AUGUSTA

Lawmakers fail to override Medicaid expansion veto

Maine lawmakers have failed again to override Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s vetoes of bills that would expand Medicaid under the federal health care law.

The Senate voted 21-14 in favor of overturning LePage’s rejection of Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson’s Medicaid expansion bill, falling three votes short of the two-thirds majority support it needed to survive.

The House also voted 94-53 to sustain the veto of Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves’ bill. It would have directed Maine to seek permission from the federal government to use the Medicaid funds to provide private health insurance on the federal exchange.

Democrats say the failure to expand will leave thousands without access to affordable coverage. But LePage and GOP lawmakers say the expansion will be too costly.

Veto of autism insurance bill overridden by large margin

The Maine Legislature overturned Gov. Paul LePage’s rejection of a measure that would allow more children to receive private insurance coverage to treat autism.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 30-5 in favor of overriding the Republican governor’s veto on Thursday. The House followed with a 115-32 vote.

The bill would require insurance companies to provide coverage for treatment of autism spectrum disorder for children up to the age of 10. Current law only requires coverage for treatment for children ages 5 and under.

Supporters say some Maine children aren’t getting the care they need or are being forced onto Medicaid, which does cover treatment.

LePage opposed the bill because it would raise insurance premiums, including those on the Affordable Care Act exchange. 

Bill to overhaul concealed handgun permit system fails

A bill that would overhaul the state’s concealed handgun permit system has failed in the Maine House.

The Democratic-led House voted 87-58 in favor of overturning Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the bill on Thursday. It fell 10 votes shy of the two-thirds support it needed to override the governor’s rejection, killing the bill.

LePage opposed the bill because he said it would make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns.

The bill would limit municipalities’ ability to issue permits to only those with full-time police chiefs. It would also ensure that state police manage all background and mental health checks and create a confidential centralized database of permit holders.

Supporters say the current system is broken and that some mental health and background checks aren’t being done adequately.

Lawmakers sustain veto of overseas tax haven bill

Maine lawmakers have sustained Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that aims to prevent companies from avoiding paying state taxes by holding their profits overseas in tax havens.

The Democratic-led House voted 88-58 in favor of overriding the bill on Thursday, falling several votes shy of the two-thirds support it needed.

LePage said the bill would kill existing and future jobs. He also said it’s unconstitutional because it conflicts with the foreign commerce clause.

But Democrats said the bill would save the state $10 million and is a matter of fairness. They say large multinational companies shouldn’t be able to hide their profits overseas to avoid paying taxes.

The bill is now dead.

Lawmakers fail to overturn lakeshore environment bill

A bill that would have created stricter environmental regulations on Maine’s lakeshores was sunk by the state Senate on Thursday.

The bill fell a few Senate votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto by Gov. Paul LePage. The final tally in the Senate was 21-14, while the House supported the veto override 125-21.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, the bill’s sponsor, Thursday. “I think it’s clear that Maine lakes will continue to be jeopardized by the fact that we don’t have adequate protection for fertilizer setbacks.”

L.D. 1744 aimed to restrict the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides within 25 feet of bodies of water. It also outlined goals for developing a photographic record of shorelines and a plan to develop training for municipalities to better regulate shoreland zoning laws.

The bill was vetoed Wednesday by LePage, who called the proposed law draconian, saying it was too restrictive and would create unnecessary work for the Department of Environmental Protection without providing adequate funding.

About 10 percent of the state’s nearly 6,000 lakes are listed as impaired by the Environmental Protection Agency, including Long Pond in Belgrade, Rome and Mount Vernon and East Pond in Oakland and Smithfield.