AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday attempted to veto 65 bills, but the Legislature won’t act on his letters about the bills, which have already been written into law. The Legislature’s rejection of LePage’s letters sets up a likely court battle.

The governor’s messages, delivered to the House clerk and Senate secretary in front of television cameras, are the latest development in an ongoing dispute over whether the governor has missed his chance to veto 70 bills. On Thursday, the governor wrote a letter saying he had allowed five of the bills to become law without his signature, while rejecting 65 others.

The move initially threw the Legislature into disarray, as legislative leaders huddled to discuss whether to reject the vetoes as out of order. Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, had previously said that they’d likely declare the vetoes out of order. Senate Secretary Heather Priest told the Press Herald on Wednesday that she wasn’t certain how the Republican-controlled Senate would handle the situation.

The House clerk and Senate secretary later sent the 65 letters to the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, indicating that neither chamber would act on the veto letters. The Office of the Revisor of Statutes has already begun writing the 65 bills into law, after most legislative leaders and Attorney General Janet Mills concluded that LePage had missed his constitutional deadline to veto them.

LePage plans to ask the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to rule that he still has time to veto the bills because the Legislature adjourned on June 30.

Under the Constitution, if the Legislature has adjourned, the governor can submit vetoes three days after they go back into session. Lawmakers contend that they did not adjourn on June 30, but simply recessed with the intent to return and finish their business.

The messages were accompanied by a letter from the governor that began “Welcome back.” LePage reiterated his assertion that he has more time to veto the bills. He noted that some members of the legislative leadership had indicated that the Legislature will not accept the vetoes because all of the bills have become law. He then requested a response from lawmakers explaining why they “were not willing to act.”

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