News Releases

Senator Dana Dow Proposes to Eliminate Three Percent Surtax

AUGUSTA – State Senator Dana Dow (R-Lincoln) has sponsored legislation to roll back the three percent surtax on business owners and households earning more than $200,000. If passed, LD 571, “An Act To Eliminate the 3 Percent Surcharge on Certain Income and Provide an Alternative Funding Source for the Fund To Advance Public Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education,” would eliminate the new income tax designed to increase funding to K-12 education, replacing the funds with taxes from other sources, such as the those collected from the sale of recreational marijuana products, on Airbnb stays and from Amazon sales, until the state has met the 55% funding obligation. “The people of Maine voted to make education funding a top priority over a decade ago when they voted on a referendum to require the State to pay 55% of the cost of education,” said Sen. Dow. “Last year, they again voted to increase education funding with the passage of Question 2. Unfortunately, to fund this increase in support, Question 2 raised Maine’s income tax rate significantly, making it the highest in the country. “This new income tax rate makes our state uncompetitive, both on a regional and national scale. As a result, we’ve already started to see businesses, health care professionals and other affected citizens leave our state, taking jobs and resources with them, because they can’t afford to operate here under these conditions. “We have heard the people’s message loud and clear in Augusta; funding our schools will continue to be a top priority. But we can’t reach this goal off the backs of Maine’s employers and small businesses. That’s...

Maine Supplemental Budget Clears Committee Hurdle

Appropriations Committee Passes 2017 Supplemental Budget AUGUSTA – The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee today voted in support of an amended version of the proposed 2017 Supplemental Budget, unanimously. The amended supplemental budget, which largely remained the same, includes: $4.8 million ($3 million from the General Fund and $1.807 in federal money) to support opioid addiction treatment for uninsured and MaineCare patients through the Opioid Health Homes program $155,000 for the Secretary of State’s office to cover a gap in funding for the June election $5,050,000 for the University of Maine System to continue the tuition freeze $2 million for the early college program $35 million for the Budget Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) $13.99 million as a one-time payment to the Maine Public Employee Retirement System (MPERS) $7 million for Maine Military Authority Restructuring $2.98 million for the Grand Lake Stream Fish Hatchery $2.5 million for the Casco Fish Hatchery $524,151 for Maine Emergency Management Agency to go towards disaster assistance programs $375,000 for Veterans service grants $150,000 for the Attorney General to improve opioid detection in autopsies “It was encouraging to see everyone come together to agree on measures of great importance to our state such as combating the opioid crisis and keeping the cost of higher education affordable for students who chose to attend a public college in Maine,” said Senator James Hamper (R-Oxford), Senate Chair of the AFA Committee. “I am hopeful that we will continue to build on this momentum during our work on the governor’s biennial budget proposal.” The 2017 Supplemental Budget will now go to the Senate for...

Work of Searsport Museum on Display at the State House

Senate President Urges Visitors to View Works of Maine Artists AUGUSTA – Visitors to the Maine State House can view the works of 17 contemporary Maine artists that will be on display through early March. The Maine Arts Commission has partnered with the Penobscot Marine Museum for the current “Art in the Capitol exhibit: “Maine: A Continuum of Place.” It includes 25 paintings by Maine artists, as well as original glass plate images from the museum’s postcard collection. It coincides with the 100th anniversary of “Maine Postcard Day” which was established by Governor Oakley Curtis. Governor Curtis encouraged all Mainers to mail a Maine postcard to out-of-state friends. Senate President Thibodeau said, “With their extraordinary talent, these Maine artists have managed to capture the beauty of our state, and I have the privilege of seeing their amazing works of art every time I walk to my office at the State House. I believe everyone should come to see them.” The exhibit will be on display through March 3, 2017 throughout the ground and second floors of the State House. All Art in the Capitol exhibits are free and open to the public. # #...

