Can you believe the photo finish for Tobacco 21?
Well. That was close. I have never had such a stressful birthday. On August 2nd, my birthday, the 128th Legislature came back to Augusta for the last day of the First Session. The last day of session has been come to be known as "Veto Day" since Governor LePage tends to veto a lot of bills. There were 27 this time. One of those 27 was the American Heart Association's bi-partisan bill that raised the legal sales age of tobacco to 21. You may remember that the preliminary vote in the Senate was 31-4 and the House vote was 113-34. That would generally guarantee enough votes to override a veto (you need 2/3rds of those present). However, after the first votes in June the tobacco industry went into hyper-drive. I have NEVER seen so many high-powered lobbyists working that hard against a measure that would save lives. It was really gross. Well, we and our partners worked even harder. So did you. Your calls and emails made it hard for legislators to back away from their initial votes. However, money talks in Augusta--sadly, sometimes more than voters. Also, due to the late date of veto day, some of our bill sponsors and supporters were absent. When all was said and done, however, the final vote was 29-5 in the Senate and 90-44 in the House. We emerged victorious with the exact number of votes we needed in the House. Not one to spare. If you want to see how your Senator or Representative voted and whether they flipped due to the tobacco industry pressure, either email me at [email protected] or click this link: http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280064294 and then click the roll call.
Beating the tobacco industry and saving lives was the best birthday present ever!