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Maine lawmakers face a Friday deadline to submit bills

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
The new Maine Legislature is sworn in, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Augusta, Maine.

Friday is the deadline for lawmakers in the Maine Legislature to submit their bill requests. Legislative leaders have already signaled that addressing the housing shortage will be among the top issues.

Any of the 186 legislators can submit a bill, and each proposal gets a public hearing. That can result in as many as 2,000 measures, some of which may serve a very narrow constituency in a member's home district or affect the entire state.

Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, both Democrats, are taking the statewide approach by co-sponsoring a bill aimed at tackling the housing crisis.

"Efforts to address this housing crisis is absolutely the top priority," Talbot Ross said. "You know, making sure that people have their basic needs met and can thrive is not far behind."

At the moment, the housing bill is a concept draft and void of details, and will likely change as the session progresses. But it is evidence that the early agenda of this Legislature is already being shaped by significant problems.

Lawmakers could ratify an emergency heating relief bill when they reconvene Jan. 4, for the inauguration of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. If they do, it will be their second attempt at doing so.

The first was blocked by Senate Republicans on the first day of the session earlier this month.