Lawmakers were given a way out of the impasse that has kept them out of Augusta for more than a month, but they may have to wrestle with a battery of child welfare reforms from Gov. Paul LePage.
Republican Eric Brakey and Democrat Zak Ringelstein debated without the incumbent on Thursday, but they face an uphill challenge given the senator’s popularity and Maine’s history.
The governor wants the paralyzed Legislature to consider child welfare bills, tax conformity and a bill aimed at shielding elderly Mainers from municipal foreclosure.
This isn’t the first year that a political impasse in the Maine Legislature has caused sessions to drag into August.
It has been a quiet summer by LePage standards. That may change as we approach the 90-day mark before the election to replace him.
The legislative session is expected to stretch on into late July after Democrats and Republicans pulled up just short of compromise on one of their last outstanding issues.
Maine lawmakers may end up making it harder to get referendum questions on the ballot. They have to make a bigger deal first.
A legislative session that was set to end this week is in chaos, with spats over old and new bonds and a purported 11th-hour proposal from the governor to fund Medicaid expansion.
The Democratic gubernatorial primary may soon be decided and the Legislature is coming back to Augusta, but not before talking more about a spending package.
There will be hand-shaking and door-knocking ahead of Maine’s big primaries on Monday.