Republicans in the Maine Legislature are about to get flattened.

The Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate are planning to steamroll the minority GOP. And Republicans have no one to blame for their impending irrelevance but themselves.

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Prior to the August special legislative session on bond issues, Dem leaders offered a couple of concessions to Republicans concerned about the amount of proposed borrowing. The size of the bond package was reduced from more than $200 million to about $160 million. And the donkey party agreed to hold separate votes on each of the four bonds, rather than consolidating them in a single unwieldy blob.

The GOP had previously insisted on both these changes before they would even consider providing the needed votes to achieve the two-thirds majorities required to send bonds out to voters. After Democrats conceded, they were under the impression the elephant party would supply enough support to achieve that.

So much for impressions. While a $105 million bond for transportation programs received significant GOP support, the other three bonds – for rural broadband, public lands and workforce development – got squadoosh. An insignificant smattering of House Republicans voted for broadband, even though many of them come from areas where internet access is primitive to nonexistent. Few backed the land bond, even though they represent districts where outdoor recreation is a significant part of the economy. In the Senate, no member of the GOP voted for anything except fixing roads and bridges.

Not surprisingly, Democrats were more than mildly annoyed. Senate President Troy Jackson, whose default setting is more than mildly annoyed, displayed his customary pique by abruptly reviving a bill he sponsored to expand ranked-choice voting to presidential elections, and ramming it through on simple majority votes, over strenuous Republican objections.

But that’s just the beginning.

Off-the-record discussions with prominent Democrats indicate that when the Legislature reconvenes in January, the opposition party is in for a heaping helping of revenge.

“If Republicans had given us enough votes to pass either the public lands or broadband bonds, we wouldn’t be all that upset,” an influential Dem said. “But they suckered us into this situation, and now they’re going to pay.”

That’s a marked change from relations between the parties during the legislative session that wrapped up in June. While Democrats used their numerical edge to pass several measures they’d long sought – Medicaid expansion, publicly funded abortions, family leave – they were somewhat deferential to the minority party by occasionally amending bills to reflect GOP concerns. For instance, family leave is required only at companies larger than in the original proposal and won’t take effect until next year. In return for these small shows of deference, Republicans didn’t block the state budget, which also required a two-thirds vote.

Democrats expected similar cooperation on bonding. When that didn’t happen, their thin veneer of goodwill evaporated.

According to the state Constitution, the short legislative session in January is supposed to be limited to “emergency” matters, but the definition of “emergency” is subject to interpretation by the majority party. Democrats will likely decide that bills they support qualify, while those favored by Republicans don’t. And since there’s little on the agenda that requires two-thirds votes, there’s no need to compromise.

“Republicans are going to regret those bond votes,” a key Democrat told me. “This is going to be fun.”

That definition of “fun” depends on whether you’re on top of the steamroller or underneath it.

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