AUGUSTA — State Rep. Patrick Flood said Monday that he has decided to stay on as House chairman of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, after speaking with legislative leaders during the weekend.

Flood, a Republican from Winthrop, offered to resign from the post on Friday, the day after legislative leaders pressured his committee to hold a late-night procedural vote on a health insurance overhaul that’s supported mostly by Republicans.

He said Monday that Democrats were particularly upset by the rushed vote, which was divided 8-4 along party lines, with Democrats in the minority.

“I felt it was necessary to address this destructive outcome with an immediate action to try to bring our Appropriations Committee, and hopefully the full legislative body, back into a more positive working atmosphere,” he told reporters in his committee office Monday morning.

Late Thursday night, the Senate was working to take final votes on L.D. 1333, the health insurance bill. Ultimately, the Senate votes were delayed until Monday.

Flood said he expressed concern about the process surrounding L.D. 1333 primarily because his committee is beginning to work toward what he hopes will be unanimous endorsement of the state budget for the two years starting July 1.

“I am concerned that as we near the vital end of session, we have allowed ourselves to become more partisan and rigid than necessary,” Flood said. “That tone will unnecessarily impact the strong bipartisan needs we have for passage of our state’s largest policy document.”

Gov. Paul LePage’s $6.1 billion two-year budget proposal will need support from Democrats to gain the two-thirds votes it needs for passage. Flood said that with major policy areas to discuss, including the state’s retirement system and the Department of Health and Human Services, it will be difficult for the committee to finish its work by June 15, the statutory deadline for adjournment.

He said he spent time during the weekend talking with House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland – to whom he gave his resignation letter Friday – and House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, about ways to “repair the damage and move forward.”

“I am thankful that the speaker has agreed to personally speak with Democratic members of our committee to explain how matters unfolded Thursday and to communicate that he, too, was disappointed with the manner in which that procedural vote played out and the tensions it created,” Flood said.

He said Nutting has “offered to go out of his way” to make sure that in the future, the committee will be given enough time to conduct its business.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]