Crown Politics

Maine lawmakers are quietly voting on whether to return to work next week

Good morning from Augusta, where lawmakers are deciding if and when to return for a special session.

Legislative leaders are polling members right now about the possibility of the full Legislature returning on Tuesday to address a heap of unfinished business left over from this year’s regular session.

That includes a number of funding bills that received unanimous support from the budget committee on Monday but does not include many major issues still mired in the process, such as a transportation bond that contractors and state transportation officials say is desperately needed, tax conformity legislation or a technical errors fix-it bill that would free up Maine Clean Election Act funding for the general election.

Coming back for a special session requires majority votes from four groups— House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans — and the lone Green Independent in the Legislature, Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville. House Republicans blocked the extension of the regular legislative session in April because they refused to allow a $3.8 million bill for Medicaid expansion start-up costs to be included in a package with the other spending bills. They have won that fight and the bill could be considered on its own — though a spokeswoman for House Speaker Sara Gideon said Democrats are confident the courts will force the issue.

The session could last for three days. Gideon spokeswoman, Mary-Erin Casale, said members are being asked if they are available through Thursday of next week, but that the work may not take that long. Based on past experience, we’re guessing it will take every minute of that long and maybe longer, and we’re planning on watching the sunset over the State House, possibly thrice.

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