AUGUSTA, Maine — The House on Monday afternoon sustained Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a legislative resolve that sought to have the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board launch a study of the psychological and physical harm employees experience as a result of workplace bullying.
Monday’s vote makes LePage a perfect 9-for-9 in having vetoes upheld during this legislative session, despite the fact that Democrats hold majorities in both the House and Senate. The House delayed action Monday on LePage’s Friday veto of a bill that would require public schools to offer training to students to intervene in heart attacks.
On the workplace bullying resolve, the House voted 87-56 Monday in favor of overriding the veto of LD 1201, falling short of the two-thirds majority required for an override. The resolve, which was sponsored by Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, passed 87-52 in the House and unanimously in the Senate.
In a veto letter issued Friday, LePage said the workers’ compensation board lacks the “expertise to study the effects of bullying in the workplace” and that he was unsure of what the Legislature hoped to achieve with a study.
LePage also reiterated his concern about the Legislature taking actions that require work by executive branch staff. In vetoing an earlier legislative call for a state agency to conduct a study, LePage called the practice an “unfunded mandate on the executive branch.”
“While each one may be able to be completed ‘within existing resources,’ the cumulative effect is a significant drain on executive branch resources,” LePage wrote in his veto letter. “I have written time and again that the Legislature should seek to utilize legislative staff for these efforts, or provide additional funds to agencies to complete these numerous studies.”
After some previous veto votes, Democrats criticized Republican legislators for reversing their original votes to sustain the vetoes. While Monday’s override vote on LD 1201 largely mirrored the original House tally on the measure, Democrats pointed to unanimous, bipartisan support for Gideon’s proposal in the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.
“Democrats and Republicans tackled this problem together because workplace bullying harms the productivity and well-being of Maine workers,” said Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, House chairwoman of the committee, in a release. “To think that an employer or a fellow employee cannot induce fear and intimidation in the workplace is simply out of touch with reality. This veto implies just that.”