Republican Leaders Urge Senate President and House Speaker to Act on Nursing Home Funding Shortage
Below is a letter from Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau and House Republican Leader Ken Fredette to Legislative Leadership
Dear President Alfond and Speaker Eves,
As you are aware, Maine’s nursing homes are in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis that could force some of them to close in the near future.
The good news is that we in the Maine Legislature are in a position to take action to make these facilities solvent and, in some cases, keep their doors open. That is why we are dismayed at your reluctance to even discuss using money that is still available to benefit our elderly citizens until January 2015 when the 127th Legislature convenes.
A recent study showed that Maine nursing homes are underfunded by about $30 million per year. This chronic inability of the state to meet its financial obligation caused one nursing home in Washington County to close in 2012. State officials now say that more of them are at risk of closing. In the most recent state budget, we did increase funding for nursing homes, but much of it won’t be available until July, 2015.
126th Legislature Adjourned!
The 126th Maine Legislature adjourned sine die (Latin for "without day") on May 2, 2014. Senator Ed Youngblood (R-Penobscot) made the motion to adjourn at about 12:35 am. Lawmakers had reconvened to take up 48 bills that had been vetoed by Governor Paul LePage. Of those, 33 vetoes were upheld by the Legislature. Among those that were overridden, however, was the $30 million fix for a state budget gap. As expected, the Legislature upheld the veto of two more attempts to expand Medicaid.
Before adjourning, lawmakers paid tribute to those senators who are either termed out or have chosen not to run for election again, including Senators Pat Flood, Gary Plummer and Roger Sherman.
Legislature Reconvenes on Thursday to Take Up Dozens of Vetoes
The Maine Legislature will reconvene on Thursday in order to take up dozens of bills that have been vetoed by Governor Paul LePage. Among the vetoed bills are two more attempts to expand Medicaid in Maine. When legislators are called into session, they will be given the choice of whether to sustain or override each individual veto. If a veto is upheld in either the Senate or House of Representatives, it dies there and does not go to the other chamber for consideration. If the veto is overridden in one chamber, it does go to the other. In order for a veto to be overridden, two-thirds of those present in both the House and Senate must vote to do so.
Kennebec Journal: Work begins on restoration of State House dome, ‘Lady of Wisdom’
By Susan McMillan
AUGUSTA — The scaffolding is going up, and in a matter of weeks the copper will come down.
The $1.3 million restoration of the State House dome has begun. The project consists primarily of replacing the dome’s leaky copper sheathing, which dates to an expansion of the building in 1909-10.
“The workmanship back then was just excellent, but it needs to be replaced so we don’t have problems with the structure of the dome itself,” said David Boulter, executive director of the Legislative Council.
Holes as large as dimes have formed in the copper, allowing water to seep in. In addition to replacing the sheathing, workers will repair and upgrade the gilded “Lady of Wisdom” statue that tops the dome.
Crews began work in late March. By mid-May, they should be finished erecting the staging, Boulter said. The scaffolding will encase the entire dome. Removal of the old copper will begin by early June, and the whole project is expected to be completed in late October.
“We do not want to go into the winter without that project being fully completed,” Boulter said.
When the State House’s oldest section was completed in 1832, it had a low, saucer-style dome. The current dome was part of the 1909-10 expansion, which added the north and south wings to accommodate larger House and Senate chambers.
“At that point everyone realized that by enlarging the building horizontally, it would significantly change the proportions of the building, and thus there was a need to have a new, much higher dome,” State Historian Earle Shettleworth said.
While most of the State House is built of granite, architect G. Henri Desmond designed a steel support structure for the dome. Gardiner sculptor W. Clark Noble created and donated the Lady of Wisdom sculpture, which is 12 feet tall, including her pine torch.
The statue is mostly in good condition, but most of the gilding that used to cover the copper has come off because of age and weather, Boulter said. The dome project includes regilding the statue and replacing the lighting in the torch with updated electrical materials and a more efficient LED bulb.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Maine’s State House is one of nine state capitols with copper domes. Shettleworth said it’s a common material for domes because copper is fairly pliable and can be shaped to architectural forms.
The new copper will be bright and shiny, like a new penny, for about six months, before it oxidizes and turns a dull brown. It won’t regain its green patina for 30 to 60 years, Boulter said.
Shettleworth said the patina is a decorative feature that suits the building well, and he thinks it will be interesting to watch the dome’s color change.