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How a bill becomes law in brief

The material that follows is best understood as applying to legislative documents, denoted by LD and an identifying number. This site may have information for a few Senate or House Orders, but orders are directives that apply only within a chamber and do not require agreement by both chambers. Senate or House Papers that may have joint resolutions that have to be approved by both chambers, but these do not necessarily follow the same path as legislative documents and do not become a part of the public law as contained in the Maine Revised Statues Annotated.

A basic understanding of how a bill becomes law clarifies the outcomes listed under "Bills sponsored and cosponsored during the 129th session" below, and also explains the motions that were voted on in the overwhelming majority of the roll call votes that are covered here. One principle to keep in mind is that the Senate and the House have to agree on any legislation that becomes enacted - they can't enact different laws. The requirement that they agree on what is enacted implies the two chambers have to iron out any disagreements on a bill's path to becoming law if the bill is to be enacted into law.

To facilitate reaching agreement, each chamber sends a message to the other chamber of what action it has taken at at least three points on the path to becoming law:

The chamber that receives the message is of course not required to take the same action, but chooses its action with the knowledge of which action is in concurrence and therefore immediately advances the bill toward becoming law and which actions are in non-concurrence and will require either additional action that leads to concurrence between the chambers at some point, or, if no agreement can be reached, will end the bill's chances of becoming law. When a bill can no longer become law, it is placed in the legislative file, a status noted on this site (and on the State's site) as dead. Disagreement between the chambers is one of several means by which a bill becomes dead - see below under "Bills sponsored and cosponsored during the 129th session" for a complete list of the reasons a bill can fail to be enacted as described in this site.

Setting aside the motions related to disagreement for a moment, after a bill is written in proper legislative form, the path the bill takes to becoming law in a little more detail along with the motions that (sometimes) generate roll call votes follow.

  1. 1. Referral to a Joint Standing committee. In the Maine legislature, committees have both Senators and Representatives as members, and each of the 17 different Joint Standing committees are comprised of 3 senators and 10 representatives. Committees debate the merits of the bill, hold public hearings and take public testimony in favor of or in opposition to the bill and offered either as written testimony or in person (and subsequently available to the public, see "Useful Links" elsewhere on this site). At the end of its deliberations on a proposed measure, a committee votes on motions that result in a committee report that is forwarded to the chamber that initiated the bill first, but is ultimately considered by each chamber.

    A bill is initially referred to a particular Joint Standing or Joint Select Committee from the chamber that originated the proposed legislation. Their suggested committee assignment is then messaged to the other chamber for concurrence. If the topic of a proposed law implies it could be assigned to more than one committee and the chambers do not agree on the committee assignment, then this difference must be resolved prior to any further progress. All committee assignments are reviewed by the full House and full Senate, but this is usually a formality rather than becoming a topic of floor debate and (potentially) a roll call vote on a motion to refer to decide the issue (e.g., a motion to refer a bill to the Committee on Health and Human Services). Near the end of the session when time becomes an issue, a bill may be debated in the full chamber without being assigned to a committee under suspension of the rules.

    A committee report may be unanimous or divided and is styled as an action (or a set of different actions for a divided report) that a chamber can take. If the Committee unanimously agrees that a measure "ought not to pass," then by Joint Rule 310.3, the proposed law is dead and typically no additional action is taken by the full chambers, although a motion to recall the bill is possible (see 3 below). If a committee unanimously agrees on an "ought to pass" report, or "ought to pass" with an amendment, then the bill as given in that report is automatically accepted and passed to be engrossed in the House (but not the Senate) unless a representative objects within two days after the report is issued by the committee.

    Most committee reports are divided, which means they consist of more than one possible action reflecting the differing opinions of different committee members. Because committees have an odd number of members, if two actions are offered in a divided report, then one will usually be labeled a Majority report and the other a Minority report, reflecting the vote count for the two reports. If more than two actions are included in a divided report, then the actions are labeled as different reports, Report A, Report B, Report C, etc. The most frequently occurring recommended actions in divided reports are "ought not to pass," "ought to pass," and "ought to pass as amended by Committee amendment X-N" (where X is either "H" or "S" and N is a number - this reference for an amendment uniquely identifies the amendment). Additional reports available to committees but rarely adopted are "refer to another committee" and "ought to pass in new draft." After the committee has determined its report, the bill returns to the chamber it was initiated in and the next action takes place.

  2. Before looking at the next action, observe that the Office of Fiscal and Program Review determines whether a bill has a fiscal impact (i.e., impacts revenues or costs to the state) as well as whether the proposed legislation constitutes a State Mandate as defined by Maine's Constitution. If the proposed legislation does have a fiscal impact, the Office of Fiscal and Program Review provides a fiscal note which describes the impact and is sent back to the chambers with the committee report. Legislation that incorporates a State Mandate requires a 2/3 yea vote from members of a chamber on a motion to enact in order to become law. In practice, fiscal notes that report that a measure has "no fiscal impact" are fairly common, and links to Adobe Portable Document Files (i.e., PDFs) of fiscal notes are included on this site.

  3. 2. Acceptance of a committee report through passage to be engrossed. Once the bill is reported out of committee, each chamber must take action on the committee report. If a committee issues a unanimous report and that report is some type of ought to pass report, then that report can be rejected by the full Senate or full House and the proposed law can be "re-committed," that is, referred to a different committee or the same committee a second time through a motion to commit.

