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Leaders in Maine Legislature prepared to focus on budget, pandemic relief upon return

Newly elected members of Maine House of Representatives and Senate will be sworn in on December 2.

AUGUSTA, Maine — In less than one month, lawmakers will be back at the Maine State House in Augusta for the first time since March. It comes as newly elected members of the house and senate will be sworn in, beginning a new session for the 130th Maine State Legislature. 

"Our party is ready. Our members are ready. We've been ready," said House Minority Leader Kathleen Dillinham, R-Oxford. 

The Maine Legislature has been adjourned since March amid COVID-19 concerns. Democrats have proposed multiple special sessions for the legislature to convene, however, those were rejected by republicans because of what they call a lack of priority on legislation directly related to the pandemic in Maine. 

Both parties will be returning to the table to convene the first Wednesday in December for a swearing-in of elected lawmakers, as is written in the Maine State Constitution. 

"It's time for us to knuckle down and actually do more to make sure people in this state have what they need," said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash.

Upon returning to the State House, democrats and republicans will have to work on establishing a new state budget that requires a two-thirds majority in order to be passed. Leaders in both parties say the budget will be one of the first, and most important issues to tackle.

"Making sure that we're going to be here for our businesses that have been suffering. That is number one," said Dillingham.

Another focus for both parties in Augusta will be some form of pandemic relief to the state. Jackson says, he hopes for additional support to come from the federal government. 

"Continue to work on this that are important to every day, working-class people and businesses. And I think that's what they send us to Augusta for," said Jackson. 

To accomplish those tasks, however, parties will be forced to work together, something that didn't happen in establishing a special session during the pandemic thus far. Both Dillingham and Jackson tell NEWS CENTER Maine however that they'll be ready to work together.

"I think for the most part we should be able to come together for a compromise to do what is best for the people of Maine," said Dillingham.

"You just need to talk to people and be sincere and genuine and explain your position and hopefully people can come together," said Jackson. 

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