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Effort to Override LePage Veto Fails by One Vote
04/03/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Maine Gov. Paul LePage kept his promise to veto all bills until the Legislature approves a plan to repay millions of dollars in Medicaid debt to Maine hospitals. The target: a relatively non-controversisal meausre aimed at streamlining payments to registers of deeds. The Maine House easliy overrode the governor's veto, but the override fell short by just one vote in the Senate. And LePage says he'll keep the vetoes coming until the $484 million hospital bill is paid. A.J. Higgins reports.

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Effort to Override LePage Veto Fails by One Vote Listen
 Duration:
2:38

When the dust settled, House Republicans joined Democrats in overriding the veto. The vote was a decisive 136 to 6. But on the Senate side, Republicans held firm. The vote there was 23 to 12, one vote short of the required two-thirds threshold needed for an override.

"'I mean, I just can't understand why you'd switch your vote to die on the governor's sword for these foolish ideas," said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, of Aroostook County.

Democrats, including Jackson, are disappointed that only three of 15 Republicans in the Senate chose to break with their fellow GOP lawmakers, while the rest backed LePage.
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'And he gets his mouth out in front of him on these issues and has to come back and veto bills that - there's nothing wrong with them," Jackson said.

Among the three Republicans who did vote with Democrats to orverride the veto was Assistant Senate GOP Leader Roger Katz.

"It was a matter of, 'Look, we're the Legislature, we're a separate independent branch of government.' We passed a bill, unanimous in committee and unanimous on the floor,'" Katz said. "It's a good bill and we thought we should stick with it. This will blow over tomorrow and we'll be on to the next crisis of the day. But there was certainly a robust debate within our caucus."

In the House it was a different story. All but six Republicans voted with Democrats to easily surpass the two-thirds majority needed for an override. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, of Newport, said he could not support the governor's veto.

"In regards to this particular one issue today, I believe that the work of the committee - which was a unanimous committee report - was reflective of the important work that the committee did," Fredette said. "This body voted under the hammer to support the work of the committee, and I will be voting today to support the work of the committee."

As for the governor's sustained pledge to continue vetoing legislation until the hospital Medicaid bills are paid, Republican state Sen. Roger Katz says he's not convinced that the governor will target every bill before him. Katz also expressed hope that a solution to the hospital debt problem was at hand.

"I wouldn't necessarily assume that we're going to be seeing a stream of vetoes in the future - you'd have to ask him that," Katz says. "The good news on the liquor bill and the hospital bill is that it is going to be heard for three days next week in the Appropriations Committee. It is finally moving along at a good pace."

Members of the Legislature's Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee have been meeting with the governor's staff in an effort to craft a compromise bill to resolve the hospital debt issue.



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