    Motions to commit are rare in this data. Instead, a much more frequently observed motion is a motion to "accept" (i.e., agree on as a full chamber) a particular report from among a set of actions included in a divided committee report. For example, one possible motion will be listed here as Accept the Majority (or Minority) Report, Ought Not to Pass. If the chamber that first receives the committee report accepts an ought not to pass report (either by voice vote or by roll call vote), then its action suggesting that the bill not become a law is messaged to the other chamber which then gets to choose which report it will accept.

    If the first chamber to hear the report instead accepts a different report that involves enacting the bill in some form (for this example, a motion listed here as Accept Minority Report, Ought to Pass as Amended by Committee Amendment X-N), then the bill receives its first reading, and the Committee amendment is then accepted as well. After the first reading and acceptance of Committee amendments, a second reading is scheduled for the next legislative day.

    At the second reading of the bill, additional amendments may be offered from the floor of the chamber. Amendments are added to the legislation by a motion to adopt; for example a bill in its second reading in the House may generate a motion to Adopt House Amendment H-N1 to Committee Amendment X-N, where N1 is possibly different number than N and H refers to "House." An adopt motion can generate a roll call vote or be accepted without a roll call vote.

    If no amendments from the floor are offered or when no further amendments are offered, the bill is passed to be engrossed. Engrossing means printing, and passing a bill to be engrossed implies that the bill is printed with any amendments that were adopted incorporated into the document. Although engrossing a bill also requires a motion, roll call votes are almost always about which committee report to accept or the adoption of possible floor amendments. Those votes indicate the form of the legislation (i.e., any amendments) the majority of a chamber wants to move forward, and engrossing a bill is almost always accomplished without a roll call vote. Although there are not roll call votes on motions to engross a bill, it is a key step because when a chamber takes that action, a message of that action is sent to the other chamber. In effect, that message says "this is the form of the legislation that a majority of this chamber would like to consider enacting."

    Although it is fairly common for the House or Senate to suspend the rules to dispense with a second reading to save time (they already have printed copies of the legislation), if there is no suspension of the rules, then a bill must go through a first reading, second reading, and passage to be engrossed before a motion to enact can be offered. If both chambers engross the same law, then the bill is ready to be enacted.

    At any time after the committee report is received or even before referring the bill to a committee, a motion to table the bill can be offered. Tabling a bill postpones further action until the next legislative day or a date set by the motion to table. A motion to table requires yea votes by a majority of members present to succeed. Alternatively, a motion to indefinitely postpone the bill may be offered. Indefinitely postponing a bill removes it from further discussion within the chamber. Although both chambers must pass a motion to indefinitely postpone a bill for the bill to be placed in the legislative file, when one chamber passes a motion to indefinitely postpone a bill it sends a strong message that the chamber does not wish to enact any form of the bill into law. If a majority is willing to vote yea on a motion to indefinitely postpone, then almost by definition there is not a majority in favor of enacting the bill into law.

  4. 3. Passage to be enacted. A measure that has passed through the first two steps is ready to be enacted. Formally, the motion is to enact; for resolves, the terminology is final passage rather than enactment. A motion to enact requires that a majority of members present vote "yea" to pass. However, legislation can be enacted as an emergency measure, which affects the timing with which it becomes law as well as requiring a 2/3 vote of members, as do State Mandates. Emergency measures have both an emergency preamble that indicate they are an emergency measure and an emergency clause that states the day on which they become law, which may be as soon as the Governor signs them into law (or they become law, if the Governor fails to sign them) rather than 90 days after the end of the session, which is when bills that are not enacted as emergency measures become law. Bills are enacted as emergency measures for a variety of reasons, such as to maintain continuity in a program the legislature wants to exist in the future, but which will expire before 90 days after the end of the session. Additionally, motions to enact bills that propose referenda for bond issues or constitutional amendments require 2/3 yea votes from all members of a chamber present at the time of the vote to succeed.

    Bills that have been passed to be enacted by the House and passed to be engrossed in the Senate and require expenditures from the General Fund or the Highway Fund are placed by the Senate on the Special Appropriations Table or the Highway Table, respectively. Near the end of the session, legislative leadership and the Appropriations Committee review committee recommendations to determine which bills on the Special Appropriations table are enacted. Following those decisions, bills are removed from the Special Appropriations Table in the Senate and motions are made to enact, amend, or indefinitely postpone each bill. Any bills that are enacted have already been enacted in the House and are forwarded to the Governor, and any bills that fail to be enacted or are amended are returned to the House for concurrence. Treatment of bills on the Highway Table is similar.

  5. In the roll call data, the two chambers never reach the point where they have passed motions to enact different forms of the same bill (i.e., the same LD but with different amendments). Given the messaging between the two chambers, disagreement is usually either resolved before a chamber passes a motion to enact or the disagreement is fatal to the bill. However, if the chambers did pass motions to enact for different legislation, the differences would have to be resolved before the bill could advance. The means for resolving such differences are a Committee of Conference, which consists of three Representatives and three Senators who supported the measure within their chamber and are appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, respectively. The Committee of Conference attempts to reach agreement on one measure that can be enacted in both branches.

