MSBA Legislative Update 04-24-09
INDIGENT DEFENSE COMMISSION WORK SESSION
LD 1132, the proposal to establish an indigent defense commission has its work session scheduled for April 29 starting at 1:00 p.m. The public hearing on the proposal saw support from the MSBA, the Maine Trial Lawyers Association, and the Maine Civil Liberties Union. Though some clarifying language to the original draft is necessary, it was evident at the hearing that many members of the Judiciary Committee support the creation of a new Commission and we expect the proposal to receive the support of the Committee.
STATE BUDGET NEWS DISMAL
The Appropriations Committee received a briefing on the status of state revenues, from Commissioner Ryan Low at its Friday, April 24 meeting. Commissioner Low indicated the Revenue Forecasting Commission officially meets on April 28, but he expects the range of projected revenue deficit to be approximately $560 million - $590 million. He indicated, not surprisingly, that sales tax revenues are significantly worse than expected, income tax revenues are significantly worse than expected, and other revenues such as the Fund for Healthy Maine also are significantly reduced.
He provided the Committee with a downward projection of approximately $100 million dollars for the current FY ’09. Though he believed that the Administration will be able to create a “shortfall package” for the current FY ’09 fiscal year with onetime solutions.
The remainder of the projected deficit falls in the biennial budget year of FY ’10 – ’11.
In addition to the dismal projections for the General Fund, the projections for deficits within the Highway Fund are also significant, but he did not provide a range of estimates regarding the Highway Fund.
The Appropriations Committee has started its weekend work sessions and is expected to continue with daily work sessions until the budget is completed. Toint Standing Committees have been requested not to schedule hearings or work sessions for May 6 and 7, in order to allow the Legislature to address the Budget. It is the goal to have the biennial budget enacted by May 8.
FORECLOSURE HEARINGS SET
The Insurance and Financial Services Committee has established a full day of public hearings on eight different bills relating to changes in the foreclosure process, including notices of foreclosure to tenants (LD 148), notification of municipal assessors regarding foreclosure actions (LD 641), and mandatory mediation and other significant changes during foreclosure (LD 1418). Both the Consumer & Financial Institution Section and the Real Estate & Title Section are particularly active on all of these bills, and members from both Sections will be present at the public hearings.
On a related note, the Judicial Branch Commission on Foreclosure Diversion was established by the Supreme Judicial Court on March 31, and has held initial meetings. The Commission’s 23 members represent a wide-range of interested stakeholders including the judicial, legislative, and executive branches, along with creditor, legal services, and mediation interests. The Commission is charged with providing its initial recommendations by June 5, and its final recommendations by October 1. More information on the Commission is available on the court’s website.
For the status of other issues of interest, please review the attached Legislative Database.
An updated Legislative Database is linked to this Weekly Report for your information. It contains any newly introduced bills that we have identified of interest to the MSBA, along with updated status listings of previously introduced bills.
Click here for your Legislative Database.
Click here for a text document of this report.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:
Pattie Aho at 207-622-6311 or firstname.lastname@example.org