Miller Library towers above the Colby College campus in Waterville on Jan. 23, 2015. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / BDN

Good morning from Augusta. The deadline for Maine lawmakers to file bills for the 2022 session is Friday at 4 p.m. We knew we felt a chill last night. Here’s your soundtrack.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If a kid comes to me and wants to climb a big rock we are going to first talk it out,” said Anna Wardwell, about how she teaches children to think through their decisions at the Little Learners Homestead, LLC child care center. “I want them to figure out if it’s a good idea or not and allow them to make their own decisions.”

What we’re watching today

Maine’s redistricting panel has worked slowly and is nowhere close to consensus a week from its deadline. The group was tasked with coming up with maps that could get at least two-thirds support in the Maine Legislature, but party caucuses released separate congressional and Maine Senate maps last Thursday, reflecting a lack of agreement with little time left. The commission has yet to put forward any proposals to redraw Maine’s 151 House districts.

Lawmakers had a relatively short window to complete the apportionment process due to census delays, with Maine’s high court giving the commission 45 days after data was released in August to draw maps for congressional and legislative districts, as well as county commission districts. So far, Republicans and Democrats have only reached a deal on county commission districts, which in several cases were proposed by county officials.

The commission has until next Monday to put forward maps; after that, the issue goes to the Legislature, where lawmakers have 10 days to pass maps. If they fail to do so, the decision will fall to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

The parties have not shown how they will narrow down to one plan with the maps they have put forward so far. With respect to congressional maps, Democrats’ proposal, which crams nearly as many Democratic voters in Kennebec County as possible in the swing 2nd District, including Waterville, is a nonstarter for Republicans. 

Republicans’ plan, which would still make the 2nd District a touch more Democratic-leaning, both moves the party’s congressional candidates out of the district and could face legal challenges related to compactness, as it relies on a narrow border between Manchester and Sidney to maintain contiguity of the 1st District.

Differences between the party’s proposed Maine Senate maps are subtle but no less significant, with the two parties proposing vastly different districts in York and Penobscot counties, two areas that could have more battleground districts depending on how the lines are drawn. The commission will receive public feedback on maps at 9:30 today. The meeting will be conducted remotely and streamed on the commission’s YouTube channel.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Maine isn’t changing COVID-19 strategy despite surge hitting unvaccinated people hard,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “While Maine has maintained the third-lowest case rate among states during the pandemic, it is being hammered on what looks like the back end of a summer wave of cases in the U.S. driven by the contagious delta variant, seeing the highest two-week growth rate in transmission of any state as of Thursday and setting a new record for critical COVID-19 patients on Friday.”

— “​​More than 90 percent of Maine towns still don’t allow recreational marijuana sales,” David Marino Jr., BDN: “Across the state, only 47 of Maine’s approximately 500 towns, cities and plantations have opted in to allow recreational marijuana retailers. Fewer than a third of Maine residents, just 29 percent, live in those communities, though many more live near them, according to data from the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy and the 2020 U.S. Census.”

— “Requests for federal relief funds in Knox County outweigh available pool,” Lauren Abbate, BDN: “Commissioners are individually reviewing the requests in advance of their Oct. 12 meeting, where they will discuss which they would like to prioritize and potentially determine which towns or organizations they would like to meet with, according to Knox County Administrator Andrew Hart.”

Conservative group targets Golden over spending bill

A national conservative group is the latest to run ads in Maine’s 2nd District, this time targeting a proposed spending bill. Club for Growth, a Republican-affiliated nonprofit focused on lowering taxes, decries Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion budget bill in a new ad, saying it amounts to a significant tax increase and telling voters to call Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat who national Republicans are targeting in an attempt to flip the House next year.

The ads targeting Maine’s 2nd District are part of a $2 million campaign in 10 House districts nationwide. More than $1 million has already been spent in the district, where Golden is likely to face a rematch with 2018 opponent, former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, next year.

The spending bill mentioned in the ad seems unlikely to pass. Golden has been skeptical of it, encouraging Democrats to move forward with a bipartisan infrastructure bill without waiting to advance the spending bill, and said last month he did not think the party would ultimately pass a bill worth $3 trillion. That prediction seems more likely now as moderate Democrats, led by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, have grown increasingly hesitant, with Axios reporting this weekend that Manchin would prefer the bill wait until 2022.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews, Jessica Piper and Michael Shepherd. 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.

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.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...