AUGUSTA — The Maine House voted 124-16 today to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that requires the state to seek more federal funds for school services.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where a vote may be taken as soon as tonight. The House vote is the first time either chamber has overridden a LePage veto. This is the 17th veto since he took over as governor in January 2011.

During House debate, Rep. Mary Nelson, D-Falmouth, said the Education Committee spent two years working on the issue. Other states get much more money than Maine does to support MaineCare services for children in schools, she said.

“We’re not drawing down up to $30 million of federal money for services provided to children because the rules do not provide for it,” she said.

LePage issued the veto on Monday on LD 1003, “Resolve to Assist Maine Schools to Obtain Federal Funds for Medically Necessary Services.”

In the veto letter, LePage wrote that the bill “would simply be a distraction” at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I have strong objections to the Legislature directing efforts of the executive branch without providing funding for that purpose, especially when my departments are already working tirelessly on these issues,” he wrote.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Peter Edgecomb, R-Caribou, directs DHHS and the Department of Education to put together a work group to design new MaineCare policies for students who need medical care in school settings. It passed the House and Senate with two-thirds support. 

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