Part 3

Legislative Committees

Subpart A
Joint Standing Committees

Rule 301. Joint Standing Committee Responsibilities and Jurisdiction.

Joint standing committees are formed to assist the Legislature in the performance of its constitutional duties and are vested with the general authority granted in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 3, section 165 and certain other specific authority granted from time to time by the Legislature. The responsibilities of joint standing committees include, but are not limited to:

There are established 16 joint standing committees, which must be appointed at the commencement of the first regular session and which exercise jurisdiction in the following areas:

Rule 302. Membership.

Each of the joint standing committees consists of 13 members, 3 from the Senate and 10 from the House of Representatives. The first Senate member named is the Senate chair. The first House member named is the House chair. The Senate chair shall preside and in the Senate chair's absence, the House chair shall preside and, thereafter, as the need may arise, the chair shall alternate between the members from each chamber in the sequence of their appointment to the committee. The sequence of appointment for the biennium is as announced by the presiding officers in each chamber. Every member of the Senate and the House of Representatives is entitled to at least one initial committee assignment.

Rule 303. Committee Clerks.

The hiring of all committee clerks must be mutually agreeable to both the Senate and House chairs. If not agreeable to both, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House shall decide. Committee clerks serve at the pleasure of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. The salary of each committee clerk is established by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, and the employment of the committee clerks terminates no later than the end of the session. The Office of Fiscal and Program Review shall provide clerical support to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.

Rule 304. Procedures for Public Hearings and Work Sessions.

At the beginning of each legislative biennium, the presiding officers shall establish procedures that govern public hearings, work sessions and confirmation hearings. Once established, copies of the procedures must be sent to the committees, the Secretary of the Senate, the Clerk of the House and the Executive Director of the Legislative Council. A committee by majority vote may make exceptions to the rules and notify the presiding officers of exceptions to the rules. Final committee rules must be posted and made available upon request at all public hearings and work sessions.

The rules of procedure in committee are the same as the rules of the Senate and the House of Representatives to the extent applicable. Committee procedures must be consistent with these rules.

The presiding chair shall decide all questions of order, subject to appeal to the committee. The chair's ruling stands unless overruled by a majority vote of the committee membership.

Scheduling of bills to be considered in public hearings and work sessions must be arranged by the Senate chair with the agreement of the House chair; if agreement is not reached, the committee shall decide by majority vote of the membership.

At public hearings, the chair may limit testimony as necessary for the orderly conduct of the hearing. Members may question witnesses to clarify testimony and to elicit helpful and pertinent information. While aggressive and probing questions may sometimes be appropriate, members shall exhibit respect for the witnesses and for one another. Members shall refrain from interrogation that is argumentative, oppressive, repetitive or unnecessarily embarrassing to hearing participants. Advocacy and discussion among members are not appropriate at public hearings. A committee member who is the primary sponsor of a bill and any member who testifies for or against the bill should ordinarily refrain from questioning other witnesses.

Rule 305. Scheduling Public Hearings and Work Sessions.

At the beginning of the regular session, the presiding officers shall jointly establish authorized meeting days for committees to hold their public hearings and work sessions, taking into consideration the availability of assigned staff and hearing rooms. Committees may meet only on authorized meeting days unless the presiding officers authorize an exception in writing. Each committee shall distribute a detailed list of hearings and work sessions that have been scheduled for the following week to all committee members. This schedule must also be posted outside the committee room. Notice of a committee's public hearings and work sessions must be posted each day in the State House and the Cross Building. A committee may not hold a hearing or conduct a work session for which notice has not been posted.

Public hearings must be advertised 2 weekends in advance of the hearing date. All exceptions must be approved by both presiding officers.

The committee shall direct the committee clerk to notify all sponsors of the bill of the public hearing and work session on the bill.

It is the intent of the Legislature that a person not be denied access to committee public hearings and work sessions because of a disability. Committees shall provide reasonable access for disabled persons to their proceedings and allow adequate time for participation by disabled persons.

Rule 306. Quorum.

A quorum is 7 members, and a quorum must be present to start a meeting or to take a vote. A quorum is not required to continue a meeting. If a quorum is present, but there is not a Senator among those present, the committee may take a vote only with the authorization of the President of the Senate.

Rule 307. Testimony.

Testimony before a joint standing committee is not presented under oath, except that a committee is authorized to administer oaths in the case of legislative confirmation hearings under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 3, section 157 and may be so authorized by the Legislature when the committee is acting as a special investigating committee under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 3, section 165, subsection 7.

All written materials presented to the committee must bear the name, address and affiliation, if applicable, of the presenter and the date presented.

Rule 308. Reference of Bills to Committee.

All bills and resolves must be referred to committee, except that this provision may be suspended by a majority vote in each chamber.

Rule 309. Notice to Report.

