Not backing down, Governor LePage continues to insist that he has vetoed 65 of 71 bills which many state officials and legislators claim are now law.
On Thursday, the first day the legislature reconvened, the governor sent the legislature 65 vetoes to consider, along with a letter expressing his interpretation of the Constitution and his assertion that the vetoes are valid and should be considered. Democrat leaders in the House and Senate, along with Senate President Mike Thibodeau, elected Thursday to not take up the governor’s vetoes and treat the 71 bills as law.
The disagreement hangs on a technicality. When the legislature is in session, the governor has 10 days to either veto bills passed by the legislature or let them go into law. However, the LePage administration is arguing that the legislature adjourned on June 30th. If the administration is right, then LePage had more time to consider the bills–he would not have to deliver his vetoes until the legislature had reconvened for a consecutive three days.
“Today the Legislature is back for the first time since its adjournment, making it the first opportunity for Governor LePage to return bills to legislators. The State of Maine Constitution mandates the governor has 10 days to act on bills if lawmakers are in session. However, if the Legislature has adjourned, the governor is not required to take action until the Legislature reconvenes for three full and consecutive days,” wrote the administration in a press release Thursday.
Democrat leaders, along with Democrat Attorney General Janet Mills and the revisor’s office claim that the legislature’s adjournment was only temporary, not the final adjournment that is necessary to extend the governor’s veto period. Despite opposition to his interpretation, the governor continues to insist that the legislature’s adjournment triggered the extended veto period.
With neither side backing down, either one could settle the dispute by taking the question of adjournment to the Maine Supreme Court. While Democrats have been reluctant to do so, LePage has announced his intention to bring the issue before the court.
“Governor LePage is prepared to send a letter requesting a solemn occasion to the Law Court if the Legislature neglects to take up the vetoes delivered Thursday morning,” wrote the administration in a press release Thursday.
All 65 veto messages can be found here.