December 2, 2022

Pre-Session Leadership Update

Since our last update before Thanksgiving, House Democrats have chosen their leadership team. They have chosen Rep. Rachel Talbot-Ross, D-Portland, as their candidate for Speaker of the House, the Hon. Rob Hunt to continue as Clerk of the House, and term-limited House Majority Leader, Michelle Dunphy, as Assistant Clerk. These offices will all be voted on by the entire house on swearing-in day (first day of session), which is next Wednesday, December 7th.

There will be several new staff in the Speaker's Office. Long-time budget staffer William "Bill" Brown has been chosen by Rep. Talbot-Ross, D-Portland, to be her Chief of Staff. Even longer-term Senior Administrative Secretary, Jane Figoli, is retiring and will be replaced by Melissa Rhoten, a long-term staffer from the Secretary of the Senate Office. Also, the most recent communications director for the Speaker's Office, Jenna Howard, has been the new Chief of Staff in the Senate Democratic Majority Office since this summer, and will remain there.

The House Democratic caucus chose Rep. Maureen "Mo" Terry, D-Gorham, as House Majority Leader, and Rep. Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston, as Assistant House Majority Leader. Rep. Terry will be keeping current House Majority Chief of Staff, Katie Walsh, as her Chief. The other staff in the House Majority Office are expected to remain if they so choose. 

As stated in the previous update, Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, is the new House Minority Leader, and Rep. Amy Arata, R-New Gloucester, is the new Assistant House Minority Leader. Rep. Faulkingham has chosen the Hon. Earl Bierman to replace William "Billy" Thompson as his Chief of Staff. Earl was last Chief for Rep. Ken Fredette in the 128th Legislature. The other current staff will remain if they so choose.

As reported previously, the Senate Democratic Majority has re-elected its current leadership. Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook; Senate Majority Leader, Eloise Vitelli, D-Sagadahoc; and Assistant Senate Majority Leader, Mattie Daughtry, D-Cumberland, will all remain in their current positions. 

Senate President Jackson will keep his current Chief of Staff, Max Rush, and the other staff are expected to remain as well. As stated above, Senator Vitelli hired Jenna Howard over the summer as her Chief of Staff and she will remain.

Derek Grant will continue as Secretary of the Senate, but Marcia Holmstead, the current Assistant Secretary who worked for the Senate Democrats for over 40 years, is retiring. Senate Democrats have chosen current Senate Chamber Board Operator, Jared Roy, to be the new Assistant Secretary. There will be a couple new hires in the Secretary of the Senate Office due to these job shifts.

Also, as reported earlier, Senate Republicans have chosen new leadership. Senator Troy Stewart, R- Aroostook, is now the Senate Minority Leader and Senator Lisa Keim, R-Oxford, is now the Assistant Senate Minority Leader. Senator Stewart is keeping current Chief of Staff, Heather Priest, as his Chief. Other staff will remain if they so choose.

Legislative Caucus Fundraisers

Both the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses are holding a joint fundraising event at 5 PM on Monday, December 5th, at the Augusta Civic Center, North Wing, Second Floor, Kennebec/Penobscot Room.

Senate Republicans are holding their fundraiser on Tuesday, December 6, at 3:30 PM at The Quarry Tap Room, at 122 Water Street, Hallowell.

House Republicans are holding a fundraiser on Wednesday, December 7th, at 7:30 AM at the International House of Pancakes, 110 Community Drive, Augusta.

These are important events to contribute to and attend if you or your members are able to do so. Thank you if you have already done so, and please let us know if you have, or intend to, contribute, and if you are able to attend. This is an opportunity to introduce yourself to new legislators, reconnect with the returning members and leadership, and simply get on everyone's radar again before session starts.

Revenue Forecasting Update

The Revenue Forecasting Committee met on Tuesday, November 29th. They have forecasted a $283 million surplus within this budget biennium. This will require a supplemental budget to be considered in the upcoming session. Housing and energy costs are expected to be a priority for these funds.

There are increases in the revenue projections for the next two biennium's as well. However, none of these revenue projections for future years reach the level of spending of the current biennium. It is clear that not all current spending can continue at current levels in the next biennium unless revenue projections increase dramatically.

Legislative Process

The newly elected Legislature will be sworn in on Wednesday, December 7th at 10 AM in the House and Senate Chambers. The bodies will choose their administrative leaders, Speaker, President, Clerk, Secretary, etc. at this time.

They will also meet jointly to choose the Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Treasurer. Current office holders, Aaron Frey, Shenna Bellows, and Henry Beck, respectively, are expected to win re-election. 

Cloture will be on December 30th. This will be officially announced after the Legislature votes on the rules on swearing-in day. Legislative Council is scheduled to meet at 1:30 on Wednesday, December 21. We expect that decisions about some administration issues related to the legislative process to be made at this time. These include whether hybrid committee meetings, and the more efficient process of referring bills to committee, both established during COVID, will continue.

Inaugural Events

Governor Mills will be inaugurated on Wednesday, January 4th and her Inaugural Gala will be held on January 5th. We will be in touch with you about opportunities to participate in and host these events.