AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature will meet in Augusta on Tuesday to consider emergency legislation to help the state respond effectively and efficiently to the COVID-19 crisis and any critical appropriations before suspending the legislative session. The Legislative Council issued new guidance to the public and all members in advance attached to this message and also found below.
President Jackson and Speaker Gideon issued the following statement:
“On any regular session day in Augusta, hundreds of lawmakers, advocates and legislative staffers come from all across the state to do the people’s business. That public participation is the hallmark of what we do. However, we are in the midst of unprecedented times and so we are issuing some unprecedented policy.
“We make these requests with the ultimate goal of protecting the health and well-being of all Mainers and limiting the strain on our first responders, health care professionals and hospitals. All of us have a role to play to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that includes those in the Legislature.
“In order to pass legislation to put in place effective, evidence-based measures to ensure the safety of Maine families, communities and our economy, legislators and essential staff and members of the media need to be in the State House tomorrow. We thank you in advance for your adherence to this new policy and your willingness to participate electronically. If we all prioritize our health and stay informed, we can protect the safety of all those around us.”
To: Members, 129th Legislature
From: Members of the 129th Legislative Council
Date: March 16, 2020
RE:Measures to Protect Public Health and Reduce Exposure to Spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 in the Maine State House and Grounds
In light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we are implementing all possible actions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 within the Maine State House, buildings and grounds: this includes measures to protect the public as well as all employees and members of the legislative branch of government.
Therefore, effective immediately we are implementing the following measures. To reduce exposure risk to legislators, staff and members of the public:
- Beginning midnight, Monday, March 16, 2020 through midnight, Monday, March 30, 2020, the State House will only be open to legislators, staff and members of the press. The Tuesday, March 17 sessions of the House and Senate, along with any meetings or work sessions of the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs, will continue to be livestreamed in accordance with existing policy. At the expiration of this period, we will reevaluate whether it is safe to lift this restriction.
- We support and encourage those who have extenuating circumstances or who may be immunocompromised to determine the necessary steps to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy. This includes making the choice to be absent.
- In addition to the above actions to process the remaining legislative work, we are immediately suspending the use of honorary pages and we will not be inviting members of the public to sing the national anthem or clergy to say the opening prayer.
- The Senate and the House may each take other actions to limit the risk of exposure to legislators and staff.
- Any measures limiting in-person access to members of the public will not apply to the members of the press.
Thank you for your cooperation and for your significant efforts in the coming days as we work to complete this session and reduce the risks faced by members of the public, legislative employees and members.
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