The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House shall jointly establish reporting deadlines for all bills and resolves referred to committee and each committee shall, after receiving notice of the reporting deadlines, report its bills and resolves out of committee to the floor for consideration in accordance with those deadlines.

Rule 310. Reports of Bills from Committee.

Rule 311. Errors and Inconsistencies Legislation.

The Revisor of Statutes shall prepare any necessary omnibus bill concerning errors and inconsistencies in the Laws of Maine, and the bill must be referred to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters. The committee shall, after giving notice and an opportunity to be heard, hear proposed amendments and direct the Revisor of Statutes to prepare those amendments that must be included in the bill reported out. A floor amendment may not be entertained in either chamber unless the amendment is printed and distributed at least 24 hours prior to introduction.

Rule 312. Fiscal Notes.

Every bill or resolve that affects state revenues, appropriations or allocations or that requires a local unit of government to expand or modify that unit's activities so as to necessitate additional expenditures from local revenues and that has a committee recommendation other than "Leave to Withdraw," "Ought Not to Pass" or "Referral to Another Committee" must include a fiscal note prepared by the Office of Fiscal and Program Review. For a bill or resolve not yet reported out and upon request of a majority of the committee, the Office of Fiscal and Program Review shall, after notice by the committee to the sponsor of the bill or resolve, meet with the committee at a work session to present its analysis and provide copies of the written public materials relied upon by the office to prepare that fiscal note. The committee clerk shall provide the Office of Fiscal and Program Review with a copy of all testimony and other materials received by the committee on a bill or resolve whenever the committee recommendation is other than "Leave to Withdraw," unanimous "Ought Not to Pass" or unanimous "Referral to Another Committee." The fiscal note must accompany the committee report before it is reported out of committee. Any amendment introduced that would affect the fiscal impact of the original bill must also include a fiscal note. The Office of Fiscal and Program Review has the sole responsibility for preparing all fiscal notes.

Rule 312-A. Constitutional Resolutions.

A committee may submit the question to be voted on under a resolution proposing to amend the Constitution of Maine to the Secretary of State for review prior to reporting the resolution out of committee with a recommendation other than "Ought Not to Pass" or "Referral to Another Committee." The Secretary of State shall apply the same standards of clarity to that question as to questions for the people's veto and initiative referenda under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 21-A, section 906, subsection 6 and advise the committee and the sponsor of the resolution as to the recommended wording of the question.

Rule 313. Confidentiality.

The committee shall protect confidential records, including those records excluded from the definition of "public records" under the freedom of access laws, the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, section 402, subsection 3, from public disclosure by holding executive sessions to discuss information contained in those records. Executive sessions must be held in accordance with the provisions of the freedom of access laws, the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, chapter 13, subchapter I.

Before the committee files leave the custody of the committee, the committee chairs shall direct the custodian of the files to protect the confidentiality of the records in any appropriate manner, including returning the records to the person or department from which they came; destroying the records; or blocking out personally identifying information in the records and retaining them in the files, if the law declaring the records confidential permits disclosure in this manner.

The committee chairs shall also ensure that the files include a notation indicating what type of confidential records were reviewed by the committee.

Rule 314. Participation in Budget Hearings and Work Sessions.

As used in this Rule, "policy committee" means a joint standing committee or joint select committee of the Legislature having subject matter jurisdiction other than the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.

In each year of the biennium, any budget bill submitted to the Legislature by the Governor and referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs is subject to the following procedures.

Notwithstanding any provision of subsections 1 to 4 of this Joint Rule, a policy committee may elect not to participate in either the joint budget hearing or the work session, or both, by so notifying the chairs of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs in writing.

Rule 315. Interim Committee Activities.

The chairs of a joint standing committee may request and upon finding of need the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House are authorized to jointly grant permission to a committee to meet out of session to conduct work of the committee, including review of agencies' effectiveness under the Government Evaluation Act, review of major substantive rules and agency regulatory agendas under the Administrative Procedure Act and review of agency strategic planning and performance budgeting submissions under Title 5, chapter 151-C.

Rule 316. Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe and Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians.

The member of the Penobscot Nation, the member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and, at the beginning of the Second Regular Session of the 125th Legislature, the member of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians elected or appointed to represent their people at the biennial session of the Legislature must be granted seats on the floor of the House of Representatives; be granted, by consent of the Speaker, the privilege of speaking on pending legislation; must be appointed to sit with joint standing committees as nonvoting members during the committees' deliberations; and be granted such other rights and privileges as may from time to time be voted by the House of Representatives. In reports from committees on which a tribal member serves, the position of the member must be noted and included.

Rule 317. Review of provisions affecting the Fund for a Healthy Maine.

