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For Immediate Release

Date: 06/19/13

Dems Try to Ram Welfare Expansion Through Maine House

GOP's commitment to Maine's fiscal future withstands parliamentary strong-arming

AUGUSTA - Majority Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon attempted but failed to override Governor LePage's veto of LD 1066, the medical welfare expansion proposal that would cost Maine taxpayers an estimated $150 million per biennium long-term. The measure has been tabled for a future vote.

Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick forced the impromptu vote without notice to Republicans. The Speaker attempted to close the roll call vote even as members were still making their way into the House chamber to vote, but Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) stood to object to the parliamentary slight-of-hand upon procedural grounds, even though he supports LD 1066 and voted with the Democrats. His motion allowed time for all members to make it to their seats in order to vote.

"Today's actions really put the Democrats' desperation for welfare expansion on display," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "They have failed to convince enough lawmakers that it is a good idea, so now they are trying to muscle it through the legislature. We were appalled by the Democrats' actions and are united in our belief that those tactics don't belong here in Maine."

The roll call vote to override the Governor's veto failed to obtain the two-thirds support necessary for a successful passage, at a tally of 97-52. Democrats then held a vote to "reconsider" the roll call, allowing them to effectively expunge the veto reconsideration vote and save the matter for another day. Republicans objected to the Democrats' finding that the reconsideration required only a simple majority vote, citing House Rules and Mason's Manual of parliamentary procedure.

Democrats ignored those objections, passed the reconsideration vote, and put the bill back on the House table for reconsideration another day. Immediately prior to Wednesday afternoon's session, liberal activist groups held a rally at the State House to demand welfare expansion.

"Our vote today was for the people who can't come to the State House to make their voices heard," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette of Mapleton. "Our vote was for the thousands of elderly and disabled who sit on waitlists because the state's welfare system has been stretched so thin that they can't get the services they need. Medicaid was designed with them, not able-bodied young men, in mind. Our vote was for the hundreds of thousands of Maine taxpayers who will be asked to pay this tremendous welfare tab."

In addition to millions in added administrative costs during the first three years, welfare expansion is estimated to cost the state $69 million in FY 16-17, $102 million in FY 18-19, and $150 million in each biennium after that. MaineCare, Maine's Medicaid program, has roughly doubled in size over the past 15 years, crowding out funding for education, first responders, natural resource management, and other priorities of state government.

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793