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Wednesday, 03 January 2018 17:24

State legislators return to Augusta for second session Featured

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AUGUSTA - It's time to head back to work for legislators, in what some are suspecting could be a heated session.

A moment of harmony, as the 128th Legislature returned to the capitol for the first day of the second session.

"Today is the day we set the legislature in motion, everybody gets back and reacquainted," said Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau.

Hearings on issues like the opioid crisis and a possible change to election laws were focal points Wednesday.

Otherwise, legislators seemed to enjoy the calm before the political storm in the days to come.

"We do have a lot of issues, a lot of issues for the people of our state," Sen. Thibodeau said.

Rules regarding recreational marijuana implementation will be addressed towards the beginning of the session. Lawmakers will also be considering what to do with the federal tax bill.

"Whether or not we conform to that will be something that is discussed," Sen. Thibodeau said. "We need to do that to encourage investment in our state."

Perhaps one of the most anticipated topics will be how to fund Medicaid expansion, something that's been debated since the initiative was passed in November.

"It's now the responsibility of all members of the legislature, democrats and republicans, and our chief executive Governor LePage to implement Medicaid expansion, as was requested by voters in November," said Rep. Erin Herbig, House Democratic Leader.

Lawmakers are not only dealing with a large number of bills, but also a large number of people who will be running for office during this election year, something that is sure to make this session interesting.

"There are too many critical issues to allow someone's re-election or the next office they're seeking to get in the way, so it is my hope that our colleagues will put that aside and focus on what we were elected to do," Rep. Herbig said.

Thursday's snow storm has prompted cancellations for proceedings for that day. The next time the House and the Senate will be in session will be Tuesday, January 9.