June 19, 2019

Baldacci rebuked for gaming bill pocket veto

AUGUSTA – A Pittsfield lawmaker criticized Gov. John Baldacci on Thursday for refusing to sign a gaming bill sent to him at the close of this year’s legislative sessions.

Republican Rep. Stacy Fitts said LD 2236 was designed to streamline procedures under which nonprofit organizations may run cribbage tournaments, card games and other fundraising activities.

“Despite claims by the governor in his announcement, LD 2236 in no way represents an expansion of gambling in Maine,” Fitts said in a statement. “The bill simply eliminates a significant amount of the regulatory burden imposed on nonprofit organizations that choose to conduct casual gaming activities, like cribbage tournaments and poker runs as fundraisers.”

An Act to Clarify the Laws on Licensing for Charitable and Fraternal Organizations and Games of Chance was sponsored by Rep. Stephen Hanley, D-Gardiner.

Explaining his pocket veto earlier this week, Baldacci said the bill “essentially deregulates gambling events held by nonprofit organizations.”

Baldacci added: “Under the provisions of this bill, the state would rely solely upon groups to self-report the amount of money they earn from gambling and the number of events they host. While groups would be required to register, this bill would eliminate proper scrutiny of gaming activities.”

Fitts said the bill would replace a multistep process with a simple registration form.

“The leader of the Democratic Party in Maine has once again shown how out of touch he is with Maine people,” Fitts said.

On Tuesday, Baldacci said he won’t sign four bills enacted by the Legislature before its adjournment last week.

With the current Legislature not scheduled to reconvene, Baldacci’s action may very well mean the four bills will not become law.

If a governor does not sign a bill while the Legislature is still in session, the bill becomes law after 10 days. But if the Legislature has adjourned for the year, the bill does not become law – unless the Legislature comes back into session for three days or more. In that case, the governor has three days to deliver a veto message or the bill does become law.

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