In late December, the Office of the Revisor of Statues released the long-awaited list of preliminary bill titles for the First Session of the 130th Legislature. The list is preliminary because there were a total of 1,689 submissions before cloture on December 18, 2020. That is a significant number of bills for a session in which there is no clear path to deal with each of those bills in this pandemic environment. Since the publication of bill titles, there have been 119 bills printed and referenced to their respective committees – a clear indication that the legislative process has begun.
However, after reviewing the 145 pages of bills, it is clear there are a significant number of repeat bill titles on the same or similar subject matter. It is therefore likely that the legislature will streamline the process in the coming weeks and seek to combine bills and reduce the overall totals. The other side of that coin is that legislators, through Legislative Council, still have the opportunity to submit additional bills for consideration in the first session.
With only bill titles to go on, it appears that there is something here for everyone, even without the bills’ descriptions. Legislative policy subject matters include a significant number of health care and health insurance related titles, considerable energy policy matters, environmental policy, taxation, labor, and even a few workers’ compensation bills. In other words, it appears to be a busy first session, regardless of COVID-19.
In the coming weeks, it is expected that the legislature will continue printing and referencing bills, and at that point, the Maine State Chamber’s Advocacy team will have a better understanding of what exactly is being proposed and how it might impact our members. In the meantime, if you want to review the bill titles’ list, please visit the Office of the Revisor of Statutes’ website.
Our advocates will be following the mechanics of which bills are printed and where in the committee process they are referenced for public hearing. It is likely that committees won’t begin the public hearing process until late January, but that could change. In the meantime, we will keep you informed as to what is happening in Augusta regarding the legislature, the process, and the public policy challenges that await Maine’s business community in 2021. r