‘We Can’t Even Do Gridlock Right:' Legislative Session Ends in Bipartisan Frustration
Update: Senior political correspondent Mal Leary spoke with Jennifer Mitchell on Maine Things Considered to discuss the unfinished business in the legislature and what it means going forward.
The second regular session of this Legislature is over. Maine Lawmakers adjourned after failing to extend the session, with a lot of finger pointing.
“I offered this amendment for a three-day extension,” said Rep. Robert Duchene, a Democrat from Hudson. “Men and women of the House, we can’t even do gridlock right.”
Lawmakers left the State House with scores of bills unresolved, with House Republicans blaming House Democrats, and Democrats blaming Republicans.
“We are talking past each other,” said House Speaker Gideon. “And the terrible irony in all of this is that there is actually so much that we agree on. There is so much that people want to do.”
Rep. Ken Fredette, House minority leader, said there was “a lack of trust in terms of sitting down honestly, trying to figure out what work needs to get done, can get done.”
The list of unresolved measures is long and significant. State aid to local schools is still not allocated, and no action has been taken to make changes to the state tax code following the federal changes last December.
Both parties talked about investing more in the state through bonding, but not a single bond issue was approved.
The cost of Medicaid expansion was not addressed, nor was funding for the second year of the two-year budget of raises for direct care workers.
Rep. Dwayne Prescott, a Republican from Waterboro, bemoaned the number of days when lawmakers met only briefly for sessions. “February 22, 10:53 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., January 30, 10:45 a.m. to 11:27 a.m., the work was here, we were not,” he said.
Lawmakers could now call themselves into special session to address the issues, or the governor could call a session. Neither seems likely to happen soon, given the hostile atmosphere at the capitol.
This story was originally published Wednesday at 9:27 p.m.