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August 19, 2014 at 12:00 am

52 Scatter – the Maine Legislature shuffles the deck

Remember the childhood card "trick" when you were asked if you want to play 52 scatter?   Upon agreeing, your friend took the full deck of cards and fanned them into the air across  the table, floors and chairs, leaving you to pick up the pieces and reassemble the deck.  That scene is a bit like what happened upon Legislative adjournment on May 1, 2014, when 186 legislators scattered from the Capitol to their respective districts to either retire from politics or build their campaigns for re-election.  On primary day, June 10, the deck was thinned, with successful primary contenders advancing with the uncontested candidates to the November 4 general election ballot.  

Following the primary election, a handful of elected candidates stepped out of the race to be replaced by others.  Two primary recounts were conducted, settling those races.   Senator Emily Cain of Orono, the Democratic nominee for Maine's 2nd Congressional district stepped down from her post on the Appropriations Committee, which continues to meet between legislative sessions to keep an eye on State finances.  Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston was immediately appointed to replace Senator Cain on that Committee.  The deck will likely continue to have minor re-shuffling events between now and when the fall campaign season kicks into high gear.

During the campaigns, candidates have a choice to run as "Clean Election" candidates or traditionally funded candidates.  Clean Election candidates forego private donations and receive their funding from State public funds, which are apportioned and capped according to a formula.  Traditionally funded candidates, on the other hand, raise campaign money from individuals and corporations.  While individuals and corporations are subject to contribution limits, candidates are not limited in the total amount raised. 

Additionally, some candidates vying for leadership positions, or for desirable committee chair positions, have established Political Action Committees (“PACs”), which are allowed to raise funds from individuals and corporations. These PACs are then allowed to help elect party candidates by spending money in the districts of those candidates, but those expenditures must not made in concert with the candidate. 

All contribution receipts and expenditures are periodically reported to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, providing oversight to prevent abuse of campaign funds. 

After November’s elections, those elected to the Maine House and Senate will meet within their respective parties to select their caucus leadership, including the Senate President, Speaker of the House, and the majority and minority party leader and assistant leader, or "whip".   Additionally, these caucuses will elect Maine's three Constitutional officers, the Secretary of State, State Treasurer and State Attorney General, who serve for two year terms, and Maine's Statutory Officer, the State Auditor, who is elected for a four year term. 

During the month of December, the newly elected leaders of the Legislature will assign legislators to serve on the  Legislature’s 16 joint standing committees, and also appoint the chairs to those committees.  These assignments will affect the development of policy for the next two years.  

Any legislator is allowed to submit any number of legislative proposals, often referred to as "bills" or "legislation" for consideration in the session.  Shortly after the Legislature convenes, cloture will occur, which is the deadline for submitting this new legislation.   The Governor is allowed to submit legislation at any time, but if a legislator misses the cloture date, then permission is required from a majority of the Legislative Council, comprised of the ten members of Legislative leadership.

Per our State Constitution, the Legislature will convene for business on the first Wednesday of December, and then again on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday of January to begin its session.  At that time, it would be quite safe to say that the deck has been fully re-assembled and placed in order for the first regular session of the 127th Legislature.  

Categories: Maine Real Estate Insider