AUGUSTA — Amid intense scrutiny of Maine State Housing Authority spending, a legislative committee is taking up a bill to make the agency’s director more accountable to its board and the governor.

The bill before the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development, LD 1778,  would remove the director’s four-year term and have the director serve at the pleasure of the authority’s commissioners.

The sponsor, Republican Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney of Springvale, told the committee that the change would promote stability and confidence in the agency, which has assets of $1.6 billion. Courtney says recent questions about authority finances could have been resolved if the board had had oversight over the director.

Housing Authority official Peter Merrill said the present structure of the quasi-independent agency isolates it from too much political influence.

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