AUGUSTA

A State House reporter for a Bath-based news website was ousted from the House floor during debate on Medicaid expansion and hospital debt Tuesday night.

Andi Parkinson was asked to remove herself from the floor of the House at the request of Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport.

Parkinson, whose video of Gov. Paul LePage’s appearance at a special Sunday work session of the Appropriations Committee made the rounds of television news throughout the state, was the only reporter asked to leave the proceeding, according to Gina Hamilton, editor of the New Maine Times.

The Sun Journal and the Bangor Daily News also had reporters in the State House that night, and MPBN was filming.

According to Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, and Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, Fredette asked that Parkinson be removed because she had worked for Dirigo Blue, a progressive news organization, in the past.

Berry complied with Fredette’s request and asked Parkinson to remove her equipment to the gallery or to leave.

Parkinson chose to leave, as the proceedings were nearly over.

Berry apologized when Hamilton contacted him later that night.

“We fully understand the New Maine Times’ concern about government transparency and press freedom,” Berry said.

Eves also apologized. “Clearly this was not our finest hour,” he said.  “I give the New Maine Times my assurances that this will never happen again.”

The bill passed on a nearly party line vote, 87-57, with one Democrat voting with the minority.  The bill had already passed the Senate on a party-line vote.

The bill faces more votes before being sent to LePage, who has promised to veto it.

Hamilton is a weekly OpEd contributor to The Times Record.

Fredette did not respond to requests for comment.



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