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Taxpayer money stands between Maine and a presidential primary next March — Daily Brief — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Taxpayer money stands between Maine and a presidential primary next March — Daily Brief — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Good morning from Augusta. A largely unheralded 2016 legislative move made Maine a presidential primary state, however a quirk took the regulation off the books. If Mainers want a probability to vote in a presidential primary next yr, the Legislature goes to have to seek out money for a new election.

The change from party-run caucuses to state-run primaries gained momentum shortly after the 2 major parties had issues through the presidential caucuses three years in the past. Democrats had long strains and Republicans held regional caucuses that have been exhausting for a lot of to get to.

Primaries would improve participation and there was large bipartisan help for the thought, nevertheless it should be funded by the Legislature to be in place by 2020. That’s in all probability the primary impediment right now for lawmakers trying to do it.

The last caucuses have been marked by heavy turnout by caucus requirements. Primaries would sharply increase participation, however at a value. Democrats and Republicans hailed their turnout within the March 2016 caucuses, where Maine backed the eventual runners-up for both nominations: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, respectively.

However only 15 % of Democrats and 7 % of Republicans caucused in 2016. Whereas the Democratic determine is excessive for a typical caucus, Maine turned out 2.5 occasions extra voters over the past primary for an open presidential seat in 2000.

After the 1996 and 2000 primaries, there was a want in the Legislature to return to the caucus system to let parties determine how they needed to nominate candidates. Lawmakers and Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, repealed the short-lived primaries in 2003.

The logistical problems with 2016 introduced Maine full-circle. A final-minute invoice to return to primaries flew by way of the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican. It wasn’t definitive, directing Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to review the prices of a primary and setting the primaries for repeal in December 2018 if the Legislature didn’t say in any other case.

It didn’t say in any other case. That’s why Maine is officially nonetheless part of the minority group of caucus states. Dunlap came again with a 2017 report estimating the price of a primary at $979,000, with $857,000 of that born by cities and cities.

A prime Democratic lawmaker is hopeful that primaries can begin next yr, however value would be the important obstacle. Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, the co-chair of the Legislature’s election committee, is sponsoring a invoice this yr to reinstate the primary language.

If it passes, the primary would stay in March and events must craft conforming rules on easy methods to allocate electors. Luchini stated he’s optimistic concerning the invoice’s possibilities this yr, citing bipartisan help and saying the two-year price range will permit flexibility to fund the primary.

Spokespeople for Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Home Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, help the primary. However a Gideon spokeswoman stated she would monitor the bill to ensure it has no “adverse fiscal or participatory impact.” Spokespeople for Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Luchini expected value to be the primary sticking point. Rep. Scott Strom, R-Pittsfield, a lead Republican on the election committee, stated while he likes the thought of a primary, he’d back the caucuses if the new primary can’t be run concurrently with Maine’s common June primaries because of value.

But when the presidential caucuses have been then, Maine would have little influence in the process, so a new election might be the place Maine would have to go.


Right now in A-town

Motion picks up as we speak, with Cupboard nominees at middle stage. The Senate and House of Representatives return to chamber this morning, and 4 of Mills’ Cupboard picks might be vetted in legislative committee affirmation hearings this afternoon.

— At 1 p.m., Heather Johnson, Mills’ selection to steer the Division of Economic and Group Improvement, will seem earlier than the Committee on Innovation, Improvement, Financial Development and Enterprise. The Committee on Marine Assets will interview Patrick Keliher, renominated for commissioner of the Department of Marine Assets, and the Committee on Transportation will interview Bruce Van Word, nominated to function Department of Transportation commissioner.

— At 2:30 p.m., Kirsten Figueroa, chosen by Mills to steer the Department of Administrative and Monetary Affairs, will appear before the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

— Five different legislative committees meet right now, two of which embrace public hearings on proposed bills.


