Maine State Legislature

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Maine State Legislature

Seal of Maine.svg.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   December 3, 2014
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Michael Thibodeau (R)
House Speaker:  Mark Eves (D)
Majority Leader:   Garrett Mason (R) (Senate),
Jeff McCabe (D) (House)
Minority Leader:   Justin Alfond (D) (Senate),
Kenneth Fredette (R) (House)
Members:  35 (Senate), 154 (House)
Length of term:   2 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Article IV--Part Third, Maine Constitution
Salary:   $13,526/year Sess. 1, $9,661/year Sess. 2 + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
35 seats (Senate)
151 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
35 seats (Senate)
151 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Maine Legislature has control
The Maine State Legislature is the state legislature of Maine. It is a bicameral body composed of the lower Maine House of Representatives and the upper Maine State Senate. The Legislature convenes at the State House in Augusta, where it has met since 1832.

As of April 2015, Maine is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

See also: Maine House of Representatives, Maine State Senate, Maine Governor


In order to be a member of the Legislature, one must be no less than twenty-one years old, have been for five years a citizen of the United States, have been a resident of Maine for one year, and for the 3 months next preceding the time of this person's election shall have been, and, during the period for which elected, continue to be, a resident in the district represented.


Legislative elections are held in November of every even-numbered year, during the state's general election. The terms for both houses are two years. Since 1996, members of both the House and Senate are limited to four two-year terms; this is a consecutive, rather than lifetime, limit.


As the legislative branch of the Maine state government, the Legislature has the power to make laws, subject to a veto by the Governor. The Legislature, however, by a vote of two-thirds in each house, may override the veto. The Legislature also has the power to propose constitutional amendments to the Maine Constitution by a vote of two-thirds in each house; the proposal must be approved by a majority of voters in a statewide election in order to be passed.


Article IV, Part Third of the Maine Constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session. Section 1 of the Part states that, following a legislative election, the Legislature is to convene its first regular session on the first Wednesday of December. The second regular session of the legislature is to convene in the next even-numbered year. This second session is to convene on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in January. Section 1 also instructs the Legislature to enact statutory limits on the length of its regular sessions.

Section 1 also establishes the procedures for convening special sessions of the Legislature. A special session can be convened by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, with the consent of a majority of legislators from each political party.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature is projected to be in session from December 3, 2014 through June 17, 2015.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include the state economy, welfare reform and energy policy.[1]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through May 2.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included Medicaid expansion vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage (R) last session and welfare reform.[2]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from December 5, 2012 to July 10, 2013.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included addressing education, energy, domestic violence, jobs and strengthening the state's economy, and a new two-year budget that's facing a $128 million deficit.[3]

Election of constitutional officers

The Maine House of Representatives voted 79-59 on June 4 to reject a proposal to allow voters to select the state’s Treasurer, Secretary of State and Attorney General. LD 1279 called for a referendum to amend the Maine State Constitution to shift the selection of these officers from the Legislature to voters.[4] The bill sponsored by Representative Andre Cushing (R) called for two-year terms for the Treasurer and Secretary of State and a four-year term for the Attorney General. Legislators currently select all three officers every two years. This legislation was blocked on June 3 by the Maine State Senate 18-16.[5]

The House and Senate votes largely followed party lines with Democratic majorities in both houses. Republican majorities in the House and Senate blocked similar legislation in 2011.[6][7]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 4 through April 14, was in recess from April 14 through May 13, and adjourned May 31.

Major issues

Lawmakers faced a $221 million budget deficit. They also looked to restructure the state Medicaid system, reduce energy costs and improve charter schools.[8]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in session from December 1, 2010-June 28, 2011. Maine statutes required the legislature to adjourn by June 15, however, pursuant to Joint Order S.P. 520, the regular session was extended for five legislative days, slated to end on June 22, 2011.[9] On June 16, Governor Paul LePage ordered lawmakers home for 12 days, only to return to the statehouse for a special veto session to begin June 28.[10]

The all-GOP legislature and Republican Governor Paul LePage agreed on a fiscal year 2012 budget late in the session, with LePage signing the final bill on June 20. Legislators moderated the governor's demands for deep fiscal austerity, but the final deal still cut taxes by $150 million, lowering the top income tax rate from 8.5% to 7.95% and taking 70,000 low-income citizens off the income tax rolls entirely. It also put Dirigo Health, an "experiment in near-universal health care, on the chopping block; Dirigo, passed in 2004, will be phased out entirely by the beginning of 2014. LePage's first budget also cut welfare programs including benefits for legal noncitizens and limited participation in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to five years. The governor, who has promised to enact deeper spending cuts in the future, suggested the changes would help Maine move away from its reputation as a "welfare destination state."[11]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature was in session from January 6 to April 12.

Role in state budget

See also: Maine state budget and finances
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The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[12][13]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in July of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests in September.
  3. Agency hearings are held from October through December.
  4. Public hearings are held from January through May.
  5. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in January (this deadline is extended to February for a newly elected governor).
  6. The legislature typically adopts a budget in June. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The biennium begins on July 1.

