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For Immediate Release

Date: 02/13/14

GOP Votes to Allow Towns to Participate in Federal School Lunch Program

Dems vote to mandate participation in program already available to them

AUGUSTA - House Republicans on Thursday morning voted to sustain Governor Paul LePage's veto of a bill that would impose an unfunded mandate on local communities to force participation in a federal school lunch summer program that is already available to them.

However, the House overrode the Governor's veto, 92-45, making the unfunded mandate law.

The Republican-controlled 125th Legislature unanimously passed L.D. 860, "An Act to Reduce Student Hunger" in 2011, which allowed school districts to participate in the federal summer lunch program in the first place.

"Republicans fully support the summer school lunch program, but participation in it should be up to local communities," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "As someone who grew up poor in a large family in northern Maine, I understand the benefits of this program, but participation in it should be decided at the local level. The government that is closest to the people governs best."

Rep. Peter Johnson (R-Greenville), the ranking House Republican on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, represents the rural Moosehead Lake region.

"It mystifies me that some people in the legislature don't have enough confidence in their local school boards and communities to make a decision on a program that's available to them," said Rep. Johnson. "I think it's condescending for this body to pass a law to tell local communities how to take care of themselves."

Johnson emphasized the transportation issues facing Maine's most rural districts, such as his own, and the availability of federal food stamp benefits to rural families.

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793