Sunday, March 9, 2014
Some Maine Republicans want Gov. LePage to follow through with the idea of a special legislative session. And they want him to use it to try to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
LePage told an audience of Republicans last week that he was considering a special session before the election that would push the envelope, rile Democrats and put Maine on the right course for the next 10 years. But he has refused to say what it is he's planning.
The Androscoggin County Republican Party overwhelmingly approved a resolution Monday asking LePage to call the Maine Legislature back to Augusta to take up legislation nullifying the president's health care reform law, according to news release from a group called the Tenth Amendment Center that is pushing for nullification.
Only two of the more than 100 members in attendance at the Androscoggin County meeting opposed the resolution, it says.
Nullification legislation would declare the federal law unconstitutional and authorize the governor and state lawmakers to take steps to block implementation.
Durham Town Republican Secretary Jason Greene is quoted in the release saying states can block the Affordable Care Act just like they refused to implement the Real ID Act during the Bush administration.
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson first advanced the principle of nullification by the states in 1798 in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, according to the Tenth Amendment Center.
The Cumberland County Republican Committee could also take up a similar resolution next week, the group said.
It's unclear if LePage was considering such a move when he spilled the beans last week about a possible special session, apparently unaware he was being recorded.
On one hand, it would be hard to make the case that stopping the federal health care reforms passed in 2010 would present the kind of extraordinary circumstances needed to legally convene a special session.
On the other hand, such an effort would really upset Democrats and it meets LePage's description as something other states have done.
Missouri and Oklahoma are among those that have taken up nullification proposals, for example. Twenty state legislatures have enacted laws and measures related to challenging or opting out of broad health reform including the Affordable Care Act, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Some passed restrictions on implementation of the law, and some adopted interstate compacts that could be used to avoid implementation of the law down the road.
LePage has called the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional since before he was elected, but has not publicly suggested that Maine join any nullification effort.
LePage's spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, would not discuss the special session issue or say whether it had anything to do with blocking the Affordable Care Act.
"I'm not going to confirm or deny anything," she said Wednesday.
As far as the Androscoggin County resolution, Bennett was equally tight-lipped: "The governor will be made aware."
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John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
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Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
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Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
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