A roll call is taken in the House of Representatives in the closing days of the legislative session. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Legal protection for providers of abortion and gender-affirming care. A ban on paramilitary activity by groups planning to cause civil disorder.

Mandated background checks for private gun purchases and additional power for police to seize weapons from people who may pose a threat.

And millions of dollars for emergency shelters, affordable housing programs and crisis receiving centers to expand mental health care.

Maine lawmakers and Gov. Janet Mills created significant new laws during this year’s legislative session. While mostly wrapped up, lawmakers are expected to return to Augusta for one more day to take up vetoes from the governor and possibly decide how to allocate remaining funds among dozens of bills competing for the money. And Mills has until early this week to sign or veto more bills.

Except for emergency legislation, the new laws will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

But, while the 131st Legislature took some historic steps, other big proposals fell short, either for lack of votes or lack of funding. The list of failed bills include digital privacy protections, creation of a new child welfare department separate from the Department of Health and Human Services, a constitutional amendment protecting the right to abortion and a red flag law to make it easier to seize guns from someone who might do harm.



In the aftermath of the October mass shooting in Lewiston, lawmakers approved a 72-hour waiting period on firearms purchases; a ban on bump stocks and other rapid-fire devices; expanded background checks to include private, advertised sales; and an update to the yellow flag law to make it easier for police to take someone into protective custody in a step toward restricting their access to weapons.

Mills on Friday signed into law the expanded background checks and the yellow flag update, which were part of a bill she proposed.

A spokesperson said the governor is reviewing and considering signing the other two proposals.

People hold candles and make the “I love you” sign at the end of a vigil for victims of the Lewiston mass shooting on Nov. 1. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal, file

A last-minute proposal for a red flag law – which would allow family members, in addition to police, to petition a court to restrict a person’s access to weapons without a mental health evaluation – was voted out of the Judiciary Committee but never came to floor votes in the House or Senate.

All Republicans and one Democrat on the committee were opposed to the proposal, indicating it may have faced steep odds had it made it to a vote in either chamber. House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, the bill’s sponsor, said it never came to a vote in the House because of time constraints and debate over the budget in the final hours of the legislative session.



A supplemental budget signed by Mills includes $76 million for investments in emergency and affordable housing. That includes $21 million for the Emergency Housing Relief Fund to ensure that warming shelters, lower-barrier shelters, longer-term shelters and transitional housing programs can remain open.

Another $30 million will go toward building more housing: $10 million to the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program, $10 million to leverage federal low-income housing tax credits, and $10 million to bolster the Affordable Homeownership Program, which in total is estimated to help build more than 260 new homes in Maine.

A homeless man steps into his tent at an encampment off Commercial Street in Portland in November. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer, file

The budget also includes $5 million in one-time funds for MaineHousing to establish a housing preservation fund to support the purchase of mobile home parts by their residents, providing low- or no-interest financing to entities such as resident cooperatives to complement other financing options.

Another $18 million will establish a rent relief pilot program designed to provide eligible people with up to $800 per month in rental assistance to be paid directly to the person’s landlord for a period of up to 24 months. And $2 million will go to a program for helping students experiencing homelessness.

Both chambers passed and Mills signed L.D. 2277, a resolve authorizing the state to sell three former courthouses in York County so they can be repurposed for housing.


A bill that would have prohibited municipalities of more than 20,000 people from temporarily banning new emergency shelters died after it passed the House but failed in the Senate and didn’t get second votes in either chamber.


A new law signed by the governor will protect providers of legally protected abortion and gender-affirming care from legal action if they provide such services to residents of states that have passed bans or restrictions. The bill was one of the most controversial of the session, drawing hours of public testimony as well as a rebuke from 16 Republican attorneys general in other states who called the proposal “constitutionally defective.”

It was signed by Mills last week.

“While some politicians relentlessly attack people who seek, and those who provide, reproductive and gender-affirming care, the State of Maine is standing up to send the clear and unequivocal message that we will protect patients and medical providers from the hostile, discriminatory actions of out-of-state politicians trying to exact extreme agendas,” she said in a statement.

Another high-profile bill would have created an amendment to the Maine Constitution enshrining the right to “personal reproductive autonomy,” including the right to an abortion. It received initial approval in the House and Senate but never got the two-thirds necessary to send the proposal to voters, as is needed to amend the state constitution.


Abortion-rights advocates gather in the Hall of Flags at the State House in January to support a proposal to add the right to abortion to the Maine Constitution. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer, file

The proposal was never officially killed – it’s among the bills awaiting possible funding from the budget committee.

A bill to require health insurance providers to cover nonprescription birth control, including a new over-the-counter oral contraceptive, in addition to prescription contraceptives, also received initial approval in both chambers but hasn’t been funded. The bill was supported by reproductive rights advocates and physicians who said it will give more people access to preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Two bills to increase mental health resources, L.D. 2224 and L.D. 2237, also received funding in the supplemental budget. The budget includes $4.4 million to establish crisis receiving centers in Lewiston, Penobscot County and Aroostook County, building a network off the crisis receiving center the state already operates with Spurwink in Portland.

