AUGUSTA -- The Maine House on Wednesday voted for a measure to give a much-needed boost to the minimum wage, which stands at $7.50 an hour and has remained at that level since 2009.
AUGUSTA -- Health care providers serving in the Legislature and from the Maine Medical Association strongly endorsed a bill that would allow Maine to accept federal health care dollars to cover more Maine people.
AUGUSTA -- Democratic lawmakers on the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee said Monday they shared the concerns parents and students expressed during a public hearing on Gov. Paul LePage’s budget cuts to education. Students, parents, teachers, and community leaders testified in opposition to the cuts and spoke in favor of fairer tax alternatives.
Augusta - Legislators take up a bill to reform the Clean Elections system and to cap PAC contributions for all candidates...again.
Rep. Justin Chenette has introduced LD 410 an act to revise the Maine Clean Election Act regarding participation in political action committees. This bill would prohibit a certified candidate under the Maine Clean Election Act from establishing a political action committee for which the candidate is a principal officer, fundraiser or decision maker. Then-Rep. Linda Valentino introduced similar legislation last session where it ended up being a divided minority report out of committee and failed in the House.
Chenette might seem like an unlikely advocate for Clean Elections as he himself was a traditionally financed candidate accepting no tax dollars to run his campaign. “I will not sign my name to a program that has blatant back-door loopholes that allow individuals to create an entire network of completely legal fraud,” says Rep. Chenette.
The bill would directly impact candidates for leadership in the House and the Senate who often have PACs on the side to fundraise to help boost their chances of securing those positions. Between 2010 and 2011, there were 13 Republicans and 21 Democrats who were Clean Candidates in their own right, while raising a combined $978,501 in PAC money.
“When candidates double dip by accepting money from two hands at the same time, we are creating generations of dirty politicians or at the very least creating a very negative public perception of the campaign finance process,” says Rep. Chenette.
During the public hearing, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections opposed the bill citing a lack of reform for PACs of traditionally financed candidates in the bill. After several meetings and negotiations, Rep. Chenette and the advocacy group compromised on a final piece of legislation that both sides can support.
This newly amended bill leaves in the previous language regarding Clean Elections candidates while adding language to ensure that any state legislator or candidate for legislator could not raise more than $350 from any one source into PACs with which they are affiliated.
“This bill with the proposed amendment, would allow us to further reduce potential corruption and the appearance of corruption in our campaign finance system,” says Andrew Bossie, Executive Director for the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.
LD 410 will be decided on in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee Friday March 15th at 10am in room 437 before it heads to the floor. Committee members could choose to move ought to pass as is, pass with amendment, or move not to pass.
To view the full language of the bill and supporting documents visit http://www.justinchenette.com/7/post/2013/03/pacreform.html.
AUGUSTA -- Democratic leaders on Friday denounced Governor Paul LePage's threat to halt the work of the Legislature by abusing his veto power and shutting down state government until his hospital repayment plan becomes law.
"In one week we've heard ongoing threats to shutdown state government if Republicans don’t get what they want. Today, the Governor promised to veto every bill that comes across his desk if he doesn't get what he wants. This is not governing. This is not leadership. It is the type of political gamesmanship that doesn't belong here in Maine,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “I suspect the people of Maine want leaders not schoolyard bullies. We have serious challenges facing our economy and we should be focused on finding solutions not making threats."
During a radio appearance early Friday morning, the Governor promised that he will veto all bills that cross his desk until the Legislature passes his borrowing scheme to make the final payment to Maine hospitals. Republicans have failed to acknowledge that the hospital debt has been continuously and increasingly paid back, thanks largely to a plan developed by Democrats. The Governor’s threat to shutdown state government follows Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette's prediction of a shutdown last week. "First, Republican leaders start throwing around the possibility of a state government shutdown and now the Governor is threatening to go on a veto spree. This type of brinksmanship is even worse than what we're seeing from the GOP in Washington. Maine people deserve better than this from their leaders," said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham.
