Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. If you would like more specific information, please contact one of the attorneys listed here.

Legislature Adjourns Sine Die, Potential Special Session Date Unknown
On Wednesday, May 2, the Maine Legislature adjourned sine die after the House of Representatives failed to pass a Joint Order to extend the current legislative session by three days. Pursuant to Maine law, the legislature convened on May 2 for “veto day” to address the Governor’s objections to various bills and resolves that had been presented to him throughout the final days of the session. After all vetoes had been addressed, the House attempted to vote to extend the current session in order to continue its work, but was unable to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary to extend the legislative session.

When the legislature adjourned, it left behind significant pieces of unfinished legislation including Medicaid expansion, tax conformity, student debt relief, the extension of the Pine Tree Development Zone program, and a number of bond proposals. If the legislature is to continue its work, it will now have to do so in a special session. A special session can occur only if the Governor calls the legislature back, or if a majority of members from each caucus agrees to return. It is unclear whether either option will occur and, if so, when. If the legislature does convene, however, it is likely that the date will be sometime after the June 12 primary elections.

Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of Marijuana Law; Implementation Process to Begin
When the legislature returned for veto day on May 2, it considered the Governor’s veto of the recreational marijuana legalization implementation legislation. The legislature overrode the Governor’s veto by a vote of 109-39 in the House and 28-6 in the Senate. The new law was enacted as emergency legislation and became effective on May 2 as Public Law 2017, Ch. 409. The Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services will retain a consultant to continue to develop the regulatory apparatus and rules for inspection and licensing of wholesale commercial growing facilities, licensing of retail sellers, and collection of sales tax on the product. These will be major substantive rules and, as such, will require the approval of the 129th Legislature. Thus, it is likely that recreational sales will not begin before spring 2019.

Maine Republican Party Files Suit in Federal Court to Block Ranked-choice Voting for its Primary Elections
On Friday, May 4, at its State Convention, the Maine Republican Party adopted a rule providing that it will choose its nominees by a plurality vote, and immediately filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the Secretary of State from implementing ranked-choice voting in the Republican primary in June. The lawsuit asserts the Maine Republican Party’s First Amendment right to determine how the Party chooses its nominees. The case will go before U.S. District Court Judge Jon D. Levy on May 23, 2018 at 2:00 pm at the federal courthouse in Portland.