Wednesday was billed as the last day of the 124th Maine Legislature. (It wasn’t.) The State House staff tracked the action.

12:43 a.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate enacted a series of bills, including L.D.1360, which allows family members and law enforcement officers to petition district courts to initiate outpatient mental health care for people who demostrate an imminent threat to themselves or others.

The Senate adjourned until 10 a.m. Monday, April 12.

12:28 a.m. (Susan Cover) House Speaker Hannah Pingree said the Legislature will come back in on Monday to finish up for the session. After bonds failed passage in the Senate, discussions began on whether negotiations could bring some sort of agreement. Pingree told a disappointed House that session would likely begin at 1 p.m. on Monday. “I know looking at your faces you all want to go home permanently,” she said. “I couldn’t agree with you more.” At 12:30 a.m., the House was waiting for one more piece of legislation from the Senate before going home. The Senate just began running final enactors.

10:53 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate voted on whether to bring the $85 million bond package to voters, and, at 19-16, failed to reach a two-thirds majority. Senate Majority Leader Philip Bartlett, D-Gorham, asked that the bill be reconsidered and tabled until later in today’s session.

10:31 p.m. (Susan Cover) While the bond debate in the House focused on the Aroostook County rail lines, the Senate debate is about jobs — whether they will be created or not by state borrowing. During the Senate debate, there were two unusual references to, shall we say, a certain bodily function. Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport, said he understood Democratic frustration with the tough economic times. “I know it’s frustrating to the point of constipation,” he said. A little while later, Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, was trying to make the point that he’s not an expert on every aspect of all the bonds he’s voted for during his tenure. “I’ve been here eight years and I don’t know crap about anything,” he said, drawing some laughter.

 Debate in the Senate continues.

10:05 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate is continuing to debate the $85 million bond package, L.D. 1826, which Democrats have said will create thousands of jobs. “The economy of Maine will not be saved within these walls,” said Sen. Jonathan Courtney, R-Springvale and Assistant Republican Leader. “We’ve got to have the government get out of the way.”

9:19 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate has taken up the bond package for consideration.

“This is about jobs,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, while introducing the bill, L.D. 1826, that would bring a $85 million bond package before the voters this June and November. “This is where it is. This is our opportunity.”

9:01 p.m. (Susan Cover) Upon reconsideration, bonds passed the House by one vote — 100-48 — and have now been sent to the Senate.

7:51 p.m. (Susan Cover) Bonds failed on an enactment vote in the House by three votes, so Democrats tabled it in hopes of picking up the support needed before sending it to the Senate. The vote was 97-52, but 100 votes were needed to get the two-thirds necessary.

7:00 p.m. (Susan Cover) The House is debating bonds again. Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, said if money is not made available for the Aroostook County railroad, it will be the “death knell” of The County.

6:20 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) After lengthy debate, the House approved by 88-57 an amended version of a bill, L.D. 1360, which allows law enforcement and family members to initiate assisted outpatient mental health treatment for individuals demonstrating an imminent threat to themselves or others. The bill was then enacted by the House and sent to the Senate, which tabled it until later in today’s Senate.

5:58 p.m. (Susan Cover) The House is out until 6:30 and is expected to take up bonds when they return. The Senate is out until 7 p.m.

5:32 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate took final steps to enact a bill setting up a dispensary system for medical marijuana, L.D. 1811. Three senators — Sen. Richard Nass, R-Acton, David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, Gerald Davis, R-Falmouth— opposed it. The bill is now headed for the governor’s desk.

5:30 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate has approved an $85 million bond package on second reading with a vote of 20-14. That falls short of the two-thirds supermajority that will be needed for final passage. The bill will go back to the House in non-concurrence, after Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, introduced a “technical amendment” to correct “drafting errors.”

5:24 p.m. (Matthew Stone) The Maine Senate has stuck to its earlier votes, endorsing a bill that intends to strike down a legal barrier that prevents linking student achievement data to teacher and principal evaluations. The vote was 22-13. It’s uncertain, however, whether the bill as passed strikes down the legal barrier in question. The Maine Attorney General’s office issued an opinion this afternoon saying the bill didn’t fully strike down the prohibition. The legislation now heads to Gov. John Baldacci’s desk.

