Collins, King hunt for a budget deal as shutdown impact hits Maine

Good morning from Augusta. The federal government shut down as of midnight on Friday, but Republicans in the Senate are expected to hold a vote Monday on a bill to fund government until Feb. 8 while promising to negotiate with Democrats on immigration.

Maine’s U.S. senators were part of a bipartisan group that were negotiating to end the shutdown on Sunday. The office of Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, was the site of a salon between more than a dozen of the chamber’s more moderate members. That group included independent Angus King of Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, according to Politico. King tweeted afterward that he was “hopeful that (common sense) will prevail,” but Politico reported that the short-term Republican budget bill was expected to fail today absent more progress between Republican and Democratic leaders. U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, said Saturday that he’ll donate his pay during the shutdown to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

The shutdown began at Acadia National Park on Saturday, but it’s less strict than the last one. The park said it started furloughing weekend employees and that the park workforce could go from 94 to 15 by Tuesday. People can still use the Mount Desert Island park, but federal emergency staff won’t be responding. That’s less stringent than the government’s strategy during the last shutdown in 2013, when gates to Acadia were shut.

The LePage administration hasn’t said how it’ll manage federally funded workers in the shutdown, but no layoff notices have been reported. Spokespeople for Gov. Paul LePage haven’t provided information on the shutdown’s state impact, but Mary Anne Turowski, the political director for the Maine State Employees’ Association, said the union has gotten no layoff notices from and all members would need at least five days’ notice. In 2013, the administration laid off federally funded disability determination workers during the shutdown. However, Turowski said the administration had other options then and would especially now, because the Legislature is in session and could appropriate money to pay workers in the interim.

LePage hires another Beardsley

Michael Beardsley became the governor’s senior policy adviser last week. The governor said in a news release that “his work experience will be an asset to our efforts this session.” Beardsley, the son of Bill Beardsley, LePage’s former conservation commissioner and education chief, comes to LePage’s office from a job for Santee Risk Managers, which provides insurance to logging contractors. Bill Beardsley was one of LePage’s opponents in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. Michael Beardsley previously served as executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.

Today in A-town

The House and Senate are out until Tuesday but a few legislative committees are working at the State House today. Among the bills on today’s docket is one that would offer a tax credit to logging businesses that hire U.S. residents. There is also a work session on a bill carried over from last year that would expand the use of electronic monitoring devices in domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking cases. The Hall of Flags will be bustling this morning with students, teachers and parents who are involved in Maine’s charter schools. The Maine Association of Charter Schools leads the event as part of National School Choice Week.

Reading list

  • The Jackman town manager who is under fire for his white separatist views will meet with the town’s selectmen Tuesday morning. Town Manager Tom Kawczynski told the Bangor Daily News on Friday that his views aren’t racist, but that the group he founded, New Albion, believes Islam is “the scourge of Western civilization and that the U.S. would be better off if people of different races were “voluntarily separate.” Kawczynski told reporters over the weekend he is probably out of a job following the media coverage, and Jackman officials told the Associated Press they have scheduled a Tuesday morning meeting with him.
  • Thousands took to the streets in Maine and beyond Saturday to protest President Donald Trump. There were more than 1,000 marchers in Bangor and some 2,500 at the State House in Augusta. The marches came as Trump marked the end of his first year in office.
  • The University of Maine’s pilot offshore wind energy project near Monhegan Island won’t lay a cable through Port Clyde. Maine Aqua Ventus, the collaborative working on the project, is now considering 11 other routes for the electricity transmission line following backlash from residents and fishermen about the Port Clyde proposal.

How to answer football questions without getting tackled

My wife is as loyal and dedicated a New England Patriots as anyone I know but she is still a student of the game and sometimes there are questions. I’m happy to answer them but sometimes there’s an art to it. During Sunday’s game, there was a crowd shot.

“Why are those guys holding a D and a hashtag?” she asked. She is not on Twitter.

“That’s not a hashtag,” I said. “It’s a fence.”

The art part is when you don’t say, “Haven’t you ever seen that before?” I stayed silent and the awkward moment passed.

“Well, that’s stupid,” she said.

Not at all, honey. Here’s my soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.