Lawmakers still face workers’ comp, regulatory takings, and more in Augusta

By Chris Hall, Portland Regional Chamber
Posted April 09, 2012, at 9:25 a.m.

Editor’s note: This report is compiled weekly for members of the Portland Regional Chamber. It provides a breakdown of recent news around state policy, as well as a heads-up on coming events. The Bangor Daily News is publishing this report in cooperation with the PRC.

PRC speaks out:

Sometime this week we expect the Maine Legislature to finish its work and head home to campaign — just when they finish depends on how quickly they can wrap-up all their remaining bills. Some of those bills will be important to you. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the more significant debates you’ll hear this week:

There are plenty of other bills, from energy policy changes to unemployment insurance reforms to a new definition of independent contractor. Lawmakers will work long hours this week finalizing most bills, returning in May to conclude MaineCare budget work (and maybe a bond package). As always, if you want to have your say it’s not too late — but it will be soon!

State Policy round-up: Maybe it wasn’t the best week at the state house for Gov. LePage ( MPBN, Doug Rooks). The g overnor’s veto of a bill on production of mortgage documents during foreclosure was upheld ( KJ, BDN, PPH editors disagreed), but a second veto of a bill seeking additional federal funds for special needs students was overturned ( BDN, KJ) – the first veto that’s been flipped in Augusta in 10 years. His request to shield his working papers from public scrutiny was defeated in the House ( BDN, MPBN). And the governor’s 3/31 interview with Phil Harriman on WGAN ( listen here) stirred controversy on several fronts – coverage in the BDN and reaction from Mike Tipping.

Elsewhere:

Meanwhile the DHHS data problems grew – another 5,000 ineligible recipients were found on the DHHS computer system ( PPH, BDN). Lawmakers are expected to wait until May to finally resolve MaineCare budget troubles for FY 2013. However decisions about proposed cuts to municipal general assistance are still pending – Bangor Mayor Cary Weston explained why the cuts would increase property taxes.

Bills to Watch: As legislation is printed we highlight some of the bills you may want to know more about, or participate in. Need to investigate a bill? Just click the LD number below and off you go! (Please remember this isn’t legal advice – for that you must contact your own councilors).

For the first time since December there are no new bills to alert you to – but a new workers comp bill has yet to be printed.

What’s happening this week at the State House: In every Update we highlight a wide variety of bills that will affect you, your business and your community. To keep track of the bills that are most important to you, you can find the entire state house schedule right here including public hearings, work sessions and all the other legislative activity around any bill you’re interested in. Make sure to use the navigation buttons on the left to find all the information you need.

Here’s another handy resource – this link takes you to a list of all the legislative committee activities scheduled for the next 5 days.

Senate watch: A new poll found Secretary of State Charlie Summers and State Senator Cynthia Dill leading their primary opponents – but both trailed Angus King ( BDN, MPBN, PPH). The PPH’s John Richardson looked at the impact of independent voters on the race. Republican candidates held the first of nine forums ( BDN, PPH), and Democratic candidates held their first debate ( PPH).

Around the Region: If you know a recent veteran looking for work please share this Matt Wickenheiser story with them and then point them toward the Portland Veterans Network – thanks! The timeline for renovations to the Cumberland County Civic Center is emerging ( PPH). Elsewhere:

In South Portland the Council has asked for deeper cuts in municipal and school budgets ( Forecaster). Changes to the high school renovation contract have been approved ( PPH).

  1. Cumberland and Falmouth: In Cumberland the Town’s website has information about the upcoming budget, Cumberland’s application to become a ‘Certified Business Friendly Community,’ and much more.

In Falmouth conversations about changes to Route 1 zoning are accelerating ( Forecaster).

Want to speak out? It’s easy to do, and believe it or not, it can really work. Notice that all the legislative committees mentioned above are linked – just click on them and you’ll get emails, phone numbers and everything you need to make your voice heard in the state house. If you need help, just email me!

Feedback: So what do you think? We’d love to have your thoughts on anything you’ve read here, or on other topics that are important to you. The more you talk to us, the better we’ll represent your views. Send an email if you’d like to share your feedback with me – and thank you!

Partners for Progress Policy Updates from the Portland Regional Chamber are supported by the generous contributions from our Partners for Progress. If you’d like to become a Partner, please contact Chamber CEO Godfrey Wood. And for more information about joining the Portland Regional Chamber – businesses building a better community – just click here.

 

Chris Hall is senior vice president for government relations at the Portland Regional Chamber. He can be contacted at chall@portlandregion.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/09/uncategorized/lawmakers-still-face-workers-comp-regulatory-takings-and-more-in-augusta/ printed on August 21, 2014