January 29, 2013

Bills set stage for Dems vs. LePage battles

Legislators and the governor appear to be in conflict on revenue sharing, borrowing, virtual schools and more.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

Some bills signified a fight with executive authority, or LePage himself.

Berry, for example, submitted a resolve that would "ensure that bonds are issued in accordance with the vote of the electorate," an apparent response to LePage's decision not to issue bonds that voters supported until the state reduces its debt. Resolves have the force of law but do not directly change state statutes.

Berry said the resolve would make issuance of bonds mandatory if the state meets certain market and debt service standards. He said governors could refuse only under "very extenuating circumstances."

"Should it be within the powers of a governor, any governor, to be able to hold that up for arbitrary reasons?" he said. "This is an effort to correct the situation that we find ourselves in today."

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, submitted a resolve proposing a constitutional amendment to prohibit governors from receiving a pension unless that governor serves two terms.

That's an apparent shot at LePage's gubernatorial pension, which was a political football in the last Legislature. Many liberals complained about LePage exempting his pension while proposing state pension reform.

Alfond also has submitted a bill that would put a moratorium on virtual charter schools.

The state's Charter School Commission hasn't approved any virtual schools, to LePage's chagrin. He issued a strongly worded news release in June after the commission rejected applications for two, and condemned the commission after it rejected four of five charter schools' applications this month.

"I thought there should be a moratorium until the state charter commission has time, without any pressure from legislators or the executive, to come back with best practices and a strategy for full-time, virtual, online learning," Alfond said.

State House Bureau Writer Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Newly-elected Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick


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The House Chamber in the State House in Augusta on Jan. 4.

The Associated Press


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