    Bills that have been placed in the legislative file can be recalled. A motion to recall a bill for a bill that failed enactment must be offered by a legislator who voted against enactment, and requires a 2/3 vote to succeeed.

  6. 4. The Governor's response after a bill is enacted by both chambers. After legislation is enacted in both chambers, it is presented to the Governor. The Governor can sign the bill into law, if she/he approves of it, or veto the bill if she/he does not approve of it. Additionally, if the Governor does not either sign a bill or veto it within 10 days after its passage, then if the legislature is still in session the measure becomes law without the Governor's signature, whereas if the legislature is not in session the measure is vetoed, which is referred to as a pocket veto.

    After a veto that occurs while the legislature is in session, the bill is returned to the legislature for motion to reconsider the bill. If both chambers pass the reconsideration motion by yea votes from at least 2/3 present at the time of the vote, then the veto is overridden and the measure becomes law despite the Governor's objections.

  7. 5. Resolving disagreements between the chambers on the path to legislation. When a chamber refers a bill, when a chamber engrosses a bill, and when a chamber enacts a bill, a message is sent to the other chamber that notifies the other chamber of this action. A message that an action has been taken sent by one chamber will often carry one or more additional phrases: in concurrence, if the action taken agrees with an action already taken by the other chamber (e.g., the Senate passes the same legislation to be engrossed as passed to be engrossed in the House), in non-concurrence if the action does not agree with an action taken previously by the other chamber, and for concurrence, which is attached by the chamber that first takes an action or when a chamber takes an action that is not in concurrence but is seeking agreement on its choice.

    For example, suppose the House is first to act on a Committee report and chooses the action "amend LD X with Committee amendment A" and subsequently engrosses the bill. The message that is sent to the Senate tells the Senate the House has taken this step and is accompanied by the notation "for concurrence." If the Senate then takes the same action, the message the Senate sends back to the House says "in concurrence," and the House can advance a motion to enact with the knowledge that both chambers will be considering a motion to enact on the same legislation.

    Suppose instead that the Senate chooses the action "amend LD X with Committee amendment B." The message sent back to the House after the Senate's action will include the phrases in "non-concurrence" and "for concurrence." The House then has several actions available, each of which requires a motion that passes by a majority present voting yea:

    1. If the House passes a motion to recede and concur, then the House backs out of its last action and instead takes the action that the Senate took and thereby restores concurrence, permitting the legislation to proceed.

    2. Alternatively, the House can pass a motion to insist or a motion to adhere, which in effect sends the following message back to the Senate "we recognize we are in disagreement on the legislation that should pass, and our side is not retreating from our previous action." A motion to adhere is slightly stronger than a motion to insist insofar as passage of a motion to adhere also implies that the chamber who passed the motion is not willing to join the other chamber in a Committee of Conference.

    If the House passes a motion to insist or a motion to adhere, then the message sent back to the Senate that informs the Senate that the House has taken this action is accompanied by the notation "in non-concurrence," and either the Senate takes an action that resolves the non-concurrence or the bill is dead. The Senate has the same motions available to it that were available to the House, and of course the entire example could have started with the House taking an action that sent a notation in non-concurrence to the Senate.

    One other alternative in addition to the motions recede and concur, insist, and adhere, is recede, which simply backs the chamber out of its last action, thereby opening a debate on the next action.

Bills sponsored and cosponsored during the 129th session

Simplifying a bit, if you view a legislator's job as voting on measures, then the values and ingenuity they express through the bills they sponsor and the values they express through the bills they cosponsor are why we might trust them to represent us by voting for us. One limitation to this interpretation of sponsorship and cosponsorship is that each bill can have only one sponsor and may have up to 10 co-sponsors (or more only by agreement of the Senate President and Speaker of the House). A second limitation on this interpretation is that bills must be sponsored (or at least "introduced") by a legislator in one of the chambers to become law, and some bills are sponsored at the request of the Governor or at the request of a legislator's constituent; bills that are by request of the Governor are noted on this site.

As a third caveat, casual study (something formal has to wait until later) suggests that legislators generally sponsor more legislation as the number of terms in office they have had increases and that senators tend to sponsor more legislation than representatives. For the 129th session (i.e., 2018-2020) this site contains information for roughly 2,071 sponsored bills and there are 187 legislators (35 senators, 151 representatives and one tribal representatives), legislators sponsor an average of about 11 bills each.

For each sponsored or co-sponsored measure, three pieces of information are given:

  1. the reference, which is a number usually preceded by LD (Legislative Document) or by any one of SP (Senate Paper) or SO (Senate Order) for a senator, or HP (House Paper) or HO (House Order) for a representative, which can be sponsored or co-sponsored by either a senator or a representative. The reference is useful for tracking all information about a measure on the state's website as discussed on the "Useful Links" page.

  2. the title, which is meant to describe the issue the measure addresses. A title followed by "(Governor's bill)" indicates the legislator is sponsoring the bill at the request of and as a service to the Governor. A title followed by "(by request)" indicates the legislator is sponsoring the bill at the request of and as a service to one of their constituents. A title followed by "(Emergency)" indicates the bill that the bill will be enacted as an emergency measure if it is enacted. Emergency measures become law immediately upon being signed by the Governor (or through the Governor's inaction) and require a 2/3 vote to become enacted as an emergency measure.

