The Portland Press Herald reported today that Maine Governor Paul LePage announced his plans to call lawmakers back for a special session before the November elections during a speech at a GOP fundraiser in Bangor Wednesday evening. He refuses to disclose the purpose for such a special session but added "I think we can get it done in about a day, and the Democrats, if you think they hate me now ... Wow". He promises the plan he'll present will "push the envelope" and enrage Democrats, something the Governor routinely accomplishes by the mere act of going to work in the morning.
According to the Press Herald article, based on a recording of the speech
In the recording, LePage says he can't disclose the purpose of the special session or when it would happen. He says other Republican-led states have done what he plans to propose, and the attorney general is reviewing whether "I'm doing it right."(Emphasis mine).
"I'm just trying to do what other Republican states have done this year, and I got to wait before I say too much more about it, but what I'm telling you is this: If we get this done, the state of Maine will be on the right track for the next 10 years," LePage says on the recording.
He says Republicans will have to do it on their own. "I think we can get it done in about a day, and the Democrats, if you think they hate me now ... Wow," he says.
"I like to push the envelope, and so we've got it half open and ... in my mind I believe it can be done," he says. "It's not a matter of whether or not we should do it or can do it. It's a matter of, is our constitution here in Maine allowing us to do it."
Maine GOP lawmakers appear to be taken off guard by the Governor's announcement. Republican State Senator Richard Rosen of Bucksport says he was "surprised" and had no prior knowledge of the intention to call a special session or what might be involved in the Governor's plan. (I will be contacting my own State Senator, Chris Rector (R-22) for his office's comment on LePage's announcement.)
The State Senate was already poised to have a short session in September to confirm some nominees, including a new Labor Commissioner, which has sparked speculation that LePage is planning on asking for legislation dealing with the bargaining rights of state employees. Given what LePage said regarding bringing Maine in line with what other GOP-dominated states have done some are speculating that it could also involve a voter ID bill, something even many Republican lawmakers in Maine have shied away from enacting given that it has not been popular with Maine voters or election officials.
The Press Herald goes on to suggest that it may also have to do with LePage's efforts to gut Medicaid coverage:
Some speculation has centered on the administration's request to eliminate health care coverage for 27,000 low-income Mainers. The plan requires federal waivers that may not be granted. The Medicaid cuts were booked by the Legislature to balance the state budget. If the budget is not balanced, the governor may claim that other cuts are necessary.Maine ranks number 2 in the nation for the most citizens receiving some kind of public assistance. Many of these Mainers receiving such benefits are working families or elderly.
While LePage is legally able to call for a special session only in "extraordinary circumstances" the Attorney General is reported to be reviewing LePage's standing to call such a session.
Paul LePage has a proven record as a bully and has a penchant for secrecy and score-settling despite his talk about "transparency in government". Whatever he is proposing, it is likely to to be highly controversial, especially since the Governor has shared that whatever these proposals are would put Maine on the "right track for 10 years".
When Mainers hear "right track for 10 years" coming from Governor LePage, they can be certain that whatever track it may be, there will be a certain train wreck waiting to happen.