Maine Legislative Assembly returns to work with one-day extension

AUGUSTA, Maine — It’s unclear whether lawmakers will accept a proposal to give Native Americans in Maine the same sovereignty enjoyed by their counterparts across the country when lawmakers reconvene on Monday.

Facing an expected veto, the Legislative Appropriations Committee refused to provide the $44,650 needed to get the bill across the finish line when it took over the remaining spending bills the week last.

But there could be last-minute negotiations to revive the bill after the legislative session was extended for 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 with the state in exchange for $81.5 million. Under the agreement, the tribe’s reservations are treated as municipalities, subject to state law.

The bill has driven a wedge between Democrats. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills opposes the bill, and most legislative Democrats support it. The bill received strong support in both houses of the Legislative Assembly.

The appropriations committee has approved a governor-backed bill to send mobile sports betting revenue to tribes. Earlier, the governor signed a bill to let the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Pleasant Point regulate their own drinking water.

Meanwhile, more votes are also needed on a bill to increase oversight of the state’s two major electric utilities.

The bill would establish new performance criteria and add financial penalties for failure to meet these criteria. In extreme circumstances, utilities could face a forced sale for repeated violations.

A bill to expand the state’s Good Samaritan law is also pending additional votes.

The Legislature approved a compromise bill to expand a law protecting people who report drug overdoses to win the governor’s support.

The goal is to encourage people to help instead of refusing to call 911 for fear of arrest, supporters said. The Governor threatened to veto the expanded original version, saying it went too far.

Assuming lawmakers finish their work on Monday, they would have to return to deal with any potential vetoes. The governor has 10 days from the passage of a bill to issue a veto.