook what did get done during the past legislative session. The Legislature did pass 436 new laws, which the veto-happy governor (perhaps) jokingly claimed credit for: "The whole point of the vetoes is to get 2/3 of the Legislature to work together," LePage quipped . . .
Thursday, July 30, 2015

Eye on Augusta: Eves Files Civil Suit Against LePage Alleging Political Blackmail
Last week, House Speaker Mark Eves filed his long-awaited lawsuit in United States District Court against Gov. Paul LePage, alleging that the governor "intentionally broke federal law" by threatening to withhold over $500,000 in public funds to Good Will-Hinckley in order to force the firing of the Democratic . . .
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Constitutional Genius or "Clumsy, Bungling, Unknowledgeable Fool?"
This Friday, July 31, the Maine Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Gov. LePage's latest legal battle, which will determine the fate of 65 new laws. The controversy centers around the governor's decision not to veto 65 bills within the 10-day limit as required in Maine's Constitution. The bills, now law, include . . .
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Thursday, July 30, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Six Republicans Flip Votes as Legislature Fails to Override LePage's Veto of Bill to Prevent Hostage Taking of Voter-Approved Bonds
Last week six House Republicans changed their original votes and voted to sustain Governor LePage's veto of a bill that would have prohibited him from blocking the release of voter-approved bonds. The governor is currently refusing to release about $11.5 million in Land for Maine's Future (LMF) bonds, which . . .
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Grueling Legislative Session Adjourns, But Court Battles & Investigations Continue
Around 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, two select groups of lawmakers from the Maine House and Senate gathered to deliver their traditional separate messages to Gov. Paul LePage to inform him that both chambers of the Legislature had officially adjourned sine die ("without a day") until January. Senate Majority . . .
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Eye on Augusta: LePage's Veto Fiasco
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Governor's Epic Veto Blunder Could Allow GA for Asylum Seekers
In an astonishing executive SNAFU, it appears that Gov. Paul LePage has inadvertently allowed a bill to become law that will restore housing and food assistance to roughly 1,000 asylum seekers after he failed to veto 20 bills within the time limit required in the Maine Constitution. In a statement to the Bangor . . .
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Eye on Augusta: LePage Admits to Forcing Firing of House Speaker, Committee Votes to Investigate
Amid a firestorm of controversy over allegations of blackmail and abuse of power, the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to direct an independent agency to investigate charges that Gov. Paul LePage overstepped his executive authority in pressuring a school to fire House . . .
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Right to Die & "Nazi Vaccines" as Vetopalooza Continues
As Vetopalooza Grinds On This week, Gov. LePage vetoed 16 pieces of legislation that originally passed the two chambers with broad bipartisan support. The governor stated that three-quarters of the 16 vetoes were simply because they were Democrat-sponsored bills. On a dozen bills, the governor . . .
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Cuts Taxes, Ends Food & Shelter Support for Immigrants

(2 comments)

Thursday, June 18, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Poison Pen Letters, Vetopalooza and Other Crazy Augusta Happenings
In the midst of all of the recent drama in Augusta, last week Gov. Paul LePage took some time to talk to students at Brunswick Junior High School about bullying. "Have I ever bullied?" the Times Record quoted LePage in response to a student's pointed question. "Let's put it this way. I never bullied my family. . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Shutdown Looming Over Tax Breaks for the Wealthy, Food & Shelter for Asylum Seekers
It was well past midnight last Friday night when members of the Legislature's bipartisan Appropriations Committee took their final votes on the controversial two-year state budget. Republicans and Democrats had been working on the $6.6 billion spending package for 148 days, and they were getting a little punchy . . .
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Eye on Augusta: House and Senate Vote to Repeal Requirement for Permission to Carry Concealed Gun
The Maine Legislature has voted to repeal the requirement that gun owners apply for a permit to carry a concealed handgun, but LePage said on WVOM radio on Tuesday that he won't sign it because it requires the gun owners to be at least 21. He called the measure a "slap in the face" to veterans who are . . .
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Appropriations Committee Increases School Funding, Rejects Cuts to Asylum Seekers, Methadone & Senior Drug Programs
In a series of votes taken this week, the Legislature's Appropriations Committee voted for a substantial increase in school funding while rejecting a series of initiatives by the governor to cut coverage for opiate treatment, drug assistance programs for low-income seniors, and food and housing for legal non-citizens . . .
