A proposal to double gubernatorial campaign contribution limits from $750 to $1,500 has some lawmakers crying foul.

Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, offered the amendment to a bill that would have increased contribution limits to county candidates. The measure was approved by the Senate.

But opponents argued that the proposal to raise gubernatorial campaign limits wasn’t part of the public hearing on the original proposal, L.D. 856, sponsored by Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond.

“It’s an entirely different piece of law,” said Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston. “This is just going to lessen the number of people a candidate has to go to to run for governor and increase the ability of corporations and the wealthy to control what happens.”

Plowman, who serves on the committee that reviewed L.D. 856 and held the public hearing on it, said she was unable to attend the work session for the bill, which is why she offered the amendment later in the process.

Plowman noted that the governor’s race is one of only three statewide races, and said fundraising with such low limits is challenging. Laws regulating federal campaign contributions, the only other statewide races in Maine, allow for contributions of as much as $2,500.

Carey said Maine’s low gubernatorial campaign contribution limits originated with the citizen-initiated bill passed in 1996 to create the public financing system known as Clean Election.

“If they are going to make the argument that it’s a relatively small piece (of the Clean Election initiative) and it’s not really what the citizens voted on, they can make that,” Carey said. “But the citizens should have a chance to come in and say, ‘No, I knew what I was voting on, this was part of it, to take corporate money out of politics.’“

The bill will be scheduled for votes in the House in the coming days.

HELP THE GOVERNOR SAVE MONEY

Gov. Paul LePage’s office launched a website June 1 that allows citizens to share their ideas for saving money in state government. Mainers can submit their ideas by visiting the Maine.gov website, clicking on the governor’s picture, the “citizen services” tab, then the “submit an idea or suggestion link.”

LePage’s spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said ideas are sent to the communications office and then posted to the website for the public to review and vote on.

“It goes through our office and I take a look at the requests that come in,” she said. “It’s just another avenue to get ideas from the public, and we’re excited to see what they have to say.”

LABOR NOMINEE GRILLED

Along with other members of top military brass, Robert Winglass, a 35-year veteran of the Marine Corps, signed on to a letter opposing the repeal of the military policy that prevented openly gay men and women from serving. The letter was sent to the Obama administration.

During his confirmation hearing last week on his nomination to be Maine’s labor commissioner, the retired three-star lieutenant general was asked about his position on the issue, “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Rep. Timothy Driscoll, D-Westbrook, brought up the letter and asked Winglass if he still opposed repealing the policy, even after Congress — led by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican — voted to do so.

“Have I changed my mind? Not particularly. I don’t know,” said Winglass. “I don’t think we’ve seen yet what the impact of all of this is going to be. I have no animosity over sexual preferences of one person or another.”

He then said he isn’t sure that members of the military who are openly gay will get a “warm welcome.”

“I hope for the best. I hope there’s no brutality that takes place, and I hope there are no blanket showers and some of that kind of stuff,” Winglass said. “That’s why I signed that letter, and I’m apprehensive. I thought Clinton had it right. I guess this administration saw it differently.”

Winglass appeared to wear thin with the extensive questioning on the subject, saying he wasn’t sure why so much time was being spent discussing “all this love stuff.”

“I’m not sure by what you mean by ‘all this love stuff,’” Driscoll said.

Winglass replied, “Well, you’re talking about homosexuals and heterosexuals.”

“Sexuality isn’t all about love,” said Driscoll.

“No, it isn’t. Isn’t that true? I agree with you on that one,” Winglass said, chuckling.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT

As Friday morning’s House session drew to a close, Rep. Linda Valentino told fellow representatives that she had concerns about anti-abortion protesters at the State House.

The protesters stand in the hallway between the House and Senate, often holding graphic posters. Valentino, D-Saco, said she wants to protect the many children who visit the State House from seeing the images.

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, said the protesters have been asked to be sensitive to the youngsters in the hallway, but the bottom line is, they have the right to freedom of speech.

“The First Amendment is a powerful thing, and those people have a right to be there,” he said.

RADIO AD CAMPAIGN

Maine People Before Politics, a group funded by Gov. Paul LePage’s transition money, has launched a radio ad campaign in support of LePage’s budget.

“The time is now to contact your legislators …,” it says before it asks for a contribution to support the group.

The ad is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtFkTUxhGG8.

INFANTS TO GET CHEAPER LICENSES

A bill that would lower the price of hunting and fishing licenses for infants who aren’t Maine residents is on its way to final approval in the House and Senate.

Both bodies gave initial approval last week to L.D. 108. The bill would lower the price of lifetime hunting and fishing licenses for nonresidents from $450 to $150 — the price that residents pay.

The state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is directed to study the effect of the change and report back to lawmakers. 

MaineToday Media State House Writers Rebekah Metzler and Susan Cover contributed to this column.