Heavy workload for short session will have economic implications
On Thursday, November 18, 2021, the committee of legislative leadership met to screen appeals of bill titles for potential admission into the Second Regular Session that begins in January 2022. This follows the Legislative Council meeting on October 25 in which a majority of bill titles were rejected. Members of the Legislature were allowed to appeal their denied bill titles. They were given two minutes to speak to legislative leaders about why their bill should be allowed. In total, the council considered 105 requests that had been rejected and appealed by the November 1 deadline.
Of the 105 appeals, 46 bills were accepted, 53 bills were rejected, an additional five requests were withdrawn by their sponsors, and one measure was tabled. For the appeal to be successful, a proposal must get six votes from the 10-member committee. Even with two members missing, an appeal must still get six votes for the bill title to be accepted. Both Rep. Joel Stetkis (R-Canaan) and Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford) were absent, giving Democrats on the council a 6-2 majority. Bills that are allowed into the second legislative session are supposed to be considered “emergency” status and it is important to note that for the most part, the legislative council stuck by that rejecting more than half of the appeals. They were very tough and rejected numerous bills that could have been problematic to the business community.
There is one bill that has the potential to be of very big concern to the business community. LR 2473, An Act To Ensure Maine Citizens Benefit from Renewable Energy Generation Projects by Establishing Job Quality and Hiring Standards, is sponsored by Rep. Scott Cuddy (D-Winterport). While we have not seen the language of this bill yet, Rep. Cuddy did say that his hope for this bill would require some projects to have a Project Labor Agreement attached to it. This could be very similar to a bill from LD 1231 in the First Session, which did not pass. Rep. Cuddy did note that the hope for this bill is to help solve the workforce shortage in Maine. We will be closely monitoring this bill’s progress to see if the released language contains PLA requirements.
Highlighting a few other accepted bills, there were proposals to create a legal defense fund for the lobster industry to navigate the new federal regulations; to encourage climate change education in Maine’s public schools; and, to allow college athletes in Maine to receive payment.
Now that legislative leadership has considered appeals, there will be 154 new bills discussed this upcoming legislative session; they previously allowed in 107 bills from their earlier meeting, and another 47 from the most recent meeting. The Maine State Chamber will be watching for the language of all these bills to come out and determine which ones will have a significant impact on the business community. There are roughly 400 carryovers from the First Session and First Special Session. There also can be “after deadline” bills submitted and potential new bills from the Mills administration. The Legislature will have a great deal of work to do in a short period this session. The Second Regular Session of the 130th Maine Legislature begins on January 5, 2022, with statutory adjournment slated for April 20, 2022.