Pre-Session Legislative Update
LD 3 “An Act to Establish the Winter Energy Relief Payment Program to Aid Residents with High Heating Costs and to Finalize the COVID Pandemic Relief Payment Program”
After Governor Mills’ heating and housing aid bill failed passage in the Senate on the first day of the 131st Legislature, legislative leadership agreed to form a temporary Appropriations Committee to hold a public hearing and work session on the exact same bill re-submitted as LD 3. The details of which can be found at the above link.
The committee was populated by the leaders of the four partisan caucuses and veteran members from rural districts. As per usual it was made up of eight members of the majority party and five members of the minority party.
The Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald have provided relatively comprehensive coverage of the hearing and the result. After many hours of testimony, the vast majority of which was in support of the bill, the measure passed unanimously in the committee.
At the close of the public hearing, House Majority Leader Mo Terry, D-Gorham, moved to go immediately into work session. The lone Republican Senator, Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook, expressed concern about doing so without the ability to confer with his caucus. House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, then asked for a “corner caucus” before the committee voted.
The committee returned after about 90 minutes during which time Senator Stewart reached out to his caucus. The committee voted 8-5, down party lines, to move into work session. Rep. Terry then moved to pass the bill. After a brief discussion, in which DAFS Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa provided some assurances about the sources of funding, including that the state’s rainy-day fund is only $8 million away from its statutory maximum, the committee voted unanimously to pass the bill. Senator Stewart did not guarantee his entire caucus will support the proposal but believes enough Senate Republicans will do so that it will receive the necessary two-thirds vote to pass as an emergency measure.
The entire Legislature will vote on LD 3 on January 4 when lawmakers return to Augusta after the holiday break. Upon final enactment, the law will go into effect upon the Governor’s signing of it, which we expect to occur immediately upon the legislation being sent to her desk that same day.
Cloture and Session Schedule
As mentioned in our last update, Cloture is Friday, December 30th at 4 pm. All legislation must be submitted by that deadline by the legislative sponsor. All proposals for our clients that have been brought to our attention are in the process of being submitted. Should there be any legislative proposals you wish to move forward in the 131st Legislature that have not yet been discussed with a member of Preti’s government affairs team, please reach out to us immediately.
The first regular session day will be Wednesday, January 4th. The session schedule for the next two months is as follows: In January, lawmakers will meet on the 10th, 17th, 24th, 26th, and 31st; and in February, the House and Senate plan to meet on the 2nd, 7th, 9th, 14th, 16th, and 28th.
January 4th is also Inauguration Day and the day of Preti’s pre-Inauguration Reception. The reception will take place prior to the Inauguration Ceremony from 2-5 pm at the Governor Hill Mansion, 136 State Street, Augusta. We hope you will plan to attend and encourage you to direct your RSVP to Amber Mann [email protected] no later than Monday, December 26.
Preti will alert you once committee assignments, committee schedules, bill titles and the date of the Governor’s presentation of the biennial budget are available. As always please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns or information.