Maine Republican Legislators Contemplate End to Labor Committee

With Republicans in charge of the legislature, Maine 's stand alone labor committee may be about to disappear, the Bangor Daily News reports . Republicans, who won control of both houses last month, plan to merge the 120-year-old Joint Labor Committee with the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee. What Republicans describe as a small move to make the legislature more efficient, Democrats and unions see as an assault on workers. They worry labor issues will be neglected. The legislature is expected to vote on the change  Friday.

Connecticut 's public pension funding problems are getting worse, creating a major challenge for incoming lawmakers, the Connecticut Mirror reports . A new study shows that the system's assets amount to only 44.4 percent of its liabilities. That's the lowest funding ratio for the state since 1988 and vastly less than what experts recommend for a pension system to be on sound fiscal footing. In recent years, as Connecticut has faced budget shortfalls, the state has deferred payments into the pension system. Connecticut faces another shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year. "This is another reminder of just how deep a hole our state is in," said Dan Malloy , the governor-elect.

The two days David Collins spent as a major in the Wisconsin State Patrol seven years ago are likely to get him a civil service job, in a case that highlights the way civil service protections can end up aiding political appointees. Currently, Collins is the head of the State Patrol, but he's likely to lose that political post when the governorship switches from Democrat Jim Doyle to Republican Scott Walker , the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports . But because he has prior civil service in the patrol — albeit brief --he is probably guaranteed  civil service employment. Wisconsin has rules that allow civil servants to take political jobs without risking their civil service positions when their appointments end. Last month, Walker asked Doyle in a letter to prevent his appointees from burrowing back into the civil service, but a spokesman for Walker did have praise for Collins' work.

New North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple 's first budget includes a major boost for mental health funding, the Forum reports . The budget includes more money to compensate hospitals for charity care, for suicide prevention programs and for school mental health programs. "I have not seen a governor make these priorities before," said Susan Helgeland, a North Dakota mental health advocate. Dalrymple became governor earlier this month, after fellow-Republican Governor John Hoeven was elected to the U.S. Senate with two years left in his term.

Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam 's choice to lead his state Department of Finance and Administration is a top executive with one of the world's largest tire companies, the Tennessean reports . Until he left the company earlier this year, Mark Emkes had been serving as the head of Bridgestone's United States division. Haslam himself is a former top executive in Pilot Corporation-his family business which operates a large network of truck stops.