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Bills stacking up on LePage’s desk after he said ‘nothing’ will get done until hospital debt paid

Christopher Cousins | BDN
Christopher Cousins | BDN
Gov. Paul LePage comments on the Legislature's delay in approving his plan to repay Maine hospitals millions of dollars in back debt on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, at the Blaine House in Augusta.
By Robert Long, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Earlier this week, Gov. Paul LePage reiterated his pledge not to sign any bills until lawmakers vote to pay Maine hospitals past debt they are owed.

Now, bills are beginning to pile up on his desk.

The Legislature took final action on six pieces of legislation Thursday that now go to the governor for his signature or veto.

LePage on March 1 and again on Wednesday said in interviews that he would veto any bill approved by the Legislature, including his own, until lawmakers pass his plan to pay off the state’s hospitals by renegotiating the state’s liquor contract.

The governor also released a video Friday to rally public support for his proposal.

The bills that moved from the Legislature on Thursday include:

• LD 2: Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 252: Rules Governing Certification of Seed Potatoes in the State of Maine, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

• LD 26: An Act to Authorize the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to Change a Fishing Season Opening Date Statewide.

• LD 32: An Act to Expand the Types of Vaccines That May Be Administered by Pharmacists.

• LD 103: An Act to Correct an Inconsistency in Maine’s Apprenticeship Laws.

• LD 112: An Act to Make Changes to the Educators for Maine Program.

• LD 113: An Act to Make Changes to the Maine College Savings Program.

All of the bills and the resolve passed with broad bipartisan support.

State law allows the governor 10 days, excluding Sundays, to sign or veto the bills. Otherwise, they take effect without his signature. March 19 is deadline for LePage to act on the group of bills that won final passage in the Legislature on Thursday.

Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s spokeswoman, said in an email Friday that LePage’s office has received the six pieces of legislation. The governor’s staff has three days to review the legislation and make recommendations, she said, leaving LePage seven days to sign the legislation, veto it or let it become law without his signature, as was the case with the supplemental budget the Legislature passed last month.

The Legislature can override a gubernatorial veto with two-thirds votes in both the House and the Senate. Unless passed as emergency measures, which take effect the day the governor signs them, bills become law 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

A public hearing on LePage’s proposal to pay the hospital debt is scheduled for Monday before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.

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