Continuing Consolidation Chaos…
The fun never stops in the State House. Apparently out of revenge for the veto of LD 1932, the Maine House last night passed a bill to repeal the consolidation law in its entirety. In its original form, the bill, LD 2281, would have substantially watered down the budget validation requirements contained in the school reorganization law. MHPC testified against the bill vehemently, and it came out of the Education committee with all three senators opposed, meaning it faced certain death when it reached the Senate.
Last night, though, the bill was amended in the House, striking out all of its original language and replacing it with language repealing the consolidation law. It passed, 73 to 59, and is now awaiting action in the Senate.
That’s not all. Upon issuing his veto of LD 1932, the governor submitted a new bill, LD 2314, which contains the original elements of LD 1932 before is was literally amended to death by the legislature. That bill came to the House floor last night, as all bills do, to be assigned to a committee. Rep. Jim Schatz (D-Blue Hill), an ardent opponent of consolidation and one of the few Democrats to vote against the law last year, then made a motion to kill the new bill outright before it could even be sent to the committee. The bill was promptly tabled before a vote on his motion could be taken, and awaits further action today.
Clearly, the governor’s veto of LD 1932 has not been taken lightly in the House, where tempers, on the Democrat side in particular, are running high. Democrats in the House and the Governor thus find themselves in a fascinating standoff at this point. The governor can veto any action the legislature takes and be pretty confident his veto will be upheld. They can kill any bill he puts forward, as was attempted last night, and he can make no changes to the consolidation law, which is in dire need of changes, without their support.
With only days remaining in the legislative session, what will happen next? With the November legislative elections looming over the horizon, who will give in?
Get your popcorn and stay tuned…