AUGUSTA, Maine — It’s unclear whether lawmakers will take up a proposal to give Native Americans in Maine the same sovereignty enjoyed by their counterparts across the nation when lawmakers reconvene Monday.
Facing an expected veto, the Legislature’s appropriations committee declined to provide the $44,650 needed to push the bill across the finish line when it took up remaining spending bills last week.
But there could be last-minute negotiations to revive the bill after the legislative session was extended by an extra day.
The proposal would amend the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980 in which tribes in the state traded some of their rights to the state in exchange for $81.5 million. Under the agreement, the tribe’s reservations are treated like municipalities, subject to state law.
The bill has created a divide among Democrats. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills is opposed to the bill, and most legislative Democrats support it. The bill received strong support in both chambers of the Legislature.
The appropriations committee did approve a bill supported by the governor to send mobile sports betting revenue to the tribes. Earlier, the governor signed a bill to let the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point regulate its own drinking water.
Meanwhile, further votes also are necessary on a bill to increase oversight of the state’s two major electric utilities.
The bill would establish new performance benchmarks and add financial penalties for failure to meet them. In extreme circumstances, the utilities could face a forced sale for repeated violations.
Also up for further votes is a bill to expand the state’s Good Samaritan law.
The Legislature approved a compromise bill to expand a law shielding people who report drug overdoses to earn the governor’s support.
The goal is to encourage people to help instead of declining to dial 911for fear of being arrested, supporters said. The governor threatened the veto the original expanded version, saying it went too far.
Assuming lawmakers finish their work Monday, they would be expected to return to deal with any potential vetoes. The governor has 10 days from the time a bill is passed to issue a veto.