The budget also includes $5.3 million to strengthen mobile crisis response with teams of behavioral health responders who can be dispatched to the location of a person in crisis through Maine’s 24/7 crisis lifeline.


The supplemental budget includes $6 million that was originally called for in a standalone bill to address a shortfall in federal funding for victim advocacy organizations. The funding will help bridge the gap for domestic violence centers, victim witness advocates, and agencies like the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.


Another new law prohibits unauthorized paramilitary activity intended to cause civil disorder in response to a planned neo-Nazi training camp in northern Maine that was later canceled.

A bill that would create an inventory of all untested rape kits in Maine and an electronic tracking system in the Department of Public Safety is still awaiting funding, as is a bill that would provide a process for law enforcement to identify alternative services for youth accused of crimes – rather than sending them to the state’s youth prison, Long Creek Youth Development Center.


Lawmakers spent much time this session examining the Department of Health and Human Services’ struggling child welfare system following the death of four children in 2021 who had past contact with the department.

L.D. 779, a proposal to create a separate Department of Child and Family Services, received a 22-8 vote of support in the Senate but was never taken up in the House. Sen. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, the bill’s sponsor, said he was disappointed by the outcome, though he acknowledged that concerns raised by the Mills administration and a $4.2 million fiscal note would have been likely roadblocks, even if the bill passed the House.

“At least you could have had the conversation, and it could have been part of the conversation of what we want to do,” he said.


The Legislature approved the establishment of an Office of New Americans with funding in the supplemental budget. The funding includes two positions and support for other costs of the office, which will be tasked with improving the economic and civic integration of immigrants to the state.

Lawmakers approved a restructuring of state income tax brackets that would reduce taxes for middle-income workers and increase taxes on wealthier residents, but that was vetoed by Mills on Friday afternoon and lacks the support to mount a successful override.

And Maine is now part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which means all of its electoral votes would be given to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote nationwide – if enough states join the compact to control the number of Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. If successful, the multistate effort could ensure the candidate who gets the most votes nationwide also wins in the Electoral College.


Both chambers gave easy approval to L.D. 2007, a bill that expands the ability of tribal courts to handle criminal cases that take place on their lands. Mills has signed the bill, which represents a pared-down version of a broader tribal sovereignty bill from Talbot Ross.

Another bill, L.D. 1777, which would have given Wabanaki tribes in Maine the exclusive right to internet gambling, died after it failed in the House but was approved in the Senate.



Lawmakers passed a carve-out in environmental regulations that the governor requested to allow construction of an offshore wind terminal on Sears Island.

Lawmakers also pushed back the state’s timeline for banning the sale of most products that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to 2032 – two years later than the deadline currently written into state law.

The changes also include a 2026 sales ban on children’s goods, cleaning products, cookware, cosmetics, rugs, ski wax and upholstered furniture that contain PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.” A ban on the sale of artificial turf with PFAS goes into effect in 2029.


The new budget will restructure Child Development Services. The state agency has struggled to provide mandatory services such as physical and speech therapy to children with disabilities from birth until they reach kindergarten.


Among other things, the new law transfers that responsibility from CDS to local school districts for 3- and 4-year-old children, expands eligibility requirements for children from birth to 3 years of age to get services, and creates a support network to assist schools.

The budget also sets a minimum wage for education technicians at 125% of the state minimum hourly wage and a minimum wage for other school support staff who are paid hourly at 115% of the state minimum. The state will pay the first year of associated costs, starting in July 2025, with local school districts helping to pay the cost after that.

A bill that would give schools more resources to teach African American and Wabanaki studies was still unfunded as of last week.


A law signed by Mills last week will give the Portland Sea Dogs a tax credit of up to $133,000 per year and $2 million total for qualified investments in its Hadlock Field stadium. It comes as the baseball team’s owner, Diamond Baseball Holdings, is looking to make $8 million to $10 million in upgrades to bring its facilities in line with Major League Baseball’s requirements for its minor league affiliates.

A bill to establish licensing requirements for contractors is still awaiting funding.


Lawmakers defeated a data privacy bill that aimed to regulate the collection, use, transfer, sale and deletion of non-publicly available personal data linked to Maine residents. The bill, L.D. 1977, died after it passed the House but failed to pass in the Senate.

And Mills vetoed L.D. 2273, which would have given farmworkers protections under the state’s minimum wage law. Farmworkers are currently exempt from the state law, and most fall under the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, rather than the state minimum of $14.15.

The governor introduced the original bill but vetoed it after lawmakers amended it to allow farmworkers to sue their employers to enforce the law. The original bill gave enforcement authority only to the state.

The proposal passed the House on narrow margins and is seen as unlikely to be able to overcome the governor’s veto.

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