Lawmakers return to end drawn-out session
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers returned Thursday to handle the term-limited governor’s likely last veto and end a drawn-out legislative session.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage said he would campaign every day on his previously-tabled bill aiming to protect the elderly from tax lien foreclosures. The Maine Municipal Association and other critics say local officials are already addressing the issue, but the governor said that’s “baloney” and that people are falling through the cracks.
The governor said he doesn’t blame the Legislature, just only a few Democratic and Republican leaders.
“They are the most ridiculous people in the world,” said LePage, who said he wouldn’t address lawmakers Thursday.
Legislators hoped to put an end to a legislative session that has dragged on for months and was estimated to cost taxpayers roughly $40,000 each day lawmakers were in Augusta. The end of session means most bills passed by lawmakers this summer will go into effect in 90 days.
LePage has shattered the state’s veto record with 643 vetoes, far surpassing the total number issued by governors before him since 1917.
The Legislature on Thursday sustained the governor’s veto of a bill to provide about a third of a million dollars in additional funding to cover the cost of November elections.
The House voted 74-46 to support the veto issued by term-limited LePage, who chastised lawmakers for the last-minute spending bill. Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says the legislation was needed to make sure Maine can pay its bills on time for the November election.
Maine schools would have to alert the state about investigations into teacher misconduct under a bill headed to the governor’s desk.
Lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that LePage submitted to address Maine teachers who are accused of misconduct, and then resign while maintaining their credentials.
Schools would have to notify the state, and vice versa, of investigations into teacher misconduct involving alcohol, illegal drugs, physical and emotional abuse, stalking and “violating boundaries.”
LePage also submitted 11th-hour bills to tweak a new unemployment benefits law and propose a constitutional amendment barring non-citizens from voting in Maine elections.
LePage has withdrawn dozens of nominations of individuals to state boards and commissions, including nominees that won legislative committee approval. He’s told The Associated Press that he doesn’t plan on re-instating any nominations because he claims Democrats are playing politics.
A legislative panel recently opposed LePage’s nomination of a former senior policy adviser to the board of the Maine Turnpike Authority. Lawmakers questioned deputy transportation commissioner Jonathan Nass’ stance on merging the turnpike authority with the transportation department, which the governor supports.
LePage also withdrew a superior court judge’s reappointment.
Lawmakers on Thursday were set to consider LePage’s remaining nomination of a district court judge.