AUGUSTA — Gov. LePage vetoed three bills last week — adding to the dozen he rejected last year.

But at least one isn’t going away without a fight.

Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham, is challenging LePage’s reasons for vetoing a bill that would require public agencies to consider energy efficiency in designing new buildings.

On Friday, Bartlett took the unusual step of filing a Freedom of Access Act request for any “memoranda, correspondence, emails or any other documents” that LePage reviewed while considering the bill. Bartlett argues that LePage’s veto letter criticizes language that’s not in the final version of the bill.

“When you vetoed (the bill) you expressed concern that the bill gives the Efficiency Maine Trust the power to craft rules without any oversight,” Bartlett wrote in his public records request. In fact, he said, the final bill would give the trust only the ability to give non-binding advice to the Bureau of General Services, which is under LePage’s control.

LePage’s spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the governor’s veto letter is not based on outdated information. LePage actually cited two reasons for the veto.

The first was that he believes it the bill would “cause the state, counties, schools, towns, and others to consider a number of expensive management policies without clear definitions of short-term cost impacts.”

The second — the reason Bartlett is questioning — is that it would delegate authority to an agency that’s not controlled by elected officials, the Efficiency Maine Trust.

“When rules are made, an elected official — a governor, representative or senator — should be directly responsible and electorally accountable for that decision,” LePage wrote.

The veto — and two others — will be considered by the Senate in the coming days. LePage has never had a veto overturned in the Legislature.

Bus trip

The State House will get fairly quiet at the end of this week as more than 50 lawmakers pile into buses at noon Wednesday for a three-day tour of businesses in southern Maine.

Last year, about 90 lawmakers went to northern Maine. This year, it’s southern Maine’s turn.

Planned stops include Brunswick Landing, formerly the Brunswick Naval Air Station, and Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland.

Lawmakers also will tour Hussey Seating in North Berwick, Sanford’s wastewater facility, and the P&G Tambrands factory in Auburn. Lawmakers were advised not to wear high heels or long coats during the factory tour.

The trip will be paid for by members of the Maine Development Foundation. Primary sponsors include the Maine Hospitality Alliance, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Maine Dental Association, the Maine Credit Union League, the Maine Compact for Higher Education, Time Warner Cable and The Bingham Program.

The foundation was created in 1978 with a “broad mandate to promote the economy.” It has been running legislative bus tours for more than 20 years.

Different kind of trip

Three lawmakers went to Las Vegas last week to attend the winter meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States.

Two Republicans and a Democrat — Assistant Senate Majority Leader Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, Rep. Douglas Damon, R-Bangor, and Rep. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, left the state Thursday for the meeting.

Maine voters rejected two new gambling facilities in November. Lawmakers, however, think it’s only a matter of time before new proposals come before voters.

Valentino said that’s why she is continuing to push for a comprehensive approach that would give the state more control over locations, financing arrangements and how much developers pay for gaming rights.

Valentino said last week that the trip requires no taxpayer funding.

Special election

Three candidates have already expressed interest in running for the Senate District 20 seat, which was vacated recently by Republican David Trahan of Waldoboro. Trahan stepped down to run the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Rep. Leslie Fossel, R-Alna, has filed with the state ethics commission to run, and Rep. Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, said he intends to run.

On the Democratic side, Christopher Johnson of Somerville has filed to run.

The special election will be held Feb. 14. It’s up to local caucuses to pick the party candidates. Non-party candidates have until Jan. 17 to submit 200 or more signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office to get on the ballot.

Privatizing the tilt-a-whirl

Rep. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, is sponsoring a bill to allow private-sector companies or municipalities to inspect amusement rides.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office now does the inspections, but the department is looking for ways to save money, she said. Since there are standards for the rides, she believes the Legislature should at least consider farming out the work.

“This is one of those areas where you say, do we really need a statewide presence?” she said.

The bill, L.D. 1745, will get a public hearing in the coming weeks before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

–MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan M. Cover

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