A bill to allow Kennebec County’s veterans treatment court to continue operating and possibly expand to other parts of Maine won unanimous support Tuesday in the state House of Representatives.

The bill, introduced last month by Rep. Lori Fowle, D-Vassalboro, initially sought to expand the veterans court model to other parts of the state immediately. But legislators scaled back that plan after the judicial branch and the judge who presides over the program in Kennebec County expressed reservations about expanding while the current program still has vacancies. The court can accommodate 25 participants but now has only 13.

The revised bill, which passed 139-0, would pay the salary of a part-time prosecutor, whom Kennebec and Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said she would have had to cut for lack of funding. The bill also directs Maloney to report back at the end of the year on the court’s performance and on the possibility of expansion.

The veterans court pilot program started in 2012 as part of the pre-existing Co-Occurring Disorders Court, designed to aid offenders with mental illness and substance abuse problems.

Men and women can enter both Co-Occurring Disorders Court and Veterans Treatment Court by pleading guilty and committing to rigorous requirements involving treatment, counseling and reporting to the court. Those in the Veterans Treatment Court are mentored by other veterans and work closely with the VA Maine Healthcare System at Togus.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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Twitter: @scottddolan