The state Senate has voted to override a veto by Gov. Paul LePage of a bill that would give additional authority to the state Board of Corrections and paves the way for major reform of the county jail system.

The Senate vote Thursday morning to override LePage’s veto of L.D. 1824 was 27-8, according to the Senate’s Twitter account and Ryan Thornell, executive director of the state Board of Corrections. The vote moved to the state House of Representatives for an override vote.

The Legislation won initial approval in April – 130-16 in the House and 31-4 in the Senate. LePage vetoed the measure this week.

Resulting from work by a commission made up of state, county and local officials, the bill aims to create a more controlled budget process that better anticipates cost increases, while providing incentives for counties that improve efficiency within their jails. It also establishes benchmarks for accountability and creates a system-wide capital improvement plan.

Somerset County officials who are fighting to keep 100 percent of the revenue from boarding federal prisoners say under the bill, the county would only be allowed to keep 75 percent of the money. The rest will go into a state capital improvement fund.

Some county officials opposed the bill because it didn’t provide enough reimbursement for boarding prisoners and out of concern that the state Board of Corrections amount was given too much power, while others say the legislation is a reasonable compromise that addresses much of the county’s concerns.

County Commissioner Phil Roy and County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi hoped the governor’s veto would be sustained Thursday.

“We continue to oppose the bill because we feel it goes too far but the (Maine County Commissioners Association) and the (Maine Sheriffs Association) fear that if the bill doesn’t go through, we won’t get the $1.2 million from appropriations and the jails will continue to be in trouble financially,” DiBlasi said. “Fear is a powerful tool.”


This story will be updated.

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