Good morning. We’re just going to leave this here:

You’re welcome. Now, on to the Briefing …

As the Kennbec Journal’s Mike Shepherd reported Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage called Verso Paper “bottom feeders” for the company’s pending sale of the paper mill in Bucksport to a scrap metal recycling company in Quebec. Shepherd also gathered a few other outtakes from LePage on President Obama’s State of The Union speech and the Republican response to the governor’s two-year budget and tax overhaul.

As for the budget, the governor said he hasn’t received much feedback. However, he warned lawmakers that not lowering the state income tax could have electoral consequences:
“The poison pill to the Republicans and the Democrats, in my mind, is not to pass the elimination of the income tax because they will feel it in ’16.”

He was also asked if he watched Obama’s speech. Nope. “I would rather watch a bad Saturday night skit,” he said, adding that he read instead.

— Steve Mistler

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Our colleague Christian MilNeil put together this neat interactive of towns that may end up with no replacement for municipal revenue sharing under the governor’s proposed budget. A couple of important caveats: First, this is the best available data from an annual report that towns have to file with Maine Revenue Services, but town officials may not have put a lot of effort in assessing nonprofit properties because those parcels have not been subject to property taxes (That includes land trusts, which we learned on Monday would be subject to the nonprofit tax.). Second, the number of towns could actually be higher than represented on this map because the MRS report does not break down assessed value of nonprofits by specific property owner, it only lists the values by category (hospitals, educational, etc.). Again, nonprofits with an assessed value of $500,000 or more would be subject to the tax under the governor’s plan.

nonprofit map

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Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that has opened the floodgates in election spending in Maine and across the country. On Tuesday the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections used the anniversary to submit signatures for a ballot measure designed to beef up accountability and transparency to state election laws amid record breaking spending by outside groups.

Around the same time a several protesters disrupted the U.S. Supreme Court, which was holding hearings. The SCOTUS blog covered some of the protests.

“(A protestor) continued with a mention of Citizens United, the 2010 ruling that removed limits on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. Three Supreme Court police officers quickly converged on her, causing a loud commotion as they pushed through an area of the courtroom where single wooden chairs are in use, forcefully subdued her, and then removed her from the courtroom. As what at first seemed like the lone demonstrator was removed, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. quipped, ‘Our second order of business this morning …’ to laughs from the crowded courtroom.”

Shortly thereafter:

But before he could finish that thought, a second demonstrators stood and said, “One person, one vote.” It was perhaps a continuation of the Citizens United theme, or a reference to a key phrase from the Court’s voting rights jurisprudence. As the second protestor was being approached by officers, a third and a fourth one stood and uttered similar lines. The Chief Justice was heard to mutter, ‘Oh, please.’

— Steve Mistler

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