AUGUSTA – Today, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, released a memo outlining the plan for the Maine Legislature to convene in January. The full Legislature will convene in-person at the State House Wednesday, Jan. 5 and Jan. 26 to conduct legislative business.
Presiding Officers plan to release a further session schedule in late January and will continue to evaluate the operations of the legislature on a regular basis.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine people and small businesses have faced tremendous hardship. Over the past few months, I’ve heard from families, small businesses and seniors about the real challenges folks are facing – challenges that my own family is also grappling with. It’s why I’m looking forward to reconvening the Maine Legislature in January and getting to work fighting to make Maine a better place to live, work, raise a family and eventually retire,” said President Jackson. “Unfortunately, we are in the middle of an unbelievable crisis with the COVID-19 surge affecting Maine and New England. With the holidays around the corner, the Maine Legislature plans to operate under the COVID-19 health and safety protocols established last year. We simply can’t afford to put our families and communities at risk or further stress our hospitals, health care providers and frontline workers.”
“Last session, we had Mainers calling in and zooming in to participate in public hearings from every corner of the state–from barns, kitchen tables, garages and shops. It was incredible to see how everyday people could participate and get engaged in the political process without having to drive to Augusta,” said Speaker Fecteau. “I’m happy to report that the same level of transparency and access will continue this session, with public hearings and work sessions streaming live online. Ultimately, I remain committed to the safety and health of the nonpartisan staff, the public, and the lawmakers at the State House.”
For the month of January, Joint Standing Committees will meet virtually on their regularly scheduled meeting days due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases, and a projected post-holiday surge. Both video and audio livestreams of the committee meetings will be available online.
Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the public hearing process by signing up to submit written or oral testimony at mainelegislature.org/testimony. Individuals interested in providing live oral testimony should register at least 30 minutes before the hearing is scheduled to begin. Individuals interested in submitting written testimony can do so as soon as a public hearing is scheduled and throughout the committee process. Mainers acquiring additional accommodations should contact the Legislative Information Office at 287-1692 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Maine State House remains open to the public. The COVID-19 Prevention Policy adopted by the Legislative Council states that, “An individual who enters any legislative space must wear a protective face covering while in that legislative space in a manner that covers the nose and mouth, unless the individual (1) is alone in their own office; (2) is in their own cubicle and able to socially distance at a minimum at 6 feet; or (3) is on the 3rd -floor balcony in the State House.” Full text of the policy can be found here.