Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) can at least count on Republicans in the state House of Representatives, where they are the minority party, to back him in a pending court battle over an apparently botched veto attempt. But GOP state representatives will have to dig into their pockets to cover the legal costs.
House Republicans are using private funding to file briefs in LePage’s favor as the state Supreme Court decides whether the governor correctly vetoed dozens of bills, The Bangor Daily News reported. Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves and Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau denied House Minority Leader Ken Fredette’s request to use public money to underwrite the associated legal costs.
Maine’s Supreme Court will hear oral arguments July 31 to settle the ongoing dispute between the governor and legislators. Leadership in both the Democratic House and Republican Senate refused to acknowledge LePage’s attempts to return some 60-plus bills with vetoes last week, arguing the legislation had become law because the governor had blown the deadline to act on them. LePage is now taking the issue to the state’s judiciary branch, where the top court ordered last week that briefs be filed by this Friday.
At issue is whether the Maine legislature took the type of formal adjournment, known as adjournment sine die, at the end of June that would have paused the 10-day clock the governor has to veto bills, allowing him to wait to send back the vetoes when the statehouse reconvenes. Legislative leaders as well as the state Attorney General Janet Mills (D) said lawmakers had not taken that type of break and LePage missed his chance to veto the bills.
The fight is the latest chapter in an ongoing veto war between LePage and legislators over lawmakers’ refusal to support LePage’s agenda on the budget and measure to eliminate the state income tax.