AFA Update- January 5, 2017- Riverview stepdown facility public hearing

Thursday afternoon the Joint Standing committees on Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) met at the direction of Legislative Council to ask questions about the Administration’s plan to build and privately operate a secure forensic mental health facility.

Initially the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Bureau of General Services (BGS) planned to construct a facility on the Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) campus in Augusta. This location requires the approval of Legislative Council.

The Department and the Administration have chosen to not provide sufficient answers to specific questions surrounding the construction and operation of the proposed facility.

The Department and the Administration did not choose to attend today’s hearing.

Immediately prior to today’s meeting BGS submitted a letter to Legislative Council withdrawing their request for the Council to approve a project in Augusta, confirming the Governor’s statements of his intention to build the privately operated facility in Bangor.

Dan Wathen, Court Master for the AMHI Consent Decree and former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court joined the committees.

Take-aways from Judge Wathen’s testimony

  • RPC has improved
  • 9 nursing vacancies of the 15 total vacancies
  • Incidents of seclusion, restraint are reduced
  • Sense that staff morale is better than previously
  • Supports a new unit for increased forensic capacity
  • 28 forensic clients now at Dorothea Dix in (DDPC) Bangor
  • Recommends approval of facility by the committees and by Legislative Council
  • Has seen draft operation RFP, has made recommendations about ensuring staffing meets the terms of the Consent Decree, Wathen is comfortable using the existing process to address his concerns should the Department not act on them
  • Transfer from RPC to the proposed facility will require the approval of the court in Wathen’s opinion, the Department may disagree but is not available to share their thoughts
  • Understands that this would be a locked facility, equal security to RPC with more treatment and freedom within the facility
  • Wathen’s assumption is that only those found not criminally responsible (NCR)but stable yet still not ready for release would be served in the proposed facility
  • 21 beds is likely the appropriate number
  • Per patient costs at RPC are $1,300/day or $475,500/year, at $3.6M per year for 21 beds the projected annual costs per patient are $171,429, or $470/day.
  • In October DHHS disclosed to Wathen that most of the construction funds come from substance abuse and mental health services accounts
    • DHHS told Legislative Council that these vague sources are intended to be used
      • Construction $3.5
        • Mental Health GF $650K
        • Unspecified “unobligated unspent funds”- $900K
        • Unspecified “unspent” funds- $500K
        • Federal case management gr ant- $1.5M
      • Operation- $2.6M
        • Mental health GF- $1M
        • Consent Decree- $550K
        • A piece of current $1.4M appropriation for “forensic patients”
      • Augusta may be preferable due to continuity of treatment
      • The judge is not weighing in on the likelihood of this facility restoring CMS certification and federal funding to RPC
      • When asked, the judge said he could think of no advantages to build the facility in Bangor

Members of the public then testified including current, forensic patients at RPC, family, staff from the facility, representatives of Disability Rights Maine, and the Maine branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Several people raised the possibility of using these funds for community based services to help people before they enter RPC.

Questions from Donald Beauchene, a forensic client in a letter filled with questions from other patients cover such basic issues as will TV’s be allowed in rooms, will laundry facilities be available on site, how will meals be provided, what sort of onsite supports will be available  and what will the staffing ratios be?

Simone Maline Executive Director of the Consumer Council System of Maine let the members know that these facilities are patient’s homes. Stakeholders have not been consulted in the view of the councils.

The Maine Hospital Association (MHA) reiterated support for construction of the facility. They feel the proposed facility to provide more capacity at RPC, capacity that will alleviate the number of civil patients waiting in emergency rooms for a bed at RPC. MHA stresses that they do not have answers to questions posed by the legislature, advocates or consumers. Despite this lack of information from the department, MHA supports the construction of the facility.

The ACLU of Maine (ACLU) provided testimony expressing concern over the due process rights of patients, the proposal to privatize the operation of the facility.

Further, the ACLU provided a memo arguing that the Governor does not have the authority to build a new facility anywhere or create a new program without the assent and backing of the Legislature.(Updated document)

Sharing the testimony of a worker who needed to leave, Sarah Bigney of the Maine AFL-CIO spoke of concerns about the privatization of a facility, highlighting increased violence at private prison/forensic provider Correct Care’s facilities. Some states have reversed course on privatization of these kinds of facilities. Marianne Turowski of the Maine State Employees Union (MSEA)Turowski also noted that in her years here policy surrounding mental health treatment it has always been a full, public discussion.

She also cannot recall a Governor building any facility without the participation of the legislature.

Citing continuity of care and seamless transitions it was also questioned how privatization meets those concerns.

After a brief break, the committees reconvened giving them until Noon Friday to submit questions to the Office of Fiscal and Program Review (OFPR) for submission to the Administration.

