The 127th Legislature met for the last time at the end of April to act on the governor’s vetoes. There must be a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate to override the governor’s decision and allow a bill to become law. In total, we overrode 20 of his 33 vetoes, which included several important victories.
One of the bills that is now law is a measure to expand access to the drug overdose reversal medication naloxone. The drug epidemic has taken hundreds of lives in the last couple of years at an alarming and increasing rate. Last year alone, 272 people died of an overdose in Maine.
The new law will allow local pharmacists to dispense the antidote to eligible individuals, including family members and loved ones of those struggling with addiction. This measure received the support of law enforcement officers and medical professionals alike, and I am glad this option will be available to families battling this deadly disease.
We also overturned the governor’s veto of a measure to increase funding for the state’s county jails. This will help keep Windham property taxes from rising and ensure that our jail system can function properly.
The Legislature voted overwhelmingly to override a veto of a bill to provide much-needed wage increases for workers at the state’s psychiatric hospitals, Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor. These are highly demanding jobs. The persistent staffing shortage at these institutions has had a significant impact on safety and morale for both staff and patients. Improving the retention of direct-care workers is critical to helping these hospitals address their challenges while safely and effectively caring for Maine’s mentally ill.
Some important measures died with the governor’s veto pen, including a bipartisan bill to expand solar power in Maine and lower energy costs for all Mainers. The bill would have helped create more than 600 jobs in the solar industry and increased stability in the solar market. The legislation was the result of months of work by a stakeholder group made up of solar businesses, environmental groups, utility companies, municipal leaders and Maine’s public advocate. Although it received bipartisan support throughout the process, when it came down to the wire not enough Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure.
This was a disappointment. Solar power is working for us here in Windham. As you may know, the East Windham Fire Station had solar panels installed in 2013 through a partnership with ReVision Energy, a solar company that worked with our town and installed the panels at no upfront costs. This helped the town save money and now generates enough power for both Windham fire stations. This is just one example of how solar can benefit our communities. Although the bill didn’t make it this time, we must address this issue in the future.
As always, it is an honor and a privilege to represent Windham in Augusta. If you have any questions or concerns about state government, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at 892-6591 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.