Since they were sworn in last December, Maine lawmakers have met in session to vote on bills on just two days. In a normal year, they would have been in session for about a dozen days. Still, Democratic House Speaker Ryan Fecteau said the Legislature is working well given the limitations imposed by the pandemic.
The Legislature has held its limited in-person sessions at the Augusta Civic Center, the only facility in the area that has the space to accommodate the CDC’s six-foot separation guidelines. Committee meetings and work sessions have been held virtually, and often meetings are delayed or interrupted by internet dropouts. Still, Fecteau believes lawmakers are adapting well.
“I think there are obviously some hiccups at the start both technologically, making sure the tools work properly and, secondarily to that, making sure that members understood how to navigate,” he said.
Fecteau said lawmakers have been challenged by not being able to discuss legislation in-person between sessions and hearings. He said while he believes the Legislature will complete most of its business, some issues may have to be delayed to the second regular session next January.
“We need to start getting them heard and then out of committee and that is going to be [a] challenge, I think. We could potentially see more bills carried over to the second session as a result,” he said.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.