AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine lawmakers are sending Gov. Paul LePage increasingly heavy volumes of paperwork as the legislative session draws closer to its scheduled June adjournment, but high-profile issues that include the state budget and a tax overhaul wait to be resolved.
On Wednesday, LePage signed 17 bills into law. Monday’s total was 18. All told, the governor has put his name on about 200 bills and resolves, spanning issues from relocation of agency liquor stores to defining custom vehicles. A lengthy bill signed last week sets regulations for wolf hybrid kennels, and another one designates March 30 of each year as Vietnam War Remembrance Day.
One of the bills that received LePage’s signature on Wednesday will allow veterans and active military personnel to receive a special designation on their driver’s licenses. The license, which is expected to be available by September, will feature a field of stars in the background of the identification photo.
“The new driver’s license will be an easy and convenient way for our veterans to take advantage of benefits available to veterans at places such as state parks, restaurants and so forth without having to carry military paperwork,” said the sponsor, Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro.
Another newly signed law calls for the state to work more closely with maple syrup producers to promote the industry as it expands into a global market.
Lawmakers are completing votes on dozens of other bills that will end up on the governor’s desk, such as one to prohibit texting while driving. If signed into law, it will ban the sending and or receiving of emails, text messages, instant messages and any other electronic communication while driving.
With a state shutdown day Friday and Memorial Day on Monday, the next day of legislative action will be Tuesday, moving lawmakers a half month from their June 15 statutory adjournment date. But still ahead are passage of a $6.1 billion state budget for two years starting July 1, income tax changes, and other unresolved issues that include union powers, development regulations and charter schools.
On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to debate a bill to combine the Senate and the House of Representatives into a one-body, unicameral legislature made up of 151 members.