AUGUSTA, Maine — Before leaving for his annual trip to Jamaica, Gov. Paul LePage signed into law two bills that passed the Senate on Thursday. The measures govern commercial elver licenses granted by the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
LePage affixed his signature to the two bills Thursday even after he didn’t fully back away from a promise he made earlier this month to veto all legislation that came across his desk before the Legislature approved his bill to repay Maine’s $484 million debt to its hospitals.
The governor signed the two measures before he leaves the state for a week for his annual trip to Jamaica, LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said
One of the bills he signed, LD 451, limits the Passamaquoddy Tribe to issuing 200 elver licenses this year, with 50 of those restricted to dip-net users on the St. Croix River.
The other, LD 604, allows the Penobscot Nation to issue 48 commercial elver licenses, up from its current allowance of eight licenses. The bill also enables Maine’s marine resources commissioner to allow the Penobscot Nation to issue additional licenses if the tribe and state Department of Marine Resources determine there are sufficient numbers of elver.
Both bills take effect immediately because they were emergency measures that attracted more than two-thirds support in the House and Senate.
LePage signed the two measures two days after he allowed six bills to become law without his signature. At a news conference Thursday, he said he wasn’t prepared to veto the measures as he had promised.
“The bills came down and no one alerted me they were down here until the 19th, which is the day they had to go back up,” LePage said Thursday. “I decided that it was just best to let them go because I was the one who was not ready to veto.
“Fool me once, shame on me,” he said. “Let’s do it a second time and see what happens.”
LePage also made an exception to his veto rule last week, when he signed an emergency measure into law to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol starting at 6 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day when the holiday falls on a Sunday, as it did this year.
In addition to the two bills he signed Thursday, there are three more pieces of legislation awaiting action by LePage. His 10-day window to sign or veto two of the bills expires on Tuesday, when he’s scheduled to be in Jamaica.
The governor hadn’t acted on those two bills by 4:30 Friday afternoon, and Bennett didn’t say how the governor planned to act. Those two bills are An Act to Allow the Maine Potato Board to Have Access to Information Regarding the Potato Tax and An Act to Abolish the Trustees of Public Cemeteries for the City of Waterville. Both passed the Legislature without objection.
The Senate on Thursday sent one other bill to LePage’s desk, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Payment of Fees to Registers of Deeds. LePage’s 10-day window for action on that measure expires April 2.