May 22 & 23 Further unanimous votes

This update covers two days of AFA activity.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT

Voting on the Biennial Budget

Last night the Appropriations committee met to caucus and take further unanimous votes on items in the Biennial budget.  Actions spanned the following committees:

  • Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
  • Criminal Justice and Public Safety
  • Education and Cultural Affairs
  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Health and Human Services
  • Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Judiciary
  • Labor, Commerce and Economic Development
  • State and Local Government
  • Transportation
  • Veterans and Legal Affairs

Significant items include:

  • Creation of a Sargent’s position to work with the Computer Crimes Task Force
  • Funds to support inter-library loan services
  • The remainder of the ENR report
  • Funds to support Children’s Mental Health
  • Language crafted by and unanimously approved by the HHS committee to provide therapeutic and hospital bed-hold days (LD 1346)
  • The remainder of the IF&W report
  • Positions to support the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services

Accepting Federal Funds

At the end of the evening the committee voted, along partisan lines, though without rancor, to exempt LD 1546, An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract, from the Special Appropriations Table allowing the Senate to Finally Enact the legislation, presenting it to the Governor for his consideration.

Special Appropriations Table

A Bangor Daily news article last session described the Table this way,

“Essentially, each bill on the table has received all but final enactment, pending approval of its fiscal note. Anytime a bill affects the state’s budget — positively or negatively — a fiscal note is attached.

The Appropriations Committee is tasked with figuring out how to fund these bills. If lawmakers find funding, the bills usually go through.”

THURSDAY NIGHT

This afternoon AFA met to take a series of votes on the Biennial budget.  Significant actions include:

Retired teacher’s health insurance

Regarding Language Part H related to Retired Teachers Health Insurance the committee approved an amended H-3 clarifying that theres is no intent to cap the state’s responsibility for 45% of the cost of retired teacher’s health insurance. The new language is a budgeting and data gathering tool.

Maine Criminal Justice Academy

AFA unanimously approved amended support for the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.  The new initiative provides $500k in FY14 and $250k in FY15. The Academy is also permitted to carryover funds from FY14 to FY15.  The intention is to encourage the Academy to seek other sources of revenue and better ways of managing the resources and assets they possess.  Granting the full request in the first year allows the time to ramp up those efforts.

HHS

The initiatives approved by AFA for HHS are:

  • Support for Children’s Mental Health Children’s Mental Health (HHS lines 49-51 as amended by the HHS committee)
  • Additional auditors within DHHS (HHS lines 114-117)
  • Significant savings in HHS lines 329-330 through expanded Targeted Care Management

Trailer Excise Fees

The Appropriations committee unanimously rejected Language OOO, leaving this policy issue to the Transportation committee.

Schedule

The committee will meet either on mic or in caucuses every night this week, please feel free to join them in Room 228.

The full schedule may be found here: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/schedule_agendas/index.htm

Audio and more

Please feel free to join the committee as they do their work. You may also listen online using the following link: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/audio/index.htm

You also may watch broadcasts of these and other committee hearings on the Maine Capitol Connection pilot channel through Maine Public Broadcasting.  You may watch over the air or through your cable provider as well as online here: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineCapitolConnection.aspx

Thank you and please let me know if you have questions.

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