As I’m writing this message, it occurs to me that it is likely the last President’s Message of the session. The 130th Maine Legislature is working feverishly to adjourn next week as close to the April 20 statutory adjournment date as possible. Once the legislature adjourns, the Maine State Chamber’s Advocacy Team will begin the work of assessing the impact of this session on Maine’s business community in preparation for our annual Final Summary edition.
While the end of the session may seem near enough, there are several key bills remaining and much work left to do before the gavel falls. The second session may be “short” in duration, but it is never short on weighty issues. We will be ushering these remaining issues through the legislative process and attempting to maximize or mitigate their impact on the business community as we do.
This session contained challenges in policy, but also in process. With many committees meeting via Zoom for much of the session, it was admittedly easier for our members to weigh in on issues of importance from the convenience of their offices. We however have noticed a marked disruption in the building of relationships with legislators that is so critical in our advocacy efforts. The lack of face-to-face interaction – which is necessary to build respect and trust – was also evident in the manner that amendments and last-minute bills were introduced and voted out of committee – often with little to no public notice for advocates to provide input, clarity, perspective, and information.
Last week was the first week all session that the House and Senate met in-person consistently. April 14 marks the 16th legislative day since January, with four more currently scheduled and the potential for a few more added on to meet adjournment deadlines.
As in all things lately, at first reflection, it could have been worse. We’ll reserve the final determination for the Final Summary to include the remaining weighty bills we are monitoring in the next few weeks. For now, it is better than expected, but not over yet. Rest assured, the Maine State Chamber’s Advocacy Team will be there until the very end.