“We will have to work and communicate with each other and with the chief executive”

Governor LePage’s unexpected entry into today’s emergency meeting of the Appropriations and Fiscal Affairs Committee provides yet another cliff-hanger in the dramatic series of interactions between legislators and the governor. (In other news, why yes, we will all be tuning in next week for another exciting episode of As the Statehouse Turns.)

It is highly unusual for governors to attempt to intervene directly and personally in the work of legislative committees. Why would the governor decide to step into the legislature’s process in this way?

It would be a fairly silly thing for me to attempt to divine the intentions of our governor. Given his demonstrated preference for confrontation over compromise, however, it seems unlikely that he was trying to work with the committee members.

So what else could he have been trying to do?

It’s hard not to put this action together with his active recent veto record and see it as an attempt to remind Republican legislators that he cares very much about the budget solutions they develop. Through his active veto, the governor has shown two things: first, that he’s been able to support Republican legislative preferences by killing bills that Democrats preferred (LD 272, LD 6, and LD 405), and second, that he commands enough loyalty in the legislature to sink any bill, including those passing with unanimous support (LD 49 and LD 521).

We can think of the first element of this as a carrot (allowing Republican legislators to have the final say on bills they don’t like, despite being in the minority) and the second as a stick (letting Republican legislators know that they depend on the governor’s good will in order to have their bills get past his veto.)

As a realistic Rep. Fredette observed, “There will be many tough decisions ahead on many tough issues, and we will have to work and communicate with each other and the chief executive, working to get the important work done for the people of the state of Maine.”

Caught between a rock and a hard place, they are. I really wouldn’t want to be at the other end of Robert De Niro’s “I’m watching you” hi-sign either.

Governor LePage’s vetoes so far:

1. April 2

Which bill? LD 49,  “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Payment of Fees to Registers of Deeds.”

How did the governor justify the veto? Protest veto, because the legislature should be worried about more pressing matters.

Original vote? Passed unanimously.

Override votes? Override passed in the House, failed in the Senate.

Representatives switching their votes:

CLARK of Easton
GIFFORD of Lincoln
LIBBY of Waterboro
LONG of Sherman
TIMBERLAKE of Turner
WILLETTE of Mapleton

Senators switching their votes:

BURNS of Washington
COLLINS of York
CUSHING of Penobscot
FLOOD of Kennebec
HAMPER of Oxford
LANGLEY of Hancock
MASON of Androscoggin
SHERMAN of Aroostook
THIBODEAU of Waldo
THOMAS of Somerset
WHITTEMORE of Somerset
YOUNGBLOOD of Penobscot

2. April 4

Which bill? LD 272, “An Act to Reduce Youth Cancer Risk”

How did the governor justify the veto? Parents want their kids to use tanning beds. “Instead of the current law that requires parents to give permission to their children tanning, this says that children are banned from it, regardless of what the parent thinks. This is government run amok. Maine parents can make the right decisions for their families.”

Original vote? 91 Y/56 N in the House (60% support), 19 Y/16 N in the Senate (54% support).

Override vote? Failed in the Senate, with same votes as the original passage – no vote-switching.

3. May 3

Which bill? LD 405, “An Act To Increase Municipal Agent Fees for Licensing and Registration of Motor Vehicles”

How did the governor justify the veto? Protest veto, because the legislature should be worried about more pressing matters.

Original vote? 89 Y/57 N in the House (59% support), 24 Y/11 N in the Senate (69% support).

Override vote? Failed in the House, with  5 Republicans switching from Yes to No and 3 Democrats switching from No to Yes.

Representatives switching their votes:

BRIGGS of Mexico
KAENRATH of South Portland
MORRISON of South Portland
KNIGHT of Livermore Falls
MacDONALD of Old Orchard Beach
NEWENDYKE of Litchfield
POULIOT of Augusta
WOOD of Sabattus

 

4. May 7

Which bill? LD 6, “An Act To Prohibit a Requirement That a Superintendent Reside in the School Administrative Unit”

How did the governor justify the veto? The law would override municipal preferences and also the legislature should work on more pressing matters.

Original vote? 115 Y/22 N in the House (76% support), 28 Y/6 N in the Senate (80% support).

Override vote? Failed in the House, as described in my earlier post.

Representatives switching their votes:

AYOTTE of Caswell
BEAULIEU of Auburn
BLACK of Wilton
CHASE of Wells
CLARK of Easton
CRAY of Palmyra
DOAK of Columbia Falls
DUNPHY of Embden
DUPREY of Hampden
FITZPATRICK of Houlton
FREDETTE of Newport
JACKSON of Oxford
JOHNSON of Greenville
KINNEY of Limington
LIBBY of Waterboro
LOCKMAN of Amherst
LONG of Sherman
MacDONALD of Old Orchard Beach
MAKER of Calais
MALABY of Hancock
MAREAN of Hollis
McCLELLAN of Raymond
McELWEE of Caribou
NEWENDYKE of Litchfield
PARRY of Arundel
PEASE of Morrill
SANDERSON of Chelsea
SIROCKI of Scarborough
TIMBERLAKE of Turner
TURNER of Burlington
TYLER of Windham
WEAVER of York
WILLETTE of Mapleton
WINCHENBACH of Waldoboro
WINSOR of Norway
CHIPMAN of Portland
DICKERSON of Rockland
KAENRATH of South Portland
KORNFIELD of Bangor
RUSSELL of Portland
SHORT of Pittsfield

5. May 13

Which bill? LD 521, “An Act To Change the Budget Approval Process for Alternative Organizational Structures”

How did the governor justify the veto? School districts should not be allowed to choose meeting votes for their budgets rather than referendums. (Also, please ignore my veto rationale of last week. Tx.)

Original vote? Unanimous support.

Override vote? Failed in the Senate by one vote.

Senators switching their votes:

COLLINS of York
CUSHING of Penobscot
HAMPER of Oxford
KATZ of Kennebec
LANGLEY of Hancock
MASON of Androscoggin
PLUMMER of Cumberland
SHERMAN of Aroostook
THIBODEAU of Waldo
THOMAS of Somerset
WHITTEMORE of Somerset
YOUNGBLOOD of Penobscot

6. May 17

Which bill? LD 319, “An Act to Provide Tax Fairness to Small Businesses in the State”

How did the governor justify the veto? Doesn’t want to join a multi-state agreement, thinks the federal government should take care of issues related to taxing internet sales, and doesn’t want the legislature telling Maine Revenue Services what to do.

Original vote? Unanimous support.

Override vote? Predict it will pass the House, fail in the Senate.  If the override fails in the House, this will represent the largest number of legislators switching their votes yet and demonstrate the biggest impact of the governor’s veto on Republican legislative behavior to date.  In the Senate, I expect to see a similar group switching votes as those that did so on LD 521. I’m particularly interested in what Senator Katz will do – first, because he’s my own Senator, and also because I think he’s a valuable indicator of the preferences of the moderate Republican caucus.

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This entry was posted in Governor LePage, Maine Legislature, Veto, Voting Behavior. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “We will have to work and communicate with each other and with the chief executive”

  1. Pingback: Day of the Long Knives | Emily Shaw

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