  3. the status or outcome for the bill, which indicates the final disposition of the measure or "Pending/Carried over," with the following explanations:

    Bills that are not going to be enacted are listed as Dead, with one of the following causes:

  4. ...,Veto sustained: The Senate and the House enacted the measure, but the Governor vetoed the proposed law, and one or both of the Senate and the House could not come up with the 2/3 yea votes required to overcome the Governor's veto.

    Dead, concurrence in ought not to pass: Almost all measures start by being referred to one of several Committees comprised of both senators and representatives, with different committees considering bills for different topics. The committee discusses the bill and hears public testimony in support or opposition in person or in writing. At the end of this vetting process, the committee forwards the bill back to the House floor and the Senate floor with one or (usually) more recommended courses of action (e.g., Ought to pass as amended by ..., Ought not to pass, etc.). The next step in a bill's life is that the Senate and the House separately decide on which committee report to accept. One committee report that is fairly often offered with a bill is "Ought not to pass," and if both the House and Senate adopt this report, then the two chambers are in agreement (i.e., they concur) that the measure should not become law, which kills it.

    Dead, non-concurrence: The Senate and the House could not agree on some aspect of the legislation. Sometimes this is a disagreement over how a bill should be amended and sometimes one chamber accepts a committee report "ought not to pass" whereas the other chamber accepts a different report from the same committee that recommends passage or passage after changes reflected in an amendment the committee is forwarding. For a bill to become law, each chamber has to enact the same bill, and usually either disagreement on which amendment(s) to adopt or one chamber's insistence that the bill should not become law when the other chamber would like to advance the bill generates this outcome.

    Dead, in the Senate (or House) when the Senate (or House) adjourned sine die: At the end of each day when the legislature is in session, each chamber adjourns for the day and, if it is not the last day of the legislative session, sets the day and time when they will next meet (the day that starts the next regular session in the next year is set by law). On the last day of a legislative session, no day is set to meet again. Sine die is Latin for "without a day," and thus adjourned sine die means "adjourned without a day." Any bill that is in progress when the Senate and House adjourn on the last day of the regular session is unfinished business that becomes finished (i.e., is dead) by the fact that the chambers will not meet again except for a special session. However, a measure can escape this fate if the two chambers pass a joint resolution that the measure is "carried over" to the next regular session (see under "Carried over" below).

    Dead, joint rule 310.3, unanimous ought not to pass from Committee: In the data on this site, most committee reports are divided, with different commmittee members favoring different actions which are then forwarded in the committee report to the full chambers. But if the committee members agree unanimously that a bill ought not to pass, then by joint rule 310.3 the bill is dead with no further action.

    Dead, concurrence on indefinitely postponed: A bill that is indefinitely postponed by a chamber is removed from the calendar for a hearing in that chamber. When both chambers pass this motion for a bill, the bill is dead.

  5. Bills that were enacted are listed in the outcome with some chain of events, such as Amended, Enacted, Signed into law, or something similar. Most bills are amended, but I believe it is worth noting that they were amended because an amendment will sometimes "strike and replace" the original measure (i.e., place a line through the entire text of the original measure, such as "The event was not very much fun.", and replace it with new text, indicated by underlining "Excruciating pleasure was enjoyed by all."). Usually the last part of the chain of events is the Governor's action. Typically, bills the Governor approves are "Signed into law." Alternatively, the Governor may Veto a bill, which returns the measure to the Senate and House for a chance to "reconsider" the bill - if both chambers obtain "Yea" votes from 2/3 of the members present at the time of the vote on the motion to reconsider, then the veto is "Overridden" and the measure becomes law notwithstanding the Governor's objections to it. Finally, if the Governor takes no action for 10 days after the motion to enact the law has passed both chambers, then the measure becomes law and is listed as "Became law without the Governor's signature."

  6. Bills that are listed here in 2020 as "Carried over..." are generally somewhere along the chain of events that leads to a final outcome of enactment as a law or dead. During 2020 for legislation that was introduced in 2019, the very first link in the chain is "Carried over." At the end of the first regular session in 2019, any bill that is not a part of a resolution to carry the bill over to the second session becomes "Dead, in the Senate (or House) when the Senate (or House) adjourned sine die". Many of the bills that will be carried over will have been passed to be enacted in the House and placed on the Special Appropriations Table in the Senate because they involve spending from the General Fund; such bills are routinely tabled until near the end of the second session in 2020. During 2019 (or during 2020 for bills that were introduced in 2020), the first link in the outcome chain is referral to a committee (noted as refer or commit). The next step is "reported out of committee" which is used when the committee has issued its report(s) for a bill but the full House (or Senate) has not acted on the reports. The next step is accepting a committee report of one type or another. When the House (or Senate) chooses the accept ought to pass as amended by..." committee report, that is usually very soon followed by "passage to be engrossed with amendment ...". Accepting a particular committee report provides the legislation the chamber moves forward with, whether it decides to further amend the measure from the floor of the chamber or "passes to be engrossed" the bill as amended by the committee. Engrossing means printing, and engrossing a bill with an amendment means incorporating the language of the amendment into the printed version of the legislation; if both chambers agree on how the bill is engrossed, then the next step is enacting the bill as law. Unlike indefinite postponement, a bill that is tabled is not dead, and in particular, a bill that the Senate has "tabled to Special Appropriations" or "placed on the Special Appropriations table" requires funding from the General Fund, and is tabled so that the legislature can make its decisions on all of the bills that require funding on one of the last days of the session.

