Daily Brief: Bruce Poliquin loses Republican Liberty Caucus endorsement

Happy Friday from Augusta, where the State House is looking to be a quiet place for the day. Lawmakers on legislative committees filled the schedule on Thursday and for the most part have gone home for the weekend. The House and Senate don’t reconvene until Tuesday. 

More attention will likely be spent today on the fallout from a cyberattack that caused a data breach, which was announced Thursday by Anthem Inc., a health insurance company with 300,000 Maine residents. Gov. Paul LePage said in a written statement that the scope of the breach was still being investigated. 

“Although it’s unknown whether Maine consumers will be impacted by the Anthem data breach, I encourage people to closely monitor medical and financial records for evidence of identity theft,” said LePage. “State and federal laws protect consumers from the effects of identity theft. The staff at Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation is available to provide specific information.” 

Anthem has established a website and a toll-free number, 877-263-7995 to answer current and former customers’ questions about the breach. BDN Health Editor Jackie Farwell has a comprehensive and helpful list of tips for dealing with the breach.  — Christopher Cousins

Poliquin facing fallout for ACA vote

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, elected last year to Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, raised a lot of eyebrows earlier this week when he was one of only three House Republicans who voted against a bill to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act. A lot has been written about that vote here at State & Capitol, but this morning comes another turn of the screw.

The National Board of the Republican Liberty Caucus voted Thursday to rescind its endorsement of Poliquin as a direct result of his vote, according to a strongly worded press release.

“We are both stunned and disappointed by Rep. Poliquin’s vote,” said Matt Nye, national chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. “Obamacare is an abomination that is steadily destroying the best health care system in the world every day it is in existence. … For our organization it is a litmus test issue and there is simply no excuse for a ‘No’ vote to repeal it.”

Nye called Poliquin’s call for a free-market alternative to the ACA “absurd.”

“The notion that the free market requires Congress to pass a bill in order for it to function is absurd on its face,” said Nye.

The Republican Liberty Caucus, founded in 1991, asks candidates it endorses to sign the Liberty Compact, a document that lays out the organization’s ideology. — Christopher Cousins

LePage taps manufacturer of the year

Huhtamaki, a producer of a range of food-service packaging and Chinet tableware, was named the 2014 Maine Manufacturing Extension Project Manufacturer of the Year Thursday by Gov. Paul LePage and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais.

The Waterville-based company has been in operation in the same location for more than a century. The Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership is part of a national program that through DECD helps businesses and industries access lean manufacturing, engineering and work force training supports. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Is protecting butterflies the furthest thing from your mind right now?

Mother nature has forced our focus on winter in recent days by dumping all-time record snowfall on many areas of the state and plunging us in and out of bitter cold. But you knew that. Luckily we have Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st Congressional District keeping her eye to a warmer, color-filled future, however distant it may seem.

Pingree is circulating a petition to save the monarch butterfly by convincing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list it as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. According to the congresswoman, the number of monarch butterflies has decreased by 95 percent since the 1990s, which she attributes to the destruction of breeding habitats, namely milkweed plants that have fallen victim to the use of herbicides.

Even in the dead of winter, saving butterflies seems like something we can all support. — Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.