With Democrats and legal experts saying Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) screwed up an attempt to veto 19 bills and that the legislation is now law, the governor is promising to take the question to court to prove them wrong.
“We’ll go to the courts and we’ll ask them,” LePage said to reporters Wednesday, according to the Portland Press Herald. “It’s in the Constitution … It’s very clear – very, very clear. Even I can understand it and I’m French.”
At issue is whether the Maine legislature was legally adjourned when LePage failed to act on the bills on his desk in the 10-day period he has to veto them. At first it appeared LePage was attempting a “pocket veto,” by which the legislation dies without lawmakers having a chance to override a veto if the legislature adjourns for good within the 10-day consideration period. But Wednesday LePage refuted claims that was his intent.
“I vetoed the bills,” LePage said. “They’re all vetoed. They need to be here for four days before (lawmakers) can act on them.”
His office says LePage can send the vetoed bills to the legislature the next time lawmakers reconvene for three days due to a provision in the Maine Constitution that says he can do so if “their adjournment prevent [the bill’s] return.”
Democrats, along with the clerk of the House, contend that such an adjournment was never called as lawmakers had planned to return July 16 when they last departed the state Capitol in June. They say since that adjournment was not what is known as an adjournment “sine die” — meaning an adjournment where there are no more plans to reconvene — the clock was still ticking, and LePage’s window to veto the bills had lapsed.
Leaders in the Democrat-controlled House say they will not consider any legislation sent back by LePage that has been sitting on his desk for more than 10 days.
“If he delivers vetoes to the clerk of the House, they won’t be in order,” House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe said Wednesday, according to the Bangor Daily News. “Those bills are law. … The governor has an opportunity to be part of the process. I may not like that he vetoes bills, but that’s his right. But to play these games is ridiculous.”