AUGUSTA — Lawmakers voted Wednesday to overturn Gov. Paul LePage’s vetoes of two Democratic-led bills, including one that would create a study group to strengthen the state’s response to child abuse and neglect.
Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said LePage’s veto of L.D. 1685 on Tuesday was “unfortunate and even shocking,” since it fell on the first day of April, which is Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in Maine.
The House vote to override the veto was 136-6; the Senate’s vote was 33-1.
In his veto letter, LePage said he doesn’t oppose improvements but doesn’t think a study group is needed because the Department of Health and Human Services’ staff is capable of doing the work.
“Not every solution needs to be a legislative enactment,” Le- Page wrote.
The House also overturned the governor’s veto of L.D. 1597, a bill to allow lawmakers and other elected officials to visit medical marijuana dispensaries and caregivers’ growing operations to learn more about those operations.
The bill had bipartisan support from the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee and in its initial House vote, but LePage vetoed it, writing in his veto letter that, “Most of those elected would not need specialized knowledge of medical marijuana to perform their job duties.”
Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, the bill’s sponsor, said it is important for lawmakers to see firsthand what goes on in Maine’s medical marijuana industry, which has evolved considerably in recent years.
“There are still a lot of misconceptions and myths about how these businesses operate,” Gattine said Wednesday before the veto override vote.
Under the current law, lawmakers are not allowed to visit the facilities they oversee.
The votes to override the veto were 126-12 in the House and 29-5 in the Senate, both well above the two-thirds majority needed to override a governor’s veto.
Also Wednesday, the House voted to override LePage’s veto of L.D. 1365, which would create a public council to develop regional transit plans.
That bill, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell, is geared toward older Mainers who face the prospect of being confined to their homes, or forced into nursing homes, if the state doesn’t address transit deficiencies.
LePage said in his veto letter that the bill is “unnecessary and unwieldy.”
The House vote to override the veto was 119-25. The Senate did not vote on that veto.
LePage has vetoed 122 bills since he took office in early 2011, more than any other Maine governor. The previous record was 118, by independent James Longley, who served for one term from 1975-79.
Of LePage’s 122 vetoes, the Legislature has overturned just 10, including the two overrides Wednesday.
Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at: