AUGUSTA, Maine — State lawmakers will return from school vacation week Monday to a host of complex and controversial issues waiting for their attention.
Tuesday promises to be an especially busy day around the State House.
The Legislature’s budget committee is expected to receive more dour news that day about Maine’s financial situation when revenue forecasters give their revised projections. On Friday, Gov. John Baldacci’s finance chief, Ryan Low, estimated that the Appropriations Committee will have to deal with an additional $560 million to $590 million shortfall as it attempts to complete work on a $6 billion budget by May 8.
The Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, is expected to hold a work session Tuesday on the gay marriage bill that drew more than 3,000 people to the Augusta Civic Center earlier this week.
The bill, LD 1020, which would end Maine’s prohibition on same-sex marriages, is on the agenda for the committee’s 1 p.m. meeting.
At that same time, the Insurance and Financial Services Committee will hold public hearings on a number of bills introduced in response to the home foreclosure crisis.
Several of the measures aim to prevent unnecessary foreclosures by creating mandatory mediation programs, extending the redemption period or protecting the rights of renters living in homes headed into foreclosure.
Other interesting or noteworthy items on the Legislature’s agenda next week include:
ä Public hearings at 10 a.m. Monday in the Marine Resources Committee on bills to create saltwater fishing licenses in Maine. Federal officials have threatened to issue their own licenses — and keep the proceeds — unless the state begins requiring saltwater anglers to buy licenses.
ä A work session on a bill, LD 6, that would create a new “distracted driver” law that is aimed at motorists who are too busy talking on their cell phones, text-messaging or watching DVDs to pay attention to the road. The work session will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
ä Public hearings Monday on several college-related bills, including one to allow veterans and active-duty military personnel to pay in-state tuition and another aimed at lowering the price of college textbooks. Both bills are scheduled for hearings at 9 a.m. in the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.
ä Public hearings on several bills aimed at fighting the epidemic of childhood obesity by encouraging more physical education classes in school. The bills are on the Education Committee’s agenda for 1 p.m. Thursday.