AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate opened its work Tuesday by upholding nine vetoes issued by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Legislators returned to Augusta on Tuesday for what many called “veto day,” during which members of the two chambers will vote on a flurry of vetoes LePage issued — including 21 on Monday — since the Legislature recessed on June 27.

Among the bills that died in the Senate was LD 745: An Act to Promote Sustainable Food Policies. Sponsored by Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, the measure won support from 21 senators present, falling one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for an override because two Democratic senators were absent.

Other bills that failed include an attempt to reform workers compensation; a call to prevent future legislatures from raiding the Fund for a Healthy Maine, which pays for health education and wellness programs, for other purposes; a bill that would have set rules for unmanned aerial surveillance, or drone, use in Maine; and a bill that would have made it more difficult for people convicted of cruelty to animals to acquire a pet after the conviction.

The Senate delayed votes on two prominent bills: LD 1181, which would require corporations to label items that contain potentially hazardous chemicals, and LD 890, which would require that any goods or services purchased by the state be American-made whenever possible.

Early Tuesday afternoon, the Senate shifted gears to override LePage’s veto of LD 415, a bill sponsored by Assistant Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz of Augusta. The bill aims to strengthen warrant requirements for law enforcement agencies seeking location information from cellphone providers. After the Senate’s 22-11 vote, LD 415 moves to the House for an override vote there later Tuesday.

The Senate’s votes to sustain vetoes Tuesday morning continue a trend that has seen minority Republicans mustering enough votes to prevent override votes from reaching the two-thirds threshold required to enact bills against the governor’s opposition.

Lawmakers, particularly Republicans, have been very hesitant to override LePage’s vetoes. As of Tuesday morning LePage had vetoed a total of 82 bills this session, only three of which have been overridden by votes in both chambers the Legislature. That sum is well above the recent-memory record of 49 set by Gov. James Longley in 1977. LePage vetoed far fewer bills during the 125th Legislature, tallying only 12 in 2011 and 2012 combined.

In recent weeks, two of the vetoes that have been overridden were big ones: the $6.3 billion biennial state budget bill and an omnibus energy bill that lawmakers spent most of the session crafting. That latter override came only after an amendment to a related bill that caused LePage to withdraw support for his own veto.

With Republicans in the minority in the Legislature, sustaining LePage’s vetoes is the best method the GOP has to wield its power. It takes a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to override a veto, which this session has meant all or most of the Democrats, the four independents and a dozen or so Republicans.

The Legislature also spent Tuesday dealing with 19 emergency measures and bills that require emergency or mandate preambles, all of which will require two-thirds votes of all elected legislators.

Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s press secretary, said Tuesday that the governor has vowed to issue any vetoes he plans to by the end of the day Tuesday. Alfond told the Bangor Daily News on Monday that there will not be another legislative day scheduled this summer to deal with any more vetoes from LePage.


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