Background on veto controversy

BACKGROUND: VETO CONTROVERSY

 

As the controversy continues around the Governor’s decision not to return a series of bills (now laws) he was expected to veto within the proscribed 10-day window, we thought it would be helpful to review a near-exact precedent that was set at the end of the 125th Legislature.

 

This comparison is important because it goes to the heart of the Administration’s argument: that they were prohibited from returning the vetoes to the legislature due to their temporary adjournment. The following example from the 125th Legislature shows clearly that this Administration has already returned vetoes during the same type of temporary adjournment period in 2012.

 

TIMELINE

 

May 17, 2012: The Second Regular Session of the 125th Legislature adjourned “until the call of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House”. 

 On motion of Representative CURTIS of Madison, the House

adjourned at 3:23 a.m., until the call of the President of the

Senate and the Speaker of the House, respectively, when there

is a need to conduct business pursuant to the Joint Order (S.P.

689).

– LEGISLATIVE RECORD – HOUSE, May 17, 2012

 


May 25, 2012: Governor LePage returns two vetoes to the Legislature, LD 807 and LD1469. 

 

May 25, 2012

The 125th Legislature of the State of Maine

State House

Augusta, Maine

Dear Honorable Members of the 125th Legislature:

Under the authority vested in me by Article IV, Part Third, Section

2 of the Constitution of the State of Maine, I am hereby vetoing

LD 807, “An Act To Limit the Bonding Authority of the Maine

Governmental Facilities Authority to Court Facility Projects.”

The original version of this bill would have required all bonds to

go out to the voters by removing the Authority’s power to bond. I

understand that position and would have signed the bill.

However, the enacted version requires most bonds to go to

voters, except for court bonds. While I strongly support the

judicial branch, why should they receive special treatment? Our

Constitution gives us three co-equal branches of government.

We must have consistency among them.

We also need to look at all the independent authorities and the

way they issue debt. Whether you call it General Obligation,

Lease Revenue, or Moral Obligation, a bond is a loan and loans

need to be paid back. Government pays it back with taxpayer

dollars. We owe it to Maine people to ensure that elected

officials are involved and responsible for any debt because, at the

end of the day, it is the taxpayers’ money on the line.

For these reasons, I am returning LD 807 unsigned and vetoed. I

strongly urge the Legislature to sustain it.

Sincerely,

S/Paul R. LePage

Governor

– LEGISLATIVE RECORD – HOUSE, May 31, 2012

 

May 29 & 30, 2012: A series of bills that were unsigned by the Governor became law during the temporary adjournment, after the 10-day period passed:

·      LD 359 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Wastewater and Drinking Water Revolving Loan Funds

·      LD 852 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support Maine’s Natural Resource-based Economy

·      LD 894 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Transportation Infrastructure To Meet the Needs of the Business Sector and To Create Jobs

·      LD 1897 – An Act Regarding the Issuance of Licenses by the Gambling Control Board and To Establish a Competitive Bidding Process for Future Operation of Slot Machines and Table Games in the State

·      LD 874 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Higher Education

·      LD 1884 – An Act To Revise the Laws Regarding the Fund for a Healthy Maine

May 31, 2012: The Second Regular Session of the 125th Legislature reconvenes, votes on the Governor’s vetoes, and adjourns ‘without day’. The final adjournment is carried out with the traditional pomp and circumstance. The Speaker of the House designated a delegation of Representatives to deliver the adjournment message to the Governor. 

The Speaker appointed the following members on the part of

the House to wait upon his Excellency, Governor PAUL

RICHARD LePAGE, and inform him that the House was ready to

adjourn without day:

 Representative TILTON of Harrington

 Representative RIOUX of Winterport

 Representative DOW of Waldoboro

 Representative CELLI of Brewer

 Representative SARTY of Denmark

 Representative BELIVEAU of Kittery

 Representative CLARKE of Bath

 Representative BLODGETT of Augusta

 Representative FLEMINGS of Bar Harbor

 Representative GILBERT of Jay

 Representative HUNT of Buxton

 Representative INNES of Yarmouth

 Representative LOVEJOY of Portland

 Representative O’BRIEN of Lincolnville

 Representative WAGNER of Lewiston

_________________________________

 Subsequently, the Committee reported that they had

delivered the message with which they were charged.

_________________________________

 Subsequently, Representative CURTIS reported that he had

delivered the message with which he was charged.

_________________________________

 At this point, a message came from the Senate borne by

Senator Plowman, of Penobscot of that Body, informing the

House that the Senate had transacted all business before it and

was ready to adjourn without day.

_________________________________

 On motion of Representative RANKIN of Hiram, the House

adjourned without day at 12:58 p.m., Thursday, May 31, 2012.

LEGISLATIVE RECORD – HOUSE, May 31, 2012

  

 

To be clear: 

This timeline shows clearly that the Governor was able to return vetoes to the Legislature during an adjournment “until the call”, and that he in fact has already done so with a previous legislature.

The timeline also shows that bills that were not signed or vetoed by the Governor during the 10-day period became law, unchallenged by the Administration.  This is the exact scenario that has occurred during the 127th Legislature.

And it shows that adjournment “without day” is clearly understood to be the end of the legislative session.

The Administration’s new contention that the 127th Legislature’s temporary adjournment prohibits him from returning vetoes is belied by the Governor’s own precedent set during the 125th Legislature.