Right-to-work bill still out there as Friday deadline approaches for carryover bills

AUGUSTA, Maine — By the end of the week, all carry-over bills from the Legislature’s first regular session are supposed to voted out of their respective committees.

Although some have made it through committee and await action in the House and Senate during the second session, many more are still pending.

That could make for a long week at the State House, particularly since Gov. Paul LePage’s State of the State address will take up most of the attention on Tuesday.

A number of potentially important carry-over bills will be worked in the next few days, including a bill that would prohibit cyberbullying in schools, a bill to overhaul Maine’s sex offender registry, a bill to require voter identification and bills that would either eliminate all matching fund references to Maine’s clean election laws or replace the matching funds provision with another funding mechanism.

Perhaps the most controversial bill — right-to-work legislation that would prohibit unions from collecting service fees from non-members — has yet to be scheduled for a work session.

LD 309 was carried over last spring after several days of contentious and partisan debate. It’s possible that the committee of jurisdiction, the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, will take it up quickly and quietly later this week and push the debate to the floor of the House and Senate.

Since Republicans hold an 7-6 edge in that committee, the bill likely would be voted out but it’s unclear whether there is enough support in the House and Senate for a bill that some say is aimed at destroying unions.

In Indiana earlier this year, Democratic legislators actually boycotted the beginning of that state’s legislative session to avoid a vote on a similar right-to-work bill.

Gov. LePage has spoken in favor of right-to-work and, after it was carried over last year, pledged that he go after it again this year.