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Lawmakers to hold veto session next week

The new Maine Legislature is sworn in, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Augusta, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
The new Maine Legislature is sworn in, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Augusta, Maine.

Lawmakers will return to Augusta next week to take up a half-dozen vetoes from Gov. Janet Mills, including one controversial gun bill.

Mills vetoed 12 bills during the two-year legislative session that ended last month. Lawmakers have already upheld the governor’s vetoes on six of those bills and will take up the remaining six when they return to the State House on May 10.

The highest-profile measure, LD 2086, would have banned "bump stocks" and other modifications that allow a semi-automatic gun to operate more like a machine gun. In her veto letter, Mills echoed concerns raised by gun owners' rights groups and sportsmen that the language was too broad and ambiguous. The bill only passed by a handful of votes in each chamber. And given the unanimous opposition from Republicans, Democratic supporters don't have the votes to overturn the veto.

Mills also vetoed one of her own bills — to set a minimum hourly wage for farm workers — because of changes made during the legislative process. Mills had vetoed a different minimum wage bill for agricultural workers last year but put forward her own proposal, LD 2273, this year after convening a stakeholders' group. But in her letter, Mills criticized lawmakers for allowing farm workers to take employers to court over disputes.

She also blocked a proposal, LD 1231, to create a higher tax bracket for the wealthiest Mainers while adjusting downward the tax obligations of many lower- or middle-income Mainers.

The other vetoes that lawmakers will vote on next week deal with labor agreements for workers on clean energy projects on state-owned land (LD 373), labor relations in agricultural settings (LD 525), and the capacity and potentially toxic leachate from the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill (LD 2135).

It takes two-thirds votes in both chambers to overturn a gubernatorial veto, which has never happened during Mills' two terms as governor.