Inside Augusta

Maine Legislature to adjourn Tuesday due to coronavirus

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The Maine Legislature will prematurely adjourn Tuesday in response to the coronavirus, Maine’s legislative leaders announced late last week. Lawmakers said they reached a deal to indefinitely end the second session of the 129th Legislature due to COVID-19, or the coronavirus. The body will focus its time and effort during Tuesday’s scheduled session to approve a supplemental budget and pass legislation related to the virus.

In a joint statement released last week, the majority and minority leaders of both chambers said their members would consider bills “directly related to coronavirus response and other critical services, then adjourn. On Tuesday, we will consider emergency legislation to help the state respond effectively and efficiently to this public health crisis, and any critical appropriations before temporarily ending legislative session next week.”

In adjourning early, lawmakers could potentially be leaving hundreds of bills to die if the body does not reconvene in 2020. According to the Bangor Daily News, legislative leaders “couched the move as a suspension of business, though no return time has been announced.” A spokeswoman for House Speaker Sara Gideon told the Portland Press Herald that lawmakers intend to reconvene “as soon as possible based on the best guidance of health officials.”

Governor Mills issued a civil emergency Sunday evening and made a number of recommendations to the public, including the closing of public schools, postponing all non-urgent medical procedures, restricting visitors at long-term care facilities and postponing all events of 50 or more people.

The governor also announced Sunday that she requested the Small Business Administration to provide economic support loans to small businesses impacted by the virus, and has submitted emergency legislation sponsored by Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson to extend unemployment insurance eligibility to people whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19.

As of Sunday evening, public health officials had confirmed seven cases of coronavirus in Maine.

According to guidance issued in the governor’s press statements, COVID-19 symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and lower respiratory distress. Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness. Health care providers will make the determination on whether testing is advisable. As appropriate, health care providers will take samples and submit them to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The best thing Mainers can do to protect their health is to take the same preventative measures that avoid catching a cold, including:

  • Wash your hands often for 20 seconds
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home if you are sick

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at Maine Policy Institute and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at Maine Policy. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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