Robert Long

Robert Long

Senior Editor, Southern Maine

 

Can Democrats break decades-long pattern?

By Robert Long on May 07, 2016, at 3:13 p.m.
Since before the 22nd Amendment that limits a president to two consecutive terms in office, U.S. voters have treated presidential elections as if they were tide pools. Voters let an administration from one party come in and clean out the landscape left behind by eight years of control by the …

Marijuana question heading to ballot

By Robert Long on April 29, 2016, at 3:19 p.m.
The House and Senate “indefinitely postponed” action Friday on a proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Maine, meaning the question will now appear on the November state ballot. Rep. Diane Russell, a Democrat from Portland who has been a leading advocate for legalization and who sponsored many …

House kills Clean Election cash advance

By Robert Long on April 29, 2016, at 2:23 p.m.
The House sustained Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1579, which would have delivered a $500,000 advance to Maine’s public campaign financing system for this year’s legislative elections. The vote was 84 to 63, which fell short of the two-thirds required to override a veto. Earlier this month, Jonathan Wayne, …

Departing senators give farewell speeches

By Robert Long on April 29, 2016, at 11:33 a.m.
The Senate took a break from veto votes to allow departing members to say goodbye. The speeches ran from tearful to humorous to just a few words. Among those who spoke were Sens. Linda Valentino of Saco, David Burns of Whiting, Earle McCormick of West Gardiner, Anne Haskell of Portland …

Four vetoes sustained in early voting

By Robert Long on April 29, 2016, at 11:15 a.m.
The House and Senate started voting on Gov. Paul LePage’s vetoes at around 11 a.m. In early votes, each chamber sustained two of LePage’s vetoes. The Senate also voted to override a number of vetoes, including pay raises for workers at state psychiatric hospitals and a change in how Maine …

Riverview staffing fix on way to LePage

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 7:11 p.m.
A bill designed to address staffing problems at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta made its way through the legislative process and is on its way to Gov. Paul LePage. Chronic staffing shortages and morale problems at the state-run hospital prompted the court master who oversees the state’s mental health …

Loggers and biomass

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 5:11 p.m.
The House has spent more than an hour discussing LD 1676, An Act to Establish A Process of Procurement of Renewable Resources. The conversation has swung from economic arguments against subsidizing industries, a rundown of past boondoggles, the need to support all Mainers, the importance of logging to Maine’s heritage, …

Senate endorses bill to aid logging, biomass industries

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 3:09 p.m.
After roughly an hour of debate, the Senate voted 25-9 to support LD 1676, An Act to Establish A Process of Procurement of Renewable Resources. Almost every senator in the room spoke about the bill, which was framed as a complex measure that went through many changes before presentation of …

Senate debates effort to aid loggers

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 2:19 p.m.
The Senate spent quite a bit of time Friday afternoon debating LD 1676, An Act to Establish A Process of Procurement of Renewable Resources. Supporters have framed it as a way to help loggers and the biomass industry. Opponents question the costs and whether it is appropriate to use government …

Follow the bouncing session

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 2:04 p.m.
The House is at ease. The Senate is back in session. You can watch streaming Senate video at http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/audio/SenateV.html. Lawmakers appear to be making some progress on a bond package. How it will fare with Gov. Paul LePage is to be determined, but the governor has resisted signing bonds other …

The House starts it day

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.
While the Senate remains in recess, the House convened at roughly 1:15 p.m. Friday. First order of business is LD 1481, An Act To Protect Maine’s Natural Resources Jobs by Exempting from Sales Tax Petroleum Products Used in Commercial Farming, Fishing and Forestry. Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake urged …

Who’s not coming back to the Senate?

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 1:02 p.m.
We’re still waiting for the sound of the bells that tell us either the House or the Senate is about to convene and try to accomplish something. In the meantime, we’ll list the senators who will not be returning to the next Legislature. Theoretically, none of the current senators could …

Out of the House

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 12:41 p.m.
For 16 House members, final adjournment of the 127th Legislature will signal an end to eight-year stints in that chamber. Maine’s term limits law prevents lawmakers from serving more than four consecutive two-year terms in the same elected office. Among those who are prevented from seeking re-election to their current …

Tick, tick, tick …

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 12:28 p.m.
We continue to wait for either the House or Senate to come back into session. The House was due in at noon, but in the realm of “legislative time” clocks have little value. Meanwhile, we at least can tell you where you can expect to find many Maine Republicans next …

Even more at ease

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 11:42 a.m.
The Senate came back into session to pay tribute to the late George Nixon Clark and to offer condolences to his daughter, Sen. Kimberly Rosen of Bucksport. Immediately after that, the Senate recessed, as Democrats and Republicans left the chamber to meet in party caucuses. The Senate will be out …

‘At ease’ — expect to hear that a lot today

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 11:37 a.m.
After a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, a couple of quick salutations and quick action on one bill, the Senate recessed temporarily as leaders met. Expect this syncopated pace to continue throughout the day, as the Senate and House “pass papers.” await reviews of amendments and revised bill language and …

The Senate gets started

By Robert Long on April 15, 2016, at 11:19 a.m.
The Maine Senate started work just after 11 a.m. Friday. At about the same time, the budget-writing Appropriations Committee planned to hold a public work session on a proposed bond package. The committee also planned to discuss bills in funding limbo on the Special Appropriations Table and details of a …

‘My preference is to be done tomorrow night’

By Robert Long on April 14, 2016, at 9:28 p.m.
In response to a question from Rep. Sheldon Hanington of Lincoln, House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said it was his goal to finish the session’s work on Friday. That means a long day is likely Friday, as Eves explained that he hopes the House will debate a bonds package …

Senate is done for the night

By Robert Long on April 14, 2016, at 9:13 p.m.
After a failed attempt to pass an emergency measure that would have raised the minimum wage before November’s ballot question on a proposal to do so in a way that would eliminate the tip credit and incrementally hike the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, the Senate has …

GOP senators’ latest proposal would not be competing measure

By Robert Long on April 14, 2016, at 6:37 p.m.
Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, is now introducing an amendment that would trigger an immediate minimum wage increase effective July 1. The amendment would not eliminate the tip credit, as the citizen initiative would. It also would not include a component that would index future minimum wage increases to inflation. The …