2017-07-20 / Editorial

It’s time to address vetoes in the statehouse

Legislative Lowdown
by Rep. Martin Grohman

It’s mid-July and although the hard work of the budget process is behind us, the Legislature is not quite adjourned for the year.

This week we are headed into a special session to take up vetoes, often referred to as Veto Day. As you no doubt know, once a bill has been passed by both the House and Senate, it is sent to the governor, who has 10 days in which to sign or veto it. If he opts to veto the bill, a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate is required to override. This process assures that any legislation has a broad base of support before it becomes law, but at the same time, allows those of us in the Legislature to vote to overrule the governor if we feel the policy should become state law.

Here are some of the key bills that I am working on and am hoping to secure overrides on this special session day:

LD1504, An Act to Modernize Rates for Small-scale Distributed Generation. I am the lead co-sponsor of this legislation, which seeks to change the Public Utilities Commission’s approach to crediting for self-produced energy. This is most associated with solar power, but actually affects power producers of all kinds, including paper mills that have their own wood chip fired generators. If we don’t override this veto, the PUC will actually charge Maine people for power they generate and use in their own homes. Imagine if you decided to power your own home with a generator and they put a meter on that and charged you for it. This would be similar. I think that sensible renewable energy policy will be to the benefit of Maine by reducing electricity costs and creating jobs. I will be pushing hard to override this veto.

LD481: An Act to Promote Workforce Participation. There is a financial cliff that makes it difficult for those on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) to transition to employment. You can lose your benefits before you start getting a steady paycheck. My family received TANF when I was a child, so this is personal to me. Entirely using federal funds, this legislation will provide a $400 bonus to TANF beneficiaries who are able to find and retain a job, thereby easing the transition to employment.

LD586: An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Commission to Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund. In the last few years, there has been significant controversy about the level of timber harvesting and road building on Maine public reserved lands. This legislation would scale back the level of cutting and road building and also direct new funding to Maine logging and forestry education.

If you are interested in these bills or any others we will consider on Veto Day, please let me know the direction you would like to see. You can reach me on my home phone at 283-1476 or at martin.grohman@legislature.maine.gov.

Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford is serving his second term in the Maine Legislature. Outside the legislature, he is chair of the Biddeford Solid Waste Commission, and hosts a podcast for entrepreneurs called The Grow Maine Show, available on Apple Podcasts. Sign up for legislative updates at www.growmaine.com or facebook.com/repgrohman

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