Maine Legislature special session yields transportation bond, but Republicans hold up Gov. Mills' other three bonds

Published: Aug. 26, 2019 at 8:22 PM EDT
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It was a contentious day at the State House as lawmakers met for a special session to discuss Gov. Mills' proposed bond bills.

The borrowing package contained bills that would fund transportation, conservation efforts, broadband expansion and more.

Lawmakers voted to pass the $105 million bond to fund transportation efforts, including highway and bridge repairs, road improvements, and more.

That was always seen as a bipartisan-supported bond, and will now head to the ballot for voters in November.

The other three bonds -- one for conservation projects, one for broadband and CTE programs, and one for environment and energy projects -- all failed to reach the two-thirds vote needed to pass after Republicans voted against them.

Senate Democrats seemed stunned when Senate GOP Leader Dana Dow said on the floor that Republicans would not be supporting three of the four bonds.

"Unfortunately they're being disingenuous when they said that they didn't know, they didn't have any part in this," said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. "Two weeks ago both Senators, Timberlake and Dow, knew what we were proposing. Now it seems like they're playing some game to come back in January."

Republicans say they want to discuss the bills more when lawmakers return for the next session in January.

"Its no emergency in that we can do all of this in January when we can really go over the bond proposals with a fine-toothed comb and narrow it down so we can spend the money where it's really needed," said Dow. "We weren't asked to do that. Normally leadership gets together and we hammer out a bond proposal. We were never asked to do any of that."

Gov. Mills says she's disappointed in the decision by Republicans and wish they could have worked together.

"I think the Republican party in this Legislature has become the party of procrastination, the party of no," said Mills.

"I'm sorry it's come to this. I'm kind of sorry I called them in."

After the votes on the bonds, Senate Democrats brought up a bill to enact ranked-choice voting for presidential primaries.

It passed the Senate and now heads to the Governor's desk.