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Maine Senate upholds vetoes of Democrat-sponsored bills

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine’s Republican-controlled Senate ensured yesterday that Governor Paul LePage’s vetoes of three Democrat-sponsored bills will stand.

Senators upheld the GOP governor’s vetoes of bills that sought to exempt nonprofit performing arts organizations from sales taxes, create an income tax credit for logging companies that hire Maine residents, and promote energy efficiency in public buildings.

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The bills were passed by the Legislature last year.

During brief debates, which at times echoed those heard before the bills were originally passed, Democrats questioned the governor’s reasons for rejecting them.

On the first bill, LePage said performing arts organizations are important to the cultural fabric of Maine but do not meet the standards that should be reserved for tax exemptions, such as vital commodities like food and medicine or initiatives that foster growth and create jobs.

LePage said the tax credit for loggers “will likely do little to achieve its proposed objective - encouraging timber companies to hire Maine workers.’’

He also promised to present a tax relief package later this year that will help commercial timber harvesters.

Senator Troy Jackson, an Allagash Democrat and logger, said he wishes the governor would have tried to work out a compromise before vetoing the bill.

Jackson also said the vetoed proposal would not solve all of the problems faced by loggers, which include rising prices of fuel to run their equipment.

Senator John Patrick, a Rumford Democrat, acknowledged that the tax credit won’t make a huge difference for loggers, “but we’ve got to start somewhere. . . . It says an awful lot about what we feel about Maine workers.’’

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