(UPDATED) Maine Gov LePage Threatens Blanket Vetoes & Govt Shutdown; Dem Majority Leaders Fire Back
(11:45 am UPDATE– A media availability press conference has now been announced for later this afternoon with the entire Democratic majority leadership members.)
A busy morning, as Governor Paul LePage, just returning from a “blink and you missed it” trip to DC and his annual Florida family vacation has once again blustered himself into some media coverage that is sure to get more national attention:
During a Bangor radio station interview this morning, Gov. Paul LePage said he will veto every bill that crosses his desk until his plan to repay hospitals goes into law. That includes the bill that will allow bars to open at 6 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on a Sunday this year.
LePage was speaking to Rik Tyler, on the George Hale/Rik Tyler Show on WVQM 101.3 and WVOM 103.9. The governor said he will veto any and all bills — including his own — until the emergency legislation he submitted is signed into law. LePage said he notified legislators of that intent last week.
More via Portland Press Herald:
Tyler, the radio show host, was caught off guard by the governor’s veto comment. LePage elaborated, saying the Legislature had passed emergency legislation to allow bars to open early on Sunday for St. Patrick’s Day and an emergency moratorium on public inspection of concealed weapons permit holder information.
LePage urged passage of the concealed weapons bill.
“If that’s more important than paying the hospitals then I think we have a problem,” LePage said.
He added, “Until they move forward … I’m not going to move forward on any legislation,” he said.
LePage added that the veto threat applied to his own bills.
Within hours, some of the Democratic majority leaders fired back with the following press release:
DEMOCRATS DENOUNCE LEPAGE SHUTDOWN, VETO THREATS
Democrats call on Republicans to reject “do nothing” politics
AUGUSTA — Democratic leaders on Friday denounced Governor Paul LePage’s threat to halt the work of the Legislature by abusing his veto power and shutting down state government until his hospital repayment plan becomes law.
“In one week we’ve heard ongoing threats to shutdown state government if Republicans don’t get what they want. Today, the Governor promised to veto every bill that comes across his desk if he doesn’t get what he wants. This is not governing. This is not leadership. It is the type of political gamesmanship that doesn’t belong here in Maine,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “I suspect the people of Maine want leaders not schoolyard bullies. We have serious challenges facing our economy and we should be focused on finding solutions not making threats.”
During a radio appearance early Friday morning, the Governor promised that he will veto all bills that cross his desk until the Legislature passes his borrowing scheme to make the final payment to Maine hospitals. Republicans have failed to acknowledge that the hospital debt has been continuously and increasingly paid back, thanks largely to a plan developed by Democrats. The Governor’s threat to shutdown state government follows Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette’s prediction of a shutdown last week.
“First, Republican leaders start throwing around the possibility of a state government shutdown and now the Governor is threatening to go on a veto spree. This type of brinksmanship is even worse than what we’re seeing from the GOP in Washington. Maine people deserve better than this from their leaders,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham.
Democrats are focused on legislation to strengthen Maine’s workforce, public schools, and the middle class. The Governor is threatening those and other important efforts.
“The Governor is telling us it’s his way or the highway. His obstructionist bullying will derail important legislation on domestic violence, public safety and economic development,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan. “We call on our Republican colleagues to reject such do-nothing politics.”
The LePage administration is pushing a convoluted plan that pulls the state’s wholesale liquor business into a deal that would put Maine in debt to Wall Street to make the final payment to hospitals. The plan gambles the value of the liquor contract and is being used to hold hostage other bonds that already have approval from Maine voters.
“Today the Governor told the people of Maine that the hospitals are more important than they are. I disagree,” said Assistant Majority Leader Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash. “I think the people of Maine want lawmakers focused on getting folks back to work, earning more money and improving our schools.”
Maine has paid more than $3.7 billion to hospitals over the last decade.
Jackson added, “We need to get the best deal for Maine and that requires us working together. I think everyone agrees that ten years ago we rushed this deal and could’ve done better. Now, we cannot gamble the future of Maine because the Governor is having another temper tantrum.”
Interesting timing for the latest outburst from LePage- could it be to deflect attention from the fact that starting today, all of the… um… “inaccuracies” that former Rep. Jon McKane and the rest of the 125th GOP legislators told to get LD 1333/ PL 90 shoved into law are being exposed as such?
About 7,000 Maine customers of Mega Life and Health Insurance Co. will be affected by a rate change set to take effect March 1.
While some policyholders will see their health premium costs drop by nearly 33 percent, others will be hit with rate hikes of up to 47 percent, according to Mega’s filing with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. The average rate increase across all policyholders amounts to 6.5 percent.
The rate change affects Mega’s individual policyholders, or people who purchase health coverage on their own rather than through an employer. The 6,990 policies involved provide coverage to about 12,600 people, including the policyholders’ dependents.
It is also worth noting that one of the loudest critics of Dirigo Health, created by the Maine Legislature in 2003 to offer an affordable option to small businesses or self-employed individuals, and a co-sponsor of PL 90/ LD 1333, termed out former Rep. Jonathan McKane of Newcastle, was selected to sit on Dirigo Health’s board.
More to come.