Governor LePage Attempts to Circumvent Democracy
AUGUSTA, Maine – The governor of Maine proposed a last-minute delay on the state’s commercial marijuana legislation on Thursday. Gov. Paul LePage, along with Rep. Ken Fredette, are complaining that the current bill, which the bi-partisan marijuana committee recommended in a 15-2 vote, is too multifaceted for debating and voting on in one day. The lawmakers are supposed to vote on the bill Monday.
The governor wants to extend the existing extension from next February until 2019. Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2016 election, with the measure passing by a slim margin of 3,995 votes. The governor cited federal law as an avenue to discount the will of the voters in his opposition, saying on public radio that he would not sign the bill until he consulted with lawyers. He then went on to delay parts of legalization, including marijuana sales, until 2018. The governor has also been vocal on his desire for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to enforce federal law in Maine.
The last-minute proposal comes after several long months of the committee drafting the more than 70-page bill. The governor now says that they need more time.
Democrat Rep. Teresa Pierce of Falmouth and Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta are on the committee to legislate marijuana. They are concerned that the governor and others opposed to the law may be guilty of obstruction because they refused to assist the committee while they were preparing the bill, as well as the last-minute proposal to delay it. Sen. Roger Katz said that “The 11th-hour attempt to wreak havoc is obstructionism for no good reason. Their unwillingness to problem-solve is irresponsible to the voters, the businesses and the communities of Maine.” If the governor does veto the legislation, in order for it to pass in the House, it would need to win two-thirds of the vote.