LePage issues 25 new vetoes, jeopardizing several public health proposals

Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a Bangor event in July. (BDN photo by Ashley Conti)

Gov. Paul LePage issued 25 vetoes on Tuesday, setting up a marathon Wednesday round of override votes in the Maine Legislature and endangering bills to raise the state’s tobacco-buying age to 21 and ban cellphone use while driving.

The Republican governor said last week that he vetoed those bills and called them examples of “social engineering,” but the vetoes weren’t official until his office delivered 30 pages of veto messages to the two legislative chambers on Tuesday afternoon.

Two-thirds votes in each chamber of the Legislature are required to override a governor’s vetoes. The cellphone bill failed to pass by that margin in either chamber in June, though it was backed by the Maine State Police, which is overseen by the governor and called current anti-texting laws difficult to enforce.

The anti-smoking bill got two-thirds support in both chambers, with most Republicans voting for it. It’s backed by public health groups who cite statistics saying 95 percent of smokers begin by age 21 and would make Maine the fourth state to raise the age.

Continuing his longstanding tug-of-war with the Legislature over health and human services, LePage vetoed several bills related to public health, including ones that would:

The governor also vetoed a bill to form a commission to plan Maine’s bicentennial celebration in 2020 because the Legislature removed a $75,000 appropriation to fund the group’s work.

LePage’s veto of a heavily lobbied bill directing Maine regulators to come up with a long-term state solar energy plan will be considered alongside the 25 new vetoes on Wednesday.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.