March 18, 2013

AG disagrees with LePage over funding shift

From staff reports

(Continued from page 1)

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Janet Mills

Once debate over the data bill dies down, pro-gun groups' positions on Marks' bill will be important to watch.


House Speaker Rep. Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, is throwing his weight behind a proposal that would crack down on people who exploit elders.

Currently, people who criminally or financially exploit the elderly can avoid prosecution if there's evidence that the victim consented to a scam. Advocates for the elderly argue that financial exploitation prosecutions can be impeded by the appearance of consent, particular if given by victims to perpetrators who may be family members or other trusted loved ones.

L.D. 527, sponsored by Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, would require that conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer's are considered in determining whether a victim truly consented to the scam.

Dion, in a news statement, said the bills would make it so "predators of Maine seniors will no longer be able to hide behind the defense of consent."

Other supporters include the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, AARP, Legal Services for the Elderly, the Maine Credit Union and Geoffrey Rushlau, district attorney for Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties.

The public hearing for L.D. 527 was held last week. A work session and potential committee vote is scheduled for Friday.


Democrats express a lot of angst and outrage over Le-Page's policies and comments, but they have to admit that the governor has a decent sense of humor.

After several days of political wrangling over a bill that would allow bars to open three hours earlier on St. Patrick's Day, the governor not only agreed to sign the bill, he also donned a festive St. Patrick's Day hat when he did it.

The governor also tweeted a photo of himself wearing the hat.

No word on whether he said "Cheese!" or "Cheers!"


The public hearings on the governor's $6.3 billion budget proposal continue throughout the week. Monday is expected to be one of the more eventful hearings, as the budget-writing committee digs into the budget's education funding.

The LePage administration says it's essentially flat-funding education from the previous two-year budget. Democrats and the public teachers union say otherwise.

The $512 million earmarked for higher education is pretty much the same amount allocated in the current budget. General Purpose Aid is $895 million, but the amount follows a $12.4 million cut in the current budget.

The governor has directed more than $12 million in additional funding to new initiatives, such as teacher evaluations and the proficiency diploma.

The Maine Education Association says the two-year proposal amounts to a $40 million cut. It is also protesting the governor's plan to make school districts pay 50 percent of teacher retirement costs. The state currently pays 100 percent of retirement costs.

The MEA will hold a news conference Monday prior to the public hearing.

Given the MEA's political involvement last election and the governor's ongoing public relations war with the organization, expect the education element of the budget to be one of the most hotly contested.


The governor will be the guest of honor at the 10th annual Spring Paving Seminar, hosted by the Maine Asphalt Paving Association.

The event at the Augusta Civic Center takes place April 16-17.

LePage is expected to address the conference, but his exact time slot hasn't been announced yet.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 620-7016 or at:

On Twitter: @stevemistler

Michael Shepherd can be reached at 370-7652 or at:

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