AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine voters would decide whether the state flag design should change, through one of several bills the Legislature’s budget panel voted to fund Tuesday evening.
The Legislature’s budget committee approved moving the bill from Rep. Sean Paulhus, D-Bath, after the Democratic-led House and Senate had passed it in June. Several Republicans on the panel opposed the move Tuesday.
That measure is one of 266 bills on the Special Appropriations Table the budget panel was considering Tuesday night. Gov. Janet Mills signed earlier Tuesday the final part of a two-year, $10.3 billion budget that left roughly $40 million to fund measures initially approved by lawmakers but are languishing unfounded for the moment.
After a dinner break began around 5:30 p.m, the committee did not resume public deliberations for the rest of the night, with the clerk notifying observers around 12:30 a.m. the meeting was done. Members had indicated they might discuss amendments among themselves during the break, and the committee was scheduled to meet again Wednesday afternoon.
Any bills moved off the table go to the Senate, and if that chamber amends them in any way, the House must also consider the legislation before sending the bills to the governor.
Before adjourning for the summer, lawmakers will otherwise convene for one more day to vote on whether to override any additional vetoes from Mills.
The budget committee on Tuesday advanced numerous other bills dealing with a variety of topics, including referendums on printing the state’s treaty obligations with Native American tribes in the Maine Constitution and on adopting ranked-choice voting for gubernatorial and state legislative elections.
Two-thirds of lawmakers would need to also approve sending those proposals to the November ballot that already will feature several other referendums this fall. Republican oppose the ranked-choice voting plan, meaning it likely does not have broad enough support to pass.
Additional measures that are moving forward include bills to clarify criminal statutes on assaulting emergency medical services workers; add punishments for making false reports that lead to lockdowns or evacuations; increase penalties for possessing guns as a convicted felon and remove the statute of limitations for certain sexual offenses against minors.
Numerous measures already included in the approved two-year budget were kept from advancing Tuesday, and the panel delayed various bonding measures to 2024.
On the state flag front, the initial proposal would have changed the current 1909 design featuring the state seal back to the original 1901 design featuring a pine tree and blue star, but an amendment from Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, will let voters decide on the design in a November referendum.
The question on ballots will read: “Do you favor making the former state flag, replaced as the official flag of the State in 1909 and commonly known as the Pine Tree Flag, the official flag of the State?”