The Maine Legislature will be back in action in January. Legislators from both parties agree on some priorities, the biggest of which is helping families and businesses survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Republicans and Democrats are like to differ on how that should be accomplished.

Legislators had until the end of the day Friday, December 18th to submit their proposals for legislation they want considered in 2021, but the final language on between 1,000 and 1,200 bills, as well as scheduled public hearings on them, could still be weeks away.

The biggest order of business, as always, is approving a two-year state budget by the end of June in order to avoid a state government shutdown. Those negotiations are likely to be more difficult than normal as the state’s tax revenues have taken a hit from a COVID-restricted economy, although recent revenue reports have not been as dire as they were predicted to be at the start of the pandemic.

Some past legislation is likely to resurrect. Among those will be an effort to end a new law that eliminated religious or philosophical exemptions for childhood vaccines that will be required starting in 2021 for all school-age children. A people’s veto effort to repeal the law was overwhelming rejected by voters in March, with 74 percent of voters agreeing to keep the vaccine mandate.

While processing bills, holding hearings on them and then voting on them will take up valuable time in the Legislature, the process also will be disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.