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Maine legislative leaders allow 70 bills into 2nd session, punt naming lobster roll as state sandwich

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
State representatives take part a special session of the Legislature at the State House, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Augusta, Maine.

A committee of legislative leaders voted Monday to allow more than 70 new bills to advance during the second session of the Maine Legislature that begins in January.

The proposals greenlit by the Legislative Council Committee include bills providing relief funds for towns hit by browntail moth infestations, subsidies for potato farmers affected by last summer's drought and amending the Caribou Utilities charter to include broadband services.

Other bills also involve hot-button political topics, such as studying the effects of new federal lobstering rules, beefing up the state's child welfare services and protecting school officials from harassment.

The council, which is made up of six Democrats and four Republicans, rejected — at least for now — a slew of bills aimed at preventing vaccination mandates, all along party lines.

The council also defeated a bill that would have made the lobster roll the official state sandwich, a move that will preempt debate over whether the roll is really a sandwich at all.

Lawmakers submitting the bills have until Nov. 1 to appeal the council's decisions.

The 70 bills allowed on Monday are unlikely to be the final list — there are also some 300 carryover proposals from the first session, and more could be added depending on the outcome of the appeals.