Maine Supreme Court Sets Schedule for Filing Briefs on Ranked Choice Voting Question

PORTLAND – The Maine Supreme Court today issued a procedural order (attached) that establishes a schedule for briefings on the matter of ranked-choice voting. The justices have invited representatives from the Maine Senate, House of Representatives, Governor Paul LePage, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and other interested parties to file briefs addressing two questions: whether a solemn occasion exists for the Supreme Court to address the matter of ranked-choice voting and whether ranked-choice voting is allowed under the Maine Constitution. Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) said, “I would like to thank the justices for their prompt response in acknowledging the Senate’s request to look into this matter. Lawmakers desperately need guidance from the court as we move forward crafting public policy in order to prevent uncertainty in the outcome of our future elections.” The Law Court has established Friday, March 3, 2017, 4 p.m. as the deadline for submitting briefs. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for April 13, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. at the Cumberland County Courthouse....

Maine Senate President Statement on Marijuana Moratorium Bill

“The Maine Legislature today took decisive and appropriate action regarding legalized marijuana by voting unanimously for this bill in both the House and Senate. Passage of LD 88 means minors will not be able to use or possess marijuana legally and will prohibit driving while using the drug on Maine roads.  It will also give lawmakers time to carefully craft responsible legislation around legalization to protect the public. “I am encouraged by today’s vote, but much more work remains to be done on this issue.”  ...

Legislative Committee Votes Unanimously for Moratorium on Retail Sales of Marijuana

AUGUSTA – A legislative committee today gave unanimous approval to a one-year moratorium on the retail sale of marijuana in Maine. Over the past three days, the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee has been considering LD 88, “An Act to Delay the Implementation of Certain Portions of the Marijuana Legalization Act.” It was introduced to the committee as emergency legislation after numerous concerns arose following the passage of Question 1 on last November’s ballot. When it passes in the full Legislature, the legislation will delay implementation of retail sales of marijuana until February 1, 2018 and prohibit Maine citizens who are under the age of 21 from possessing the drug, among other measures. Over the next year, a special legislative committee on marijuana will adopt laws that address marijuana sales, as well as issues such as public safety and workplace issues. “It is very encouraging to see bipartisan support for this measure regarding the marijuana moratorium,” Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) said. “Although Maine voters approved this measure, albeit by a very narrow margin, I believe it is clear to all that there are many unforeseen circumstances surrounding legalization that impact public safety, employment and a number of other areas. It is hard to imagine that anyone who voted in favor of legalization wanted children to get their hands on this drug. “This moratorium will allow our elected officials to create sound public policy around legalization in a responsible manner.” Senator Majority Leader Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin), who chairs the VLA Committee, said, “I am incredibly proud of the work we were able to accomplish on the Veterans and Legal...

Veteran Maine Finance Leader to Join Senate Republican Team

  AUGUSTA – Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) announced today that veteran state official Sawin Millett of Waterford will serve as an advisor on his staff as the Legislature begins work on a budget to fund state services through Fiscal Year 2019. Millett’s service to the State of Maine is extensive and spans decades. Most recently, he was the Commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services under Governor Paul LePage. He has worked for five different governors, beginning with Governor James Longley, under whose administration he served as education commissioner. Governor John McKernan appointed Millett Commissioner of Finance. Later, Millett served as Associate Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services under Governor Angus King. In addition to working for the executive branch, Millett was a member of the Maine House of Representatives where he served for 12 years. Millett’s extensive experience in state government and ability to work with both sides of the aisle has earned him respect from Republicans, Democrats and Independents over the years. Senate President Thibodeau said, “I could not be more thrilled to have Sawin Millett on our team. We have tremendous challenges in front of us over the next five months as we attempt to craft a biennial budget that will keep government services operating efficiently without raising the tax burden on Maine citizens. Without question, Sawin is an invaluable resource who will bring great benefits to legislative Republicans in the months ahead.” Millett lives on his family farm in Waterford, and has also served his local community as a teacher, school principal, coach, selectman and moderator for town...

