Lawmakers at work during the Legislature’s veto day session Friday at the Maine State House in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The second session of the 131st Maine Legislature wrapped late Friday evening after a day of uncertainty over whether lawmakers might try to pass more spending bills, despite warnings from Gov. Janet Mills that she could not support them.

Members of the House and Senate convened early Friday, primarily to vote on six bills that Mills had vetoed. Typically, lawmakers take one day at the end of a session to vote on vetoes, but occasionally they vote on other matters that had not previously been settled.

All six of the vetoes were sustained, which means Mills has now vetoed 49 bills during her time as governor, and not once has she been overturned.

But the Democratic-led Senate also voted to advance 80 additional spending bills that had not been included in the supplemental budget that passed late last month. And the House, which also is controlled by Democrats, had the option to do the same, and it looked for much of the day Friday that’s what would happen.

Mary-Erin Casale, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, said in a statement late Friday that the House had the “full intention” of voting on the bills.

“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.”


There was also some question, though, about whether there was enough support in the House to advance those bills, especially into Friday evening.

Instead, the House voted to adjourn “sine die” – a Latin term that translates to “without day” but in legislative language means to adjourn without setting an official date to come back. The Senate did the same, which meant the 131st Legislature was officially over.

As work finished late Friday, Mills made a brief appearance in the House to address lawmakers.

“I know that today has been a long day, and on behalf of the people of Maine, I want to thank you for your commitment to your constituents and for pouring your hearts and souls into creating public policy for the people of our state this session,” she said. “Like every legislative session, this one was not easy – but it should not be. The problems we faced were not easy, and neither were the solutions.”

Prior to Friday, Mills had urged lawmakers to show “fiscal restraint” and to take up only her vetoes when they returned to Augusta. But the Legislature’s budget-writing committee met early last week and advanced 80 more spending bills for floor votes – in part because 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 Mills administration, however, estimated the costs of the bills would increase to more than $37 million in the 2026-2027 fiscal year.


Mills said 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.”

In an email Saturday, Scott Ogden, a spokesman for the governor, said Mills held meetings Friday with legislative leaders from both parties, during which she reiterated concerns, including that she believed Democrats’ actions could invite legal challenges.

“The governor recognizes the value of many of the bills the Democrats wanted to pass, which is why she encouraged lawmakers not to put them into a state of legal limbo, but, instead, to reconsider them on their merits in January when the next Legislature begins,” Ogden said.

The state budget already had been a contentious issue between Mills and Democrats, who originally proposed using funding earmarked for highway projects to fund other priorities before reversing course amid strong, bipartisan pushback. The governor 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 that the governor wanted passed quickly.

Despite Mills’ concerns and the threat that she might veto any new spending bills, senators voted Friday afternoon in rapid succession in support of nearly all of the bills that require at least some state spending.

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 50 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 fighting the Democrats “wasn’t really worth it.” Even though Democrats weren’t successful in pushing through late spending bills, Stewart hinted that Republicans might use the episode as a political point in upcoming campaigns.

“We will remember, though. Don’t worry,” Stewart said. “Precedent-changing is a problem for everyone.”

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