- Associated Press - Thursday, July 20, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Latest on Maine Legislature’s extended session (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

A $40 million bond to help young people pay off student debt is now in limbo after failing to receive widespread support among lawmakers.

The Maine House tabled the bill Thursday evening. It could be tackled again on Aug. 2 when lawmakers plan to return.

Supporters like Republican Gov. Paul LePage say such efforts will attract young skilled workers to the rapidly aging state.

The House also tabled a $55 million bond deal to support commercial research and development but voted 127-5 in favor of a $105 million bond issue for roads and bridges that passed the Senate.

3:30 p.m.

The Maine Senate is narrowly backing a $40 million bond to help borrowers pay off student loans.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage said it’s an effort to attract young, skilled professionals to the rapidly aging state.

The Senate voted 16-14 Thursday to support the bond issue, which now heads to the House. Democratic Sen. Nate Libby said the program would pay student loan debt for individuals who live and work in Maine for five years.

A $105 million bond issue for roads and bridges also passed the Senate.

The Senate also voted 19-11 on a $55 million bond to support commercial research and development projects. Republican Sen. Roger Katz’s amendment specifies funds would go to nonprofit research institutions through a competitive process.

A Senate vote on a bill to require signatures on direct citizen initiatives from each congressional district fell short of the two-thirds support needed.

2:40 p.m.

Lawmakers are spending a long day dealing with Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s vetoes and other bills.

The Legislature sent LePage a bill that would ban the use of handheld devices while driving.

Votes on a highly anticipated solar bill and a $200 bond package are also expected. The bond package includes a $105 million transportation package and $55 for research and development.

LePage has voiced support for a $40 million package aimed at student debt cancellation and refinancing.

The Legislature enacted Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellows’s bill to restore services the LePage administration cut last year for individuals with bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. The change didn’t impacted clients at risk of certain circumstances like homelessness or those diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizophrenic affective disorder.

Lawmakers are expected to return Aug. 2.


12:07 a.m.

Lawmakers are set to return to Augusta with vetoes on the agenda.

The Legislature plans to use Thursday as one of their two last days of the session.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage has recently vetoed bills he claims creates hidden subsidies for the rich in electricity bills.

Such legislation includes a bill to modernize the state’s renewable portfolio standard and another to change solar policy.

LePage also vetoed a bill that he claimed would give welfare recipients a $400 bonus for maintaining a job for four months.

The governor said he appreciated the intent of a bill to require governmental agencies to give preferences to lumber and solid wood products harvested in Maine. But he vetoed it and said a provision violated the Constitution.

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