The 128th Maine Legislature Wraps Up Its Session...or Does It?

The 128th Maine Legislature Wraps Up Its Session...or Does It?

Created on: Monday, May 07, 2018
Author: Maine Medical Association

It was an interesting day at the Maine Legislature. Overall, out of 20 vetoes 11 were overridden and 9 sustained. Bills related to health care made up 8 of the 11 overrides and 3 of the 9 votes to sustain. It should be noted that when one chamber votes to override, the bill must go to the other chamber for a vote, whereas if one chamber votes to sustain a veto the other chamber need not vote, since a vote of 2/3 of each body is required to override. (See the list of bills and votes at the end of this article.)

The reader may remember that when the Legislature last met, on April 18-19, controversy surrounded the issue of whether the session should be extended. That controversy continued on Veto Day, and after the veto votes were completed the House moved to the matter of extension. 

Speaker Sara Gideon passed the gavel to Majority Leader Erin Herbig so that she could assume a position as a rank-and-file member and move to extend the session for 4 days. She proposed a format whereby there would be a specific set of tasks for each day, with the Appropriations and Tax Committees meeting on the first day to vote on tax conformity, rate increases for home- and community-based services for children and people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and "all remaining calendar items." The proposal for Day 2 would have required the Appropriations Committee to put together a package of bills from the Special Appropriations Table, while the Tax Committee would compromise on a tax conformity bill. Those matters would then be voted on by the House and Senate. Day 3 would be reserved for actions on line item vetoes by the governor regarding the financial bills, and Day 4 would be a second veto day for substantive bills. The "800 pound gorilla" in the chamber, the undiscussed issue upon which the controversy is based in large part, was the staffing and money necessary for Medicaid expansion.

Minority Leader Fredette stated, "While I appreciate the words...I can't agree with the proposal." He pointed out that the State is not currently in a fiscal crisis and said that his party had proposed a list of bills to pass. Then he stated that the path forward is through a special session, not an extension of the session, and he said that a special session would happen.

After some discussion, an amendment was proposed to extend the session by one day. That failed passage. Another amendment was offered to extend for 3 days. That amendment, which required only a majority vote, passed, setting the stage for a vote on the main motion (technically an "order") to extend the session by 3 days. The final vote was 82-66 in favor of extension, 19 votes less than the 2/3 needed to pass. The 128th Legislature then finally adjourned, "sine die", at 6:30 p.m.

There is still a chance that the Legislature will return for a special session before election day. That would require an action by the Governor or a call by Legislative leadership, with consent of a majority of each political party. In Maine that would mean a majority of the Republicans, a majority of the Democrats, and the consent of the one member of the Green party. If no special session is held, all pending bills including any on the special appropriations table will be dead.

For further discussion of the day's events and the chances of a special session, part reporting and part editorializing, see this article in the Bangor Daily News.

Vetoes Overridden (Requires 101 votes in House and 23 votes in Senate):

LD 166: An Act to Increase Reimbursement for Child Care Services (31-3, 119-29)

LD 1187: An Act to Amend the Child Protective Services Statutes (34-0, 144-3)

LD 1388: An Act to Prohibit the Falsification of Medical Records (34-0, 148-0)

LD 1719: An Act to Implement a Regulatory Structure for Adult Use Marijuana (28-6, 109-39)

LD 1740: An Act Regarding Criminal Forced Labor, Aggravated Criminal Forced Labor, Sex Trafficking and Human Trafficking (34-0, 136-12)

LD 1771: An Act to Stabilize Vulnerable Families (34-0, 148-0)

LD 1874: Resolve, to Ensure the Continued Provision of Services to Maine Children and Families (34-0, 141-7)

LD 1892: An Act to Clarify the Prescribing and Dispensing of Naloxone Hydrochloride by Pharmacists (34-0, 132-16)

Vetoes Sustained:

LD 1063: Resolve, to Reduce the Number of Substance-exposed Infants (80-68)

LD 1587: Resolve, to Study the Feasibility of the Establishment of Paid Family Leave in the State (80-68)

LD 1866: An Act to Increase Youth Mental Health Awareness in Schools (82-66)

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