Long before bills become law, they go through consideration in committee.
There, the public often gets the first sense of the bills and issues that will make their way through to the Legislature, who’s for and against them and what kind of fight those bills have to getting passed.
The makeup of those important committees changes with each Legislature, based on the whims of party leaders.
That means the geography of each committee changes with passing legislatures, too. And that can play a role in the dynamics of specific bills.
For instance, a controversial bid to build a casino in York County went before the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee Wednesday. Why does that matter? Because the committee has a lawmaker representing York County, and two others representing the locations of the state’s two other casinos, Bangor and Oxford.
Geographies of other committees show general patterns. Appointees to highly-sought posts on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee are weighted to southern and coastal districts.
Rep. John Martin, in District 151, is the only representative on the committee from north of Bangor. Southern House representatives also have strong representation on the new committee that will determine regulations around Maine’s retail marijuana industry.
Those patterns will have some influence on the dynamics of this Legislature as they deliver their opinions on whether lawmakers should or should not pass certain bills into law.