Everyone not named Paul LePage insisting 70 bills Maine’s governor forgot to veto are now law

Maine is in the midst of one of the most insane legislative showdowns in recent memory.

It started when Maine governor and angry old man Paul LePage attempted to pocket veto 19 bills that he opposed by leaving them on his desk without his signature until the legislature adjourned. Except the legislature didn’t adjourn, it went “at ease,” remaining in session until this Thursday for the sole purpose of allowing LePage to veto the bills and return them to the legislature for a possible override. As LePage failed to take any action, the 19 bills became law without his signature.

LePage has continued to insist that the legislature did in fact adjourn and that the bills cannot take effect. Literally everyone in the state not named or working for Paul LePage disagrees with him. That includes the state’s attorney general, who issued a statement on Friday saying that the bills are now law.

Not only has LePage refused to enforce the 19 laws that are now on the books, he has also allowed 51 more bills to become law without his signature since the initial showdown. Doubling down on his initial (and incorrect) point — that the legislature adjourned and so these bills die with or without his veto — LePage is trying to dig himself out of a legislative hole, and it’s unclear as to whether it will work.

Paul LePage, via Wikimedia Commons

Paul LePage, via Wikimedia Commons

The seventy bills in question represent a massive amount of legislation. For perspective, President Obama has signed thirty bills into law this current session. While some are significant, such as the USA Freedom Act and various appropriations bills, others are not. The thirty laws enacted this session include bills to fix typos in the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, to name a federal building in Miramar, Florida and to reappoint a current a citizen regent of the Board of Regents at the Smithsonian Institution.

Many of the bills at issue in Maine deal with highly consequential issues. One expands access to a drug overdose antidote. Another provides insurance coverage for reproductive services for more women. Another grants state assistance to some immigrants, a provision LePage vehemently campaigned against in 2014 during his reelection campaign. In effect, Governor LePage has committed himself to a strategy that could easily result in the passage of a sweeping Democratic agenda all because he didn’t bother himself to pick up a pen.

For all of the attention heaped on Chris Christie, likely due to his proximity to New York, Paul LePage is easily the northeast’s — if not the country’s — most corrupt, angry and absurd governor. He is currently under investigation by the legislature, with impeachment possible, over allegations that he withheld state funds from a school for at-risk children in order to pressure them into not hiring Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves. LePage, predictably, has insisted that the legislature lacks the authority to investigate him.

LePage has joked about shooting cartoonists, along with other breaches of political decorum. He “once told the Portland branch of the NAACP to ‘kiss my butt,’ called protesters ‘idiots,’ referred to government managers as ‘corrupt’ and compared the IRS to the Gestapo,” according to the New York Daily News.

Fittingly, LePage is also one of the only elected officials so far to have endorsed Chris Christie for president.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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