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Legislative Panel Approves Building Psychiatric Unit in Augusta

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee has voted unanimously to recommend that the Legislative Council approve construction of a secure forensic unit adjacent to the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital, should Gov. Paul LePage seek to build the facility at that location.

LePage has called for an alternative site in Bangor. Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta, who serves on the committee, says his city is a better site for the project.

“What can’t wait is getting this thing up and running," Katz says. "The quickest way to do that, and the most sensible way to do that, is to build in Augusta.”

The committee took no position on LePage’s proposed Bangor location. Katz and Bangor Rep. Aaron Frye had sought a legal opinion from Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on the siting issue, and Mills’ response is that either location would need legislative approval. 

LePage has argued that he does not need approval.