According to a schedule released on December 17, Maine’s 130th legislature will only hold two in-person sessions when it meets again in January for the second session. Committee meetings will be held remotely, with audio and video streams available to the public.
In-person sessions are currently scheduled for January 5 and 26. According to a press release issued jointly by Speaker of the Senate Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) and Speaker of the House of Representatives Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford), the Speakers of the Legislative Assembly “publish another program of sessions late January and will continue to regularly assess the operations of the legislature. ”
In the press release, Jackson called the current upsurge in COVID-19 cases an “incredible crisis” and said the legislature will operate under last year’s COVID-19 policies so as not to put more pressure on “hospitals, health care providers and frontline workers.
Fecteau underlined the impact of remote hearings on the participation of citizens in legislative hearings.
“It was amazing how ordinary people could participate and engage in the political process without having to drive to Augusta,” Fecteau said in the statement.
He also declared his commitment to ensuring that remote sessions will be transparent and accessible to the public.
“I am pleased to report that the same level of transparency and access will continue this session, with public hearings and working sessions broadcast live online. Ultimately, I remain committed to the safety and health of non-partisan staff, the public and State House lawmakers, ”President Fecteau said.
The legislature’s current COVID-19 prevention policy was implemented by the Legislative Council in late September, just before the two chambers met for a special session.
He reinstated the requirement that anyone entering the State House wear a face covering in legislative spaces, unless the person is alone in their office, in a cubicle and able to socially distance themselves by at least six. feet, or on the third floor balcony of the State House.
The policy currently in place is identical to the policy that was implemented for the First Session of the 130th Parliament, except for a requirement that committee meetings be held remotely. While the policy in place during the first session required remote committee meetings, current policy says that a legislator or committee staff member “may choose” to attend meetings remotely.