Reading listing

— There’s a new push to make use of government assets to take control of Maine’s electrical energy providers and create a consumer-owned utility. Maine Public stories that a consortium led by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, Home chair of the Legislature’s power committee, unveiled a plan Monday to create a new authority to buy electricity system poles and wires owned by Central Maine Power and Emera Maine. Berry recommended that state income bonds could possibly be used to fund the greater than $4 billion purchase in hopes of decreasing rates and enhancing service. Comparable efforts have failed prior to now, and electric company officials questioned the legality of the plan and whether the success of smaller customer-owned utilities might be duplicated on a statewide foundation.

— Meanwhile, the Canadian public utility that stands to make huge money from a proposed transmission line via western Maine is holding a low profile in debate over the challenge. Hydro-Quebec has engaged in a public relations campaign to win help for the $1 billion transmission line that may deliver power generated by its dams via western Maine to shoppers in Massachusetts. However Hydro-Quebec has largely prevented the regulatory process underway at the Maine Public Utilities Commission, letting attorneys for associate CMP make the case for the venture. That hands-off strategy has annoyed environmental advocates and some people whose property can be affected by development of the transmission line.

— Psychological illness, substance abuse and home violence are the most typical elements cited in a research of current instances through which Maine cops fatally shot individuals. A state process pressure that Mills created when she was lawyer common reviewed using lethal drive by Maine cops following an uptick in fatal police shootings in 2017. The panel launched a set of suggestions for reducing or stopping the varieties of incidents that led to those encounters. Within the report launched Monday by Mills’ successor, Lawyer Common Aaron Frey, the duty pressure urged state officials to undertake stricter penalties for individuals with a historical past of domestic violence who violate their protection orders and circumstances of launch.

— A manager to deal with the nuts and bolts of Medicaid enlargement in Maine has been hired. Appearing Health and Human Providers Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew introduced Monday that Michelle Probert, most just lately a health providers supervisor at Tub Iron Works, would be the new director of MaineCare. Probert takes the place as Mills’ administration is ramping up efforts to enroll recipients beneath a Medicaid eligibility enlargement permitted by Maine voters in 2017. Previous to taking a job on the shipyard, Probert, 41, served for 3 years as director of the Department of Strategic Initiatives for MaineCare early within the LePage administration.


Lifeless duck

In case you are already sad and even a little melancholy, cease studying now. This is only going to break your day or elevate your fretting about Maine’s frostbitten superstar hawk.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Trevor, a blown-off-course duck whose lonely life in a puddle on a Pacific Island made him a international movie star, has died.

Trevor did not go mild into that good night time. Foul play is suspected, in line with “sources close to the duck.”

The Guardian reviews that Trevor’s stays have been present in a bush after canine allegedly attacked the forlorn fowl on the distant South Pacific island of Niue. His immortal soul joins that of Nigel, the loneliest gannet, to flutter throughout the avian elysian fields populated by formerly lonely birds.

News of Trevor’s dying threw the southern hemisphere into mourning. Trevor Mallard, New Zealand’s parliamentary speaker for whom the duck was named, sent a message of condolence to the individuals of Niue. Rae Findlay, Niue’s chamber of commerce chief, referred to as the duck’s demise a loss for the nation.

“He captured many hearts and even the rooster, the chicken and the weka were looking a little forlorn today wandering around near the dry puddle,” Findlay advised Australian broadcasters.

Niue, a remote atoll that’s a three-hour flight from Auckland, has 1,600 human inhabitants. Due to a quirk of wind, it had one duck, which was so beloved that New Zealand’s former excessive commissioner would commonly feed him and firefighters would freshen his puddle with clean water.

Would that we people can be so good to one another. Hold in there, Hector the hawk. Maintain an eye fixed out for dangerous canine.

Rest in peace, Trevor. Right here is your soundtrack. — Robert Lengthy

As we speak’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Alex Acquisto and Robert Lengthy. When you’re reading this on the BDN’s web site or have been forwarded it, click on right here to receive Maine’s leading publication on state politics by way of e-mail on weekday mornings. Click on right here to subscribe to the BDN.

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