By Helen Hanlon
Commiserating with each other about the stalemates, partisanship and whatever else, the State and Local Government Committee held a rare and last minute Tuesday Work Session. All committee members were present and accounted for except for Reps. Evangelos and Libby who were working on other committee assignments. After discussion of their favorite Capitol-area food (fisherman platter at Red Barn or chowder at the Liberal Cup) and fortified with “made from scratch” Milky Way brownies courtesy of Treasurer Hayes, members were in a better mood and ready to polish off what was left on their legislative plates…
Almost no one in attendance – just me, a sprinkling of Representatives waiting for the bond bill and Ken Quinn (see our previous post) from Citizens For Self Governance, who was bedecked with a flag pin and lugging a huge briefcase — just in case he was called upon.
WARNING: This is a long one!
Several issues were raised with this bill, including the fact that it has no effective beginning date and no way to transition from the current Attorney General’s term of office.
Action: No discussion. ONTP (6), OTP as amended (5) (current AG allowed to complete current term), Absent (2)
Similar problems plagued this bill: there is no effective start date, it contains confusing language and there is no transition plan. And most importantly, perhaps, there is a potential conflict of interest if the Lt. Governor is called upon to certify their own or the Governor’s election).
Rep. Dore of Augusta made a strong statement about her years working in the Sec. of State’s office with no hint of partisanship and her plan to vote NO.
Action: ONTP (6), OTP as amended (4) (amended to include transition language). Absent (3).
At this point it was really hard to keep track of who was where. It was like Grand Central Station with people coming and going. There were caucuses, people coming in and going out –grabbing the last of the brownies on their way (oohing and aaahing about how really good they were and “what was that recipe?”). Poor Rep. Tuell rolled in in a wheel chair, apparently with a recent foot injury ( John Kerry , Maine style?) – but there were no brownies left for the poor guy. No one offered me one, either (So much for constituent services!)…
Transition issues as noted in previous bills.
Action: ONTP (6), OTP as amended (3) (amended to address transition issue), Absent (4) (OD on chocolate?)
HP 804 (JOINT RESOLUTION MAKING APPLICATION TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES CALLING A CONVENTION OF THE STATES TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION TO IMPOSE FISCAL RESTRAINTS, LIMIT FEDERAL POWER AND IMPOSE TERM LIMITS)
Rep. Pickett moved to carry this bill over; motion failed.
Rep. Turner moved ONTP. 5 approved ONTP, 3 OTP as amended (amended with Rep. Short’s language change – not Con/ Con but Convention of States). 5 Absent.
HP 956 (JOINT RESOLUTION MAKING APPLICATION TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES CALLING A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION TO PROPOSE AN AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION REGARDING THE STATUS OF CORPORATIONS AS PEOPLE AND THE ROLE OF MONEY IN THE ELECTION PROCESS)
Sponsor Rep. Chapman, as a procedural matter, asked the committee to consider holding the bill over.
Action: ONTP Unan.
SP499 (JOINT RESOLUTION MAKING APPLICATION TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES CALLING A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION TO PROPOSE AN AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION TO REQUIRE A BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET AND FURTHER FISCAL RESTRAINTS)
Action: ONTP Unan.
OTP (Unan). The committee gave major huzzahs over their efforts on these graveyard bills which have been hanging around for years and were finally “put to rest.” (Sorry.)
This bond business has been in the news recently as our Governor has refused to sign off and has been accused of holding these citizen-initiated bonds hostage for a variety of reasons. It appears that, according to the Attorney General, the Governor’s role in this is basically magisterial and the Legislature can make the call about the process. I am unclear on this but, according to discussion, it seems that this is already addressed in legislation.
Action: ONTP – 5, OTP as amended – 5. Absent – 3
LD 66 (Resolve, Naming the Bridges That Span the Machias River in Machias the Jeremiah O’Brien Memorial Bridges)
Brought back for reconsideration. Action: Motion to Carry Over was Unan.
At this point, a pile of papers awaiting final clean-up appeared. It was amendment reviews, but there was also action to get rid of some minority reports. The committee members were really moving in and out of the back room and corridors. Some of the bills we’ve been following were in this pile, so I stayed. There are still 15-16 bills waiting to hit the floor, according to Chair Whittemore. I was the only person left besides the Committee.
Rep. Turner made a motion to reconsider. Action: ONTP – Unan.
Motion to Reconsider: ONTP – Unan.
This was the Governor’s bill. Despite a short, intensive caucus, Rep, Bryant stated he had major heartburn about this bill and could not support it, necessitating the need for a minority report.
LD732, 909 & 999 were also briefly mentioned regarding fiscal notes.
Members gladly celebrated nearing end to the session and planned a Friday outing at the Chair’s home (mercifully, I was not invited). So after a long, long afternoon, I followed the trail of chocolate crumbs and went home. I’m glad I am not on that committee, I’d be even fatter – boy, they eat a lot!