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Sports Betting, Opioid Fee Bills In Limbo In Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. Janet Mills declined to act on legislation to allow sports betting and nearly 40 other bills passed by lawmakers in the final days of the legislative session.

Her office said Wednesday that the governor would have three days to sign or veto the bills once lawmakers return to Augusta. If she doesn’t act by that deadline, the bills, which range from help for property crime victims to the automatic sealing of certain juvenile records, will die.

Such bills could likely come up in January, when the Legislature is scheduled to return.

“The Legislature has passed a significant number of bills this session, and I take seriously my constitutional obligation to thoroughly review all of them, evaluate their implications and decide whether they are in the best interest of Maine people,” Mills said in a statement. “I will continue to review these bills and gather more information, and I look forward to acting on them at the beginning of the next legislative session.”

Democratic Sen. Louis Luchini said he’s happy to work with Mills’ administration on the sports betting bill. Maine’s legislation would have allowed casinos, commercial tracks, off-track betting facilities and federally recognized Indian tribes to apply for sports betting licenses.

“Just generally, any time you expand gambling in the state, you want to tread carefully,” Luchini said.

“I think we’ll just use the time between now and then to see if there’s anything we can do to make the bill better,” he added.

Maine estimated it would see up to $4 million in revenues over two years from the legislation, which would also send 1% to the gambling addiction and prevention fund.

Other bills held by the governor range from efforts to improve the dental health of Maine children, to providing college grants to homeless students.

Mills has also held up Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson’s bill to raise fees on opioid manufacturers to fund substance use treatment.

Other bills include a total ban on child marriage under 16 and an income tax credit for producing renewable chemicals by converting renewable biomass.

Mills has signed 606 bills this year, her office said. She let 45 bills become law without her signature, and successfully vetoed eight bills.

The Democratic governor signed nearly 20 bills Tuesday , ranging from expanding the income tax credit to easing regulations on breweries to an evaluation of a proposal for a consumer-owned electric utility. She also signed a bill to subject electronic smoking devices to the state’s tobacco tax and raise the tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes from 20% to 43% of the wholesale price beginning Jan. 2.

Sponsor Democratic Rep. Joyce McCreight called the passage a “great” win for public health.

The bill is expected to raise over $16 million in state revenues through mid-2021.