Maine 131st End of Session Wrap Up

The Maine Legislature wrapped up one of the longest sessions in recent history around 5 AM on Wednesday, July 28 – a month and a half behind schedule. The long session resulted in a flury of bills from a hard left legislature that no doubtedly tilted Maine in the same direction, but many of these progressive items were tempered by veto threats from a more centrist Governor Janet Mills and Republican leadership that was all to happy to have her back when necessary.


Biennial Budget

The Democratic Legislature led by Speaker Rachel Talbot-Ross and President Troy Jackson have now passed back-to-back majority budgets. Majority budgets are a legislative procedural hurdle designed to eliminate the need for bipartisan negotiation on the budget. Billed as a way to “avoid a government shutdown” Governor Janet Mills signed the largest budget in State history – $9.8 billion. The budget was passed and signed on March 31. The Governor left the door open for an additional supplemental budget where she was willing to negotiate with legislative Republicans, but it seemed to be empty words. Just a few weeks ago, the Legislature passed an additional spending bill totaling $445 million bringing the budget to a $10.3 billion price tag for the biennium.


For more information from the Governor’s office on what the budget includes, click here:

Governor Mills Unveils Biennial Budget Proposal

Governor Mills Signs Historic Budget Law


Off Shore Wind

Legislative Democrats together with Union interests pushed a series of bills aimed at cornering the market on off shore wind. Encouraged by massive federal funding three bills were pushed that would define the industry for decades to come as the build out commences. LDs 1818, 1847, and 1895 were loudly opposed by industry and supported by organized labor, environmentalists, and most democrats in the legislature. These bills required project labor agreements on contractors who have no relationship with unions or union hiring agents. The bills as written were designed to cut out companies that have build all of Maine’s current terrestrial wind and hand that work to out of state union shops.


Governor Mills initially sided with industry on the subject. Through a veto threat, the Governor made her wishes known to get everyone at the table. She made it very clear that she would not support a bill that hurt or put Maine companies at a disadvantage. The Governor made good on her threat and vetoed LD 1847. That bill was originally put in by her office to deal with citing of the large off shore wind turbines. Legislative democrats stripped the language from the bill and inserted the language from LD 1895 and 1818 in its place.


Through another month of negotiations Governor Mills worked with Sen. Mark Lawrence and Sen. Chip Curry to craft a bill that, in their view, protected Maine companies and allowed unions to compete only when traditional merit shop methods failed. Industry loudly opposed this “watered down PLA” and urged the Governor to reconsider. In the end she signed the bill into law on July 28, 2023.


Regardless of policy decisions the bill sets in place an off shore wind procurement path for Maine to take advantage of off shore wind monies being provided by the federal government. Proponents argue that the bill will allow Maine to more closely define where off shore wind may be placed in hopes to avoid valuable lobstering and fishing areas, culturally significant submerged lands, and off shore native burial grounds. They also say that it will stop other states like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island from building off shore wind off the coast of Maine for the benefit of their states.


Opponents argue that the process in place will cause off shore wind the be incredibly expensive because of the unknown costs of labor and time delays required by the legislation in event of a labor shortage. Many have indicated that they will not bid on the work at all because it simply isn’t worth the hassle when they can take jobs elsewhere that will be less expensive and more profitable. Opponents believe that the Public Utilities Commission will not even end up issuing a contract for off shore wind because it will be cost prohibitive because of the bill.


Paid Family Medical Leave

Maine became one of 17 states to pass a paid family medical leave program. The bill originally sponsored by Sen. Mattie Daughtry was included in the supplemental budget package and would allow for employes to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for family members, have a child, recover from surgery among many other life events. The bill was a long fought battle for the Senator and and a landmark achievement for Democrats and the Mills Administration.


Opponents consisted of nearly every major trade association and business group in the state together with a variety of think tanks and individual business owners. The large group of opponents cited the very broad definition of “family member” in the bill that included many “de facto” family members. They cited potential for abuse and runaway costs for employers and employees alike. 


Paid Family Medical Leave was an interesting political exercise. A group of proponents have been circulating a citizens initiative petition to place a bill that was much more extensive than the version passed by the Maine Legislature. They were backed by polling that said well over ⅔ of Maine voters approved of the proposed system and that it would win soundly if presented to the people on a ballot. Using this threat as leverage, Sen. Daughtry and the Mills Administration took advantage and passed a supposedly milder version of PFML that was signed into law by the Governor. PFML will not take effect until 2025 with employees not eligible to take advantage of the program until 2026.


To learn more about Maine’s new Paid Family Medical Leave program you can consult the following resources:


Maine Senate Democrats: PFML – Building it Together

Governor Janet Mills: Why I’m Supporting Paid Family Medical Leave (PPH)

Maine GOP Slams Paid Family Leave (Spectrum News)




After a long debate over the future of PFAS in Maine, the Department of Environmental Protection submitted rules to the Board of Environmenal Protection as directed by the Legislature when they passed a sweeping PFAS chemical ban in the 130th Legislature. This first in the nation bill would ban all PFAS products after 2030 and would require a reporting mechanism that would be finalized through rule by the Maine DEP. This wide and sweeping legislation would be stricter than the anticipated rules coming out of Washington DC and would make Maine an outlier amongst the states making it difficult for many companies to sell their products and customers to access necessary items.


Many interested parties submitted legislation at the end of 2022 through sympathetic members to change the onerous requirements being implemented through the DEP. The Legislatures Environment and Natural Resources committee debated all the bills in a group hearing where they came up with a compromise bill, LD 217. The original compromise called for a working study group led by the DEP Commissioner that would meet over the summer to walk through the particulars. However, at the public hearing the Commissioner torpeadoed that idea and cited limited resources and time to head such a commission. Instead the Committee decided to conduct the hearings themselves over the summer and fall to determine necessary adjustments to Maine’s restrictive law.


In the end LD 217 made a few changes to the law, including:

  • Extends the reporting deadline from January 1, 2023 to January 1, 2025 for all manufacturers to report PFAS as an ingredient in their products
  • Clarifies the packaging exemption under the law regulating PFAS in products.
  • Exempts from PFAS reporting requirements manufacturers that employ 25 or fewer people
  • Clarifies that the requirements and prohibitions of PFAS in products do not apply to used products or used product components


The bill clarifies that all the above changes made to the existing PFAS reporting law are retroactive to January 1, 2023.


To date, the Maine DEP has essentially stopped rulemaking and any enforcement on the PFAS reporting requirements and the law in general. We anticipate that this holding pattern will continue throughout the remainder of the 131st Legislature.


The ENR committee has committed to a series of meetings starting in the fall, likely after labor day. They will conduct them in a similar fashion as a congressional investigation conducted by congress.


Maine Public: Committee Supports Delaying Maines First in the Nation PFAS Reporting Law


Abortion and Social Issues


After promising not to change Maine’s abortion laws when running for reelection in 2022, Governor Janet Mills proposed a sweeping change of Maine’s abortion laws. The bill as presented legalized abortion at any point for any reason as long as a doctor consented to the procedure. Republicans were incensed by the proposal and for the first time in decades were united in opposing an abortion measure calling it too extreme for Maine.


The bill ignited a firestorm of opposition and led to the longest public hearing in State history – lasting over 21 hours.


After a long year, the Legislature will have a short break before they prepare for the Second Regular Session. Cloture, the deadline for submitting legislative bill requests, has been set for September 29th at 4:00 PM. Legislative Council will then meet to vote on which bills meet the “emergency” clause, determining the agenda for 2024. In addition, we expect a list of carry over bills to be published shortly, which will show there are many policy discussions from this year still to be had.