A version of this article was originally published in The Daily Brief, our Maine politics newsletter. Sign up here for daily news and insight from politics editor Michael Shepherd.
Former Gov. Paul LePage was known for his record-smashing veto total. His era gave way to full Democratic control of Augusta under Gov. Janet Mills, and the pen was a thing of the past with relatively few exceptions.
That trend may reverse itself in the next two weeks. Legislative Democrats are challenging the governor by advancing a ream of high-profile bills that she vehemently opposes. Several of them moved forward on Thursday alone, priming the State House for a blockbuster end to the 2023 session.
The bills: Those included a tribal-rights bill that emerged from a committee. As it stands, supporters including House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, look just short in the House of the two-thirds majorities they need in both chambers to pass the bill over Mills’ veto. Overrides happened often in the LePage era, but Mills has never had one.
The House advanced a bill that would allow so-called safe injection sites in Maine. While they are supported by recovery advocates, they are federally illegal here. Mills’ office has cited this as one of the reasons she opposes it. There are also logging measures championed by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, that cleared his chamber on Thursday despite opposition from the state and forest products industry.
You can stack those on top of some other huge bills that are awaiting final action. Mills has taken a dim view of a paid family and medical leave proposal that her party is still trying to push through. She has opposed a $15 minimum wage bill that has passed the Legislature and is awaiting funding from members of the appropriations committee.
What’s next: These are among the most far-reaching items under the dome this year. With lawmakers only scheduled to meet through Wednesday, time is running short for lawmakers to mollify the governor on them. It also looks like many of them have decided they are not going to.
If Democrats can get these through the final stages, Mills will have decisions to make.