Maine Supreme Court Will Expedite LePage Veto Dispute

AUGUSTA, MAINE -- 01/07/15 -- Gov. Paul Lepage makes a point during his address at his second inaugural in Augusta on Wednesday. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

On Monday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court announced that it will expedite the request by Governor LePage to determine whether or not 65 bills have become law.

The Judicial Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments for the case in Portland on July 31, and will accept written arguments until this Friday.

The 65 disputed bills affect a variety of policy areas including General Assistance for asylum seekers, enhanced use of a medication to treat drug overdoses and birth control for MaineCare recipients

LePage asserted in his request for the Supreme Court to hear the case that the bills are not yet law. He maintains that he was unable to return the 65 bills to the Legislature when it adjourned June 30, and that the adjournment triggered a provision in the Maine Constitution allowing him to hold bills until legislators reconvene for three consecutive days.

“We must know what type of adjournment prevents the return of a bill to the Legislature,” the governor wrote in his letter to the Court.

“Now that the Legislature has refused to consider the vetoes, my constitutional duty as governor to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed’ is in question. I must know whether my vetoes stand.”

But legislative leaders contend that their intention on June 30 was to return July 16 to reconsider the bills the governor had vetoed, and that the Legislature’s adjournment on June 30 didn’t prevent LePage from returning bills.

LePage has asked the court to answer three specific questions; what type of adjournment prevents bills from being returned to the legislature, whether the legislature triggered the three-day provision in the constitution, and whether the 65 bills were properly returned to the legislature.

If the Supreme Judicial Court does not determine that this matter is a solemn occasion, and warrants their input, and then rule in the Governor’s favor regarding these questions, the bills have become law.


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