Monday, March 10, 2014
This just in:
The end of the legislative of session is near (hopefully) and things are getting strange.
Exhibit A: Man's brain (hastag optional).
The above floor speech by House Republican leader Rep. Kenneth Fredette, of Newport, during yesterday's debate over Medicaid expansion has already gone viral in liberal land, but here's a recap for the locals.
During the debate Fredette attempted to deconstruct the Democratic argument that Medicaid expansion is free, at least for three years. In doing so Fredette tried to draw an analogy between the Democratic and Republican arguments on the issue by referencing the book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus."
Here's what he said:
“From the other side of the aisle I hear the conversation being about ‘free this is free, we need to take it and it's free and we need to do it now’ and that's sort of the fundamental message that my brain receives. Now, my brain being a man's brain sort of thinks differently, because I say, well, it's not if it's free is it really free because I say in my brain there's a cost to this.”
It appears that Fredette was attempting to say that the two parties came at the Medicaid issue differently, but Democrats quickly took his analogy to its logical conclusion: Democrats are women who don't understand that things aren't free.
Fredette apologized Wednesday for his remarks. Twice. At the beginning of the afternoon House session he said the analogy was inartful and that he was sorry if people were offended. They were. At the end of the session Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, ripped Fredette and his apology, which she said, wasn't really an apology.
Fredette rose again, apologized again, but the meme continues to live on Twitter.
Ruler meet knuckles: Lawmakers love to pass notes to one another. Sometimes the little slips of paper are official business like, "Meet me behind the House glass to discuss a horsetrade," or compliment, "Nice floor speech."
And sometimes the notes are offensive.
That was apparently the case the House Wednesday evening. At one point during the evening session House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, announced from the rostrum that some of the paper missives were "unbecoming" of a state lawmaker. He warned that if the practice continued he would convene the House Ethics Committee to settle the issue.
Payback: The Senate passed Gov. Paul LePage's hospital payback bill late Wednesday night. Expect the House to do the same Thursday before moving on to the state's two-year budget.
There could be some press event to celebrate passage of the bill, which will immediately trigger speculation about what message the governor will put on his TV:
Budget marathon: The House is expected to take up the budget this afternoon. There are 14 amendments in the House so the debate will likely run long.
Look for messages in the amendments, particularly from Republicans whose votes will be needed to override an expected veto by LePage.
Non-political item: Sad image at the State House Wednesday watching longtime AP reporter Glenn Adams leave the Cross Building after his final day of work.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.