|April 23, 2018
Legislative Report: Adjournment?
In normal years, if the House and Senate have not finished their work by the statutory adjournment date (3rd Wednesday of April in even-numbered years), they vote (2/3 required) to extend the session for five days. In such cases they are not paid salary for those five days. This year the Senate voted unanimously to extend, but in the House a party line vote with 2 defections from the Republican side of the aisle did not reach a 2/3 majority, thus preventing extension.
Or so people thought at the time.
As midnight approached, a question was being debated and a Republican Representative was speaking. As he continued to speak the second hand swept past 12. When the representative finished speaking, Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette stated to the Speaker that they could no longer conduct any business. House Speaker Sara Gideon, citing Mason's Rules of parliamentary procedure which govern proceedings in the Maine Legislature, announced that the session had been "extended by implication" due to the fact that the party opposing extension had participated in proceedings into the next day.
The Speaker, with the support of Rep. John Martin who has been a member of the Maine Legislature for all but 6 years since 1964 and served as Speaker from 1975 to 1994, explained how Mason's Rules allowed such an extension. Minority Leader Fredette argued that the move was unconstitutional.
Finally the House was adjourned, as the Senate had been earlier in the evening, "to the call of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House." In addition, the necessary majority (not 2/3) voted to carry over all pending bills to any special session that may be called.
Regardless of all the above, both the House and the Senate are expected to return for one day to deal with any vetoes the Governor may have issued since April 19th.
The House's actions leave many bills pending "on the Special Appropriations Table," where they will die if the Legislature does not return to session. Look for a discussion of those bills and what they mean for Maine's efforts to deal with the opioid crisis, healthcare funding, and other matters of interest to physicians in an upcoming edition of the MMA's Weekly Update.
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