Legislation Confirm Veto Attempt Fail Bill Law

(The Center Square) – The Maine Legislature did not override any vetoes by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills as lawmakers wrapped up the two-year legislative session.

On Monday, lawmakers reconvened for what is unofficially known as "veto day" to reconsider several bills rejected by Mills during the recent session. The Democratic-led House of Representatives failed to muster the two-thirds vote to override the governor's objections.

The measures included a bill, backed by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, that would have provided tax incentives to the state's lumber and forestry products industry.

The proposal called for updating the state's Employment Tax Increment Financing program to include timber harvesting, trucking and road construction companies. The program provides businesses with income tax breaks ranging from 60-80% over three years for hiring new employees.

In her veto message, Mills said the proposed changes could exacerbate labor shortages by "cannibalizing" a limited pool of workers in the forestry products industry.

"We must take care to ensure that any new state initiatives actually help alleviate that shortage and do not inadvertently exacerbate the challenge of attracting and retaining qualified workers in the industry," Mills wrote.

Mills also vetoed a proposal that sought to restrict the construction of large scale power transmission lines unless the projects provided a portion of electricity for the state.

The bill was filed in response to a proposed 145-mile hydropower transmission line through Maine that was later blocked by a statewide referendum and lawsuits by opponents of the project.

Mills, in her veto message, said the plan would "hinder the ability of the state and region to meet our critically important climate and clean energy goals."

Another bill was aimed at preventing retaliation against workers for taking advantage of the state's paid leave law. Mills had called the protections unnecessary.

Other bills that were vetoed by Mills dealt with the governing structure of the University of Maine System and updating rules for probation and conditions of release from prison.

The House votes on all five measures failed to reach the super-majority vote needed to override the bills. Because of that, there was no action for the Democrat-majority state Senate to take on the vetoes.

Lawmakers approved nearly 1,000 bills during the two-year legislative session, according to the House and Senate clerks. Mills vetoed 27 bills during the session, none of which were overridden.

But the final day of the session wasn't all about divisions between the governor and lawmakers over unresolved legislation.

Earlier on Monday, Mills and lawmakers gathered with advocates for a ceremonial signing of a bill extending the state's good Samaritan law to shield people at the scene of drug overdoses from arrest or prosecution.

The new law expands the list to provide immunity for individuals at the scene who "render aid" to someone who is overdosing.

Under the previous law, Maine only shielded callers and overdose victims from arrest or prosecution from drug possession and paraphernalia offenses, and from revocation of probation, for being on the scene.

Lawmakers amended the proposal to alleviate objections that Mills had raised that the changes would negatively impact law enforcement investigations.