Maine State Legislature
|Maine State Legislature|
|2014 session start:||December 5, 2012|
|Website:||Official Legislature Page|
|Senate President:||Justin Alfond (D)|
|House Speaker:||Mark Eves (D)|
|Majority Leader:|| Troy Jackson (D) (Senate),|
Seth Berry (D) (House)
|Minority leader:|| Michael Thibodeau (R) (Senate),|
Kenneth Fredette (R) (House)
|Members:||35 (Senate), 153 (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 6, 2012 |
35 seats (Senate)
153 seats (House)
|Next election:||November 4, 2014|
|Redistricting:||Maine Legislature has control|
- 1 Qualifications
- 2 Elections
- 3 Powers
- 4 Sessions
- 5 Ethics and transparency
- 6 Legislators
- 7 Senate
- 8 House of Representatives
- 9 State capitol building
- 10 History
- 11 Joint Standing Committees of the 125th Legislature
- 12 External links
- 13 References
As of April 2014, Maine is one of 14 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.
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 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature is projected to be in session from January 8 through April 16.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from December 5, 2012 through July 10, 2013.
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.
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. 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.
- 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.
Lawmakers faced a $221 million budget deficit. They also looked to restructure the state Medicaid system, reduce energy costs and improve charter schools.
- 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. 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. 
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."
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In 2010, the Legislature was in session from January 6th to April 12th.
Ethics and transparency
Open States Transparency
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 is 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.
- 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.
When sworn in
Maine legislators assume office after the first Wednesday in December after their election.
SenateMaine 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. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 36,426.
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 2014|
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. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 8,333.
|Party||As of April 2014|
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
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.
Partisan balance 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 have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
Joint Standing Committees of the 125th Legislature
There are sixteen (16) Joint Standing Committees in the Legislature:
- Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
- Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee
- Criminal Justice and Public Safety
- Education and Cultural Affairs
- Energy, Utilities and Technology
- Environment and Natural Resources
- Health and Human Services
- Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- Insurance and Financial Services
- Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development
- Marine Resources
- State and Local Government
- Veterans and Legal Affairs
- WCSH 6, "Maine legislature to reconvene Tuesday," January 5, 2013
- Legislative Information Office, "LD 1279," Accessed June 4, 2013
- Portland Press Herald," "Maine House vote kills bill to elect top state officials," June 4, 2013
<ref>tag; no text was provided for refs named
Cite error: Invalid
- Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, "Proposed Constitutional Amendments," Accessed June 4, 2013
- Bangor Daily News, "Maine lawmakers return Wednesday for 2012 session," January 3, 2012
- Maine.gov, 125th Legislature Session Schedule, June 16, 2011
- Bangor Daily News, State lawmakers headed home but only for 12 days, June 16, 2011
- Stateline, "Conservative budget becomes law in all-GOP Maine," June 21, 2011.
- Sunlight Foundation Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information, accessed June 16, 2013
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Population in 2010 of the American states
- Population in 2000 of the American states
- Population in 2010 of the American states
- Population in 2000 of the American states