AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine lawmakers are starting to deal with the unfunded bills, vetoes, bonds and marijuana legalization work that’s left to do.
The Legislature’s appropriations committee met Wednesday to decide the fate of a pile of bills needing funding to survive. Topics ranged from housing insecurity among older citizens to firearms training for forest rangers.
Most bills died, got divided committee recommendations or got pushed back to next year. The price tag for the more than 100 bills considered by the committee topped hundreds of millions of dollars.
There’s not a lot of funding to go around after budget negotiations that Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine said left the state with an estimated $9 million fund balance.
The 13-member committee killed a roughly $130 million bill to recalculate MaineCare reimbursement rates for persons with disabilities. Democratic Rep. Denise Tepler said the state needs to do more in the future to address the issue.
“But right now, the cost is too great,” she said.
Some bills, like additional children’s health care funding, were already included in the $7.1 million, two-year budget.
Other bills were estimated to cost the state little. Legislation that got the committee’s divided recommendation included such bills, like one that created a new category of gross sexual assault.
Legislation that got kicked to next year includes a bill to establish an additional veterans treatment court, and another to provide MaineCare coverage for dental services to adults with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder.
Democratic Sen. Troy Jackson’s bill to prioritize purchasing of products and services made in the United States got tabled over concerns it could jeopardize federal highway funding.
“Passing a law because it sounds good and it feels good isn’t necessarily good business,” said Republican Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake.
The House and Senate are set to return July 20 to take up such bills, as well as vetoes.
The governor recently vetoed a solar bill that he says would make the poor subsidize the cost of solar panels for the rich.