The Democratic-controlled Legislature returns Thursday to consider at least 48 bills recently vetoed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Among the top issues on the agenda is a bill that would fix a $32 million hole in the $6.3 billion state budget.
Here’s a look at some of the other vetoed bills lawmakers will consider:
- MEDICAID EXPANSION: Democrats have failed in three previous attempts to overturn LePage’s vetoes of bills to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. They will get two more shots at it on Thursday. LePage, who says the expansion will be too costly, recently vetoed a bill under which the state would seek permission from the federal government to use the Medicaid funds to help residents buy private health insurance instead. He also rejected a separate Medicaid expansion bill.
- GUN PERMITS: LePage vetoed a bill seeking to overhaul the state’s concealed handgun permit system. Residents currently can get concealed handgun permits through state police, their local police chief or municipal officials. This bill would limit municipalities’ ability to issue permits to only those that have a full-time police chief. State police would also manage all background and mental health checks and create a confidential centralized database of permit holders. LePage said the bill would make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns.
- MINING REGULATIONS: The bill would direct LePage’s administration to rewrite its proposed regulations for metallic mineral mining in the state. Environmental groups say the proposed regulations won’t protect the environment. But LePage said they follow guidelines set by the 2012 law that put in motion the overhaul of the two-decade-old regulations.
- OFFSHORE TAX HAVENS: LePage vetoed a bill that aims to prevent companies from avoiding paying taxes in Maine by holding their profits overseas in tax havens. The measure is expected to save the state $10 million. Democrats say large multinational companies should have to pay taxes like everyone else, but LePage said the bill illustrates Democrats’ desire to “drive Maine into an economic wilderness and kill existing and future jobs.”
- DRUNKEN DRIVING: Lawmakers will consider a bill targeting repeat offenders of drunken driving. Supporters say prosecutors can currently examine only 10 years of someone’s driving record to determine whether he or she should be penalized as a repeat offender. The measure would ensure that all drunken-driving convictions that occur during the person’s lifetime would be counted against him or her. It only addresses felony-level drunken-driving convictions and LePage said it doesn’t go far enough to punish repeat offenders.