Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage has apparently bungled his attempt to veto 19 bills that he opposed, because he does not understand how the law works in the state he governs. The Tea Party governor was attempting to “pocket veto” 19 bills by allowing them to elapse at the end of a legislative session, effectively killing the bills and not allowing the legislature the opportunity to override his veto.
However, LePage clearly misunderstood the process, because the legislature had not adjourned during the time the bills reached LePage’s desk. By law, if the legislature is in session, the governor has ten days to either sign or veto bills that reach his desk. If he chooses to do neither, the bills are to be sent back to the Revisor of Statutes and certified into law.
LePage’s oversight has cast a number of bills into legislative limbo. Article IV of Maine’s Constitution makes it clear that the measures LePage was hoping to veto should become law. The most controversial measure that LePage may have inadvertently passed by his bungled veto efforts was LD 369, which would permit asylum seekers to collect up to 24 months of general assistance payments. LePage was vociferously opposed to that measure, but it may become law in spite of his steadfast opposition.
Governor LePage’s inability to govern effectively is already legendary. However, his ineptness in vetoing legislation he opposes gives new meaning to the concept of “limited government”. In both his campaigns for governor LePage advocated limited government. Now Governor LePage has demonstrated that when the Tea Party asks voters to choose limited government, they literally mean a government so limited that the governor isn’t even capable of vetoing legislation he opposes. There really are no limits to how limited LePage’s ability to govern is. Its a thing of both horror and beauty.