The 130th Legislature wrapped up its work on Monday by upholding all five vetoes Gov. Janet Mills issued this session.

Mills addressed the House and Senate separately as lawmakers finished up their work, stressing bipartisan accomplishments that included the decision to return about 60 percent of a projected $1.2 billion revenue surplus to eligible taxpayers in the form of $850 checks.

“Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much,” Mills told the Senate. “You have proved that this session.”

Mills grew emotional when thanking House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, who at the age of 29 is the youngest presiding officer in the country and cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

“I’m going to miss you a lot,” she said. “(We can) come together and fix things that need to be fixed and do so in a civil manner, in a diplomatic manner, without an ounce of mudslinging or hate speech. You are full of compassion and just the ability to ‘get her done.'”

“And whoever takes your place next year,” she added, “I hope will have the same attitude, the same aptitude and the same relationship-building experience and levels you have exhibited.”

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In addition to allocating the revenue surplus, Mills noted the work lawmakers have done on so-called forever chemicals, out-of-state waste, student debt relief, expanding the state’s Good Samaritan law, universal free meals in public schools, two years of free community college tuition, and increased funding for hospitals and nursing homes, among others.

Mills, however, did not mention efforts to expand the rights of Maine tribes. She signed two bills – one giving the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point more control over its drinking water and another that gave tribes exclusive rights to online sports betting. But her continued opposition killed a bill that would fully recognized tribal sovereignty and given Maine tribes the same rights afforded to every other federally recognized tribe.

The bills vetoed by Mills dealt with requirements for new electricity transmission lines, governance of the University of Maine System, employer retaliation against workers who use earned paid leave, bail conditions and probation, and tax incentives for the forest products industry.

All of the bills lost some support following the governor’s veto and only one prompted any comment from the floor.

Rep. Victoria Morales, D-South Portland, tried to convince her colleagues to buck the governor on a bill that would have relaxed the types of restrictions that can be placed on someone who is released on pretrial bail, or on probation before the end of their sentence.

Morales said the bill is the product of three years of work from a diverse group of people, resulting in dozens of consensus recommendations to focus conditions of release and probation only on issues that could impact public safety, while continuing to ensure people show up for court hearings.

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“There were many, many, many ideas on the table over these three years and many compromises were made,” Morales said. “This bill, Mr. Speaker, updates decades old policy of probations and pretrial conditions of release to reflect today’s reality.”

In her veto letter, Mills took issue with changes to rule governing alcohol possession and removing the ability to punish people who don’t comply with court-ordered treatment, among other things.

Rather than prohibiting all alcohol possession, the new rules would only prohibit “excessive use of alcohol,” something Mills described as “confusing and potentially dangerous.”

“Alcohol use and abuse is a common contributing factor to criminal activity,” Mills wrote.

The bill, L.D. 844, passed in the House 82-57, but only 54 members voted to override Mills and 64 voted to uphold the veto.

Mills’ office announced on Friday that the governor had completed her review of hundreds of bills passed over the last two years by the 130th Legislature. Her office noted that 929 bills had become law and 27 bills had been vetoed.

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None of her vetoes has been overturned.

Ninety-eight percent of the bills sent to the governor have become law since Mills took office in 2018, her office said.

It takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to override a veto.

Other vetoes sustained were:

L.D. 170: An Act Pertaining to Transmission Lines Not Needed for Reliability or Local Generation. There were no previous roll calls on this bill. The motion to override failed, 73-47.

L.D. 1820: An Act to Strengthen the Governance of the University of Maine System. Previously passed the House, 76-56. Override failed, 67-46.

L.D. 1338: An Act to Prohibit Employers From Retaliating Against the Use of Earned Paid leave. Previously passed the House, 80-57. Override failed, 59-58.

L.D. 1919: An Act to Encourage Job Growth in the Forest Products Sector through Tax Incentives. Previously passed the House, 76-59. Override failed, 62-60.


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