128th Maine Senate Sworn In

AUGUSTA- The 128th Maine Senate officially convened for the first time today as new and returning Maine senators joined at the State House to take the oath of office. Although the eelection occurred only a month ago, Senate Republicans, who maintained a majority in the Senate for a second consecutive session for the first time since 1980, are eager to return to continue working towards common goals such as promoting prosperity for all Mainers by passing a responsible biennial budget and building on the meaningful reforms that were passed into law during the 127th Legislature. Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) said, “It is a true honor to have been unanimously elected to serve as Maine Senate President for the second consecutive session. I believe it is a validation of the progress we made during the previous session on the most important issues facing Maine. We have many difficult challenges ahead of us in the 128th Legislature, and I look forward to joining all of my fellow senators in serving the people of Maine.” Senator Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin), the returning Senate Majority Leader said, “Last year, by working together, we were able to pass meaningful reforms to our welfare programs, reduce the overall tax burden and end the year with revenues that continue to surpass expectations. I look forward to building on this momentum by advancing laws that will make Maine great again.” “I look forward to continuing our work on issues that are most important to the citizens of Maine over the next two years”, said Senator Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot), the returning Assistant Senate Majority Leader. Legislators will reconvene...

Maine Senate Republicans Choose Leadership for 128th Legislature

AUGUSTA – Newly elected Republican state senators have unanimously chosen Senator Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) to serve as Senate President for the 128th Maine Legislature. Following Tuesday’s vote, Republicans will once again hold the majority in the Maine Senate by an 18-17 margin. The entire Maine Senate will formally vote for senate president on Swearing-In Day, which is scheduled for December 7, 2016. It will mark the first time a Republican has served as senate president for consecutive terms since 1980. Republicans also chose Senator Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin) to serve again as senate majority leader and Senator Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) as assistant majority leader. Senate President Thibodeau said, “I am extremely grateful to my fellow senators for once again expressing their confidence in me by choosing me to be not only their leader, but the leader of the entire Maine Senate. There are some who doubted our ability to maintain the majority in this election, but I believe the voters have validated our efforts to reform welfare and to make Maine a better place to work and live. “We are interested in working with all willing and interested parties to take on the state’s biggest challenges, and I am looking forward to the next two years.” Senator Garrett Mason said, “I am very proud to be the first Republican leader to serve back to back terms since 1970, and I would like to thank my fellow senators for trusting me to serve as their leader once again. I am looking forward to the next two years and can’t wait to get back to work.” Senator Andre Cushing said, “It is...

Bangor Daily News: Senate Democrats should be embarrassed by their ethics charade

By The BDN Editorial Board Posted Nov. 03, 2016, at 12:24 p.m.  Lawmakers have tried and failed over the years to clarify how politicians can use the money they raise through political action committees they operate. The failure to enact needed reforms, however, does not excuse Democrats in the state Senate from grandstanding on the issue recently and pressing for unnecessary investigations of activities that clearly are allowed. Certainly, there’s cause for concern when a sitting legislator operates a PAC and much of the money the committee raises ends up in the legislator’s pocket. It’s happened repeatedly through the years, and it raises serious questions about why legislator-run leadership PACs exist. Is it to pay for political campaign activity or to supplement lawmakers’ income directly from special interest campaign contributions? In 2012, for example, the Current newspapers in southern Maine reported that the PAC run by former state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, paid Dill $4,000 to maintain a blog. In 2014, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting reported that more than half the money spent since 2008 by the PAC run by then-state Sen. John Tuttle, a Sanford Democrat, went to Tuttle, to family members, and to cover some of their everyday expenses. Story continues below advertisement. Earlier this year, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting reported on another Democratic legislator, Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, who paid herself from funds raised by her PAC and spent a small portion of the PAC’s money on its stated mission. It’s disturbing, but there’s nothing illegal about a lawmaker raising money for a PAC, then directing the money...

Contact

Senator Mike Thibodeau
3 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333

(207) 287-1500
mike@mainesenatepresident.com

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