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December 19, 2014

127TH LEGISLATURE CONVENES
On December 3rd, the newly elected members of the Maine House and Senate convened and were sworn into office by Governor LePage. This is a day of ceremony and an opportunity for friends and family to wish legislators well as they start a new two-year session.

The first day of session is also when legislative leaders are formally elected. These positions include the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, as well as the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House.

  • President of the Maine Senate – Senator Michael Thibodeau (Republican – Waldo)
  • Secretary of the Maine Senate – Heather Priest
  • Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives – Representative Mark Eves (Democrat – North Berwick)
  • Clerk of the Maine House of Representatives – Robert Hunt

In addition to the presiding officers, there are assistant leaders in both chambers. These leadership teams include:

  • Senate Majority Leader – Senator Garrett Mason (Republican – Androscoggin)
  • Senate Assistant Majority Leader – Senator Andre Cushing III (Republican – Penobscot)
  • Senate Minority Leader – Senator Justin Alfond (Democrat – Cumberland)
  • Senate Assistant Minority Leader – Senator Dawn Hill (Democrat – York)
  • House Majority Leader – Representative Jeff McCabe (Democrat – Skowhegan)
  • House Assistant Majority Leader – Representative Sarah Gideon (Democrat – Freeport)
  • House Minority Leader – Representative Ken Fredette (Republican – Newport)
  • House Assistant Minority Leader – Representative Ellie Espling (Republican – New Gloucester)

All 186 members of the Legislature hold a joint convention in order to elect Maine’s three Constitutional Officers; Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer, for two-year terms. This year’s joint convention presented an unexpected result. Traditionally, the majority party controlling the House and Senate elect their party’s candidate to the positions. This year, however, due to the fact that the Democrats in the Legislature hold a narrow majority within the context of a joint convention, Republicans managed to elect one of their candidates. Former Democratic Representative Terry Hayes was elected as Maine’s next Treasurer, defeating incumbent Neira Douglas. Democrats were successful in re-electing Attorney General Janet Mills and Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to their posts.

The Legislature has now adjourned until January 7th. On that day, the Legislature will again meet in a joint convention for the inauguration of Governor LePage to his second term as Chief Executive for the state.

COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
With the formalities of organizing the 127th Legislature now complete, the focus turns to establishment of policy committees. There are 17 joint standing policy committees. House and Senate members serve on these committees for the two-year term. The committee assignments have not yet been publically announced. Committee formulation is the decision of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House but, generally, assignments are a negotiated agreement by the party leaders in each chamber. Complicating assignments this year is the question of partisan makeup of committees. Republicans, who are in the minority overall, are pressing for majority control of some committees in the 127th Legislature. We expect these decisions to be finalized soon and committee assignments announced before the end of the year.

CLOTURE FINALLY SET
Before the Legislature adjourned on December 3rd, the House and Senate adopted a Joint Order establishing Friday, January 2, 2015 at 4:00 P.M. as cloture. Cloture is the deadline by which legislators may submit ideas for bills to be introduced in the First Regular Session.

AGENCY BILL TITLES
While the members of the Legislature have until January 2nd to submit their ideas for bills, the state agencies deadline for bills was early December. While the agencies ideas must work their way through the approval process with the administration, there is a list of bill titles. This link provides the department and agency bill requests:
http://legislature.maine.gov/uploads/originals/agency-department-bills-127th-legislature-1st-reg-revised.pdf

FISCAL ISSUES
While the newly elected Legislature is getting started, the state agencies are going about business as usual. The focus of much attention during this time of year is the state’s budget issues. The good news is that General Fund revenue is ahead of projections both for the month of October and for the year-to-date. Based on preliminary data, the projections for the current fiscal year will likely be met or exceeded.

To comply with the statutory reporting date of December 1st, The Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) met on November 21, 2014 to review and update the current revenue forecast. The RFC revised its revenue projections through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 and as the Legislature begins a new biennium. A copy of the report can be found at http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/revenue_forecasting_committee/current/index.htm

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