Maine is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[13]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget. Likewise, the state legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget.[13]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Maine was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[14]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[15] According to the report, Maine received a grade of C+ and a numerical score of 76, indicating that Maine was "middling" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[15]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Maine was given a grade of D in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[16]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Maine legislature are paid $13,852/year (first regular session) and $9,661/year (second regular session). Legislators receive $38/day per diem for one of two options: housing or mileage and tolls. Additionally, legislators receive $32/day for meals.[17]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Maine legislators assume office after the first Wednesday in December after their election.


120px-Seal of Maine svg.png
The Maine State Senate is the upper house of the Maine Legislature. The Senate includes a varying number of members, which may under the Maine Constitution be thirty-one, thirty-three, or thirty-five; the present number is thirty-five. Each member represents an average of 37,953 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[18] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 36,426.[19]

Unlike a fair share of U.S. states, the Senate's leadership does not stem from the Lieutenant Governor, as Maine has constitutionally abolished the office. The leadership instead falls in the hands of the Senate President. The Maine Senate is one of the few bodies of its kind in the United States where all the major chamber positions have been held by women.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 15
     Republican Party 20
Total 35

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Maine State Senate from 1992 to 2013.
Partisan composition of the Maine State Senate.PNG

House of Representatives

The Maine House of Representatives is the lower house of the Maine Legislature. The House consists of 151 members (excluding two non-voting Native American representatives; see below) representing an equal amount of districts across the state. Each voting member represents an average of 8,682 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[20] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 8,333.[21]

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 79
     Republican Party 68
     Independent 4
     Non-voting 3
Total 154

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Maine State House of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.
Partisan composition of the Maine State House.PNG

Non-voting Members

The two non-voting members within the House represent the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe. The special Representatives can sponsor legislation relating to Natives and Native land claims, as well as co-sponsor any other legislation brought before the House, but are not allowed to submit an actual legislative vote. The Penobscot and Passamaquoddy representatives are also entitled to sit as non-voting members of joint standing committees during hearings and deliberations.

Independents and Other Parties

Early view of Maine State Capitol.gif
Due to the independent political tradition in the state, the Maine House of Representatives has been an entry ground for several of the state's prominent Independent politicians. From 2002 to 2006, the House of Representatives was the legislative home of John Eder, District 118 (Portland), of the Maine Green Independent Party, then the highest elected Green politician in U.S. politics. In the 2006 elections, Eder lost his seat to a Democratic challenger.

State capitol building

Charles Bulfinch, a Boston architect, designed the State Capitol building in Augusta. It was completed in 1832 with funds provided by Augusta citizens and on land (Weston Hill) purchased and given to the state by Augusta citizens.

An early 20th century update to the Capitol included the addition of the statue of a woman representing Wisdom as part of the new cupola.

Prior to 1832, the state legislature met in Portland and other locations.


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Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Maine
Partisan breakdown of the Maine legislature from 1992-2013

Maine State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Maine State Senate for 16 years while the Republicans were the majority for four years.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Maine State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Maine State House of Representatives for 20 years while the Republicans were the majority for two years. The Maine State House of Representatives is one of 18 state Houses that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Maine, the Maine State Senate and the Maine House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Maine state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Maine state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Between 1992 and 2002, the state experienced divided government until electing a Democratic trifecta, which occurred between 2003 and 2011. For two years (2011 and 2012), the state had a Republican trifecta before reverting back to divided government. Maine hit the bottom-10 in the SQLI ranking in 2006 and 2007 (42nd and 45th, respectively). Its highest ranking in the SQLI ranking occurred in 2012 (27th) under a Republican trifecta. The state rose seven points in the SQLI ranking between the years 2010 and 2011.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 38.38
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 28.00
  • SQLI average with divided government: 33.73
Chart displaying the partisanship of Maine government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Joint standing committees

There are sixteen (16) joint standing committees in the Legislature:

See also

External links


  1. Maine Public Broadcasting, "Maine Democrats and Republicans Lay out Priorities for Upcoming Legislative Session," December 23, 2014
  2., "Maine Legislature returns for short session," January 7, 2014
  3. WCSH 6, "Maine legislature to reconvene Tuesday," January 5, 2013
  4. Legislative Information Office, "LD 1279," accessed June 4, 2013
  5. Portland Press Herald, "Maine House vote kills bill to elect top state officials," June 4, 2013 (dead link) (dead link)
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Bangor
  7. Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, "Proposed Constitutional Amendments," accessed June 4, 2013
  8. Bangor Daily News, "Maine lawmakers return Wednesday for 2012 session," January 3, 2012
  9., 125th Legislature Session Schedule, June 16, 2011
  10. Bangor Daily News, State lawmakers headed home but only for 12 days, June 16, 2011
  11. Stateline, "Conservative budget becomes law in all-GOP Maine," June 21, 2011 (Archived)
  12. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  14. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  16. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  17., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  18. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," April 2011
  19. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001
  20. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," April 2011
  21. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001