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Legislature to Vote on Whether to Drug Test Applicants for State Assistance
On Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans on the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee split 6 to 5 on a proposal by the LePage administration to require applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to submit to a drug screening to determine whether . . .
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Full Legislature to Vote on Standardized Testing, Income Tax Elimination
Committee Dumps SBACs, Splits on Test Opt-Out Bill This week, the Legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs Committee unanimously voted to scrap the controversial Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) standardized tests, following a backlash from parents and teachers. . . .
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Eye on Augusta: GOP "Timbernut" Plan Puts Republicans at Odds with Governor
During the 2014 campaign Gov. Paul LePage talked often about cutting the income tax, but he never said he would attempt to raise other taxes to pay for it. That's probably why Republican legislators, many of whom have signed strict "no new taxes" pledges, have been so quiet about the governor's ambitious plan to . . .
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Lawmakers & Law Enforcement Clash Over State's Drug Laws
As the costs of jails and prisons have skyrocketed in recent years, state legislatures across the country have increasingly been reevaluating their approach to sentencing non-violent drug offenders. Currently the Maine Legislature is considering LD 113, sponsored by Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta) . . .
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Maine "Ranked #1" in Cutting Food Assistance, Food Pantries Struggle Under the Strain
"Maine Leads Nation in Food Stamp Reduction," the Maine Department of Health and Human Services boasted in a press release last week. "New data from the Federal Nutrition Service shows that Maine ranked first in the nation for declines in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [or "food stamps"] dependency in . . ."
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Legislature to Consider Gun Law Repeal & Cutting Renewable Energy Investment
Last week, a legislative committee delivered a split vote on a bill that would allow Mainers 18 and over to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. On a party-line vote of 7-5, majority Democrats recommended against passage of LD 652, which is sponsored by Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Auburn). Gun rights groups like the . . .
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Corporate welfare - When Money Talks, Scrutiny Walks
During the 2014 governor's race, independent candidate Eliot Cutler tried in vain to make a campaign issue out of the state's foolish decision to approve a complex tax subsidy program aimed at propping up the dying Great Northern Paper mill in Millinocket. "[It's] corporate welfare and crony capitalism at its . . ."
(1 comments)

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Corporate Takeover of States' Public Tax Policy; Maine Joins Race for ALEC Rankings
"Now it's a full-out war on eliminating the income tax until the day I leave this office," announced Governor Paul LePage at his "Tax Day" press conference on April 15. It had been 13 weeks since the governor had sprung his massive tax overhaul on the Legislature, and his ambitious plan was slowly making its way . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, April 23, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Bills to Be Heard - GMO labeling is back, medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion, driving while stoned & more
GMO Labeling Returns Two years ago, after months of negotiations that led to a big compromise, Maine passed a bill that would require food producers who sell products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to label them. However, it came with several conditions. The GMO labeling law . . .
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Two Tax Plans, a Divided Legislature & an Unpredictable Governor
After months of debate over Governor LePage's proposed tax package, last week Democratic leaders came forward with a counterproposal they call "Our Better Deal for Maine." The move comes as the bipartisan Taxation Committee unanimously rejected the governor's proposed tax on land owned by large . . .
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Air BnB Bill Dying, Welfare Bills Resurrected & More
After a strong public turnout, a legislative committee unanimously rejected a measure to regulate short-term rentals. LD 436, sponsored by Sen. John Patrick (D-Rumford), would have required renters who provide overnight occupancy to the public to be licensed by the state. The bill was targeted at online rental sites . . .
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Eye on Augusta: In Augusta: bills being considered - OUIs, E-Cigs, Pot on School Grounds, Waste-to-Energy & More
Cutting Off Emergency Food & Shelter for the Needy Republican Sen. Eric Brakey, who is also co-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, has submitted several bills to make it as difficult as possible to get General Assistance. GA is a municipally administered program that provides emergency . . .
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Committee Rejects Nonprofit Tax & Revenue Sharing Cuts, Split on Income Tax & Sales Tax Changes
This week, the Legislature's bipartisan Taxation Committee unanimously rejected several of the governor's tax proposals, but split over provisions to raise the sales tax to reduce income taxes. The committee unanimously voted down the governor's proposed tax on land owned by nonprofit organizations . . .
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Budget Talks Continue, LePage Threatens to "Rip 'em a New One"
Keeping up with all of the hijinx that happen when you take a short break from Maine politics can be pretty overwhelming. Since I headed off to Taiwan a little over two weeks ago, I've missed: The big feud between Governor LePage and horror writer Stephen King over the governor's false allegations that King . . .