Wednesday, January 18 was set as the deadline for each committee to make their recommendation to Legislative Council. It was also agreed that it be requested that DHHS respond to any and all questions by Friday, January 13.

It was also asked that the Attorney General provide their opinion on the Governor’s authority to construct a new facility without the participation and funding of the legislature

Finishing the work

This morning AFA met to nearly complete its business for the 127th Legislature.

Continued technical difficulties prevent the recording of AFA Committee audio.

LD 1053 Rep. Luchini’s Research & Development bond amended to provide $45M for competitive R&D funding and $5M for the Maine Venture Fund.

OTP-AM 9-0

LD 1699 An Act to Provide Relief for Significant Reductions in Municipal Property Fiscal Capacity

Provides one-year of assistance to municipalities that experience a loss in state valuation of at least 4.5%

OTP 9-0

LD 1649 An Act To Modernize Maine’s Solar Power Policy and Encourage Economic Development

Exempt from the Appropriations Table 7-2

LD 1653 An Act Implementing Pay Increases for Certain Law Enforcement Employees To Aid in Recruitment and Retention

The contents of this bill were folded into LD 1523 which has been enacted and sent to the Governor.

ONTP

LD 633 Medicaid Expansion

Amended to fund with FMAP

OTP-AM 7-5

 

Bond votes including Transportation

This afternoon Appropriations took further votes on bonds. The remaining bond requiring action after today’s actions is the R&D bond, LD 1053.

Continuing difficulties prevent the audio recording of hearings.

  • LD 1694 Transportation bond $100M

The committee had a lengthy conversation about which vehicle should bear the costs to the Secretary of State’s Office should a further page be needed for the November ballot. Those costs are roughly $107,000. It was finally decided to attach the contingent language drawing the possibly necessary funds from the unappropriated General Fund Surplus to each and every bond approved. This was approved 12-0

Rep. Sanborn shared that Legislative Leadership, through the Study Table will direct the Transportation Committee to use its interim meetings to explore alternative sources of support for our transportation infrastructure.

OTP-AM Unanimous

  • LD 998 An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Collect Data on and To Monitor Ocean Acidification $3M

OTP-AM 6-5

  • LD 1069 An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Upgrade Municipal Culverts at Stream Crossings $5M

OTP-AM 6-5

  • LD 1554 An Act to Address Inconsistencies in Drug Laws

OTP 10-1

 

 

Bonds

Appropriations took action on a trio of Table bills and the majority of bond bills.

Audio of today’s hearing is here.

Tabled bills

LD 1099 Fund the UMaine Plant and Animal Health Lab ONTP
LD 1645 Recruitment and Retention at State Mental Health Hospitals OTP 8-3

LD 1671 Compensate Susan Cloutier for Claims Against the State Amended to fund through Risk Management Pool OTP-AM 10-1

