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Maine Lawmakers Clash Over Scope Of Special Session

In anticipation of a special session later this summer, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson have directed legislative committees to act on the 240 bills that were carried over when the Legislature adjourned in March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Republican leaders say they want to focus on a limited number of issues.

Jackson says all 240 bills should be considered by committees and acted on by the full legislature when it reconvenes. He says a special session should also be devoted to laying out spending priorities for the CARES Act money and other federal aid that the state has received.

“The idea is to have everything in our possession in the House and Senate so that when we do decide to reconvene, we can run through as quickly as possible,” he says.

But there is so far no agreement between party leaders about which issues should be on the table. House GOP leader Kathleen Dillingham says Republicans will not support a wide-open session and want the session focused on a limited number of issues arising from the pandemic.

“That limited scope of work is to amend and address the governor’s executive powers, to address any spending related to the CARES Act,” she says.

Dillingham says her caucus would not support a special session without an advance agreement on what’s to be considered. It takes a majority vote by each of the four caucuses of the Legislature for members to call themselves back into session. But Gov. Janet Mills has the authority to call them back on her own.