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Public Hearings in Augusta for the Week of March 23
Clergy Sexual Relations Legislation - On March 23, the Criminal Justice Committee will hear a proposal that would make it illegal for clergy members to have sexual contact with any individual to whom they offer "private counseling, religious or spiritual advice, aid or comfort." Under Maine law, it's illegal for a psychiatrist, a psychologist or . . .
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Growing Dissent in the GOP Over Governor's Tax Proposals
Last week, the Legislature's powerful Appropriations Committee finally wrapped up public hearings on Governor LePage's controversial $6.5 billion budget, which would dramatically revise the tax code for the first time in nearly 50 years. And as the divided Legislature prepares to negotiate his proposal, the governor has . . .
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Eye on Augusta: LePage Budget Threatens to Cut Off Food and Shelter for Legal Non-Citizen Families
"My wife and I came here from Congo. In Congo I was a judge," said Vincent Mwamba, 70, through an interpreter to the Legislature's Appropriations Committee last week. "The government ordered me to convict an innocent man. When they found out I was opposed to their order, they sent agents to my home . . .
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Public Reacts to Proposed Cuts for Addiction Treatment & Drugs for the Elderly
Two weeks ago, doctors, elder care advocates, mental health experts and addiction specialists went to Augusta to present testimony opposing the governor's plan to cut coverage for opiate treatment, as well as drug assistance programs for low-income seniors. The LePage administration's . . .
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Gov. LePage Goes After Portland for Sheltering Homeless People with Money in the Bank
The mercury had plunged to well below zero as 282 homeless people lined up at the Oxford Street Shelter in Portland last month for a chance to sleep on one of 142 mats on the floor of a crowded room full of strangers. For Preble Street Executive Director Mark Swann, one of his greatest fears is having to turn anyone . . .
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Domestic Violence, Bottled Water Tax, Raw Milk, Fireworks & More
The marathon of hearings on the Governor's budget continued this week as the Legislature's Appropriations Committee heard several hours of emotional public testimony on a series of proposals to cut emergency food and housing for legal asylum seekers and reduce state General Assistance reimbursements to large . . .
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Maine's "Tax Flight" Debate
"We're losing too many good residents, we're losing their asset base," Governor LePage told an audience in Westbrook on February 11. "But more importantly, what no one discusses, is we lose their intellectual properties, their intellectual values to our state. They have the wisdom. . . .
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Revisiting Charters, Mining, Elections, Seatbelts, Cell Phones, Hemp & More -
With all the brouhaha over the governor's budget and tax package, it's been easy to forget about the over 1,500 bills that have been submitted this session, and up until this week there hasn't been much to write home about - unless you want to count a proposal to make . . .
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Eye on Augusta: DHHS Budget "Dials Back" on Food, Housing, Health Care for One Group of People to Give to Another
It's often said that budgets are moral documents that reflect the values of the politicians who create them. One line in a 700-page budget can determine whether a family receives food and shelter, a disabled person is cared for properly, a sick person gets the medical treatment they need, or well-off people . . .
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Rural Maine, Urban Maine and the New World Order
"The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms-he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization," wrote the historian Richard Hofstadter in his influential 1964 essay . . .
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Eye on Augusta: Midcoast Legislators Throw Their Ideas into the Hat for 2015
Now that the holidays are behind us, a new Legislature is off and running, with a whole boatload of bills to consider. With power divided between majority Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House, it's not likely that many progressive bills will make it to the governor's desk, but the divided . . .
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Eye on Augusta: The Governor's 2015 Agenda; Welfare, Energy and "Right to Work"
This week, as Republican Governor Paul LePage was inaugurated for his second term in office, there was no question what his four main priorities would be: cutting aid to the poor (aka: "welfare reform"), eliminating renewable energy subsidies (aka: "lowering energy costs"), cutting taxes for the wealthy and . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, January 8, 2015
Eye on Augusta: The Mystery of the 21 Phantom Ballots Solved, Democrat Wins Senate District 25 in Recounted Recount
After weeks of incendiary partisan rhetoric and unfounded accusations of ballot stuffing, the "Mystery of the 21 Phantom Ballots" in Senate District 25 came to its dramatic conclusion on Tuesday, December 9, before a special Senate Committee. In the end it was all a simple case of human error - they double . . .
