The fate of nearly fifty bills vetoed by Governor LePage were in the hands of lawmakers today.
Maine lawmakers moved swiftly and with little or no debate as they decided whether to sustain or override the unprecedented number of vetoes from Governor LePage…nearly fifty pieces of legislation were struck down by the governor in the past few days, leading democratic leaders to call LePage an obstructionist.
“With this governor, nothing surprises me,” said Skowhegan Democrat Jeff McCabe, the Assistant Majority Leader in the Maine House. “I think people back home have realized that this governor is unpredictable. He’s unproductive. He’s just an obstacle to progress here in the state of Maine.”
But Republicans defended the governor and his record setting veto spree.
“I don’t think the governor is being an obstructionist,” said Roger Katz, the Assistant Minority Leader in the Senate. “He takes his job very, very seriously. He probably vetoes more bills than most people would in his seat. But look that’s his right under the Constitution.”
What was hailed as the biggest victory of the day by some, an override of the LePage veto of a bill to fix a $32 million hole in the state budget. In his veto letter the governor said the bill was “full of gimmicks.”
“The budget represents his values and how we spend our money,” said Maine Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “We spent money on nursing facilities so they wouldn’t close their doors so our seniors had someplace to age with dignity. We are able to put funding toward the developmentally disabled wait list.”
The House didn’t have enough votes to override the veto of a bill that would overhaul the state’s concealed handgun permit system. Republicans agreed with LePage, saying the bill would have made it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns.
“Well I think we’ve seen here in Maine that we are responsible gun owners and I think any laws that seek to infringe upon gun owners rights is really not well placed,” said Newport Republican and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette.
For the fourth time in the past two years, a bill to expand MaineCare was dealt its final blow when lawmakers sustained the governor’s veto. It’s a cause that Eves has been fighting hard for since the beginning.
“I can say that this is the greatest lost opportunity for this legislature in the past two years. This governor has made it his tip priority to stand in the way of healthcare for 70,000 Mainers,” Eves said.
Republicans once again called the expansion of MaineCare as fiscally irresponsible.
“I think people now have really seen it for what it is which is a massive expansion of government. An intrusion into people’s lives as far as selection of people’s doctors and services they might have,” Fredette said.
Lawmakers are still working on the vetoes but plan to be finished at some point today or tonight.