September 19, 2011

State House Notebook: Hearings bring back lawmakers

From staff reports

(Continued from page 1)

Earlier this year, LePage proposed ending any state subsidy of the public network by eliminating a $2 million-per-year expenditure.

In the waning hours of budget negotiations, lawmakers restored the funding.

But MPBN, like all other state-funded agencies, is back in budget cutters' sight lines. The streamlining task force meets again Oct. 6 to continue budget cut discussions.


Michael Heath, former executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, is working as the Iowa state director for Republican Ron Paul's presidential campaign.

Heath, a polarizing figure in Maine politics, left the league two years ago, saying it was time to do something different. He was visibly absent from the 2009 campaign against same-sex marriage in Maine and resigned from the league in September of that year to start his own consulting firm.

Heath spent 15 years at the league, leading campaigns against gambling and a people's veto of a law to add gay and lesbian Mainers to the state's list of protected classes in discrimination cases.

In 2005, voters upheld the law after a second challenge.

Heath was disciplined by the league's board in 2004 for asking for "tips, rumors, speculation and facts" about the sexual orientation of legislators and other state leaders. The board put Heath -- who issued a public apology -- on administrative leave for one month, saying he "crossed a line of ethical behavior into a realm of sinful gossip."

As state director for the Paul campaign, Heath will be responsible for gearing up for the all-important Iowa caucuses scheduled for February.


State employees recently kicked off the 32nd Maine State Employees Combined Charitable Appeal during a ceremony with LePage in the State House Hall of Flags.

Leading the effort is Anne Head, commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

"Contributions from state employees during the past three decades have made a world of difference in the lives of children, seniors and countless others," she said in a statement.

Last year, state workers donated $330,000 to charitable organizations.


Maine's own James G. Blaine, a Republican who ran for president in 1884, was featured recently on C-SPAN's history series "The Contenders."

A TV crew was at the Blaine House on Friday for a live show featuring interviews with State Historian Earle Shettleworth, Colby College professor Elizabeth Leonard and Neil Rolde, author of "Continental Liar from the State of Maine: James G. Blaine."

LePage was also scheduled to welcome the crew to the governor's official residence.

The show features key figures who have run for president and lost, "but changed political history nevertheless," according to the C-SPAN website.

Although the live show has aired by now, it will be available on the Web at

A bit about Blaine from Rolde's book: "In 1884 Republican James G. Blaine came within 1,047 votes of becoming the President of the United States. This was the margin by which he lost New York State -- and thus the election -- to Grover Cleveland in what has been called 'the dirtiest campaign in American history.' He was twice U.S. secretary of state, credited with having started our country on the path to acting like a world power, a powerful speaker of the house in Congress, and a United States senator from his adopted State of Maine."

Blaine was also editor and part-owner of the Kennebec Journal from 1854 to 1857.

State House reporters Susan Cover and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this report.


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