Whenever a legislative proposal in a resolve or bill, including a budget bill, affects the Fund for a Healthy Maine under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 22, section 1511, or involves funding from the Fund for a Healthy Maine, the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over the proposal shall hold a public hearing and determine the level of support for the proposal among members of the committee. If there is support for the proposal among a majority of the members of the committee, the committee shall request the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters to review and evaluate the proposal as it pertains to the Fund for a Healthy Maine. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters shall conduct the review and report back to the committee of jurisdiction and to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over appropriations and financial affairs.

Rule 318. Review of judicial proceeding priorities.

Whenever a legislative measure is proposed that contains a provision to expedite, establish or adjust the priority of judicial proceedings, the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over the proposal shall hold a public meeting on the proposal and determine the level of support for the proposal among members of the committee. If there is support for the proposal among a majority of the members of the committee, the committee shall request the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters to review and evaluate the proposal as it pertains to the appropriate priority and timing of judicial proceedings in all state courts. Information may be requested from the Judicial Branch. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters shall conduct the review and report back to the committee of jurisdiction.

Rule 319. Review of provisions creating or enhancing criminal penalties.

Whenever a legislative proposal in a resolve or bill, including a budget bill, enacts a new crime or increases the penalty for an existing crime, the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over the proposal shall hold a public hearing and determine the level of support for the proposal among members of the committee. If there is support for the proposal among a majority of the members of the committee, the committee shall request the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over criminal justice and public safety matters to review and evaluate the proposal for its impact on the criminal justice system. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over criminal justice and public safety matters shall conduct the review and report back to the joint standing committee of jurisdiction and to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over appropriations and financial affairs.

Subpart B
Special Legislative Committees

Rule 351. Joint Select Committees.

A joint select committee consists of 3 Senators and 7 members of the House of Representatives, unless the order creating the committee provides a different number.

When a select committee is appointed by both chambers the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House shall inform each other of the names of the members so that the names may be entered upon the Advance Journal and Calendar of each chamber.

Rule 352. Committees of Conference.

When the chambers do not agree on an action, a committee of conference is in order. A committee of conference consists of 3 members from each chamber who voted on the prevailing side. A committee of conference shall meet and submit a report within 10 legislative days to the chamber asking for the conference. The report must be agreed to by a majority of the members from each chamber. The committee report may be that it is unable to agree. The committee report may be either accepted or rejected, but no other action may be had except through another committee of conference. If necessary, a new committee of conference may be formed.

Rule 353. Legislative Studies.

To assist in the exercise of its duties, the Legislature may establish legislative study committees or may alternatively refer matters to joint standing committees or subcommittees of joint standing committees for study. This Joint Rule establishes standards that govern the drafting of legislative study instruments and the authorization of legislative studies. All legislative studies must be consistent with this Joint Rule and with Legislative Council policies adopted under this Joint Rule. A joint standing or joint select committee may not, except upon the prior approval of the Legislative Council, report to the Legislature any bill, resolve or joint order proposing a legislative study that is inconsistent with this Joint Rule.

Rule 354. Joint Select Committee on Joint Rules.

There is established the Joint Select Committee on Joint Rules. Notwithstanding Joint Rule 351, the committee consists of 5 Senators, appointed by the President of the Senate, and 5 members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House. The first-named Senate member is the Senate chair; the first-named House member is the House chair.

The committee shall meet at least once annually and at other times agreed upon by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to review the joint rules and recommend changes the committee determines necessary.

The committee shall invite the participation of the Secretary of the Senate, the Clerk of the House, the Executive Director of the Legislative Council, the Director of the Office of Fiscal and Program Review, the Director of the Office of Policy and Legal Analysis and the Director of the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. The Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House shall provide necessary staffing services to the committee.

The Joint Select Committee on Joint Rules shall review and make recommendations concerning the Legislative Council. This review shall include, but not be limited to the structure and operations of the Legislative Council and possible creation of a Joint Committee on Legislative Management to replace the functions of the Legislative Council. This section of the Joint Rules may be approved by a majority vote following the report of the Joint Select Committee on Joint Rules. Any change to the title of the Legislative Council in the Joint Rules may also be changed by majority vote.

Subpart C
Legislative Oversight of Government Agencies and Programs

Rule 371. Government Oversight Committee.

The Government Oversight Committee, referred to in this Rule as "the committee," is established. The committee consists of 6 members of the Senate and 6 members of the House of Representatives and must be evenly divided between the 2 largest political parties represented in each chamber. The President of the Senate shall appoint 6 Senators, 3 from the political party holding the majority of seats in the Senate and 3 from the political party holding the majority of the remainder of the seats in the Senate. The first-named Senator is the Senate chair. The Speaker shall appoint 6 members, 3 from the political party holding the majority of seats in the House and 3 from the political party holding the majority of the remainder of the seats in the House. The first-named member of the House is the House chair.