Good morning from Augusta. The Legislature’s tax committee will work on a ream of bills related to tax credits on wide-ranging subjects from apprenticeships to child care. Listen here beginning at 9 a.m.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s awkward trying to get a pulse on your customers. You don’t want them to feel uncomfortable,” Colby Horne, owner of Colburn Shoe Store in Belfast, said of adjusting to the end of the state’s mask mandate. “People will get used to it. It’s tricky, business-wise, to do the right thing.” Here’s your soundtrack.
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Maine’s senior senator would be a key vote on a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, but she still has minor issues with a House proposal. A bill to establish a commission, drafted on a bipartisan basis, passed the House last week with 35 Republicans and all Democrats in support. But it faces a rocky road in the Senate with top Republicans opposed.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was one of seven Republicans to support former President Donald Trump’s conviction in an impeachment trial related to his inciting the riot and has indicated more openness to a commission than many members of her party, saying she believes an investigation into the riot is important. She was “optimistic” the sides could reach a deal in a Sunday interview with ABC’s “This Week,” but it’s still unclear if any bill can pass and Congress is under a time crunch.
The Maine senator’s stated differences with the House bill are minute. Collins said last week that she wanted revisions to the way the committee would select staff, saying the committee chair and vice chair should hire staffers together, rather than the chair hiring staff in consultation with the vice chair. The change would give slightly more power to the Republican-appointed vice chair, though the language on staffers was drawn directly from the bill that created a commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks, which Collins said should be a model.
Collins also said Sunday that she worried about the timeline for the bill, suggesting the commission could run too long into 2022. The Associated Press dinged her and other Republicans over their points in a fact check, noting that the House bill contains a Dec. 31 deadline for the report and gives another 60 days for the commission to wind down officially.
The House proposal’s backers and Collins now are about a month apart on the back end. In a Monday statement, the Maine senator said she was working to ensure the commission would indeed submit its report by year’s end and that its powers would end 30 days later.
Even if Collins jumps on board, however, the commission is far from a done deal. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, indicated Monday that he would vote for the bill as it stands. At least 10 Republican votes would be required to circumvent the filibuster in the Senate. After that, House Democrats could act on their own without Republican support.
Correction: Sen. Susan Collins was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump on an impeachment charge earlier this year. An earlier version of this item had an incorrect figure.
The Maine politics top 3
— “7 conservative Maine lawmakers booted from committees after mask-rule protest,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “The rebuke will have little immediate effect on legislative business, since committee work is slated to effectively end later this week. [House Speaker Ryan] Fecteau’s letter did not say how long the Democrats would hold the Republican slots or what would happen if members showed up without masks next week when the chambers reconvene.”
It is not clear how many other lawmakers may have been in the building yesterday without a mask. Assistant House Minority Leader Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, said he and other members went into the building from different entrances without wearing masks. A spokesperson for Fecteau, a Democrat, said he could not punish people that staff did not see maskless in the building. It is not clear how Gov. Janet Mills feels about the Legislature’s mask policy, as her office did not return a request for comment.
— “Maine’s credit rating unscathed by the pandemic,” The Associated Press: “With the state economy improving, the revenue forecasting committee projected the state will collect $941 million more than expected over the next two years. The anticipated extra income, along with federal aid, provided the underpinnings for the governor’s proposal to boost the state’s share of primary education costs to 55 percent — meeting a goal established in a voter referendum more than 15 years ago.”
— “Janet Mills nominates former Bernstein Shur CEO to utilities commission,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “[Patrick Scully] lives in Naples with his wife, former WMTW news anchor Tory Ryden. Scully ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate for Maine House of Representatives in 2020, losing narrowly to Republican incumbent Richard Cebra. He has donated to Democrats in the past, most notably giving $1,400 to the 2018 campaign of Adam Cote, a fellow energy lawyer who was the runner-up to Mills in that year’s gubernatorial primary.”
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.
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