The Maine Senate convened Friday morning to take up bills vetoed by Gov. Janet Mills. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers fell short in several attempts Friday to overturn Gov. Janet Mills’ vetoes of bills passed by the Legislature, including one that would have banned rapid fire gun modifications and another that would have set a new minimum wage for farmworkers.

The Maine Senate failed to override Mills’ veto of a bill that would have banned bump stocks and other firearm modifications that can make semi-automatic weapons shoot like machine guns. Senators voted 18-16 in favor of an override, short of the two-thirds support needed to overturn a veto.

While gun safety advocates called for the restrictions as a precaution against future mass shootings, Mills said she vetoed that bill because a similar – but narrower – federal rule is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, and she worried Maine’s broader definition could have unintended consequences for law-abiding gun owners.

Senators also failed to override the veto of a bill that would have required “labor harmony” agreements for clean energy projects. The Senate voted 21-13 to override that veto, also short of the needed support. Mills objected to that bill because she said it was ambiguous and “potentially more far reaching than intended.”

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, failed to override four vetoes, including one blocking a new minimum wage for farmworkers and another that would have created a higher income tax rate for wealthier residents.

Mills’ veto of the farmworkers’ minimum wage bill prompted strong pushback from labor advocates given that the bill was a modified version of one recommended by a working group Mills appointed to study the issue. Mills objected to a provision inserted by lawmakers to allow farmworkers to sue their employers for wage violations. House members voted 69 to 54 in favor of the override.


The tax reform bill was intended to provide relief for working Mainers, but Mills said she vetoed it because details were not available at the public hearing, and she was concerned that tax relief was not being directed toward low income taxpayers. The vote was 72 to 51 in favor of an override.

The House also failed to override vetoes of bills that would set higher water quality standards for leachate at state-owned landfills and create a new legal framework governing labor relations in Maine’s agricultural sector. There was little debate before any of the roll calls.

Speaking ahead of the vote on the landfill bill, Rep. Mike Soboleski, R-Phillips, said it would have made changes to a long-term contract the state already signed with Casella, the private firm that manages Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town.

“That sets a bad precedent for anyone doing business with the state,” he said, urging members to sustain.

Lawmakers returned to Augusta on Friday to cast override votes on six bills vetoed by Mills and to potentially vote on as many as 80 leftover spending bills despite warnings from the governor.

Mills has vetoed 49 bills since taking office, none of which have been overturned by the Legislature. Lawmakers had already sustained two vetoes this year that would have banned noncompete agreements between employers and employees and ended the state’s three strikes law for repeated retail thefts.

The Legislature’s budget committee this week recommended passage of 80 additional bills that had been held back because they lack funding approval.

Mills blasted the actions of Democratic lawmakers on the budget-writing committee Wednesday after they ignored her administration’s warnings against increasing the state budget and instead advanced the 80 additional spending bills for floor votes. A written statement from Mills’ office accused the lawmakers of “employing budget gimmicks like stripping fiscal notes, delaying effective dates and raiding other special revenue accounts.”

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