As of 1 p.m. Friday, March 13, test results show that two Maine residents have tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Leaders in the Maine Legislature abruptly announced on Friday that the 2020 session would end on Tuesday after the state recorded its first two positive tests for the new coronavirus.
Democratic and Republican leaders in the Maine House of Representatives and Senate announced a deal to end the session on Friday evening, a day after the Legislature said it would close galleries where floor sessions can be viewed and limit certain State House events.
The move will leave barely enough time for the Legislature to amend and pass Gov. Janet Mills’ supplemental budget package, which carried a $127 million price tag when it was introduced last month. The Democratic governor is expected to amend the package in response to the coronavirus.
Members of the budget committee were meeting on Friday and were expected to continue working over the weekend to finalize a spending proposal by the Tuesday deadline. Other measures endorsed by legislative panels could be considered by the Legislature when it meets on what is likely to be a marathon day on Tuesday.
In a joint statement, legislative leaders couched the move as a suspension of business, though no return time has been announced. Measures still being considered in legislative committees are expected to be delayed and could be considered if the lawmakers moves to convene again in 2020.
“Suspending the legislative session to mitigate the spread of disease in our communities is the responsible thing to do,” the four leaders of the legislative caucuses said in a joint statement.
The Legislature prepared to adjourn on Friday after the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced a second presumptive positive test for the virus in a Portland municipal employee. Another woman in her 20s tested positive on a preliminary basis, according to health officials. On Thursday, Mills advised Mainers to suspend gatherings of 250 or more people.