AUGUSTA, Maine — Two out of four vetoes issued by Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday were overridden with lopsided votes by the Legislature on Wednesday while a veto nixed in the House awaits Senate action.
The fourth veto issued Tuesday, on a bill that would have changed the funding formula for youth homeless shelters, was sustained in the Senate with a 20-14 vote.
Meanwhile, LePage issued three new veto letters late Wednesday, including a bill that calls for a study of state reimbursements to providers of preschool services for disabled youths, a bill that would require greater cost transparency among health care providers, and a bill that would increase pay for mediators working on labor relations issues. All three bills passed unanimously through the Legislature.
The House and Senate began dealing with some of the Tuesday vetoes Wednesday morning. The House voted to override three of LePage’s vetoes on bills that would create a study group to make recommendations for protecting children from abuse, a law to allow elected officials to visit medical marijuana growing facilities, and an effort to revamp the state’s regional transit planning processes.
For a bill to become law over the governor’s objections, each chamber of the Legislature must vote to override the veto with a two-thirds majority — a target easily reached by the House in all three votes Wednesday morning.
LD 1685, A Resolve to Strengthen the Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect, would create a study group to complete a report by November that outlines ways to strengthen child protections. LePage’s veto letter said the Department of Health and Human Services is already committed to do the work assigned to the study group.
LD 1597, An Act to Clarify Provisions in the Medical Marijuana Act, would allow invited elected officials to visit medical marijuana grow sites for the purpose of education. In current law, only medical marijuana caregivers, emergency services personnel or repair workers can access the facilities and only under the primary caregiver’s supervision.
“It seems hypocritical for us as elected officials to exempt ourselves from the law, especially when most of those elected would not need specialized knowledge of medical marijuana to perform their job duties,” LePage wrote in his veto letter.
LD 1365, An Act to Promote New Models of Mobility and Access to Transportation, sought to replace the state’s Interagency Transportation Coordinating Committee with a new public transit advisory council — including government and elected officials — for the purpose of developing regional transit plans. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell, said that without the bill, the state’s efforts toward economic development and elderly transportation assistance would be put at risk.
LePage’s veto of LD 1717, A Resolve to Support Homeless Youth Shelters, was upheld in the Senate by a vote of 20-14, which fell short of a two-thirds majority. That means LePage’s veto on this bill stands and that it will not go to the House for a vote.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, sought to alter the funding formula for the shelters based on regional allocations from two years ago and redirect unspent funds from a contract with the now-closed Halcyon House emergency shelter in Skowhegan to New Beginnings emergency shelter in Lewiston.
LePage wrote in his veto letter that enactment of the bill could lead to funding shortages in some areas of the state.
The three new vetoed bills were LD 1552, A Resolve to Provide for an Analysis of MaineCare Rates for Facility-based Preschool Services for Children with Disabilities and a Report on the Analysis; LD 1642, An Act to Clarify the Law Governing Public Disclosure of Health Care Prices; and LD 1798, An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force Convened by the Maine Labor Relations Board Regarding Compensation for the Panel of Mediators.
LePage has vetoed 125 bills so far during his tenure as governor, the highest number for any governor in the state’s history, according to Democrats.
BDN writer Mario Moretto contributed to this report.