AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate voted 25-9 Thursday to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill by Sen. Roger Katz that removes the governor’s authority to withhold authorization of voter-approved bonds.
The bill would require the state’s governor to authorize all voter-approved bonds except in the most extenuating circumstances, preventing Gov. Paul LePage and all future chief executives from using bonds as political bargaining chips.
Katz, a Republican from Augusta, was prompted to propose the bill after LePage made clear that he would not authorize more than $11 million worth of voter-approved bonds meant to purchase private land for conservation.
“The question here is simple,” Katz said. “Will we respect the will of the people or won’t we? It’s remarkable the lengths that some will go to to ignore that will.”
LePage said he’d hold the bonds until the Legislature adopted an unrelated plan to increase the timber harvest on public lands and use the additional timber revenue to pay for home heating assistance programs.
All but the governor’s staunchest allies in the Legislature scoffed, saying LePage was subverting the will of voters who approved the bonds at the ballot box. The bill was passed with bipartisan support in the Legislature, but LePage vetoed it, saying it raised constitutional questions about the role of the chief executive.
The bill faces a veto override vote in the House later today.
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