(UPDATED) The Curious Tale of Governor LePage and the 19- scratch that- 70 “Pocket Vetoes” LAWS
7/12/15 12:05 am UPDATE: As Governor LePage took no action on the additional 51 bills listed below before the deadline minutes ago, those additional bills have now become law as well. This post will be updated with any new information as it becomes available, as well as any statements from legislators.
A curious thing happened on Monday night, as Maine realized that Governor Paul LePage had failed to act on 19 bills sitting on his desk within the 10 day window for a decision to veto or sign them- and as such, they became law.
The next day, LePage and his administration denied that this was the case, stating that they were dead via the pocket veto option available to the chief executive… which is only true if the Legislature was not “at ease” but rather had “adjourned sine die” on June 30th (which they had NOT).
But while the Governor and his staff continue to insist that they are right, the Revisor’s office disagreed.
Here is the list of the 19 new laws.
Bills on Governor’s Desk Past the 10 Day Limit
LD 25 “An Act To Protect the Privacy of Citizens from Domestic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Uses” Sponsored by Representative Diane Russell
LD 78 “An Act Regarding Limitations on Certain Storm Water Fees” Sponsored by Senator Nathan Libby
LD 113 “An Act To Reduce the Penalties for Certain Drug Offenses” Sponsored by Senator Roger Katz
LD 234 “An Act To Adjust Appropriations and Allocations from the General Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2015” (Emergency) (Governor’s Bill) Sponsored by Representative Margaret Rotundo
LD 299 “An Act To Protect Children in Municipal and School Facilities by Requiring Boiler Inspections” Sponsored by Senator Dawn Hill
LD 369 “An Act To Align Municipal General Assistance Programs with the Immigration Status Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services” Sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey
LD 522 “An Act To Clarify a Recently Enacted Law Designed To Expand the Number of Qualified Educators” Sponsored by Senator David Burns
LD 722 “An Act To Strengthen Penalties for Abuse of General Assistance” Sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey
LD 756 “An Act To Enhance the Address Confidentiality Program Regarding Property Records” Sponsored by Representative Michelle Dunphy
LD 822 “An Act To Allow a Former Spouse of a Member of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System To Begin Collecting Benefits When the Former Spouse Reaches the Member’s Retirement Age” Sponsored by Representative Patrick Corey
LD 870 “An Act To Amend the Maine Spruce Budworm Management Laws” Sponsored by Senator James Dill
LD 1013 “An Act To Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners” Sponsored by Senator Anne Haskell
LD 1039 “An Act To Amend the Polygraph Examiners Act” Sponsored by Senator Anne Haskell
LD 1085 “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee Concerning Receipt of a Request for Public Records” Introduced by Rep. Barry Hobbins
LD 1108 “An Act To Protect Children and the Public from Electronic Cigarette Vapor” Sponsored by Representative Jeff McCabe
LD 1134 “An Act To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Distribute Information Regarding Down Syndrome to Providers of Prenatal and Postnatal Care and to Genetic Counselors” Sponsored by Senator Amy Volk
LD 1185 “An Act To Establish the Municipal Gigabit Broadband Network Access Fund” Sponsored by Representative Norman Higgins
LD 1303 “An Act To Stabilize and Streamline the Department of Environmental Protection’s Ground Water Oil Clean-up Fund and Maine Coastal and Inland Surface Oil Clean-up Fund” Sponsored by Senator Thomas Saviello
LD 1391 “An Act Regarding the Treatment of Forensic Patients” Sponsored by Representative Richard Malaby
LePage’s lawyers Cynthia Montgomery and Hank Fenton quickly wrote to Grant Pennoyer, Executive Director of the Legislative Council, about the actions of the Revisor’s office.
And Pennoyer responded back, just as zippety-quick… and against Team LePage.
This sentence is key:
“Absent a legal opinion from an authoritative external legal source, such as an opinion of the justices or a written opinion of the attorney general, which the office has used as guidance in the past, the revisor’s office will continue to perform its administrative responsibilities in an absolutely nonpartisan manner.”
And here’s why it’s important. Moments ago, Maine’s Attorney General Janet T. Mills responded to requests earlier this week by Senators Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) and Asst Minority Leader Dawn Hill (D-York), on the question of whether or not the Legislature was adjourned sine die or not, as well as the status of the 19 now printed bills/ laws.
Mills’ response is below.
As of yesterday, it was announced that another 51 bills could also become law if the governor also ignores them until after 12:01 am July 12th (Sunday). Here is the list of those bills.
Who knows where next this goes– Maine may well see Paul LePage take the Legislature, the Revisor’s office, Grant Pennoyer and the Attorney General to court. It’s all anyone’s guess.