Maine legislators consider bonds, last batch of bills

Posted May 16, 2012, at 2:55 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Legislature’s work in the 125th session neared an end Wednesday with debates expected in the afternoon on several bond proposals and numerous bills with fiscal impacts that were voted off the Special Appropriations Table early in the day.

The appropriations table is where some bills with impacts on the state budget go after preliminary approval in the Legislature, usually to see if there is money available to fund them. As of the end of the session, that list included about 50 bills which will be addressed by the House and Senate before legislators wrap up their official business, which was expected to happen Wednesday afternoon and evening.

According to Rep. Patrick Flood, co-chairman of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, the committee was able to fund a majority of the bills with about $20,000 left over from a pool of money that had been earmarked for the appropriations table.

With mostly unanimous votes and numerous amendments, the committee pushed forward most of the bills. Among them were funding for fish stocking and activities related to rebuilding the deer herd; anti-bullying measures and a directive for the Department of Education to study and possibly overhaul the Essential Programs and Services formula; a study of the concept of Maine’s sex offender registry; and a risk assessment program for domestic violence offenders.

Relatively few bills died on the appropriations table. Several were rejected because they had been covered in a supplemental budget bill passed Wednesday and signed by Gov. Paul LePage. The committee also voted against a law that called for a study of how money from the Fund for a Health Maine is allocated and another study about restructuring the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some of the bills approved by the committee and subject to votes in the Legislature on Wednesday afternoon had preambles attached because they represent unfunded state mandates for municipalities and school districts. Those included the bullying legislation, the domestic violence risk assessment program and a bill that alters the requirements for National Board certification for teachers.

All of the bills approved by the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday were subject to final consideration by the Legislature.

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