Saturday, March 8, 2014
AUGUSTA — Candidates are lining up to run for the Maine House as incumbents hit their term limits and challengers sign up to take their seats.
Democrats appear to be jockeying for position in House District 136, which encompasses part of Biddeford. Initially, a husband and wife both signed up to run for the same seat.
Bobby Mills and Heather Mills are on the candidate list, according to the ethics commission Web site -- but Bobby Mills says his wife is not running.
"My wife was asked by the current incumbent to run," he said. "But she's not going to continue with the paperwork."
If the others stay in the race, that still means a four-way Democratic primary.
In addition to Mills, William Moriarty, Megan Rochelo and Dennis Anglea are on the list. Current Rep. Stephen Beaudette, D-Biddeford, is termed out.
And if you're so inclined, there's still time to jump in. The deadline to sign up is a week from today, March 15.
The Biddeford race isn't the only crowded contest for the 151-seat House.
If the current field holds, there will be two primaries in District 80, which covers Wales, Litchfield and Monmouth. The seat is open because Rep. Nancy Smith, D-Monmouth, is termed out and running for Senate.
Three Republicans will square off June 8: Timothy McDonald, Melvin Newendyke and Jonathan Yellowbear. On the Democratic side, it's Raymond Simond versus Scott Wing.
Other House races to watch:
• District 25 (Corinna, part of Corinth, Exeter, Newport, Plymouth): Bob Emrich, who helped lead the successful effort to overturn the state's gay-marriage law, will face Kenneth Fredette in a Republican primary. The seat is open because House Minority Leader Josh Tardy is termed out.
• District 50 (Bremen, part of Jefferson, Nobleboro, Waldoboro): Incumbent Rep. Wendy Pieh, D-Bremen, will face the winner of a Republican primary that pits former Sen. Dana Dow against Henry Simmons.
• District 90 (six towns and some unorganized territory in Franklin County): A Republican primary will pit Russell Black against Michael Wells. The winner will face Irving Faunce, a Democrat, in the fall. The seat is open because Rep. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, is termed out and is running for Senate.
The public hearing on the Oxford County casino bill, L.D. 1808, is set for 1 p.m. Thursday in Room 437 of the State House.
The bill is a citizen initiative and would require the casino operator to give the state 46 percent of net slot-machine income and 16 percent of net table-game income. It lays out how much would go to each area, such as education, tribal governments, agricultural fairs and the host municipality.
The bill eventually will go to the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee. If it is not adopted by the full Legislature as written, it would go to voters in November.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL RELEASED
The bill to implement the wishes of voters who approved expansion of the state's medical marijuana law has been sent to the Health and Human Services Committee for a public hearing at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The bill, L.D. 1811, clarifies who is a qualifying patient or primary care giver, and how the law can be expanded to include other debilitating medical conditions.
After the bill is passed, it will be up to the Department of Health and Human Services to write rules to govern the nonprofit dispensaries and set out more details about the program.
LOBBYING WITH FORTUNE COOKIES
The Maine Women's Lobby distributed fortune cookies to lawmakers Thursday as part of its effort to drum up support for L.D. 1665, which would require Maine employers to provide paid sick days.
What were the messages inside the cookies?
"Bold legislation will bring great fortune. Do not fear the Chamber of Commerce."
"Healthy workplaces are worth a fortune. Support paid sick days."
"Bring good fortune to Maine's families with paid sick days."
The Labor Committee will begin consideration of the bill today.
'GOLDEN DELICACY' SENDS MESSAGE
Senate Minority Leader Kevin Raye, R-Perry, handed out tiny jars of his company's mustard to all senators Thursday, a bipartisan gesture meant to encourage his colleagues to check out other Washington County foodstuffs in the Hall of Flags.
"Dip your pretzel into some of that golden delicacy," he said in remarks on the Senate floor. "Try some delicious clam chowder."
Raye also noted that there is still an operating cannery in Maine – in Whiting, to be exact – and that other goodies such as organic milk, breads and blueberry products were also part of the State House event.
TERROR-ALERT SIGNS TO BE POSTED
Rep. Don Pilon, D-Saco, wants to post the color-coded national terror alert system signs in places where travelers will see them, including airports, train stations and bus terminals.
He sponsored a bill to this effect, but the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee decided it didn't require a state law to do it. They killed the bill, but will write a letter directing state emergency management officials to post signs.
Pilon said he envisions 3-foot-by-5-foot signs to let travelers know which level of alert is in effect. Although there are announcements in airports, he said some people would benefit from a visual reminder.
"No one else is putting this in public transportation facilities," Pilon said. "Why can't we take the lead on this and be proactive and inform our travelers?"
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
n Early this week, Gov. John Baldacci is scheduled to unveil his ideas for a bond package, which is likely to total $79 million.
n On Thursday, the Maine Forest Products Council will host a gubernatorial candidates forum at the group's headquarters on Civic Center Drive.
n Friday is a state shutdown day, one of 20 mandated by the Legislature to help balance the budget. This one is a little unusual in that it isn't attached to a holiday, but for citizens, the result is the same. State offices are closed, including the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
THIS WEEK'S SESSION SCHEDULE
The House and Senate will meet Tuesday and Thursday this week.
And, oddly enough, Franco-American Day is set for St. Patrick's Day, March 17.
MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: