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Weekly edition of IMPACT, a publication of the Maine State Chamber | January 26, 2023
The First Regular Session of the
Members of the 131st Maine Legislature convened for the first time in 2023 on January 4th in Augusta. This legislative session will certainly be a busy one with the more than 2100 plus bills that have been submitted. While the makeup of the legislature has not really changed all that much, there a lot of new legislators that have never served in the Legislature before. According to the Clerk’s Office at the State House, there are 59 new members in the House and 4 new members in the Senate that are in this category. For the most part, with the exception of Democrat leadership in the Senate, most legislative leadership is also new.
In the Senate, the Democrats still hold 22 seats and the Republicans 13 seats. Senate leadership on the Democrat side has not changed. Sen. Troy Jackson, (D-Aroostook) is still Senate President. Sen. Eloise Vitelli, (D-Sagadahoc) is Majority Leader and Sen. Maddie Daughtry, (D-Cumberland) is Assistant Majority Leader. There is new Leadership in the Republican Party in the Senate with Sen. Trey Stewart, (R-Aroostook) as Minority Leader and Sen. Lisa Keim, (R-Oxford) as the Assistant Minority Leader.
In the House, Democrats hold 82 seats, Republicans hold 67 seats, and Independents hold 2 seats. Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, (D-Portland) is the new Speaker of the House. Rep. Maureen Terry, (D-Gorham) is the new Majority Leader and Rep. Kristen Cloutier, (D-Lewiston) is the new Assistant Majority Leader. On the Republican side, Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, (R-Winter Harbor) is the new Minority Leader and Rep. Amy Arata, (R-New Gloucester) is the new Assistant Minority Leader.
With respect to the Committee process, things are getting back to the more traditional ways pre-covid. Committee members will be required to be in person in the committee room unless they get permission by the presiding officers otherwise. Members of the public can testify in person or by zoom. While members that participate via zoom can vote on bills, it’s not clear in the legislative rules if members that participate via zoom can make motions on bills. Committees can make exceptions to these rules by majority vote but they need to notify the presiding officers as to these exceptions.
As always, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to working with members of the legislature on issues of importance to Maine businesses. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Caprara at 207-458-2133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maine State Chamber of Commerce Announces Priorities for First Regular Session of the 131st Legislature
Legislative priorities to grow and strengthen Maine’s economy include R&D, tax and workforce incentives, energy planning, citizens’ initiative reform, education, and more
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce announced today its priorities for the first regular session of the 131st Maine Legislature. The Chamber’s priorities to grow and strengthen Maine’s economy and advance a positive business climate include legislation supporting R&D, innovation, workforce development and training, energy planning, reforming Maine’s citizens’ initiative process, and more. Many of the priorities align with Maine’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy, the State’s roadmap announced in 2019...
Linda Caprara, Maine State Chamber VP of Advocacy, on the George Hale Ric Tyler Show
Maine State Chamber Vice President of Advocacy Linda Caprara discusses the Chamber’s priorities for the 131st Maine State Legislature, including legislation supporting R&D, innovation, workforce development and training, energy planning, reforming Maine’s citizens’ initiative process, and more.
Governor Mills Releases Budget for Fiscal Years 2024-2025
On Thursday, January 12, 2023, Governor Janet Mills held a press conference and released her Part A Biennial Budget for Fiscal Years 2024-2025, An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds, and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2023, June 30, 2024 and June 30, 2025.
During her first term, Governor Mills said she was committed to not raising taxes during her tenure. Like the first biennial budget, this budget does not increase taxes nor use money from the State’s Rainy Day Fund which now stands at $901 million. Rather, the budget increase would be funded by utilizing projected increases in revenues. The $10.3 billion dollar budget is a 9.6% or $900 million increase over the previous $9.4 billion biennial budget.
These increased revenues were the results of projections by the Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) which projected that the State will raise $10.5 billion in revenue in FY 2024-2025 and $11.5 billion in FY 2026-2027.
Highlights of the budget include:
Because they have the majority in both the House and Senate, Democrats could pass a majority budget (which would take effect in 90 days if passed by April) without Republican support. A two-thirds budget with Republican support on the other hand would take effect in 30 days. One of the questions that remains is whether this budget will garner enough Republican support to pass as a two thirds budget or whether Democrats will pass a majority budget by April.
Now that the Part A budget document has been printed (notice there is no L.D. number yet), the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations & Financial Affairs should start holding public hearings on the different departmental budgets contained within the Part A Budget, once work on the supplemental budget L.D. 206, An Act to Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations from the General Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government and to Change Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2023 has been completed.
If you have any questions, please contact Linda Caprara at email@example.com.
Legislation of Interest
Each week, Maine Chamber staff studies each of the recently printed bills to assess potential impact on business trends. We are sharing those bills of concern with you here.
If you have concerns regarding any bill, please communicate those concerns to a member of our advocacy team by calling (207) 623-4568.
LD 18 - An Act to Provide Ongoing Funding for up to 2 Years of Community College for Certain Maine Students
Sponsor: Rep. Williaim Bridgeo
This bill provides ongoing funding for high school graduates and individuals who obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma to receive a waiver of tuition and fees for up to 2 years in the Maine Community College System.
LD 33 - An Act to Expand Access to Career and Technical Education Opportunities for Middle School Students
Sponsor: Sen. Joseph Rafferty
This bill allows the expansion of the allocation of money to career and technical education centers for career and technical education exploration programs for middle school students.
LD 67 - An Act to Increase the Number of Educational Professionals by Accepting Out-of-state Certification
Sponsor: Rep. Victoria Doudera
This bill requires the Department of Education to accept a certificate as an administrator, teacher, educational technician, or educational specialist issued by another state, the District of Columbia, a United States territory or other country as qualification 11 for such a certificate in this State.
LD 193 - An Act to Provide Excess General Fund Revenue to the School Revolving Renovation Fund and the Education Stabilization Fund
Sponsor: Sen. Teresa Pierce
This bill amends the so-called cascade, which describes how any General Fund unappropriated surplus at the close of a fiscal year is to be distributed. This bill reduces from 80% to 40% the amount distributed to the Maine Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, and distributes 20% to the School Revolving Renovation Fund and 20% to the Education Stabilization Fund.
LD 103 - An Act to Provide Incentives to Employers to Provide On-site Child Care
Sponsor: Rep. Rebecca Jauch
The bill would require large employers that receive tax incentives or credits to provide on-site child care for employees as a condition to continue receiving the tax credits.
Upcoming Public Hearings
In the future, look to this section for the schedule of public hearings on legislation of interest.
Public hearings are open to everyone, despite the Statehouse’s restricted access status during the pandemic. Typically, the committee’s meeting room is listed below, but due to post-pandemic changes in the committee procedures, Maine State Chamber members should plan to watch and listen to legislative committees by using the streaming service on each committee's web page. The Legislature also released these guides for participation in public hearings and work sessions, and you will need to register to submit testimony if you plan to testify on a particular bill. Also, this public hearing schedule is subject to changes and updates; we advise that you check the committee’s calendar or contact the committee clerk. Each committee name listed below is linked to the corresponding committee page.
Legislative Committees of the 131st Legislature