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Lawmakers sustain 5 vetoes from Mills as the Legislature adjourns 2022 session

Bangor Daily News

Lawmakers closed out the 2022 legislative session on Monday that was largely dominated by bipartisan work on a budget deal but included progress on other high-profile issues.

The major purpose of Monday's session was to vote on five vetoes handed down by Gov. Janet Mills on issues ranging from membership of the University of Maine System board of trustees to the permitting process for new electric transmission lines. Supporters of all five of those bills failed to muster the two-thirds needed to override the governor's vetoes.

The single-biggest accomplishment of this year's session was passage of a $1.2 billion spending plan for the state's surplus, with the bulk of that money going to back to Maine taxpayers in the form of $850 checks. But the budget bill also contains tens of millions of dollars to address PFAS pollution, provided funding to offer free lunch to all K-12 students and will enable thousands of recent high school graduates to attend community college tuition-free.

Speaking to lawmakers before they adjourned, Mills praised the bipartisan work on those issues as well as actions to provide pay raises to direct care workers and to prevent the imminent closure of two nursing homes for Maine veterans.

"You listened to each other. You listened to me on occasion, and that was great,” Mills told senators. “It felt good. And you came and talked to me. And I hope those of you who are back will continue to keep the dialogue open, keep the doors open so we can move this state forward like never before."

Mills is seeking a second term this November but faces a challenge from former Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Voters will also cast ballots for all 186 seats in the Legislature.

The only debate during Monday’s session was on a bill dealing with federal regulation of the hemp industry. And day’s work was extended even longer by the fact that so many House members left early that they lacked the numbers needed to pass a routine measure to fix inadvertent errors in recently passed legislation. As a result, the House and Senate had to wait for a handful of House members to return to the State House to give the bill final approval.