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Eye on Augusta:Senate Seats Manchester Amidst "Phantom Ballot" Controversy
In a rare move Wednesday, the GOP-led Maine Senate voted 20-14 along party lines to provisionally seat Republican Cathleen Manchester of Gray following a still-contested race for Senate District 25. The decision came despite a recommendation from Secretary of State Matt Dunlap that the Senate seat . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, December 4, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Feds to Maine: Stop Telling People They Need a Photo ID to Receive Food
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is threatening to withhold Maine funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food to approximately 19 percent of the state, due to the LePage administration's policy of pressuring recipients to have their photo put on . . .
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Is Maine Just Turning Older, Meaner and More Set in Its Ways?
Another year and another cycle of media reports sounding the alarm that Maine is plunging headlong into a long, cold, demographic winter of poverty and misery. Last week, State Economist Amanda Rector delivered the annual Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission report, which once again . . .
(5 comments)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Court Blocks Gov.'s Attempt to Cut Health Care for Young Adults, LePage Vows to Take It to Supreme Court
On Monday, the First Circuit Court of Appeals smacked down an attempt by the LePage administration to eliminate health care coverage for 6,000 low-income 19- and 20-year-olds. The following day, Gov. LePage vowed to take the fight to the Supreme Court. In a decision delivered by Chief Judge Sandra . . .
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Commission Approves Second For-Profit Charter School
Last week, the Maine Charter School Commission (MCSC) voted 6-1 to enter into contract negotiations with a controversial online "virtual charter school" co-founded by former banker Ronald J. Packard and convicted junk bond trader Michael Milken. The Maine Virtual Academy (MEVA), which will contract for its . . .
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Digging Our Way Out by Cutting Taxes, Welfare & Renewable Energy Investments
When Gov. Paul LePage and a Republican-majority Legislature were voted into power in 2010, it was the first time that the GOP gained complete control of Augusta since 1966. During those first two years, Republicans went full-speed ahead with a conservative agenda to deliver the largest tax cut in Maine history . . .
(4 comments)

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Eye on Augusta: An Election Reflection in an Age of Denial
Election night felt eerily familiar as the Knox County Republicans and Democrats huddled around TV sets, impatiently awaiting the returns at their respective headquarters in Harbor Plaza and the Speakeasy in Rockland. Four years ago, when Gov. Paul LePage rode a Tea Party wave to Augusta, Democrats dismissed . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, November 6, 2014
Eye on Augusta: The Midcoast Is a Battleground Between the "Two Maines"

(1 comments)

Thursday, November 6, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Democrats & Allies Spending Liberally in Local Legislative Races
When I left the Maine Legislature in 2012, it was a bittersweet departure. I knew I was going to miss the public policy work, helping constituents and my friends of all political persuasions in Augusta. But one thing I have never longed for is the campaign, particularly that final, grueling week before the election. . . .
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Petition Drive Under Way on Two Citizen Initiatives to Curb Big Money in Politics
Harvard legal scholar and activist Lawrence Lessig wrote in his 2011 book, "Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress - and a Plan to Stop It," that practically every important issue in American politics today is tied to one issue: campaign finance reform. As a series of Supreme Court decisions has gradually . . .
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Eye on Augusta: The Silly Season Has Arrived, Full Force
As I opened my email last Friday morning, I was reminded of Gov. Paul LePage's warning delivered at a forum last March in Hallowell: "This is going to be one hellacious campaign," LePage told the audience. "It is going to be the hate campaign of all campaigns." And there on an emailed press release . . .
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Big Money, Spoiler Label & Other Challenges for Independent Candidates
"So, I just wanted to let you know that I exist," said Owen Casas in the doorway of a Camden home as he concluded his campaign pitch for the Maine House of Representatives one hot August morning. Getting name recognition has been one of the biggest challenges for the 30-year-old stone worker as he canvasses . . .
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Waldo CAP Takes Reins from Troubled Ride Broker
"When you're talking to MaineCare members, you're talking to a population that has some struggles," said Keith Small, Waldo Community Action Partners (CAP)'s executive director. "They're low income in order to be eligible for MaineCare and they're obviously going to health appointments, so they have some health issues." . . .
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Midcoast Legislative Races Are On
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Eye on Augusta: New Drug-Testing Rule Change Escalates the Wars on Drugs and the Poor
Last week Governor Paul LePage announced his intent to finally enforce a three-year-old law that requires drug tests to be conducted on convicted drug felons who apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The law was originally passed as a compromise between Republicans and . . .
