Maine Legislature Tells Gov. Paul LePage To F*ck Himself Right In The Ear
Well done, Maine Lege!
A nice-time update, at least insofar as anything involving opioid overdoses can be considered "nice": On Friday, the Maine Legislature voted overwhelmingly to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill to allow pharmacists to dispense the anti-overdose drug naloxone without a prescription. So hooray, they turned back LePage's highly principled effort to simply let addicts die. The closing day of the Maine legislative session was devoted to reconsidering the governor's many vetoes, giving state representatives and senators the chance to sweep up some of the elephant droppings LePage deposited during the session.
The overdose bill, LD 1547, had been endorsed by both addiction experts and law enforcement organizations, but LePage vetoed it April 20. With the sort of logic that has led weasels, skunks, and slime molds to ask journalists to stop comparing them to LePage, the governor's veto statement explained why he didn't want to broaden access to naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, even though the medication has proven effective at arresting the deadly symptoms of opioid overdoses long enough to get patients to life-saving care:
“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” LePage wrote [...] “Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.”
The veto brought LePage the sort of national ridicule and condemnation he has to be accustomed to by now -- for all we know, he actually feeds on being called an asshole -- and was overwhelmingly rejected by both houses of the Maine legislature. The override vote wasn't even close: it passed by 132-14 in the house and 29-5 in the Senate.
“This bill has always been about one thing: saving the lives of Maine people suffering from addiction,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, said in a statement. “I was so pleased to see the Senate reject Gov. LePage’s belief that these Mainers are out of reach. Narcan saves lives, and making it more broadly available means more of our fellow citizens will have a second chance to get on the road to recovery.”
Way to go, Maine. In all, the legislature overrode a total of 20 LePage vetoes, also restoring measures to increase funding of county jails, to provide pay raises to workers at the state's two psychiatric hospitals, and to allow people with disabilities to receive tax credits to offset the costs of making their homes more accessible. Come now, you can't be surprised Paul LePage vetoed a bill to help people afford wheelchair ramps, can you? While the legislature overrode 20 vetoes, it also upheld LePage's vetoes of another 12 bills, including one that would have restored $500,000 to the state's system for publicly funding election campaigns.
LePage does not appear to have issued a public statement on the overrides, but sources close to the governor inform Yr Wonkette the governor responded with his usual grace and élan, kicking a puppy and drafting an executive order allowing teenagers to set addicts on fire as long as no structures are endangered. Sometimes we think we don't have very reliable sources.