Saturday, May 25, 2013
ON MAINE POLITICS
Kennebec Journal Staff
AUGUSTA -- Lawmakers will return Tuesday to take care of several pressing issues, including a plan to redraw Maine's two congressional districts to balance the population between the two.
According to representatives for Republicans and Democrats, it appears the Republican majority is set to eschew the Democrats' proposal, which was endorsed in an 8-7 vote by a bipartisan panel in late August.
The redistricting process has been marked by partisanship, though both sides said they were seeking compromise. The 15-member panel split along partisan lines, but the independent chair sided with the Democrats. Their plan would largely leave the current districts intact but shift some towns in Kennebec County from one district to the other.
The Republicans' plan would move parts of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties into the 1st District, including the cities of Lewiston and Auburn. In exchange, more of Maine's midcoast communities would be moved into the 2nd District, including 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree's hometown of North Haven.
The Legislature also will take up a joint resolution recognizing former House speaker and Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky, who died in August, and an emergency bill aimed at increasing penalties for crimes involving the designer drug known as bath salts.
The Senate is set to vote on 91 confirmations of LePage administration appointees to boards and commissions, as well the nomination of Patricia Aho to be commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.
Lawmakers are scheduled to work for one day only, but several veterans in the State House press corps are skeptical that the work will be done in a day.
Toward the end of a speech to the Augusta Kiwanis Club last week, Gov. Paul LePage responded to a supporter who thanked him for his service and said he knew the governor often had to "gore somebody's ox."
The governor responded by talking about some of his critics.
"Every place I go, I see little tags that say 61 percent," he said, referring to the percentage of voters who supported one of the other four candidates in November. "I would like to remind everyone that my predecessor had 62 percent vote against him in a three-person race."
LePage is right. Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, was re-elected in 2006 with 38 percent of the vote.
Finishing second was Chandler Woodcock (now commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife) with 30 percent; followed by Barbara Merrill (a Democrat-turned-independent) with 21.5 percent; Pat LaMarche, a Green Independent, with 9.5 percent; and Phillip Morris NaPier (who sued the state in an attempt to have his name listed on the ballot as "The People's Hero -- Phillip Morris NaPier") with 0.005642 percent of the vote.
If you go back one more election, Baldacci got 47 percent of the vote in 2002 in a four-way race.
LePage also reminded the Kiwanians that Abraham Lincoln was elected president with 39.6 percent of the vote. He then said he isn't so sure it was a prize to be elected governor.
"I think it's premature to say it's a prize," he said. "We do know we're going to offend a lot of people."
Former first lady honored
Former Maine first lady Karen Baldacci has received the Hope Award from The Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free Foundation.
The group, which met recently in Washington, D.C, honored Baldacci for her continuing work with the group even after her husband left office in January.
The initiative was started in 2000 to focus on preventing children ages 9-15 from drinking alcohol.
We're No. 1
The Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship released a report recently that showed Maine ranks first in the nation when it comes to the percentage of registered voters who actually vote.
Maine has a 58 percent participation rate, they found. For more tidbits on how Maine ranked in a number of areas, go to www.ncoc.net/research.
Tax committee today
A three-person subcommittee of the Taxation Committee will hear from experts today as they try to chart a course for additional tax-cutting legislation.
The meeting is set to go from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the group is scheduled to hear from 13 people, including University of Maine School of Law professor Orlando Delogu; Theodora Kalikow, president of the University of Maine at Farmington; and Charlie Colgan of the University of Southern Maine.
The subcommittee, led by Sen. Richard Woodbury, an independent from Yarmouth, includes Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, and Rep. Don Pilon, D-Saco.
MaineToday Media State House Writers Rebekah Metzler and Susan Cover contributed to this report.