AUGUSTA — Legislative leaders are calling lawmakers back to work Wednesday, but it remains unclear whether they will be able to do more than cast override votes on bills vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage.

House Republicans refused this month to extend the legal deadline for adjournment, and their spokesman said Thursday that lawmakers can’t take any other action on outstanding legislation.

But left unfinished are dozens of significant bills, including $1 billion in state funding for public schools for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Also on the table are bills that would align Maine’s income tax code to the new federal tax code; extend the life of and clarify the state’s Pine Tree Development Zone program, which provides tax breaks to businesses; and repeal the state’s proficiency-based diploma law.

Other controversial bills would begin funding a voter-approved expansion of Medicaid in Maine, and slow down or reduce minimum wage increases spelled out in another voter-approved law.

Mary-Erin Casale, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said House Democrats intend to take up veto override votes when they return Wednesday, and also would offer another order proposing to extend the session.

Casale said in an email that Democrats would not try to pass any new legislation without an extension because “any new business would be subject to a veto without an opportunity for reconsideration.”

In a show of resistance April 18, minority House Republicans, aligned with the Republican governor, repeatedly blocked a five-day extension of the legislative session. They also objected to Democrats’ moves to keep bills alive, including lumping bills together in packages instead of holding separate votes on bills for which there are sharp partisan divides.

While Senate Republicans were amenable to extending the session, House Republicans said lawmakers had ample time – four months – do get their work done. They complained that the powerful budget-writing Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee largely sat idle for weeks leading up to the April 17 adjournment date prescribed in law.

When the Legislature recessed April 18, LePage had 32 bills and resolves to consider, including the bill legalizing the commercial production and sale of recreational marijuana, which he has vowed to veto. On Wednesday, LePage vetoed a pair of bills, one that would have removed age restrictions on buying the overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription, and one that sought to continue a $2.2 million child abuse prevention program.

The Legislature will weigh in on both of those vetoes when it returns.

State law authorizes the Legislature to hold a one-day session to consider vetoes by the governor after they have adjourned, but it’s unclear whether lawmakers will also be able to debate and vote on pending bills.

James Cyr, a spokesman for Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said Republican legislative leaders met Thursday to discuss what actions can be taken when lawmakers reconvene.

But Rob Poindexter, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said Thursday that House Republicans would return to vote on vetoes but not any unfinished legislation.

“House Republicans have every intention to return on May 2 for the purpose of considering any objections of the governor to any bills or resolves presented to him by the Legislature,” Poindexter wrote in an email to the Press Herald. “The statute is very clear, however, that the only business that can be conducted on May 2 are vetoes of the governor. Any other business would not be properly before the body.”

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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