Veto Day in Maine

The Maine legislature will return for one day on May 2nd to deal with the hundred plus bills that were tabled when they adjourned in April.  Known as “veto day” it is not expected that many of the bills will be under serious consideration. Among the most significant issues that still have no solid answer or direction- bonds for roads, school security, rural broadband, school budgeting, tax conformity, Medicaid expansion and clean elections funding.  In addition to bills that have been tabled, enacting referendums that have passed are stalled as well. Referendums that passed in 2016 and 2017 have still not been implemented. Four members of the Independent caucus signed an op/ed in support of one of the referendums that passed with a large margin, Ranked Choice Voting which would make Maine the first in the nation to use it statewide.

In late April, some members of the Independent caucus joined forces to present a tax conformity package that addressed concerns from business and at the same time presented an opportunity to fund the Medicaid expansion.  Maine Public Radio characterized this as an opportunity to open the door for dialogue on a serious issue, that if delayed could significantly impact the new legislature when it convenes in January 2019. MPBN senior reporter Mal Leary reported on the independent tax conformity plan.  The press conference was streamed live on Facebook and was featured in the northern Maine local newspaper The Observer.

Overall, the media gave legislators poor remarks for the partisan stalemate that has become symbolic of the war between the parties. The Portland Press Herald called the partisan stalemate a speed bump.  The Bangor Daily News pointed out that the majority of energy in the legislature was spent on fighting.   

All seats in both the House and the Senate are up for grabs it remains to be seen if the inertia of this legislature will mean a change in who holds those seats in the next session.

Rep. Martin Grohman introduces Governor’s bill for student loan relief

For Immediate Release
March 15, 2018

(Augusta, Me.) –  Independent State Representative Martin Grohman of Biddeford will introduce a Governor’s bill later today that will provide significant debt relief for students and work towards retaining young people in Maine.  LD 1834 is "An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide for Student Loan Debt Relief”.  Rep. Grohman said, “This approach would give Maine businesses a powerful tool to attract and retain in the state recent college graduates.”

According to the Project on Student Debt, the average student loan indebtedness for a Mainer is $31,295.  This ranks Maine as eighth-highest in the nation. 

Grohman said, “This is a critical problem and it’s getting worse. That’s why, together with Governor Paul LePage, I am proposing legislation that would authorize a $50 million general obligation bond to offer zero percent student loans, as well as loan refinancing. This is not loan forgiveness, and eligibility would be tied to living and working in Maine. But if you are from another state and move here to live and work, you would be eligible for the loan consolidation-refinancing portion of the plan. The program would be administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to implement this bold plan as soon as possible.”

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Contact:  Crystal Canney
207.615.5968

Associated Press: Maine House makes room for more independent lawmakers

Originally published December 26, 2017 at 2:15 pm
By Marina Villeneuve
The Associated Press

"A small but growing number of independent state lawmakers who have weakened Democrats’ hold on the House hope to promote compromise as independents seek to gain ground nationally in 2018.

The Maine House has its highest number of Independent and third-party members recorded in the last two decades, and several such lawmakers say they hope to maintain their individual independence while gaining a stronger voice in debates...

The lawmakers’ reasons for leaving the major parties vary from frustration over partisanship and the influence of lobbyists and corporate donations on Maine policy-making to discontent at Republican and Democratic lawmakers’ steps to undo, change and delay several laws approved by voters at the polls in 2016."

Read the full story