Explanation of vote summaries

All of the information in the vote summaries is generated by the legislature and available on websites maintained by the State that I provide links to elsewhere (see "Useful links" on the navigation bar at the top of the page). The information that I provide is provided as an aid in making sense out of the votes, as will become clear below in the discussion of the motions that are voted on. Vote summaries contain the following information:
  1. The LD (Legislative Document) reference to the measure along with its title.
    If the measure has no LD reference, then the reference is the SP (Senate Paper) reference, SO (Senate Order) reference, HP (House Paper) reference, or HO (House Order) reference. Activity on a bill and any supporting papers (e.g., amendments not summarized here, fiscal notes for other versions of the legislation, written public testimony) can be found on the State's website by this reference using the links provided under "Useful Links."

  2. The roll call number.
    Although a particular LD can involve several votes, each different roll call vote is identified by a unique number. The legislature sequences roll call numbers for each chamber separately in the order they occur; thus House Roll Call (X+1) is the next roll call vote in the House after Roll Call X.

  3. The bill's sponsor, or the person who introduced the bill, if it was introduced.
    Introduced bills are usually the result of a previously passed resolution that directed a committee to write legislation. When a committee is the author of legislation, the co-chair of the committee from the chamber that takes up the bill first "introduces" the bill.

  4. Cosponsors of the bill.
    A bill may have no cosponsors, up to 10 cosponsors, or by agreement of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, unlimited cosponsors. Introduced bills have no cosponsors.

  5. The date of the vote.

  6. The motion that was voted on.
    My intention is to provide not only the motion, but also enough context so that one can make sense out of what a yea vote accomplishes. For most motions, I include an explanation of what a yea vote and a nay vote imply for that particular roll call. The exception is motions to accept a particular committee report. For votes on motions to accept a particular committee report, there is always enough information to determine what a "yea" vote accomplishes, but nay votes often open up a variety of alternatives. For other motions, additional context is provided within the summaries. Brief explanations of motions in bold type follow below, as ordered by the process of a bill becoming law, which is roughly the following:

    1. 1. The bill is assigned to a committee for its review, with potential motions "refer to (committee name)" or possibly "commit to (committee name)."
    2. 2. After the committee returns the bill with one or more recommended actions, the full House and full Senate separately choose which action to take by "accepting" the Committee report that corresponds to that action. If the committee report that is accepted by a chamber is "ought not to pass," then the chamber forwards notice of that action to the other chamber, and will only take additional action if the other chamber chooses a different action by accepting a different committee report. If both chambers accept the ought not to pass committee report, then the bill is dead.
    3. 3. If the Committee report that is accepted by a chamber is an some sort of ought to pass (i.e., "ought to pass", or "ought to pass as amended by Committee Amendment ...") then any amendments accepted as part of the Committee report can be amended at this time, and any additional floor amendments to the bill can be offered, which can generate a motion to "adopt" an amendment to a Committee amendment. At the end of this process,the bill is "passed to be engrossed" with any amendments.
    4. 4. If both chambers have engrossed the same legislation, then it can be enacted as law and then sent to the Governor for approval.
    5. 5. The bill is sent to the Governor for approval. If the Governor vetoes the bill and the legislature is in session, then the bill is returned to the legislature, where the Governor's veto can be overridden if 2/3 of the members present for a vote in each chamber vote yea to a motion to reconsider the bill.
    6. While the bill is in the legislature, the two chambers may disagree at any of these steps. The two chambers must agree on the same form of the legislation in order to successfully enact it, and disagreement at other steps such as what committee should review the bill at least temporarily stop a bill's progress towards becoming law until agreement is reached. Motions that are available to craft agreement from disagreement appear frequently among roll call votes and are given below at the end.

    7. refer to..., commit to... A "refer" motion indicates the committee the measure will be reviewed by, such as "refer to Committee on Health and Human Services." If a bill to the same or a different committee a second time, the motion is commit to.... A yea vote is in favor of sending the bill to the committee given by the motion, whereas a nay vote would presumably prefer a different committee, or perhaps to suspend the rules and have the bill go directly to the floor of the chamber without a committee hearing.

    8. Accept Majority Report (or Accept Minority Report, or Accept Report, or Accept Report A, B or C, etc.), Ought Not to Pass (or Ought to Pass, or Ought to Pass as Amended by Committee Amendment X-N, where X is "H" or "S" and N is a number). An accept motion determines which committee recomendation the chamber will move forward with, and it is also possible for a chamber to reject the committee recomendation if the committee forwarded only one recommendation (resulting in a situation that would lead to a motion to commit). The committee a bill has been referred to votes on the report(s) to send back to the full House and full Senate, and a "divided committee" sending back more than one report is common. If two reports are sent back, then since the committees have an odd number of members, there will typically be a Majority Report and a Minority Report. If more than two reports are sent back to the full House and Senate, then the reports are labeled Report A, Report B, Report C and so on. Any of these reports may recommend any action from among Ought Not to Pass, Ought to Pass (i.e., without amendment), and Ought to Pass as Amended by Amendment X (or as a different report, Ought to Pass as Amended by Amendment Y). The Accept... part of the motion implies that the action indicated by the report that follows the "Accept" is the action the motion is deciding, and a yea vote is to move forward on the floor of the chamber with that report as the point of origin.