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Maine PUC to Consider Up to $75 Million Per Year Subsidy for Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion
This week the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will take up a controversial proposal that would give the commission the authority to charge electricity and natural gas customers in Maine up to $75 million per year for the expansion of natural gas pipeline into the state. . . .
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Eye on Augusta: "As Maine Went" Documents Maine's Shift to the Political Fringe
Four years ago, as a grassroots conservative movement swept through Maine, a newcomer on the statewide political scene rode a Tea Party wave straight to the Blaine House. From telling the NAACP to kiss his butt and declaring that President Obama hates white people to comparing the Internal Revenue . . .
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Eye on Augusta: MMA Files Suit Over LePage's Ban on GA for Undocumented Immigrants
Last week Maine Municipal Association filed a "petition for review" in Cumberland County Superior Court to clarify confusion resulting from Gov. LePage's mandate to municipalities to deny general assistance to undocumented immigrants. The MMA, which represents 487 towns and cities . . .
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Eye on Augusta: CMP Withdraws Controversial Rate Hike on Solar to Raise Rates on Everyone
A controversial proposal by Central Maine Power to raise monthly charges on homes and businesses that produce their own power, such as wind and solar users, has been withdrawn by the company. Instead, the Spanish-owned power company will request a standard rate hike of about $3 a month . . .
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Eye on Augusta: DHHS Cancels Million-Dollar Contract with Embattled Consultant Amidst "LePlagiarism" Scandal
After several weeks of withering criticism over allegations of rampant plagiarism, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced last Friday that it has cancelled its contract with controversial conservative consultant Gary Alexander of the Alexander Group. . . .
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Attorney General Rejects Governor's Plan to Cut Emergency Benefits for Refugees
Last week the Maine Attorney General's Office announced that it would not approve a proposal by the LePage administration to deny emergency assistance to asylum seekers and other immigrants on the grounds that the proposed rule change is unconstitutional and an unfunded mandate on cities and towns. . . .
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Eye on Augusta: State Regulators Recommend $50,000 Fine Against Anti-Gay Marriage Group
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Clean Elections Advocacy Group Launches Petition
Last week Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE) announced its plan to put a new referendum on the ballot next year that would provide more public funding for Clean Elections candidates, require interest groups spending money on campaigns to disclose their donors, and increase penalties . . .
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Eye on Augusta: A Few Notable Bills Made It Through This Session to Become Law
With all of the attention on governor's vetoes and political gridlock in Augusta during the final weeks of the legislative session, it was easy to overlook that a number of initiatives did become law. The following are a few bills that made it through the gauntlet. . . .
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Midcoast Legislators Reflect on Successes and Disappointments
During this past session the bitter partisanship hung so thick in the halls of the State House, it was like swimming through mud. And with another election on the horizon, voters probably won't be able to turn on a TV without hearing about welfare cheats, the "war on women" and "job-killing liberal politicians." . . .
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Eye on Augusta: The Aftermath of Veto Day in Augusta

(1 comments)

Thursday, May 8, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Waldo CAP to Take Over Complaint-Ridden MaineCare Ride Program
Last week the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that it has chosen non-profit Waldo County Community Action Partners to broker non-emergency transportation for Waldo, Knox and Lincoln counties, replacing problem-plagued ride broker Coordinated Transportation Solutions (CTS). . . .
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Approves $50 Million Bond Package
Last Thursday, April 17, the Maine Legislature gave strong support to $50 million in bonds for six separate initiatives including small business loan financing, research and development, and clean water infrastructure projects. The borrowing package received two-thirds support from the Legislature . . .
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Recesses; Will Return for 2nd Annual "Veto Day"
Late into the night on Thursday, April 17, with empty pizza boxes stacked high in the hallways and all of the bills sent to the governor's desk, the bleary-eyed members of Maine's citizen Legislature headed back home to their regular lives. But with already nine more vetoes to reconsider . . .
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Passes Bipartisan Supplemental Budget, LePage Miffed
As the Legislature enters the final stretch in what has been a hyper-partisan session during a bitter campaign season, passing a budget with near unanimous bipartisan support is no small feat. This week, the Maine House and Senate did just that, in spite of Gov. LePage's vows to force them back . . .
