The Maine House of Representatives has worked through most of the bond package scheduled for Legislative action during today’s special session. The four bonds so far approved are worth $49.5 million.
While lawmakers in the House have passed most of the bond bills, it has yet to act on the largest — a $100 million transportation infrastructure bond championed by Gov. Paul LePage. The House is expected to take on the proposal later this afternoon.
Each piece of legislation must be approved by the House before it is sent to the Senate for a vote. Each bill on the table Thursday requires the approval of two-thirds in each chamber. The Senate has not yet voted on any of the bond questions.
The bills passed so far by the House include:
- LD 782, a $15.5 million bond for the renovation and upgrade of labs and other STEM facilities at all seven campuses of the University of Maine system, which was approved 102-26;
- LD 245, a $14 million bond for maintenance, capital projects, modernization and energy efficiency measures at Maine Army National Guard armories throughout the state, approved 122-7;
- LD 221, a $4.5 million bond to contribute to a public-private partnership for a new science facility at Maine Maritime Academy, approved 121-8; and
- LD 636, a $15.5 million bond for the construction, renovation and upgrade of labors, classrooms and offices at the seven campuses of the Maine Community College System, approved 120-8.
Each bond measure, including those not yet taken up by the House, is expected to sail through the Legislature and be signed into law by the governor.
The five bonds are part of a package deal carefully hammered out by legislative leaders and the governor during a period of tense negotiation. The governor called the special session in order to get the bonds to voters in November. That timeline will allow construction projects associated with the spending to begin in 2014.
LePage and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have heralded the bond package as a critical job-creating measure for the construction industry, which has lagged in Maine ever since the housing crisis and ensuing recession in 2007-2008.