      It bears emphasis that a "yea" vote on a motion to accept an "Ought Not to Pass" report is a vote to stop progress towards enacting the bill at this stage, whereas a "nay" vote on a motion to accept an "Ought Not to Pass" can be taken to imply the legislator wants to enact the legislation in some form. It is fairly common for a chamber to take a roll call vote on a "minority (or majority) ought not to pass" motion which fails passage, and then proceed through engrossing the bill and enacting it with no further roll call votes. This site adds the explanation What happend after the ought not to pass motion failed whenever that happens.

    9. Adopt Amendment N to Amendment Y. After an "Ought to Pass as Amended by Committee Amendment Y" report is accepted, the bill can be amended further from the floor of the Senate or House, and this motion accomplishes that. A "yea" vote on this motion is a vote to further amend the bill by amendment N, and a nay vote is a vote to keep the bill in its current state, because a different amendment or no amendment is preferred.

    10. Enact (or Finally pass for resolutions). Either of these motions is used to determine whether the chamber wishes the document in its current state (which includes any amendments that were passed to be engrossed) to become law, and a yea vote supports enactment into law subject to the Governor's veto. Enactment as an emergency measure has two effects: passage of an emergency measure requires that at least 2/3 of members to vote yea and passage as an emergency measure affects when the bill takes affect, namely, either when the bill is signed into law or at a date specified in the bill, rather than 90 days after the end of the legislative session. For any motion to Enact, I include a brief explanatory message, What was being voted on, to provide the LD reference and the reference to any amendments that had been adopted. I also include the "plain English" summary of those items that appears at the end of the bill and amendment, if an amendment was adopted.
    11. Additionally, because the two chambers immediately message their actions to each other and because they must agree on the final form of legislation for it to be enacted, a number of motions can be used to facilitate a negotiation of the differences between the chambers at any stage from committee referral to enactment:

    12. Insist or Adhere. Passage of a motion to insist (or alternatively a motion to adhere), effectively sends the following message to the other chamber "We understand the two chambers have taken actions that are not in agreement, and our chamber is unwilling to change its action to achieve agreement." For any motion to insist, I provide a brief explanation What the Senate (or House) insisted on, that provides the LD reference and any amendments the chamber insisted, and the "plain English" summary that is included at the end of those documents is also provided.

    13. Recede and concur. Passing a motion to "Recede and concur" means the chamber backs out of its last action and instead takes the action that brings it into agreement with the other chamber. For any recede and concur motion, I provide a brief explanation, What the (other chamber) passed. If, for instance, the House is voting on a motion to recede and concur with the Senate, if the motion passes (by a majority of the the members present voting yea), then the House will have passed what the Senate has passed, so that one needs to know what had passed in the Senate in order to understand what a yea vote in the House accomplishes. Similarly, if the Senate is voting on a motion to recede and concur with the House, then a Senator's yea vote is a vote for the Senate to join in what had passed in the House, so that one needs to know what had passed in the House to make sense of a yea vote to the recede and concur motion in the Senate.

    14. Recede Passing a motion to recede backs the chamber out of its last action, which gives it the freedom to explore an alternative action that might lead to agreement.
    15. Finally, a motion to Reconsider is sometimes offered after a motion to enact a bill has failed as a second chance to pass the bill, and a yea vote is a vote to pass the bill. I use the term Reconsider after Governor's Veto to refer to the motion that occurs after the Governor vetoes a bill. A yea vote on a motion to "Reconsider after the Governor's veto" is a vote to pass despite the Governor's objection to it, and requires 2/3 of the members present. For any vote on a motion to Reconsider after the Governor's veto, I also add explanatory text What had passed to indicate any amendments to the bill that had been incorporated in what had passed to be enacted and was then vetoed by the Governor.

  7. The legislator's vote
    This is either yea, nay, excused or unexcused. Excused implies the legislator provided notice in advance of their absence from the chamber at the time of their vote. Unexcused implies that no such notice was offered, and indeed seems to sometimes refer to a situation in which the legislator does not cast a vote, often indicated by a vote of "present" in other states' legislatures.

  8. The outcome for the vote
    Has the values "Motion passed" or "Motion failed."

  9. The outcome for the bill
    Outcomes are either that a bill was enacted, is dead, or is neither dead nor enacted but rather still in the process. If the latter, then its progress is noted as well as the date when its progress was last updated on this site. In many instances, the only roll call vote taken is on a motion that the bill ought not to pass. If the motion was that the bill ought not to pass, and that motion fails, the bill will sometimes become law with no further roll call votes. Whenever an ought not to pass motion fails (which implies that the chamber wants some form of the legislation to pass) and the bill is enacted, I provide a summary of What happened after the ought not to pass failed, which describes subsequent actions taken without roll call votes.

