AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine House failed to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill that would have forced the governor to release about $11.5 million in voter-approved conservation bonds, and would have required the governor to authorize any future general obligation bonds approved by voters, with a few caveats.
The House vote of 91 to 52 fell six votes short of the two-thirds needed to override LePage's veto, killing the bill for the session. The Senate voted earlier today to override the veto 25 to 9.
The bill was proposed by Augusta Republican Sen. Roger Katz after LePage refused to authorize the conservation bonds that had already been approved by voters unless lawmakers approved his plan to increase timber harvesting on public lands.
"When the people of Maine have spoken, no one person - even a governor - should be able to veto that decision," Katz said.
The failure to override the veto leaves many conservation projects that have been in the works for years in limbo. The Land for Maine's Future Coalition, a collection of groups including the Nature Conservancy, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, issued a statement urging LePage to release the bonds.
"If Gov. LePage chooses not to honor his word, years of hard work by businesses, sportsmen and women, local municipal officials and others on projects in 37 local communities across 13 Maine Counties and impacting Maine people's access to some 50,000 acres of land will be jeopardized," the group says.
Voters approved the land bonds in 2010, and $6.5 million of them are set to expire in November. LePage has submitted a bill to extend the life of those expiring bonds until June.