AUGUSTA (AP) — The Legislature's Appropriations Committee, which will face intense pressure to balance a state budget riddled by repeated shortfalls, will be headed by two veterans of the committee for the next two years, legislative leaders announced Thursday.
Appropriations will be headed by Sen. Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick and Rep. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston. Rotundo was lead Democrat on the committee for the last two years, when majority Republicans controlled the committee chairmanships, and she has served continuously on the panel as a member of the House and Senate for 10 years. Hill served on the committee last session as a senator.
"We are proud to have two strong women leading such a critical committee during challenging fiscal times," House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said in announcing the appointments with Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland.
Another high-profile committee, Taxation, will be chaired by Sen. Anne Haskell of Portland and Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor. Haskell has served six House terms, the latest as lead Democrat on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, before winning election to the Senate. Goode is starting his third House term and served on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee last session.
The Legislature has 16 joint standing committees, which review bills before recommending full House and Senate action. Committees also have the power to kill bills outright. Each has a Senate and House chair.
In addition, the Legislature has a Government Oversight Committee, which probes questionable conduct within state agencies, authorizes financial reviews if necessary, and recommends actions. Its new chairs are Sen. Emily Cain of Orono, the former House Democratic leader, and Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston.
The Judiciary Committee, which reviews court appointments among other duties, will be headed by Sen. Linda Valentino and Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick. The Health and Human Services Committee will be chaired by Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, and Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland.
Another committee that often draws widespread attention, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, will be chaired by Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, and Rep. Michael Shaw, D-Standish.
The Legislature reconvenes Jan. 8.