  10. Links
  11. Two links are always included: a link back to the page of the Senator whose votes are being examined (for navigation of the site), and a link to an image of the full roll call vote that is a snippet from the State's website that lists the full roll call, which permits one to immediately view the votes of other members, determine if the vote was along party lines, etc.

    Additionally, if the vote led to enactment (e.g., the motion was to reconsider after the Governor's veto and the veto was overridden in both chambers), then links to the chaptered law and the fiscal note associated with the chaptered law are also present. Chaptered law is the legislation as it was enacted - it is the bill as it was passed to be engrossed, with underlined text representing new text to appear in the law, and text that is stricken through representing text no longer a part of the law. At the end of the session, Chaptered law appears in the document The Laws of Maine, compiled by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes and containing all public laws, private and special laws, resolves, and constitutional resolutions enacted in a session. Adobe Portable Document Format versions of the Laws of Maine dating back to 2009 are available here. Note well: Because this site focuses on roll call votes, it is NOT a substitute for The Laws of Maine. Laws can be and are enacted without a roll call vote being taken, through decisions at various steps that are either voice votes, divisions (a voting method similar to a secret ballot, it lists the total count of yeas and nays, but not the voter's identity), or decisions that are made "under the gavel," which refers to the leader of the chamber banging the gavel to make the decision after no member has offered a motion or called for a vote. Public laws are laws that ultimately enter the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (MRSA); Private and Special Laws do not enter the MRSA, typically because they are limited in scope in some manner (e.g., apply to only a person or locality for a limited period of time).

    If the bill did not become law by the roll call, then this website will usually have a link to the fiscal note that is relevant to the vote (e.g., if the bill is being amended by Amendment XXX and Amendment XXX replaces the original proposed measure and Amendment XXX has a fiscal note, then the link is to the fiscal note for Amendment XXX).

  12. Summary of (bill reference)
  13. Before a bill is referred to a committee, the idea and intent of the measure is written into legal form by the Office of the Revisor of Statues, and the proposed measure is then available to the public in the form of Adobe Portable Document Format documents on the State's website. By a rule of the legislature, these documents must contain a brief summary in "plain English" of how the proposed legislation changes existing law or what it creates as new law. The Summary of (bill reference) provides these brief summaries as an aid in understanding what a vote was considering. Depending on the complexity of the proposed legislation, summaries range in length from a single sentence to, in the example of new law such as the legislation that forwards the marijuana ballot initiative, as much as 8 pages. Any LD reference or amendment that is provided in the explanation of a motion (e.g., What was voted on, What the Senate passed, What had passed) is included in the Summary.

Legislative scorecards

Legislative scorecards developed by the organizations listed below are summarized on each legislator's information page on this website. Specifically, each scorecard contains several bills that the organization either supports or opposes, and then scores each legislator based on whether their votes on the bills agrees with the organization's view - the summary score appears on this site.

Each section below gives the items on the scorecard and where to find them on these pages, as well as a link back to the scorecard source that opens in a new tab. The scorecards are either attached to the linked websites or comprise the websites, and provide each legislator's vote on each bill on the scorecard.

The aggregated scores that appear on this site for the Maine People's Alliance, Maine AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood Action Fund are presented as percentages. The Maine Conservation Voters, 2017 scorecard is presented as a count with the number of absences noted.

In the presentation of the scorecards on the legislator info pages, this site provides a graph of the frequency distribution of the scores for the entire chamber, House or Senate, that is color coded by political party. The frequency distribution is just a count of the number of legislators with each score. The color coding of political parties permits you to see a legislator's score relative to all legislators and also relative to legislators within a particular legislator's caucus if the legislator is a Republican or Democrat. To save space, the legend abbreviates the party names, which are the following:

Next, a few words on absences that are my opinion. I think people try to extract, and maybe confuse, two pieces of information from the summary scores presented here: (1) does the legislator reflect my values and (2) what did they do through their votes to promote those values. Absences affect both of these.

For an example of (1), suppose two legislators score 100%, but one has some absences. Absences complicate understanding a legislator's values because an absence may be due to illness or some other obligation that might be assumed to be random (an Excused absence). However, in addition to illness, an unexcused absence can also reflect a choice not to vote even when the legislator is in the chamber. For example, a legislator may abstain from voting in the belief that their abstention, along with other legislators' abstentions, will lead to the defeat of a measure they do not want passed but do not want to be on the record as opposing. But they can also abstain because they believe their abstention will lead to passage of a motion they do not want to be on record as supporting. Yet a third possibility is that a legislator chooses not to vote because they perceive a conflict of interest for them in the legislation and would prefer that others decide the issue. The safest general recommendation is that if you want a legislator's opinion of a bill that they did not vote on, ask.

For (2), how absence affects passage of a motion, a Yea helps more than an absence which helps more than a Nay if the requirement for passage is some fraction (i.e., greater than 1/2, 2/3 or more) of members present. If the outcome depends on the number of members in the chamber (i.e., 35 Senators, 151 voting Representatives) then an absence has the same effect as a Nay vote.

Legislative scorecards have a long history. They reveal the scorecard creator's interests and legislative priorities and permit people who share those interests and priorities to hold legislators accountable. My thanks to all of the organizations who allowed me to summarize their scorecards here, and I recommend visiting their websites for thorough rationales for their positions.

