Maine Governor LePage’s Buffoonery Jeopardizes State Budget

Maine Governor Paul LePage and the state legislature will take their battle to court today where it will be decided if LePage waited too long to veto a collection of over 60 bills.

The governor's office is making two arguments. First, they contend that the legislature did not provide the governor with enough time to veto the legislation. Second, they contend that the bills are invalid anyway because the legislature did not properly extend the session in which they passed the bills.

In effect, the governor's office is arguing that the bills are invalid even if he couldn't veto them. That claim could have unintended consequences, however, as the Bangor Daily News points out.

The governor also reiterated his belief that the Legislature failed to properly extend the session past its June 17 statutory adjournment date. [...]

If the Legislature were not properly convened — as LePage argues — that could mean all bills enacted after June 17 are invalid, including not only the 65 in dispute but also the biennial budget. Such a ruling would create utter political chaos.

Despite believing the Legislature screwed up, LePage argues the court should not — and cannot — invalidate laws passed after June 17 with an advisory opinion. However, he does think the day-late extension should be seen to validate his vetoes.

“The June 17 inaction is significant because it likely resulted in the bills at issue never having been enacted by the Legislature in the first place, in which case, the Governor could not enforce them,” [chief legal counsel Cynthia Montgomery] wrote.

The governor's position would dictate that a large numbers of bills including the state budget are invalid, but it's not the governor's goal to invalidate other legislation so he's asking the state Supreme Court to effectively cherry prick which legislation is invalid.

In other words, LePage is asking the court to enable him to pick and choose which bills are valid and ripe for veto; because either they're all valid or none of them are.

If I were a judge, I think I'd be insulted by the governor's attempt to use the court as a line-item veto machine.