Update: Since this article was originally publicished, the Legislature’s executive director has announced that they have reversed their decision about testimony submitted by email and that Maine’s legislative committees will continue accepting citizen testimony submitted via email.
AUGUSTA – Along with announcing that the Legislature will no longer accept emails as citizen testimony for public hearings and instead require testimony to be submitted through an online portal, the Maine Legislature’s public hearing notification requirement is also being cut back.
The Presiding Officers of the Maine Legislature, Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson, have announced that the two week public notice requirement for committees to hold public hearings on proposed legislation has been cut to one week.
Rule 305 of the Legislature’s Joint Rules say, “Public hearings must be advertised 2 weekends in advance of the hearing date. All exceptions must be approved by both presiding officers.”
Testimony given in-person during a public hearing may also be cut. Citizens are typically allowed 3 minutes to testify before committees, but that provision is also subject to change at the discretion of the chair of the committee.
According to a statement, the reason for the change is a goal of working through the Legislature’s remaining proposed bills, which number more than 2,000 in the current legislative session, by May 10th.
That goal suggests that a massive flood of new legislation will be considered in public hearings over the next three weeks.
Reports from several sources have indicated that the testimony and feedback provided by Maine citizens concerning legislation being considered has been at unprecedented levels on some bills.