Democrats are focused on legislation to strengthen Maine's workforce, public schools, and the middle class. The Governor is threatening those and other important efforts.
"The Governor is telling us it's his way or the highway. His obstructionist bullying will derail important legislation on domestic violence, public safety and economic development," said Assistant Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan. “We call on our Republican colleagues to reject such do-nothing politics.”
The LePage administration is pushing a convoluted plan that pulls the state's wholesale liquor business into a deal that would put Maine in debt to Wall Street to make the final payment to hospitals. The plan gambles the value of the liquor contract and is being used to hold hostage other bonds that already have approval from Maine voters.
“Today the Governor told the people of Maine that the hospitals are more important than they are. I disagree,” said Assistant Majority Leader Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash. “I think the people of Maine want lawmakers focused on getting folks back to work, earning more money and improving our schools.”
Maine has paid more than $3.7 billion to hospitals over the last decade.
Jackson added, “We need to get the best deal for Maine and that requires us working together. I think everyone agrees that ten years ago we rushed this deal and could’ve done better. Now, we cannot gamble the future of Maine because the Governor is having another temper tantrum.”
February 28, 2013
Attorney General's Office
Augusta, Me – Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills has agreed to sign on to two separate friend-of-the-court briefs that urge the U.S. Supreme Court strike down laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. Maine has joined an amicus brief, filed today, asking the Court to declare California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Maine has also signed on to a second amicus brief that will be filed tomorrow, urging the Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“Equal protection under the law is the bedrock on which America’s legal foundation is built,” said Attorney General Mills. “I am troubled by the notion that a state might declare that one group of Americans can be accorded the benefits of civil marriage, but another group of Americans is not. I was proud that Maine voters were the first to approve marriage equality at the ballot box last November and I am proud to join this effort to ensure that more people in America can have the freedom to marry whomever they choose. I hope the Supreme Court will grant all married couples the benefits of federal tax, retirement, social security and other benefits.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Proposition 8’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The amicus brief was filed today by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144). The brief contends that Proposition 8 does violate the Equal Protection Clause and that the Court should declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The case is scheduled for oral argument on March 26.
Proposition 8 amended the California state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. California voters approved the measure by ballot initiative in November 2008 after a California Supreme Court decision granting same-sex couples the right to marry. The amicus brief includes a total of 13 states and the District of Columbia. The state are: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The Attorney General of California filed a separate brief in support of equal marriage rights.
The brief refutes speculation offered by the proponents of Proposition 8 as to the negative effects of allowing same-sex couples to marry. The brief also argues that Proposition 8 actually harms families by denying the multitude of legal and social benefits of marriage to same-sex couples and their children.
The brief argues that “Proposition 8 deprives the children of same-sex couples of the benefits of being raised in a secure, protected family unit with two married parents. In doing so, it works against the states’ efforts to ‘strengthen the modern family in its many variations,” citing the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2003 decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Maine is also joining a brief to be filed Friday by Attorney General Coakley, along with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in the case of U.S. v. Windsor urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of all federal laws. That case has been scheduled for oral argument in the Supreme Court on March 27, 2013.
This amicus brief is being joined by at least 16 other states, including New York, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The case was brought by New York resident Edie Windsor, who was married in Canada in 2007 to her partner, Thea Spyer. Following Spyer’s death two years later, the federal government denied Windsor the estate tax exemption available to surviving spouses. Windsor filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA and seeking a refund of the estate taxes she was forced to pay as a result of the federal government’s refusal to recognize her marriage.
The amicus brief argues that DOMA is a significant departure from Congress’s more than 200 years of deference to all state marriage determinations and warrants closer review by the Supreme Court. In addition to highlighting many examples of DOMA undermining other federal laws by excluding protections to same-sex spouses, the brief contends that none of the arguments offered by those defending DOMA are legitimate bases for sustaining it.
“DOMA is an unwarranted intrusion into states’ rights and denies equal protection under the law,” said Attorney General Mills. “The State of Maine has declared that same sex couples have a right to civil marriage under the law and the federal government should not subject these people to discriminatory treatment.”