Bonds

LDNumber Subject Title Sponsor Projects Total Disposition Details AFA
2 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for the Purchase and Development of the Bar Harbor Ferry Terminal as a Multimodal Transportation Facility Hubbell, Brian Bar Harbor ferry terminal 5,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
68 ECON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Attract Business by Investing in High-speed Broadband Infrastructure Campbell, Sr, James Municipal broadband infrastructure 10,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
108 ECON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Riverfront Community Development Saucier, Robert Environmental, economic and community development 25,000,000 Carry Over $2,000,000 OTP-AM 6-5
193 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects Breen, Catherine Design and construction of 50 bicycle and pedestirian projects awaiting funding 13,871,389 Carry Over ONTP
217 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Development of a Multimodal Transportation Facility Langley, Brian facility at a Class A port within 20 miles of an airport 8,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
254 ECON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support Waterfront Development Haskell, Anne Like a Riverfront Community Development but on the ocean 10,000,000 Carry Over $3,000,000 OTP-AM 6-5
354 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Enhance Public Transportation in the Bangor Area Stanley, Stephen Improve I-95 between Newport and Medway 3,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
385 EDU An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Improvements to Facilities at the University of Maine System Campuses Dill, James UM $35,000,000, UMA $3,500,000, UMF $3,500,000, UMFK $3,500,000, UMM $2,000,000, UMPI $3,500,000, USM $17,500,000 70,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
386 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Fund Farmland Restoration Johnson, Christopher Farmland restoration 5,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
387 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support Agricultural Enterprises and Encourage the Use of Local Farm Products in Public Schools Johnson, Christopher Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund 6,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
426 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Address Sea Level Rise Devin, Michael Map coastal zones and monitor sea levels 5,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
438 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Maine’s Rail Infrastructure and Expand Passenger Rail Service Libby, Nathan Repair state owned railways $12,000,000, Crossing in Yarmouth $8,000,000, Repair rail between L/A and Portland 25,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
453 MPBN An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Upgrade and Replace Infrastructure of the Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation Katz, Roger Transmitter and studio equipment for emergency alert system 1,000,000 Carry Over   OTP-AM 7-5
628 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Transportation Infrastructure Diamond, G. William Roads, highways and bridges $81,500,000, rail lines $25,000,000, Public transportation $10,000,000, Pedestrian trails $6,250,000, Marine infrastructure $25,000,000 125,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
733 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Build the Infrastructure Needed To End Hunger in Central and Northern Maine Alfond, Justin Food hubs? 2,500,000 Carry Over   OTP-AM 6-6
747 EDU An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Assist in the Creation and Retention of Jobs and Improve Access to Higher Education in Maine Beavers, Roberta ERLP $13,000,000, Maine State Grant $10,000,000 23,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
873 HOUSING An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Housing for Homeless Veterans Golden, Jared Cabin in the Woods $4,000,000 4,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
875 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Improve Highways, Bridges, Ports, Railroads and Other Multimodal Facilities McLean, Andrew Highway and bridge $155,000,000, Everything else $35,000,000 190,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
924 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Enhance State Parks Fredette, Kenneth State parks 5,190,000 Carry Over ONTP
931 R&D An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Research and Development for the University of Maine System Alfond, Justin R&D at UMS 20,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
996 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Food Processing Infrastructure in Rural Areas of the State Hickman, Craig Food processing grants through ACF 2,500,000 Carry Over   OTP-AM 6-6
998 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Collect Data on and To Monitor Ocean Acidification Parry, Wayne Collect data through MAR on Ocean acidification 3,000,000 Carry Over   Table
1053 R&D An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Stimulate Investment in Innovation by Maine Businesses To Produce Nationally and Globally Competitive Products and Services Luchini, Louis R&D and commercialization in 7 targeted sectors 50,000,000 Carry Over   Table
1069 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Upgrade Municipal Culverts at Stream Crossings McCabe, Jeff Culverts 10,000,000 Carry Over   Table
1234 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Acquire the Frances Perkins Homestead Johnson, Christopher acquire the Frances Perkins homestead 2,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
1248 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for the Land for Maine’s Future Fund McCabe, Jeff LMF 20,000,000 Carry Over   Table
1334 R&D An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Repair and Renovate the Former Cutler Naval Base in Washington County To Facilitate Development and Stimulate the Economy Burns, David Repair and renovate Cutler 5,525,000 Carry Over ONTP
1336 EDU An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Maine’s Community Colleges Fredette, Kenneth funding for all 7 campuses 24,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
1341 HOUSING An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Improve Maine’s Housing Stock and Reduce Heating Costs and Oil Consumption Hill, Dawn Weatherization and energy efficiency through EMT $23,000,000, weatherization and energy efficiency at state’s low-income housing $7,000,000 30,000,000 Carry Over ONTP
100 ECON An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Help Small Businesses Alfond, Justin Concept Draft ONTP
1512 EDU An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Fund Equipment for Career and Technical Education Centers Fecteau, Ryan Purchase equipment and make capital improvements at high school tech centers 10,000,000     OTP-AM 7-6
1630 CON An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for the Construction of a New Fish Hatchery Davis, Paul new fish hatchery 28,000,000 ONTP
1656 EDU An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Fund Loan Repayment Programs for Graduates in the Fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Alfond, Justin STEM college debt reduction 10,000,000 ONTP
1694 TRA An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities Collins, Ron Transportation 100,000,000     Table

 

Bonds and more Table action

Tuesday afternoon Appropriations met to process more AFA Table bills and initiate the conversation on General Fund bonding.

Audio of the hearing is here.

LD 927 An Act to Remove the Age Penalty for State Retirees Working at Institutions that are closing Rep. Martin presented an amendment to Rep. Alley’s bill. The amendment provides that before any affected employees take advantage of this bill that advance appropriations be made. This avoids the creation of a constitutionally prohibited unfunded actuarial liability.

  • Prepay costs
  • 25 years of service or more
  • Has not otherwise reached Normal Retirement Age (NRA)
  • The correctional facility the employee works at is closing and is over 100 miles from the nearest state correctional facility
  • The retirement is a direct result of the closure

OTP-AM 7-6

LD 842 An Act to Establish Peer Center Reimbursement Supports 12 locations providing mental health services under the Consent Decree

OTP 7-6 $75,000

LD 886 Increase Reimbursement Rates for Home-based and Community Based Services Rep. Sanborn proposed an amendment that conforms to the provisions proposed in the supplemental budget LD 1606. It additionally offers $250,000 in GF funding for Section 40 services. The net effect is that all services covered under the HHS committee report receive 50% of the funding proposed by the HHS committee. The source of this one-time funding is existing DHHS funds not being used for TANF maintenance of effort purposes.

