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Governor Janet Mills put the state’s sports betting bill on hold, after refusing to sign the measure into law by the July 1st deadline.
Citing concerns with gambling expansion in her state, Gov. Mills essentially passed on making a decision, pushing its fate into the next legislative session.
A rule in the Maine constitution allows Gov. Mills to decide between two options. First, is she could outright veto the bill in the opening three days of the next legislative session.
Those three days could come via a special session that Mills calls sometime during the summer.
The second option is that Mills does not veto the bill and after the first three days of a special session or the beginning of the following legislative session, the bill becomes law by default.
The co-sponsors of the bill, Senator Louis Luchini and Representative Scott Strom believe the bill is not dead and hope to work with the governor on a compromise.
In Maine, the legislation can recall a bill from the governor and make adjustments to assist in its passage.
“I’ve met with her and she expressed some concerns which resulted in her not signing the bill,” Luchini said.
“I greatly respect her opinions and am happy to work with her on a resolution if possible.”
On the final day of the state’s legislative session, both chambers of the legislature passed LD 553. Sending it to the governor’s desk gave her ten days (not counting Sundays) to make a decision.
At the time of the bill’s passage, lawmakers were positive that Gov. Mills wouldn’t stop the bill from becoming a law.
But Gov. Mills has obviously had a change of heart, leaving some lawmakers scrambling to find the best way to gain the governor’s approval.
“She doesn’t want her name on expanding gambling in the state,” Strom said.
“She doesn’t agree with it, but people who have been meeting with her said she admitted there is a black market for it so she will let it slide.”
The easiest avenue for compromise is through a special session that would allow both sides of the argument to come together and work through the bill’s issues.
But again, the problem with a special session is that the governor would only have three days to make a final decision or the bill would become law with her silence.
Lawmakers feel that Gov. Mills would veto the bill before allowing it just to pass into law without her opinion on the topic.
“The fate of the sports betting bill is uncertain,” Luchini said. “At this point, we can work to amend or change the bill if needed at a special session or the next regular session.”
If Gov. Mills vetoes the bill, then both chambers of the state’s legislation would need a two-thirds vote to overturn.
“It’s disappointing to hear,” Strom said about the governor’s non-decision.
“She signed the recreational marijuana law but she wouldn’t sign this. I’m a little shocked. I’ll just keep playing fantasy sports. That’s legal, and it’s not a whole lot different if you ask me.”
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