Maine Senate set to vote on 70 nominees

Posted Aug. 24, 2010, at 12:11 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate returns to the State House on Wednesday for confirmation votes, and Gov. John Baldacci’s nominees for more than 70 judgeships, boards and commissions all are poised for approval given their positive reviews by legislative committees.

While most of the nominees are expected to fly through confirmations without debate, some appointments may generate discussion. But the heat likely will stop there since Senate votes of two-thirds majority are needed to overturn committee recommendations. None of the nominees has a negative committee recommendation.

A spokesman for the Democratic governor said he was optimistic all will be approved.

“I wouldn’t want to be presumptuous in the outcome of any vote,” said Baldacci spokesman David Farmer. “But the positive recommendations of the committees make us confident none of the candidates will encounter too much difficulty.”

Kurt Adams drew a 7-3 vote of support from the Education Committee for a seat on the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. The split vote came after questions were raised about whether terms of his employment with the First Wind energy company when he left the Public Utilities Commission constituted a conflict. Adams maintains they did not.

Another prominent nomination is that of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner David Littell to the Public Utilities Commission. Littell breezed to a 12-0 vote after tackling three hours of tough questioning by the Utilities and Energy Committee last week. The three-member PUC regulates water, electricity and gas utilities and the telecommunications industry in Maine.

Senators will also decide Wednesday whether to elevate three District Court judges — Ann Murray of Bangor, MaryGay Kennedy of Brunswick and Robert Murray Jr. of Bangor — to the Superior Court bench. Several other District Court nominations also are up for confirmation votes.

The other nominees would join a diverse array of state boards and commissions that oversee pesticides use, harness racing, land preservation, milk pricing, public employees’ pensions, workers’ compensation, labor relations, discrimination complaints, corrections budgets, campaign laws, housing and development issues.

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