Laws and Rules in Maine

How they are created and how you can be involved in the process

Legislative Process to create laws in Maine:


A legislator decides to sponsor a bill, sometimes at the suggestion of a constituent (someone in the public), interest group, public official or the Governor. The legislator may ask other legislators in either chamber to join as cosponsors.


At the legislator's direction, the Revisor's Office, Office of Policy and Legal Analysis, and Office of Fiscal and Program Review staff provides research and drafting assistance and prepares the bill in proper technical form.


The Revisor's Office gives the bill to the Clerk of the House or Secretary of the Senate. The bill is numbered, a suggested committee recommendation is made depending on the topic the bill is focused on (DIFW is one of the multiple committees) and the bill is printed. The bill is placed on the respective body's calendar.


The bill is referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


Once scheduled by the chairs, the committee conducts a public hearing where it accepts testimony supporting and opposing the proposed legislation from any interested party, that means any person from the public may come to a hearing to observe and/or speak on the bill proposal. Notices of public hearings are printed in newspapers with statewide distribution, and posted on the Legislature's website.


When the bill is reported to the floor it receives its first reading and any committee amendments are adopted at this time. The committee reports the bill to the originating body as is, with amendment, with a divided report or with a unanimous recommendation of ought to pass, out to pass as amended, out to pass in new draft, or ought not to pass.


The next legislative day the bill is given its second reading and floor amendments may be offered. When one chamber has passed the bill to be engrossed, it is sent to the other body for its consideration. The House has a consent calendar for unanimous, ought to pass or ought to pass as amended bills which takes the place of first and second readings.


The bill goes through a similar process. If the second chamber amends the bill, it is returned to the first chamber for a vote on the changes. It may then be sent to a conference committee to work out a compromise agreeable to both chambers. A bill receives final legislative approval when it passes both chambers in identical form.


After final passage (enactment) the bill is sent to the Governor. The Governor has ten days in which to sign or veto the bill. If the Governor does not sign or veto the bill and the Legislature is still in session, the bill after ten days becomes law as if the Governor signed it. If the Legislature has adjourned for the year the bill does not become law. This is called a "pocket veto." If the Legislature comes back into session, the Governor has three days in which to deliver a veto message to the chamber of origin or the bill becomes law.


A bill becomes law 90 days after the end of the legislative session in which it was passed. A bill can become law immediately if the Legislature, by a 2/3 vote of each chamber, declares that an emergency exists. An emergency law takes effect on the date the Governor signs it unless otherwise specified in its text. If a bill is vetoed, it will become law if the Legislature overrides the veto by a 2/3 vote of those members present and voting in each chamber.

MDIFW Process to create rules:

The Commissioner of MDIFW may, with the advice and consent of the Advisory Council and in conformity with Title 5, Part 18, and except as otherwise provided, adopt, amend and repeal reasonable rules, including emergency rules, necessary for the proper administration, implementation, enforcement and interpretation of any provision of law that the Commissioner is charged with the duty of administering. These rules duly adopted have the full force and effect of law and are effective upon filing with the Secretary of State, unless a later date is required by statute or specified in the rule.


An issue is identified by MDIFW staff or by the public.


The Commissioner's office decides if it is necessary to hold a public hearing.
The Commissioner's office prepares and submits the proposal to the Secretary of State. The office then determines the 30-day public comment period deadline or if public hearing is held, comment period deadline is 10 days after hearing is held.
Public input may be submitted to the Department in writing or verbally at a Council meeting or public hearing (if one is held) during the comment period.
The Advisory Council meeting date is set and advertised with the agenda including the rulemaking proposal.
MDIFW Staff and Advisory Council members discuss comments on the proposal received during comment period, and any feedback Council members have received.


MDIFW staff analyzes comments, information, and the Advisory Council feedback to make a recommendation to Commissioner.
Changes to proposal can be made by the Commissioner.
The Commissioner decides to proceed with rule adoption as proposed or amended.
If the proposal is amended the Advisory Council is notified of the change.
The Advisory Council meeting date is set and advertised with the rulemaking agenda.
The Commissioner presents final rule for adoption; the Advisory Council votes.
If consent from the Advisory Council is provided, the new rule adoption takes place.
If the Commissioner decides not to move forward with the rule, no further action is required.
If no consent is given by the Advisory Council, the Commissioner may table the item for further consideration and discussion.

Once voted on, the proposal must be adopted within 120 days of the comment period deadline and approved by the Attorney General within 150 days.