AUGUSTA – Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon announced that legislative committees will resume their work on carry-over measures, including holding public hearings and work sessions, in July to prepare for when the Legislature reconvenes for a special session. No final dates for that session have been secured, however Legislative staff have been undertaking the logistical preparations necessary for a return.
“In the wake of COVID-19, the Maine Legislature was forced to rapidly switch gears to keep Maine people safe and healthy. Since March, we’ve been working daily to resolve unemployment claims, advocate for our small businesses and connect people with food pantries, health insurance and rental relief,” said President Jackson. “Now, we’re asking lawmakers to tie up all loose ends in committee so we can return to Augusta when it’s safe. COVID-19 may have disrupted our work but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to finish what we started, delivering for Maine families, small businesses and seniors.”
While the Legislature was scheduled to adjourn on April 15, all four legislative leaders agreed to accelerate that timeline and suspend the legislature in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. On March 17, the Legislature considered bills directly related to coronavirus response and other critical services, then unanimously voted to pause their work with an adjournment order. All other unfinished matters were carried over to a future session of the 129th Legislature.
“Bolstering our economic recovery and ensuring that we are addressing the very real needs of Mainers are our top priorities,” said Speaker Gideon. “This will include public school readiness, help with housing and nutrition needs, aid to small businesses and the tourism economy, adequate childcare, access to rural healthcare and so much more. Legislative committees are uniquely positioned to understand the severe impact this crisis is having and to propose urgent and equitable legislation to help mitigate that damage. In the meantime, whether from Augusta or their districts, members of the Legislature will continue to solve problems on behalf of their constituents.”
In the interim period, Legislative committees have held briefings on the Mills Administration’s response to the pandemic focusing on unemployment issues, the unique challenges faced by agriculture and small businesses, the reopening of Maine’s economy, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and the impact on medical facilities, including the outsized impact on long-term care facilities.