AUGUSTA – A bill to overhaul the administrative and financial procedures of the Maine Turnpike Authority unanimously won initial approval in the House on Thursday, with supporters saying the legislation would shift the focus from the past to the future.

Representatives voted 144-0 to approve the bill, which was introduced in response to an audit and legislative investigation into lavish and unexplained expenses by turnpike officials that led Executive Director Paul Violette to resign in March.

“I think we are looking forward rather than looking backwards now,” said Rep. Edward Mazurek of Rockland, the ranking House Democrat on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.

The bill, L.D. 1538, faces further House and Senate votes but is expected to be enacted. It would shorten the terms of turnpike authority board members from seven to six years, increase auditing procedures and allow closer legislative scrutiny of the authority’s budget.

It also would transfer 5 percent of the turnpike’s operating revenue to the state Department of Transportation and require that all purchases involve competitive bidding.

The Transportation Committee’s House chairman, Rep. Richard Cebra, R-Naples, said Thursday’s strong vote for the bill sends a message that “it is a new day at the Maine Turnpike.”

Mazurek agreed, saying that virtually all of the recommendations by the Legislature’s auditing office and its Government Oversight Committee have been adopted.

Meanwhile, a $114 million turnpike budget for the calendar year 2012 has won a solid endorsement from the Transportation Committee. Tolls account for $108 million of the budget’s total. Most of the rest comes from concessions and interest.

The state transportation budget, which is separate from the turnpike budget, is still under review in committee.