4:30 p.m. (Matthew Stone) The saga continues on L.D. 1799, a bill meant to strike down a legal barrier preventing student achievement data from being used in teacher and principal evaluations.

House members have voted 52-93 to keep an amendment that would strip down the bill to the point where school districts would have to choose from a pre-approved list of evaluation models if they decided to use student testing data in staff evaluations. Those models would be determined by a five-member task force with representatives from the state teachers’ union and groups representing superintendents, school boards, principals and special education administrators.

The bill’s passage is a crucial measure that would let Maine apply for up to $75 million in Race to the Top, a federal competition among the states for billions of dollars in education reform funds. Maine would also need to pass the measure in order to continue to be eligible for $59 million in funds from the federal economic recovery package and about $100 million in other federal funds.

The legislation now goes to Senate for another vote.

4:22 p.m. (Susan Cover) The House is back and debating the Race to the Top bill. The Senate is still expected to return at 4:30.

2:55 p.m. (Susan Cover) Rumor has it the Senate is out until 4:30. They never came back after the closed door meeting, but are said to be negotiating on bonds.

2:19 p.m. (Susan Cover) The Senate voted 19-14 on the first bond vote. Sen. Kevin Raye then tabled the bill, which seemed to surprise the Democrats. Senate is at ease while leaders from both parties meet behind closed doors.

1:39 p.m. (Susan Cover) The House is out until 3 p.m., at which time they will take up the Race to the Top bill, House Speaker Hannah Pingree said. She also said it’s still her intention to finish all work today, which drew applause from the House. She recommended that House members lobby the Senate to encourage them to finish today too. The Senate is expected back at any time and may take up bonds if all amendments are ready.

1:05 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) House Speaker Hannah Pingree scolded representatives for passing notes using other lawmakers’ stationery. She called this “unbecoming,” then introduced students and teachers from Pemetic Elementary School in Southwest Harbor who are guests in the gallery. “They would never send notes on somebody else’s stationery,” she said, eliciting laughter in the chamber.

12:51 p.m. (Susan Cover) A bill to allow Maine to compete for federal Race to the Top education funds has been sent back to the House. The Senate voted this morning not to strip off an amendment that was rejected in the House, so it is being sent back for further consideration. Bill supporters say it is in jeopardy of not passing at all, which would mean Maine could not compete for up to $75 million in federal funds.

12:47 p.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate took action to pass a bill specifying how the state will distribute medical marijuana, LD 1811, after Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, introduced an amendment correcting the fiscal impact of the bill by increasing startup funds from $200,000 to $250,000 to pay for background checks by the Department of Public Safety. The medical marijuana distribution program run by the Department of Health and Human Services is intended to be fiscally self-sustaining. Therefore, the bill does not have to go before the Appropriations Committee again. If the House approves the amendment, as Diamond expects, the bill will come back to the Senate for final passage.

11:45 a.m. (Susan Cover) The House just voted 94-53 to give initial approval to the $85 million bond package. Following good debate, House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven, called on Rep. Howard McFadden, R-Dennysville, to ask him to record his vote. McFadden stood up and said “Madame Speaker, I still don’t know. How much time do I have?” She replied: “We’re all waiting.” He said he would vote “no,” at least on this round. The bill now heads to the Senate for initial votes.

11:03 a.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate amended a bill, LD 1360, which allows law enforcement and family members to initiate assisted outpatient mental health treatment. The amendment requires a witness to directly observe behavior indicating an imminent threat to themselves or others. In all cases, a law enforcement officer must be involved. The bill is going back to the House for review, but also must go through the Appropriations Committee for a review of fiscal impact.

10:55 a.m. (Ethan Wilensky-Lanford) The Senate enacted a bill to provide predictable benefits to Maine communities that host wind energy developments, LD 1504, and a bill to amend the laws governing the misclassification of construction workers, LD 1565. The bills will now be signed by Sen. Libby Mitchell and sent to the governor’s desk.

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