AUGUSTA - Maine people will have an opportunity to vote on a $15 million housing bond to build affordable senior housing across the state.
The bond heads to the ballot this November because Gov. Paul LePage failed to sign or veto the bill in the 10-day period afforded to him under the Maine Constitution.
“I am thrilled that Mainers will have the opportunity to vote on this important bond,” said Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, a cosponsor of the bill. “It is critical that we have affordable housing for our seniors. Not only will it help Maine’s older adults, it will also create construction jobs and benefit our lagging economy.”
Speaker Mark Eves proposed the bond as part of his “KeepME Home” plan to help seniors live independently in their homes and communities.
Maine has a shortage of nearly 9,000 affordable rental homes for low-income older people, a shortfall projected to grow to more than 15,000 by 2022 unless action is taken to address the problem, according to a report by independent national research firm Abt Associates. The state also has the oldest population and the 8th oldest housing stock in the nation.
The bond measure was among the 51 bills passed by the Legislature and sent to the governor on June 30. According to the constitution, the governor has 10 days, not including Sundays, to sign or veto a bill. If he does not take either of those actions, the bill becomes law if the Legislature has not finally adjourned. For these 51 bills, the window closed on Saturday. The Office of the Revisor will chapter them today.
The governor incorrectly asserted that the bills will not become law, despite the clarity provided by the Maine Constitution, precedent and an opinion issued Friday by Attorney General Janet Mills. The governor’s argument is based on an illogical claim that the Legislature is finally adjourned, which would mean that the clock for the 10-day window has stopped.
The Legislature’s first regular session remains under way, as evidenced by its plans to return Thursday to take up the remainder of its work, including vetoes issued in accordance with the Maine Constitution.
Chenette, a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, is serving his second term in the Maine Legislature and represents part of Saco.
Rep. Justin Chenette
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