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HomeSpotlight Story | Bird’s Eye View | Budget & Taxes | Politics & Leadership | Governors | Hot Issues | Once Around the Statehouse Lightly
The ongoing battle of wills between Maine lawmakers and Gov. Paul LePage (R) took another strange twist last week as the two sides reached an impasse over 71 bills awaiting gubernatorial action. Lawmakers contend that the 10-day period for LePage to act on those measures has passed, meaning they are now law. LePage counters that lawmakers adjourned on June 30, which negates the 10-day limit. The issue appears most likely to be headed to the state Supreme Court.
At issue is how each side defines adjournment. Nobody disputes that lawmakers adjourned on the 30th. But they contend it was only a recess, with every intention for them to return shortly to deal with what was anticipated to be another veto override session after LePage vetoed the 71 measures. But LePage claims it was an official adjournment, meaning he is under no time constraints to address the bills.
State Attorney General Janet Mills (D) has sided with lawmakers, saying all of the precedents cited by LePage’s chief legal counsel Cynthia Montgomery have adjourned “sine die,” which lawmakers in this case clearly did not do.
“The Legislature recessed with the clear intention of returning July 16, so the governor had 10 days to act on the legislation presented to him,” Mills told Maine Public Radio.
Meanwhile, LePage says he will pose the question to the state Supreme Court, though just when is now unclear. As of Last Tuesday, he indicated the paperwork was being prepared for immediate submission to the court. But later that day he said he might wait until January to do so.
But LePage shifted gears again on Thursday, sending vetoes of 65 of the 71 measures to the House and Senate. He urged lawmakers to consider them right away, saying “I hope you will vote to sustain all of these vetoes at your earliest opportunity.”
That seems highly unlikely. House Speaker Mark Eves (D) flat out rejected the request, saying the bills are now law and “you can’t veto a law.” Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R) had no comment, but Senate Secretary Heather Priest said the vetoed bills would not be considered, all but assuring that the matter will be decided by the state Supreme Court. (BANGOR DAILY NEWS, MAINE PUBLIC BROADCASTING NETWORK, PORTLAND PRESS HERALD)