There appears to be a quiet day brewing in Augusta today, with only two committees meeting, and that’s the way it will remain for the next week as the Legislature, for the most part, goes on vacation until Feb. 27.
Six weeks into the 128th Legislature, it’s not as if everyone is bushed from exhaustion — though it’s true that some lawmakers, particularly members of leadership and the Appropriations Committee, spend more time at the State House than you’d probably believe.
So far this session, the activity in the House and Senate has been confined mostly to routine votes to move bills into the committee process. At that end, there have been some long days but the activity is still ramping up. Between now and June, committees will process roughly 1,800 bills.
Out of curiosity, I checked with the Office of Policy and Legal Analysis on Thursday (they’re the folks who keep track of bills, among many other tasks). These figures were current as of Thursday afternoon, before the House and Senate held some late-afternoon sessions due to the snow storm.
- The 128th Legislature will ultimately consider around 1,800 bills this year, which is a somewhat moving target because some bills will be withdrawn by their sponsors while Gov. Paul LePage and legislative leaders will likely add to the total in the coming months.
- Of those 1,800 bills, about 640 have been written so far by the Legislature’s Revisor of Statutes office. Lots of work left to do there.
- Of the 640 written bills, about 550 have been referenced to committee, though several more were referenced Thursday afternoon.
- Of the 550 that have referenced to committee, a grand total of seven (7) have been reported out of committee, back to the Legislature. Here’s the committees’ soundtrack. Listen, you all need more They Might Be Giants in your lives.
- Here’s the number you’ve been waiting for: The total number of bills that have received final disposition six weeks into the legislative session is (drumroll) four.
To be fair, this is how it always goes in Augusta. It’s partly a function of bills being bottle-necked at the revisor’s office, but also a choice by legislative leaders. Most of the more important and likely contentious bills won’t come to floor debates for weeks yet. Come May and June, we’ll look back on this ramping-up period with longing.
It could be busier than usual if most of those 1,800 bills come through, said Jon Clark, OPLA’s deputy director. In the past four legislative sessions, the highest number of bills processed was 1,588 in the 125th Legislature. — Christopher Cousins
- The 2015 runner-up for Lewiston mayor is making ‘an announcement’ next week. In a Thursday video on Facebook, progressive activist Ben Chin said he’ll make an announcement on Feb. 23 at Museum L-A in Lewiston. It just so happens that third-term Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald — the conservative who beat Chin in a 2015 runoff despite a 15-1 fundraising deficit in a race for the ages — can’t run for re-election this year because of term limits. Stay tuned.
- The bill to let the Libertarians be a party in Maine is being introduced today. Instead of requiring the Libertarians and any other fledgling political party to achieve permanent status, LD 295 would require the party’s presidential candidate to receive at least 5 percent of the total general election vote as opposed to the current requirement that 10,000 of the party’s registered voters cast ballots. The bill is retroactive to last year and represents a compromise agreement between the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc. and the Secretary of State’s office, who faced off in court last year over the issue. Passage of LD 295 would give the Libertarians permanent party status in Maine.
- Marijuana committee hosting public forum. The topic for the meeting will be discussions about implementing legalized recreational marijuana. The forum is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. in room 216 of the Cross Office Building, which is adjacent the State House in Augusta. (NOTE: A previous version of this post incorrectly implied that the meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21.) — Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd
- Right-wing lawmaker’s hard line on immigration met by protesters at USM — Jake Bleiberg, Bangor Daily News
- Anti-LGBT group led by Michael Heath added to Maine hate group map — Beth Brogan, BDN
- DHHS seeking bids for larger facility to house 268 staffers in Bangor area — Nick Sambides Jr., BDN
- DEP fine adds to list of woes for Camden’s Snow Bowl — Alex Acquisto, BDN
- Chief justice: Courts must change to address addiction, domestic violence, document access — Judy Harrison, BDN
- Wiscasset property owners sue town, state over Route 1 project — Beth Brogan, BDN
- Trump says ‘I inherited a mess,’ blasts media, detractors at combative news conference — Ashley Parker and John Wagner, The Washington Post
- House GOP documents outline plan to replace Obamacare — Lisa Desjardins, PBS Newshour
- Trump’s pick for national security adviser turns down offer — Reuters
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- Can a paid cuddler be bashful? A University of Southern Maine student is offering (platonic) cuddling services for $5 per hour. He says he’s “a little bashful,” but he’s braver than me.
- This unintentional poem just asks if the Auburn YMCA has a sauna. Someone is new in town and is “looking for a place to hang out,” saying “please get back to be if there is a sauna.” They didn’t mention getting themselves clean or having a good meal. — Michael Shepherd
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