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Upholds LePage's Medicaid Expansion Veto
Last week, by a vote of 22-13, the Maine Senate upheld a veto by Gov. LePage that prevents the state from accepting nearly $1 billion in federal funds to provide health care coverage for about 70,000 low-income people. LD 1487, sponsored by Assistant Republican Leader Roger Katz (Kennebec) and . . .
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Eye on Augusta: House Overrides, Senate Upholds LePage's Solar Veto
Maine's Legislature failed to come up with enough votes to override Governor LePage's veto of a bill to reinstate a rebate program for solar power installations, which ran out of money last year. Although the House overrode the governor's veto 105-41, the Senate's vote, 22-13 . . .
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Local Legislative Races Are Shaping Up
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Welfare Dependency and the 2014 Campaign
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Considers Funding Model for Virtual Schools
Any day now, Maine's Legislature is expected to take up a measure to create a separate funding model for full-time virtual schools, which are Internet platforms that allow children to attend school full-time from their home computers. LD 1617, sponsored by committee chair Rep. Bruce MacDonald . . .
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Passes Gov's Rainy-Day Bill & 2014 Budget Fix
On Friday, March 21, Maine's Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan measure to fix a $40-million hole in the current fiscal year budget by a vote of 121 to 6 in the House and 33 to 1 in the Senate. The Legislature also gave near-unanimous support to a bill submitted by Governor LePage . . .
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Passes Solar Rebates, Rejects Mining Rules, Fails to Override Veto of Virtual Schools Moratorium
With the Legislature's statutory adjournment less than a month away, legislators have already shifted into campaign mode for November's election. PR flacks are working overtime to out-message the other side. Although there are rules that restrict partisan staffers from campaigning on the taxpayer's dime . . .
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Medicaid Expansion Passes House - One Vote Short of Veto-Proof
For the third time in a year, on Tuesday, March 18, the Maine House of Representatives passed a measure - by a vote of 97 to 49 - to accept nearly $1 billion in federal funds over the next two and a half years to provide health care coverage to about 70,000 low-income individuals . . .
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Deceitful Medicaid "Alternatives" Not Helpful to the Poor
There is no question that Medicaid expansion is the most ideologically driven, partisan debate going on in the Maine Legislature. If you've been following it at all, you're probably dizzy from all the political spin, not to mention the usually contradictory numbers and studies cited by one and all . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Veto of Sen. Johnson's Bill to Regulate Fireworks Use Upheld
In a party-line vote on Wednesday, March 12, the Democratic-led Maine Senate failed to override a veto by Republican Governor Paul LePage of a bill that would have more tightly regulated the use of consumer fireworks in Maine. LD 168, sponsored by Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln County) . . .
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Medicaid Expansion Falls Short of Veto-Proof Majority in Maine Senate
On a largely party-line vote of 22-13 on Wednesday, March 12, the Maine Senate failed to achieve a veto-proof majority on a measure to accept over $300 million in federal funding to provide health care coverage for up to 70,000 low-income Mainers. Senate Republicans rejected a compromise . . .
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Continues Work to Fill Budget Holes, Governor Blasts Proposals
Last week, as members of the Legislature's Appropriations Committee held hearings on ways to fill a $90 million hole in the 2014-2015 budget, Governor LePage defended his decision to not participate in the process. In a March 4 press conference, the governor said that although his proposal . . .
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Medicaid Expansion Clears First Hurdle
On a straight party-line vote of 7-5, Democratic members of the Health and Human Services Committee endorsed an amended proposal to accept over $300 million in federal funding to provide health care coverage for up to 70,000 low-income Mainers. Democrats are hoping the compromise . . .
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Medicaid Expansion Clears First Hurdle
On a straight party-line vote of 7-5, Democratic members of the Health and Human Services Committee endorsed an amended proposal to accept over $300 million in federal funding to provide health care coverage for up to 70,000 low-income Mainers. . . .
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Republican Leader Proposes Medicaid Expansion Compromise
Earlier this week Assistant Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz (Kennebec County) and Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin County) unveiled an amendment to a Democratic bill that would expand Medicaid coverage to 70,000 low-income Mainers. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government . . .
(1 comments)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Overrides LePage Veto of Bill to Feed Hungry Children
With a handful of Republicans crossing the aisle, the Democratic-led Legislature managed to override the veto of a bill to prevent child hunger on Thursday, February 13. LD 1353, sponsored by Senate President Justin Alfond, requires school districts with over 50 percent of the children . . .
