Rep. Justin Chenette has submitted legislation to establish a recall process for state elected officials including the governor, as other action to hold Maine's Gov. Paul LePage accountable was blocked by Republicans in the House and Senate.“It’s become clear that House Republican leadership is holding up our ability to convene a special session of the Legislature to hold the governor accountable,” said Chenette, D-Saco. “Let’s give the power to the people by providing the public an extra tool of governmental accountability, especially when other elected officials fail to hold each other and each branch of government to task.” Recall is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace a public official before the end of a term of office. If passed, Maine would join 19 other states plus the District of Columbia to permit the recall of state elected officials.Meanwhile, House Speaker Mark Eves on Septermber 6, 2016 announced the results of his formal poll of the House Representatives, conducted to determine whether the House would reconvene for a special session of the Legislature to take action regarding Gov. Paul LePage’s recent conduct.
The final results were 84 in favor of reconvening, and 67 opposed. All but four Republican member of the House refused the special session, blocking any action to hold the governor accountable for his racially insensitive words, his threatening behavior, the embarrassment he caused to the state and the economic consequences of his actions.
“With the whole country and world watching, it is now official and in the record books. Elected Republican leaders have failed Maine people,” said House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.
The Maine Constitution allows the Legislature to reconvene for a special session if majorities of both parties consent to return in a poll. The Constitution bestows sole authority to conduct that poll on the presiding officers — the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.
Senators from both parties were denied even the option of weighing in when Senate President Mike Thibodeau chose not to conduct the poll — refusing to take even the first step toward accountability for the governor.
“By refusing to bring Senators in for a special session, Republican leaders have prevented any possibility of healing the damage and turning the page for Maine,” said Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland.Chenette, serves on theothe Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
The following are remarks, as prepared, delivered by Speaker Eves and Sen. Alfond:
“With the whole country and world watching, it is now official and in the record books. Elected Republican leaders have failed Maine people.
“Under Maine’s Constitution, I asked our Republican colleagues to agree we needed to take some kind of action on Gov. LePage’s repeated, inexcusable conduct – and how he prevents us again and again and again, from working on issues import to Maine people.
“Democrats have been clear: We know the governor must resign or be removed from office to prevent our state from being stuck in dysfunction for the next two years.
“We are here on record and on behalf of Democrats in the Legislature to say, we believe Maine deserves so much better.
“As the governor himself suggested on Tuesday, it is time for him to 'move on.’ Our Republican colleagues failed even the basic democratic test of being willing to be on record.
“They are unwilling to even say ‘yes’ on the need to have an open, public discussion on how to move Maine forward. Republicans – by hiding today – are enabling two more years of distraction and dysfunction by Gov. LePage.”
“Mainers were united in their outrage at Gov. Paul LePage's words and actions. They were united in their demand that the he be held accountable.
“And now, they are united in disbelief that Republicans wouldn't even take the first step toward that accountability.
“The idea that the Maine Senate – or any Maine senator – could not even take up a debate on the simple, nonpartisan issue of how to take some kind of action to deal with Gov. LePage’s conduct is utter nonsense.
“By refusing to bring senators in for a special session, Republican leaders have prevented any possibility of healing the damage and turning the page for Maine.
“By not acting and hiding behind empty excuses, Republican Senators and House members have become Gov. LePage’s enablers. They guarantee Maine will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis for the next two years.
“The governor's behavior isn't just reprehensible, it's a threat to Maine's economy. Investors and visitors alike grow more hesitant to bring business to Maine every time the governor brings national shame on our state.
“An Associated Press story about whether or not people should boycott Maine as a result of Gov. LePage’s conduct ran in hundreds of newspapers across the country this weekend.
“Because of Republicans' inaction, the Legislature will do nothing to defend Maine’s economy or protect our state’s proud reputation. Worst of all, it will do nothing to hold our governor accountable. Their inaction guarantees it only will be only a matter of time until we are back in this position again."