Maine People's Alliance

Maine People's Alliance, Will of the Voters

What I report is the percentage of times the legislator voted the MPA's position on a selection of votes related to ballot initiatives from 2016 and 2017, the Clean Elections Initiative passed initially in 1995, and the ballot initiative process. The highest possible score is 100%, the lowest possible score is 0%. There are 11 bills scored in each chamber. LD 1865 is used only in the House and LD 1726 is used only in the Senate. Bills in the scorecard and where to find them on this site follow.

Bill reference for the 128th session and MPA notation
LD 31 Changing the Citizen Initiative Process
LD 390 Repealing the Stand up For Students Initiative
LD 673 Cutting Wages for Tipped Workers
LD 837* Funding voter-approved Medicaid expansion law
LD 1210 Funding Maine's voter-backed Clean Elections Law
LD 1609 Cutting wages for young people
LD 1625 Repealing Ranked Choice Voting
LD 1646 Delaying Ranked Choice Voting until 2021
LD 1757 Attack on the minimum wage
LD 1864 Sending Homecare for All to Ballot
LD 1865 Increasing Restrictions on the Citizen Initiative Process
LD 1726 Banning signature collection at the polls

*LD 837 is listed as LD 873 on the Maine People's Alliance website.

Maine People's Alliance, 2018

What I report is the percentage of times a legislator voted with the MPA's values as expressed on the 15 bills below. The highest possible score is 100%, the lowest possible score is 0%. Each chamber is scored on 12 bills; LD 1566, LD 1865 and LD 1684 are in the House only; LD 1507, LD 1726 and LD 1769 are in the Senate only. Bills in the scorecard and where to find them here follow.

Bill reference for the 128th session and MPA notation
LD 31 Changing the Citizen's Initiative Process
LD 837* Funding voter approved Medicaid expansion law
LD 1444 Promoting community solar
LD 1476 Continuing preventative care of ACA
LD 1707 Funding For Syringe Exchange Programs
LD 1757 Attack on the minimum wage
LD 1833 Forcing compliance with Trump's anti-immigration policies
LD 1864 Sending Homecare for All to ballot
LD 1904 Immigrant stigmatization
LD 1507 Student loan bill of rights
LD 1566 Fair Chance Act
LD 1684 Stopping Lunch Shaming at School
LD 1726 Banning signature collection at the polls
LD 1769 Cutting overtime pay
LD 1865 Increasing Restrictions on the Citizen's Initiative Process

*LD 837 is listed as LD 873 on the Maine People's Alliance website.

Maine Conservation Voters

Maine Conservation Voters, 2017 (MCV)

What I report is a count of the number of votes out of the 7 bills listed below where the legislator voted with the Maine Conservation Voter's preferences. Highest possible score is 7 and lowest possible score is 0. Any absences are explicitly indicated as unexcused (X) or Excused (E). The recently released Maine Conservation Voters 2018 scorecard can be viewed here.

Bill reference for the 128th session and MCV notation
LD 820 Mining
LD 182 Flame Retardants
LD 1504 Solar
LD 586 Public Lands
LD 454 Arsenic
LD 56 Bottle Bill


Maine AFL-CIO Scorecard, 2017

What I report is the percentage of times a legislator voted in agreement with the AFL-CIO position on 10 votes. The highest possible score is 100%, lowest possible score is 0%. If a legislator was absent for 1 vote, the percentage is for 9 votes, if a legislator was absent for two votes, the percentage is for 8 votes, and so on. If a legislator's score is not divisible by 10, then the legislator must have been absent one or more times. Often the number of absences can be inferred from the score - for example, an 8/9 yields 89%, so that a legislator with an 89% was absent for 1 of 10 votes and voted the way the AFL-CIO prefers 8 of the 9 votes they were present for. There was no roll call vote for LD 1382 in the Senate, and no roll call vote for LD 1358 in the House - the remaining bills had roll calls in both chambers.

Bill reference for the 128th session and AFL-CIO notation
LD 65 "Right to work" for less
LD 66 Union busting
LD 390 State Budget and Tax Fairness Referendum
LD 1553 Union recertification elections
LD 1441 Veterans bill
LD 591 Yield to bus
LD 182 Ban on toxic flame retardants
LD 1609 Minimum wage referendum repeal
LD 673 Subminimum wage for tipped workers
LD 1358 Public sector binding arbitration
LD 1382 Responsible contractor

Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund (PPMAF), 128th Session

Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund

What I report is the percentage of bills the legislator voted with the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund's (PPMAF) position out of 4 bills. The highest possible score is 100%. As a practical matter, the lowest possible score is 25% in the House. The House did not take a roll call vote on LD 1237 and all representatives were assigned a Yea vote for enacting the bill without a vote. The Yea vote for everyone does not distinguish between legislators, but can happen when an organization chooses legislation for its scorecard that is important to them in advance of any votes. If you've ever played Bingo, you can think of it as the "Free" square in the center that everyone gets to start out with. Absences are noted in the scorecard report for the House. The Senate did not have any absences across these four votes and each bill had at least one roll call vote. The link above is to their scorecard, the following link is to their website: Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund.

Bill reference for the 128th session and PPMAF notation
LD 327 Personhood
LD 1237 BC
LD 1259 Equal Pay
LD 778 Minimum wage