Wednesday, December 4, 2013
AUGUSTA — All things French – and Irish – will be on display Wednesday at the State House as part of the ninth annual Franco-American Day.
"I'm sure many people are thinking, hold on, isn't that St. Patrick's Day?" said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Lisa Marrache, D-Waterville. "Well, yes it is, but the date is picked in France as part of a worldwide celebration of International Francophone Week."
It just so happens that Franco Day will fall on St. Patrick's Day this year, so the festivities will include French singers and Irish dancers.
The food in the State House cafeteria will highlight both cultures, and there will be a news conference to announce the inductees into the Franco Hall of Fame: Annette Daigle, of Fort Kent, Normand Angers, of Lewiston, Severin Beliveau, of Hallowell, and John Dionne, of Grand Isle (posthumous).
TODAY'S THE DAY
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap expects hundreds of candidates for office to show up at the state office building today to turn in the signatures required to get on the ballot.
With 186 legislative seats up for grabs, he figures more than 300 people will file to run for office.
Also, party-affiliated gubernatorial candidates who haven't done so need to turn in 2,000 signatures by 5 p.m.
The deadline applies to county and federal seats, as well, so it will be a busy day.
Already, Republican Dean Scontras, of Eliot, has filed to run against U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, in the 1st District. Republican Jason Levesque, of Auburn, has filed to run against U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, in the 2nd District.
The list can be found online at www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/2010/candidatelisting.htm.
In other news from the Secretary of State's Office, Dunlap is reminding citizens that they can have comments in support of or against June's ballot referendum questions published in a citizens' guide.
The cost is $500 – yes, $500 – to publish your comment in the guide, which is widely distributed in the run-up to the election. Dunlap will allow three comments in support and three comments against each ballot question. In addition to at least three bond questions, voters will decide the fate of a tax overhaul passed by lawmakers last year.
If you want your comment published in the guide, you need to submit an application, the comment, and the $500.to the Secretary of State by 5 p.m. March 30.
'COLBERT REPORT' AND MILLS
A crew from "The Colbert Report" stopped by the State House on Friday to interview Attorney General Janet Mills about a verbal opinion issued by her office that Fentimans Victorian Lemonade should not be sold to minors.
The issue relates to a flap in Houlton in which a student bought some of the lemonade at a store and noticed that the label says it contains a very low percentage of alcohol. As Mills told "The Colbert Report," the "conscientious student went to the principal," who alerted the proper authorities.
"That lemonade apparently is a gateway drug," she said, tongue firmly planted in cheek.
The crew had Mills stand on a granite bench outside the State House, which was quiet Friday because it was a state shutdown day. Mills, who clutched a bottle of Oakhurst lemonade in an effort to showcase a Maine product, played along with the silly questions posed by the interviewer.
Stay tuned to Comedy Central to catch the segment.
UMA GUBERNATORIAL PANELS
The candidates for governor continue to make the rounds, and they have been invited to attend an April forum sponsored by the University of Maine at Augusta Alumni Association.
Democrats have been invited to appear on April 6, Republicans on April 8. Many of the major players have already committed to the events, which are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Candidates who aren't in either party have been invited to participate in either forum.
The moderator will be Nathan Grant, a 2008 graduate of UMA who is studying to get a master's degree in public policy.
The panels will be held in Jewett Auditorium and are open to the public.
BALLOT INITIATIVE BILL
A bill that would require businesses that get paid to circulate petitions in Maine to register with the state is heading to the Senate for consideration.
After a lot of work, the Legislature's Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee voted 8-5 in support of an amended version of Sen. John Nutting's bill, L.D. 1730.
Nutting said there's been an increase in fraud, including an incident last year when an official in Greene found the name of a man who had died in 2004 on a petition. The requirement to register would not apply to volunteers who work on petition drives.
"The purpose of this legislation is to restore integrity to the petition process by creating penalties against companies who are abusing the citizens initiative process – not discourage everyday Mainers from getting involved in the process," Nutting said.
The House and Senate are scheduled to meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Because Wednesday is Franco-American Day, the House will come in at 9 a.m., which is an hour earlier than normal.
The following week, sessions are scheduled for every day as the work of the Legislature switches out of committee and into the chambers for debate.
TO WATCH THIS WEEK
On Tuesday, the Health and Human Services Committee will hold a work session on the medical marijuana bill at 1 p.m. in Room 209 of the Cross State Office Building.
On Wednesday, the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a work session on the Oxford County casino bill at 1 p.m. in Room 437 of the State House.
On Thursday, the Labor Committee will hold a work session on the mandatory paid sick day bill in Room 220 of the Cross State Office Building.
MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at: 620-7015 or at: