LePage vetoes minimum wage hike, 20 other bills

AUGUSTA — Among the business facing the Legislature when it convenes on Tuesday will be 21 new vetoes Gov. Paul LePage issued Monday afternoon and evening, including one of a bill that aimed to increase the state’s minimum wage.

LePage's+vetometer

Longley's+vetometer

Those are in addition to about a dozen previous vetoes that are still pending Legislative action.

LD 611 would incrementally increase the minimum wage from the current $7.50 per hour to $9 an hour by 2015, followed by annual increases tied to inflation. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann, a Democrat from South Portland, passed with an 86-58 vote in the House and 19-16 in the Senate. Those totals, which reflect support from Democrats and opposition from Republicans, fall short of the two-thirds required in each chamber to override a veto.

LePage wrote in his veto letter that Maine should focus on creating better jobs rather than improving its lowest-paying jobs.

“It is time to aim higher than the minimum,” wrote LePage. “We must create the environment for well-paying careers, to give hard-working families an opportunity to succeed. Mainers deserve more than the minimum and if we give them the opportunity, they will earn it. Let us refocus on lowering energy costs, continuing to streamline and reform regulations, and reducing our tax burden. It is time to move out of 50th place. Quite simply, it is time to put Maine people before politics.”

Hamann said the intent of his bill was to ensure all working Mainers receive a livable wage.

“We should ensure that the bottom rung of the economic ladder never falls below water,” said Hamann in a written statement. “We should never let our neighbors drown economically as the tide of inflation rises year after year.”

LePage also vetoed three other workforce-related bills on Monday, including LD 1198, which would have lifted a ban on receiving unemployment benefits during a week a person receives more than four weeks of vacation pay; LD 1069, which would loosen the balance between pay and benefits for employees of contractors working for the state, as long as the combination is equal to or higher than Department of Labor standards; and LD 1259, which places restrictions on foreign workers in Maine’s logging industry. Those bills, along with LePage’s veto of a workers’ compensation reform laid out in LD 443, are consistent with LePage’s mantra of making Maine more attractive for businesses.

“Injured workers have already been dealt a bad hand,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, sponsor of LD 1259. “They need to be able to focus on their health and not worry about when they’re going to lose the only benefits they have.”

Monday’s vetoes by LePage include three bills sponsored by Jackson, with whom LePage has had high-profile disputes.

LePage also vetoed LD 890, which would require that any goods or services purchased by the state be American-made whenever possible.

“When spending taxpayer dollars, the state should look to ensure we get the best possible deal, and that includes dividends earned by spending money at home,” wrote LePage in his veto letter. Jackson, the bill’s primary sponsor, said that belief should be put into law.

“With American manufacturing still fighting to come back, we should make sure that when given a choice, we choose products made right here in America, by Americans,” said Jackson in a press release. “Apparently the governor doesn’t think we need to see the words ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ more often.”

LePage also vetoed LD 1057, a bill that would have spread the expense of public charter schools across the entire state by funding them through the Department of Education’s Essential Programs and Services formula. Charter schools are funded by students’ sending-school districts, which some argue strips away too much money from nearby traditional public schools.

“This bill is another attempt to destroy public charter schools in Maine by a thousand cuts,” wrote LePage in his veto letter.

The veto reflects the stark differences between LePage and Democrats, who hold majorities in the House and Senate, over education reform. Republican minorities in the House and Senate have sided with LePage on most override votes, upholding the vetoes because the Democrats’ majorities in each chamber fall short of the two-thirds required for an override.

LD 703, another bill vetoed by LePage on Monday, would make it illegal for a person convicted of animal cruelty to ever own animals again. LePage said the judicial branch of government already addresses that problem.

Monday’s slate of bill rejections brings the total number of vetoes the Legislature will face on Tuesday to more than 20 and the number of vetoes LePage has issued this session well past 70, the most by any governor in the past 40 years.

To date, the Legislature has sustained all but three of LePage’s vetoes. The only three successful overrides were to enact the two-year state budget, an omnibus energy bill that LePage eventually supported after changes were made to another bill affecting offshore wind power contracts, and a bill to revise rules related to how registries of deeds function.

Some of the other vetoes issued Monday included:

— LD 415, An Act to Require a Warrant to Obtain the Location Information of a Cell Phone or Other Electronic Device.

— LD 236, An Act to Protect the Privacy of Citizens from Domestic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Use.

— LD 1132, An Act to Achieve Economic Growth by Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education and to Meet Workforce Needs.

— LD 1533, An Act to Establish the Maine Online Learning Collaborative.

— LD 1282, An Act to Help Small Farmers in Selling Raw Milk Products.

LePage’s veto letters are posted on the governor’s website under “Official Documents,” though the website was not up to date Monday night.

Sun Journal file photo

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed 82 bills during the state Legislature's 2013 lawmaking session. LePage shattered the previous veto record of 49 held by the late Gov. James Longley. So far only three of LePage's vetoes have been overturned by the Legislature.

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Comments

Great Job Governor! When the

Great Job Governor!
When the same moonbats come out whining everytime you make a decision, you must be doing something right.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Moonbats?

That's funny. It's your governor who is MOONING the people of Maine.

He's mooning the moonbats,

He's mooning the moonbats, and I love it.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Come Nov 2014

We'll see who's mooning who. And all Mainers will love it, except you, of course.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Hired an ape for gover--not

The repubs elected an ape that drags his knuckles and his feet---he can't do the job of a real governor -- he doesn't know how or wants to work with people....Impeach the worthless bum...put him back on the streets where he came from....

AL PELLETIER's picture

Why doesn't he pay his daughter $7.50 per hour?