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Eye on Augusta: House & Senate Approve Bill to Prevent Further Municipal Cuts and Property Tax Increases
On Thursday, February 13, the House and Senate gave final approval to a bill to prevent a further $40 million cut in funding to towns and cities. Thursday's final vote was unanimous in the Senate; 120-17 in the House.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Two Virtual Schools Move Forward, Early Voting Fails
This week the Maine Charter School Commission held public hearings for two so-called "virtual schools" after voting unanimously to advance the applications of Maine Connections Academy and Maine Virtual Academy. In 2011, Maine became the 41st state in the country to allow charter schools . . .
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Solar Energy Bills Stir Debate Over Maine's Energy Future
Maine is falling behind the rest of the region in solar investment was the message from environmental groups and renewable power industry representatives testifying last week at a hearing on a bill that would encourage the use of solar power. . . .
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Thursday, January 30, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Redefining "Welfare" - Town officials and businesses spar over tax revenues
Promoting the general welfare of the people was once heralded as one of the main objectives of this democratic republic. The term "welfare" appears in the preambles of both the U.S. and the Maine Constitutions, but these days political rhetoric works overtime to equate the term with lazy, irresponsible, undeserving. . . .
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Considers Student Debt Legislation
In recent years it's become increasingly clear that higher education is becoming unaffordable to a great number of Americans. In 2013, outstanding student debt exceeded $1 trillion, while the share of student loans delinquent longer than 90 days rose to 11.8 percent . . .
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Momentum Builds for Accepting Medicaid Expansion Money
Last Wednesday, January 15, several dozen citizens, advocates for the poor and disabled, medical professionals and hospital representatives came to Augusta to support a second attempt to accept over $300 million from the federal government to provide health care coverage for up to 70,000 low-income Mainers. . . .
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Eye on Augusta: DHHS Will Not Renew Contract with Controversial Ride Broker, Gov. Signs GMO Labeling Law
The Office of MaineCare services has decided not to renew its contracts with Connecticut-based Coordinated Transportation Solutions (CTS), which is being paid to serve as dispatcher for non-emergency rides to medical appointments, when the contracts expire on June 30. . . .
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Eye on Augusta: As the Legislature returns - Medicaid Expansion, Ocean Acidification, Pesticides, Pensions & More
Now that the Legislature is back in session, the policy scuffles are proceeding in earnest. While the first session went until July, the second regular session of a legislative term generally adjourns sometime in early April. And with Republican Governor Paul LePage and the Democratic-led Legislature . . .
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Proposal to Mitigate Electromagnetic Fields from Powerlines Sparks Debate
It's been three years since Central Maine Power started work on the Maine Power Reliability Program, a five-year, $1.4 billion upgrade of the existing electrical system, constructing and rebuilding nearly 440 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and substations through 75 communities . . .
(2 comments)

Thursday, January 2, 2014
Eye on Augusta: Legislature Returns, Single-Payer Health Care & Asylum Seekers
With all of the hubbub over the governor's gag orders, tax reform and turmoil in the Department of Health and Human Services, it's easy to forget that the Legislature has been recessed since last summer. But next week the full Legislature will return for another round of budget and policy wrangling. . . .
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Thursday, January 2, 2014
Temporary Assistance from Needy Families
Since his election in 2010, Gov. Paul LePage has made no bones about his laser focus on routing out welfare fraud and cutting funding to assistance programs for the poor. During his first term, the governor capped the time families with children can receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families . . .
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Eye on Augusta: MaineCare Ride Problems Continue as New Broker Asks for More Money
This past August, DHHS began working with new "broker" companies, which are now charged with arranging rides for MaineCare patients to appointments - the brokers don't provide the transportation, they just set up the trips with the transportation providers. The letter that DHHS sent out . . .
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Eye on Augusta: Governor's "Gag Order" Grinds Gears of Government
Last week members of the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee took a special trip to Augusta to vote on a proposal to allow Maine's forest rangers to carry firearms. But when committee co-chair Rep. Mark Dion (D-Portland) asked whether there was anyone . . .
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Eye on Augusta: Rep. Dion talks to empty chair - Governor's "Gag Order" Grinds Gears of Government
Last week members of the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee took a special trip to Augusta to vote on a proposal to allow Maine's forest rangers to carry firearms. But when committee co-chair Rep. Mark Dion (D-Portland) asked whether there was anyone . . .
(1 comments)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013



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