The office of Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) and the clerk in the Maine House are in disagreement over the fate of 19 bills that the governor apparently did not veto in time to prevent them from becoming law. One of the bills grants welfare benefits to some immigrants, which LePage vehemently campaigned against in 2014.
As the Bangor Daily News reported Tuesday evening, LePage appeared to be attempting to use the parliamentary procedure known as the pocket veto. By not signing the bills and "pocketing" them, LePage could under some circumstances have effectively vetoed them. In theory, that would have allowed the proposals to die without legislators having a chance to override his veto. But the pocket veto only works if the legislature has adjourned after the end of the second regular session. And there is the rub.
The clerk of the Maine House told TPM Wednesday morning that the legislature, which is nearing the end of the first regular session, has not adjourned. By not vetoing the bills within the required 10-day period, LePage allowed the bills he opposed -- some ferociously -- to become law.
But LePage's office is now claiming the legislature did adjourn. "The Legislature passed a joint order on June 30, 2015 to adjourn—not to 'recess,'” LePage's office said in a Wednesday email to TPM.
That has left the clerk of the Maine House thoroughly confused.
"Frankly, if he returns them to me, I don't know what I’ll do," Maine's Clerk of the House Robert Hunt told TPM, after being read the new statement from the governor's office. Hunt added that it appeared he and the governor's office have different interpretations of what, under the Maine Constitution, qualifies as an adjournment.
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