When we fire Lepage in November 2014 perhaps he thinks Marden's will take him back and he can continue to hire new people for $7.50 an hour so he can resume making handsome profit sharing bonuses. Hell, it's the republican way," I'll pay them a little so I can make a lot."
He's so incredibly unpopular I don't think Marden's would want him back.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Can anyone tell me just what

Can anyone tell me just what this governor has done to earn his pay, his pension, and his health care coverage besides veto everything? And don't say he paid the hospitals because I think there should have been an audit of the bill BEFORE it was paid and overcharges seriously questioned.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

The buffoon

Emperor has no clothes and is disgusting for Maine to continue with a guy who refuses to work with the elected party. It is why he was rated 2nd worst of 45 governors.

Time to ship him back to Florida where he came from to get this job..

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

What a waste

Where did the governor get the notion that we elected him to go to Augusta to play the big shot, to veto all bills sponsored by people he doesn't like, and to ignore the will of the people who elected them. Somebody should explain the meaning of democracy to him and the concept of representation. He acts like our government is his sandbox. I wonder if he even reads the bills before he vetoes them or just the name of the person who sponsored it. In a just world, he would refund the taxpayer his salary. He is not representing any of us.

That's just it Claire

He*is* doing exactly what the 38% of the people who voted for him want him to do. He has demonstrated time and again that he has neither time nor patience with the rest of us.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Again his logic escapes me...........

We should put all our efforts into bringing better jobs to Maine, not increasing minimum wage to workers already here. What that kind of statement indicates to me is, LePage has no legitimate excuse for that particular veto, but damn , doesn't that response almost sound intelligent?
What he's doing in effect, is putting all the emphasis on acquiring something sought after since just after the first settlers came to Maine. Good paying jobs, evidently when the Manufacturing industry explodes, and the job market becomes more and more specialized. Workers will be making oodles of money, but guess what? Those minimum wage jobs will still be there. Not only that, these jobs are still going to pay next to nothing for years until this economic boom actually happens. A lot of these jobs are needed, they are essential to everyday living. Denying these workers the pleasure of earning just a little below poverty levels, as apposed to a whole lot under poverty levels is something Paul LePage doesn't feel is in his best interest at this time. After all, these types don't contribute a lot to political campaigns.
When he makes these rhetorical statements, and then follows up with a veto of a bill aimed at increased education and producing more workforce ready graduates is just chomping away at that old "Logical thought process" of his.
If LePage really was in favor of attracting good jobs, how could he veto a bill (LD 1132) which would work to supply ready applicants to these jobs?
I just think that LePage's goal here has nothing to do with any of these bills. He just wants to leave office with as many vetoes as he can rack up. Knowing that there's no way in hell any sober person would vote for him for a second term. He's trying to set a record hopefully no one will ever beat...............

 's picture

Instead of looking at it as

Instead of looking at it as the minimum an employer has to pay an employee, it should be looked at as the minimum the STATE says an employee should be paid. That means in a lot of cases, mainly unskilled labor, the maximum also. What would happen if there was no minimum? The market would decide the fair price for labor and it would quickly find the equilibrium cost of labor. That means people would be free to decide if they wanted to work for slightly less and also if someone was a smart hard worker than they would probably make more. This is a mobile society and no one is stuck anywhere, you can always get up and move to where the jobs are. Right now unskilled laborers in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota are making over $140,000 a year with overtime. Go to where the jobs are.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Grapes of Wrath is your solution

That is your mobile society, instead of keeping jobs in the state.... "Hey John, lets just pull up our home and move to another state? " Ok Dear, hitch up the home.".

Now maybe since your home is on wheels and needs air in the tires, since it is leaning way to far right and mobile, that may suit you as a solution, but others have invested into a place, called home, where they want and can live and stay with family.

They want to work under wages that are not always suppressed by corporate loving people like yourself to work like at Walmart, Target and other.

The wages today are under water in comparison to the cost of living thru the years, and if you had to live under $7 bucks an hour, good luck with that.

Genius...those guys in North Dakota are living on big bucks under living and working conditions and rules that not everyone can swallow or could do.

Bob White's picture

Jerry Jerry again with the

Jerry Jerry again with the insults what did the people do in the great depression? Last time I knew its a free country if people don't like working for a company go work somewhere else and when that company cant get good workers what do you think will happen? Give up you cant figure it out? Those companies will have to do one of 2 things first they can close because they don't have anyone that wants to work for them or the companies will increase there pays and bennies. See its pretty simple. Maybe people who think they want a family should plan ahead or strive to make more then the minimum. When you started out in the work force did you want just the minimum? Did you say I'm only going to do the minimum? I'm guessing you didn't you went to work and probably worked hard so why if you could why cant everybody?

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

No minimum wage

It isn't rocket science to figure out what happens when there is no minimum wage. All you have to do is to look back in history at what life was like for the factory workers and laborers before the days of the minimum wage. Even if you overlook slavery and indenture the picture was pretty bleak. Seems like the factory owners were not into giving wage hikes and benefits to workers until someone made them do it. I will give you this much. The discrepancy today between the average CEO and minimum wage worker is probably where it was back in the 1800's. The last figure I saw was that their wealth had gone up 250% while the average middle class worker has lost a lot. I think this reflects the lack of legislative support at all governmental levels for the worker and the great contributions of corporate lobbyists. I believe, however, that there is a cyclical swing to this and at some point the balance will be restored.

Claudette Therriault's picture

Lepage anti labor

It was obvious Lepage was anti labor when he removed the wall in Augusta. Why should it surprise anyone that he vetoed this bill?

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Nothing he does surprised me

Nothing he does surprised me anymore. However, how could Maine people have been so stupid as to elect senators and representatives with no backbone. Regardless of party affiliation there need to be more strong enough to do what's best for the people of Maine and not the bidding of this governor.

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