The final motion was OTP-AM with $4M and rate study for Section 40

LD 1253 Improve the Evaluation of Elementary and Secondary Schools OTP 9-3

LD 1627 An Act to Implement Certain Recommendations of the Maine Proficiency Education Council OTP 7-6

LD 1638 An Act to Increase Payments to Providers that are subject to the Service Provider Tax

Rep. Sanborn proposed the bill be amended to use $750,000 from TANF maintenance of effort (one time) and $2.3M from FMAP funds.

TABLE

LD 1279 Authorize Advance Deposit Wagering on Horse Racing

OTP 7-6

LD 1534 An Act to Reduce the Trafficking of Illegal Drugs in this State The committee reconsidered its previous vote of 12-1 ONTP to entertain an amendment that no longer adds 4 trooper positions but instead asks the Maine State Police to reinstate a drug interdiction unit within existing resources.

ONTP 11-2

LD 1536 An Act to Provide Ballistic Vests to Law Enforcement The committee reconsidered its previous vote of OTP-AM 8-5 to entertain an amendment to strip the funding and requirement that vests be provided to law enforcement officers in favor of a report on efforts to provide vests to officers and their dogs. This effort was rejected in favor of the report made last week to provide vest for 15 Marine Patrol Officers.

The committee will meet to make final decisions surrounding bonding on Wednesday.

Action on the Appropriations Table

Appropriations met sporadically throughout the day to address bills that have made their way to the Appropriations Table.

Audio was unavailable this afternoon.

LD 281 Modify State Valuations with respect to Mill ClosuresTABLE

LD 1483 An Act to Amend Maine’s Motor Vehicle Laws– amended to remove the General Fund costs of the bill- OTP-AM 12-0

LD 1541 An Act Regarding Increased Sentences for the Illegal Importation of DrugsONTP 7-5

LD 1552, Reduce Mortality from Injectable Drugs, also known as “needle exchange”- amended to require the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the bill within existing resources OTP-AM 8-4

LD 1553- Regarding Worker CompensationOTP 8-4

LD 1603- Recommendations of the Criminal Law Advisory Commission OTP 11-1

LD 1610- An Act to Provide Certain Veterans Benefits ONTP 12-0

LD 1657- Amended to include Sen. Alfond’s Opportunity Maine bill and Rep. McCreight’s Opportunity Maine bill LD 1505 OTP-AM 13-0 $425,000

LD 690, An Act to Ensure Safety of Home Birth– Amended to require the Office of Professional and Financial Regulation to achieve the aims of the bill within existing resources. OTP-AM 9-4

LD 1279 An Act to Authorize Advance Deposit WageringTABLE at the request of Rep. Timberlake

LD 1472 Address Child Hunger, OTP 7-6 $79,800

LD 1577 An Act to Increase the Availability of Mental Health Services OTP 7-6

LD 1670 An Act to Attract Investment at Loring Commerce Center OTP 7-6 $637,000

LD 1671 An Act to Compensate Susan Cloutier OTP-8-5 $400,000

LD 1683 An Act to Increase Penalties for Violence Against Firefighters OTP 13-0

LD 1638 An Act to Increase Payments to Providers that are subject to the Service Provider Tax TABLE

Appropriations will reconvene in the morning.

 

Further AFA table action

Appropriations held a series of public hearings and work sessions this afternoon. The Commissioner of Transportation spoke to the committee about LD 1694 the Governor’s Transportation bond. Work sessions for bonds will be held at a later date.

Moving on to work sessions the Committee voted 7-4 to approve an amended version of LD 1579 to provide adequate Maine Clean Elections funding for the upcoming cycle by moving a January 2017 $500,000 transfer to August 2016.

LD 1645, Sen. Katz bill to enhance recruitment and retention at Riverview and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Centers was also approved in an amended fashion (to include benefit costs as noted at the previous work session). The cost will be borne from salary savings. The vote was 7-5.

LD 927 to provide retirement options to state employees close to retirement age if their facility they serve in closes and is more than 100 miles from a comparable facility was tabled pending disposition of the proposal to renovate the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

LD 1612, the Veterans Services commission package consisting of LD 1343, LD 1590, LD 1611 and 1612 was then voted OTP 12-0. The constituent bills were also voted ONTP.

LD 655, Rep. Lajoie’s bill to look at the establishment of a state fire training facility, was amended to remove the funding and allow the fire commission to pursue private funds on a vote of 10-2.

Sen. Libby’s bill, LD 867, to equalize the sales tax treatment of medical marijuana was approved on a vote of 10-1 in an amended version that reimburses the General Fund for any loses though the Medical Marijuana Program Fund.

Audio of today’s hearing is here.

Work sessions on remaining bills, tabled bills and bills pending placement on the Appropriations Table will continue over the next week.