Legislative Session Review: Maine

By Lauren Doroghazi | May 10, 2018

Maine - Adjournment Graphic

The Maine Legislature adjourned sine die on May 2 after reconvening for a one-day veto session. This session was defined mostly by what legislators didn’t accomplish.

Legislative Highlights

Lawmakers overrode Governor Paul LePage's (R) veto of a high-profile bill implementing the legal sale and use of recreational marijuana. However, dozens of major bills, including school funding and federal tax conformity, were left undone as House Republicans blocked efforts to extend the session to avert a Medicaid expansion vote. The possibility of a special session remains if the majority of all parties agree to return for one, or if the governor summons them. House Republicans, who opposed extending the regular session, believe that a special session is the best path forward, and would allow them to debate legislation without the pressure, and leverage, of a deadline. The Senate voted to extend the regular session.

Although the session has been mostly defined by its unfinished business, notable bill enactments include:

  • Legislation (ME LD 1719) to implement a regulatory framework for the state's retail recreational marijuana market. Voters approved a ballot measure in November 2016 legalizing recreational marijuana. This year, legislators overrode Governor LePage's second veto of implementation legislation.
  • Legislation increasing access to the opioid overdose-reversing drug naloxone (ME LD 1892). Legislators overrode another of Governor LePage's vetoes to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense naloxone hydrochloride to anyone with no age restrictions.
  • Legislation to modernize the property tax appeal process (ME LD 1479) to require a centralized assessment of complex manufacturing facilities valued above $10 million. This law allows direct appeals of assessments for nonresidential property valued above $1 million and changes the membership specifications of the State Board of Property Tax Review.

Election Preview

Governor Paul LePage (R) is term-limited in 2018. Four Republican candidates and seven Democratic candidates will face off in the primary elections on June 12. The primaries will be the first time voters will use the ranked-choice system after voting for it at the ballot in November 2016. Voters will also weigh in on a “people’s veto” to decide whether to keep the ranked-choice system going forward and override the legislature’s repeal of the ballot measure. A recent poll found that Republican Shawn Moody and Democrat Janet Mills are the current frontrunners, preferred by 44 percent and 41 percent of voters, respectively.

Additionally, all 151 House seats and 35 Senate seats are up for election in 2018. Currently, Republicans control the Senate by one seat and Democrats control the House by four. Historically, partisan control of both chambers has been mixed. With such close margins, Maine will be a state to watch on election night.

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