February 21, 2020
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Maine Democrats will roll out new child care legislation today

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Sen. Rebecca Millett is seen at the State House in Augusta in this May 6, 2019, file photo.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We wanted to get away to a more pleasant area to live,” said an opponent of a Belfast fish farm who moved to the area from Washington, D.C., four and a half years ago. “I’m a knitter, and I meet with a lot of knitting people. There’s not one knitter that’s in favor of this farm.” Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

Top Democrats will hold a news conference today to roll out new child care legislation. Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, will be in Waterville this morning alongside Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, the co-chair of the education committee, to roll out new legislation that seeks to “expand access to quality child care in Maine.” 

It’s unclear how it aims to do that, but Millett sponsored a bill last year to increase state payment rates to quality providers and those who take infants. It was carried over to 2020, alongside another Millett bill to create a Maine Department of Early Care and Learning.

The Maine Children’s Alliance has found that infant care varies sharply by county, eating up between 11.8 and 22.4 percent of median household incomes. The number of center-based child care sites declined by 30 percent between 2011 and 2018.

There are problems, but any proposed solution is likely to carry a price tag that could be tough for Democratic lawmakers to swing in an election year with conservatives having argued in past debate on Millett’s bills that existing child care regulations are overly burdensome. 

Maine’s senior senator released a statement Thursday evening after comments she made about documents released this week by the House Intelligence committee. The impeachment trial kicked off in the Senate on Thursday. There’s no debate today — Congress has gone home for a long weekend — but Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, will likely be one of the most talked about lawmakers until the Senate reconvenes Tuesday. 

On Thursday, she made the strongest statement in favor of calling witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump after earlier remarks in which she had suggested that the House had done an “incomplete job” in its investigation since documents from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were only released earlier this week.

“While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful,” Collins said Thursday. “It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999.”

The Maine politics top 3

— “Maine’s Susan Collins has highest disapproval rating of any senator in national survey,” Michael Shepherd, Bangor Daily News: “Collins’ approval rating has sunk sharply since Trump took office in the first quarter of 2017, when the Maine senator registered a 67 percent approval rating, according to Morning Consult. In the final quarter of 2019, the firm said her rating stood at 42 percent.

— “CMP pours $2.3 million into campaign to save corridor from 2020 referendum threat,” Jessica Piper, BDN: “Clean Energy Matters, the PAC supporting the transmission line, went on to spend more than $1.7 million on television ads during the final three months of 2019. Central Maine Power was its only donor during that time period. The PAC also spent $98,000 on polling and $46,000 on opposition research, and paid its executive director $53,000 over just three months.”

A dark-money group opposing the corridor may have to disclose its donors. Stop the Corridor has been running TV ads opposing the the corridor for months. But a campaign finance filing by the the PAC No CMP Corridor, which has been collecting signatures for the referendum to reverse the corridor’s official approval, showed that Stop the Corridor made nearly $50,000 in in-kind contributions. Under state law, organizations must register as PACs — and disclose their donors — if politics is their major purpose and they spend at least $1,500 on it in a year.

— “Controversial speaker’s cancellation shows UMaine GOP club’s growing tension with university,” Eesha Pendharkar, BDN: “The hotel’s cancellation of right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin’s appearance came after university administrators told the Sheraton at Sable Oaks [in South Portland] that the student group — which was using [the University of Maine’s] name in advertising the event — was not affiliated with UMaine.”

A 2nd Congressional District candidate will introduce Malkin at the event’s new location in Auburn today. The event was moved from South Portland to Lewiston, canceled again by the venue and finally moved to the Martindale Country Club in Auburn, where it will go on at 7 p.m. tonight. Adrienne Bennett, the former spokeswoman for Gov. Paul LePage and one of three Republicans running in a 2nd Congressional District primary, will introduce Malkin, who made headlines in November after a young conservatives’ group cut ties with her over her defense of a podcaster who has compared the Holocaust to a cookie-baking operation.

Pingree, Golden to tour BIW with colleagues today

Maine’s two Democratic U.S. representatives will tour Bath Iron Works today with colleagues. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and Jared Golden of the 2nd District will be joined by the chair and a ranking member of the House subcommittee in charge of policy for military shipbuilding. It’s an effort to drum up support for the shipyard’s lucrative Arleigh Burke-class destroyer contracts, which have been a subject of strife between the Navy and the White House

Touring with the representatives will be U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut, and Rob Whittman, R-Virginia. Both have facilities run by BIW’s parent, General Dynamics, facilities in their states. Virginia houses the company’s headquarters. Here’s your soundtrack.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email clumm@bangordailynews.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.


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