Under the dome

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Almost done

Legislative committee work was scheduled to be wrapped up last week, though there are still some that received special permission from leadership to finish working on certain bills.

Most of the committee work scheduled for this week is confirmation sessions for Baldacci appointees, including Mark Samson of Auburn, who was nominated to the Maine State Housing Authority and Angela Bechard of Monmouth to the state Board of Education.

The Utilities and Energy Committee is carrying the heaviest load, with seven bills yet to be reported out.

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On Wednesday, the Health and Human Services Committee is scheduled to hold a work session on the medical marijuana dispensaries legislation. On Thursday, the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee is scheduled to work on the Oxford County casino proposal.

The Appropriations Committee will also continue working on the budget next week.

Democratic leadership hopes to adjourn during the first week of April, two weeks short of the usual date, to save money.

Ballot initiative measure moves forward

A proposal sponsored by state Rep. Stacy Dostie, D-Sabattus, and Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds, that aims to minimize fraud on ballot initiatives received committee approval last week.

The measure would require businesses that receive pay for gathering signatures to register with the Maine Secretary of State, according to a release.

“The purpose of this legislation is to restore integrity to the petition process by creating penalties against companies who are abusing the citizens initiative process, not discourage everyday Mainers from getting involved,” said Nutting in a statement.

The bill will be scheduled for votes by the full Legislature in the coming weeks.

Free tax service

State Reps. Stacy Dostie of Sabattus, Matt Peterson of Rumford and David Van Wie of New Gloucester, all Democrats, would like Mainers to know that free tax preparation services are available, according to a release.

Programs offered by CA$H Maine and AARP Tax-Aide are available to taxpayers with low and moderate incomes and give special attention to people aged 60 and older, according to the release.

Last year the programs helped Mainers get back about $14 million in state and federal refunds.

For more information, visit www.211maine.org/#CASH2009. Residents in Lewiston-Auburn can call 513-3121 ext. 3205 and western Maine residents can call 778-7954 for more information about CA$H Maine.

 – Rebekah Metzler

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