AUGUSTA – Lawmakers have submitted about 300 bills for consideration in the legislative session that begins in January, a smaller number than usual, said Suzanne Gresser, who leads the Legislature’s bill-writing office.

That total doesn’t include 60 bills from departments and agencies or bills from the governor, which can be submitted at any time in the legislative session. Also, legislators can ask for special permission to put in bills after the deadline, which was Friday.

Two years ago, legislators put in 390 bills for the second of the Legislature’s two sessions, which is the shorter one. In 2007, lawmakers submitted 596 bills.

Typically, legislative leaders, who determine whether bills can be considered in the second session, allow about 200 bills to move forward, Gresser said.

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, said he intends to hold a strict line on whether bills constitute an emergency and move forward next year.

For the first time in decades, Republicans hold the majority on the Legislative Council, which decides the fate of the bills.

“My historical perspective is they have been quite liberal with their interpretation of what is an emergency,” he said. “Very few things rise to the level of an emergency that can’t wait until the next Legislature is seated.”

Legislative leaders will meet Oct. 31 to review the bills from legislators. The state Constitution sets limits on the bills that can be considered in the second session, which typically lasts fewer than four months. Bills are to be limited to:

• Budgetary matters.

• Legislation from the governor.

• Emergency legislation admitted by the Legislature.

• Studies and reports from the first session.

• Citizens initiatives.

The Legislature carried over 134 bills from the first session, including an overhaul of the worker’s compensation system (L.D. 1571); a bill to discontinue the Clean Election campaign financing system for gubernatorial candidates (L.D. 120); and a bill to end the practice of requiring all state employees to pay at least a portion of union dues (L.D. 309).

In addition, a study panel that is meeting this fall will recommend in January whether there should be changes to the Land Use Regulation Commission, which oversees planning and zoning decisions for the state’s nearly 10.5 million acres of unorganized territory.

The Appropriations Committee will consider a bill to cut $25 million from the state budget, and a supplemental budget will be presented by Gov. Paul Le-Page to ensure that the current spending plan stays in balance.

“The biggest vehicle of impact for the governor to put his agenda forward this session will certainly be a supplemental budget,” said House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono. “That’s where I’m going to be looking for some of the biggest items we’ll end up discussing, whether they are related to MaineCare, education or taxes.”

Gay-rights activists are expected to submit a citizens initiative calling for a statewide vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

A list of bill titles is expected to be available next week on the Legislature’s website, Gresser said.

House Democrats issued a news release Tuesday to promote one bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Beck, D-Waterville, to require heart screenings for newborns. The “pulse oximetry test” is done some hospitals; Beck’s bill would require all facilities that provide birthing services to administer the test, according to the release.

Nutting said the carryover bills combined with new measures will makes for a busy session, especially with a targeted adjournment of April 18.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]