The Maine Senate votes on new spending bills Friday afternoon, advancing the measures despite a warning from Gov. Janet Mills about the state budget. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers fell short Friday afternoon of sending nearly 80 additional spending bills to Gov. Janet Mills when the House chose not to take them up, and lawmakers in both chambers adjourned.

While the Senate passed almost all of the controversial spending bills, the House did not vote on them. Both legislative chambers adjourned “sine die” Friday night, officially ending the legislative session.

Mary-Erin Casale, spokeswoman for House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, said in a statement that the House met on Friday with the “full intention” of taking up the spending bills and the veto override attempts.

“However, when it became abundantly clear that the governor was not going to accept any additional legislation, it was apparent that the only option was to adjourn the legislative sessions,” Casale said. “While we are deeply disappointed these remaining initiatives will not be funded, we are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished for the people of Maine.”

Gov. Janet Mills made a brief appearance in the House late Friday evening as lawmakers wrapped up, praising them for taking up weighty issues and for the times they passed bipartisan bills.

“We will certainly miss you,” Mills said. “Thank you all, godspeed. Safe journey home.”


Typically, lawmakers only get one additional day at the end of a session to cast veto override votes and occasionally take up other business. But the number of bills being advanced on veto day this year was the largest in recent memory.

Senators voted in rapid succession Friday afternoon in support of nearly all of the bills that require at least some state spending.

The Senate also cast a final vote on an attempt to amend the state constitutional to add a right to reproductive autonomy, including abortion. That proposal had already failed to get the two-thirds support needed in the House to send it to a statewide referendum and it failed in the Senate Friday.

Senators gave final votes of approval to 29 of 30 bills that did not require amendments. Those bills, which now go to Mills, include creating a civil rights unit in the attorney general’s office, enhancing the storage and tracking of rape kits and requiring private insurance carriers to cover nonprescription birth control and medical devices, such as breast pumps.

House Minority Leader Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, standing foreground, speaks before the House passed a joint resolution honoring Rep. Sawin Millett, R-Waterford, seated at right in second row, during the Legislature’s veto day session Friday at the Maine State House in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Lawmakers also cast final votes on six other bills, including five related to labor, that were revived after eliminating additional positions or other built-in costs, thus requiring the proposals to be implemented with existing resources. They included ensuring flexible work schedules for employees and protecting workers from employer surveillance.

The funding bills were backed by Democrats but Republicans put up little opposition, only requesting a handful of roll call votes. Lawmakers had to suspend the rules to amend 5o of the new spending bills, a step that requires two-thirds support. Republicans went along with the amendments even though they could have blocked those bills from advancing.


Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, told the Press Herald that Democrats were planning to overcome any opposition with “a parliamentary trick,” by voting against any bill for which Republicans blocked amendments, sending it back to the House for possible amendments or creating a procedural standoff – both of which, he said, would only prolong the session without affecting the final outcome.

“It wasn’t really worth it,” Stewart said. “This is all very much like the nuclear way of doing business. That’s what they’re left with. We will remember, though. Don’t worry. Precedent-changing is a problem for everyone.”

Last week, Mills urged lawmakers to show “fiscal restraint” and to take up only her half dozen vetoes when they returned to Augusta on Friday. But the Legislature’s budget-writing committee met this week and advanced 80 more spending bills for floor votes.

The supplemental budget, which raised two-year state spending to nearly $10.5 billion, left nearly $11.4 million unallocated.

The total cost of the new bills was not clear, with estimates ranging from $10 million to $12.3 million next year. The administration estimates costs of the bills would increase to more than $37 million in the 2026-2027 fiscal year.

Mills blasted the advancement of the spending bills on Wednesday, saying lawmakers were pushing the state budget to the “breaking point” by “employing budget gimmicks like stripping fiscal notes, delaying effective dates and raiding other special revenue accounts.”

The state budget has been an ongoing point of contention between Mills and fellow Democrats, who originally proposed using funding earmarked for highway projects to fund other priorities, before reversing course amid strong, bipartisan pushback.

Mills also panned an unsuccessful last-minute attempt by the Senate to add tens of millions of dollars in unrelated spending to a storm relief bill the governor wanted passed quickly. An amendment offered by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, would have added nearly $64 million in general funding spending to next year’s budget – a sum that would increase to more than $90 million in the following years.

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