AUGUSTA, Maine — Six and a half months after it began, the Maine Legislature has finally adjourned its session for the year.
Technically, that adjournment already happened on March 30, when lawmakers abruptly ended the first session of the 130th Legislature so the initial budget they had just passed could take effect, as needed, on July 1. However, shortly after adjourning, the leaders of the House and Senate called a special session which they have operated in ever since.
The major item of business Monday was passing a bill to approve spending nearly $1 billion in federal COVID relief funds, provided to Maine under the American Recovery Plan Act. The Appropriations Committee passed that bill last week with only Democratic support after Republicans said Democrats had broken an agreement to not add their own partisan items to the plan. In particular, the GOP objected to added $20 million in housing funds that require a Project Labor Agreements, which are favored by unions.
Governor Janet Mills was critical of the package last week and urged legislators to continue negotiating and reach a bipartisan agreement. On Monday, there was speculation in both parties that the bill would get hit with line-item vetoes if it passed with only Democratic votes.
That is, in fact, how it passed but Monday night. Governor Mills signed it into law, despite her misgivings. She said it was more important to get the federal dollars working to boost the economy.
“Despite my disappointment over the delay in these investments and the unnecessarily partisan votes on the bill, I am pleased that the Legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, agreed on the vast majority of the important measures in this bill and, like them, I am pleased to see it become law,” Mills said in a press release Monday night.
With that worry about potential veto gone, lawmakers finally adjourned their session, and headed home.