I heard a lot of talk about "wasting the taxpayer's dollars" this session, mostly in the context of "welfare fraud" and the need to reserve benefits for "our people," i.e. U.S. citizens. No one repeated this refrain more than the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), an agency whose enabling statute includes the following guiding principles:
In case you missed it, Maine's highest court heard arguments in the Gov. LePage veto debacle on Friday. We filed a brief with the court, arguing, as we have all along, that the governor's window to veto the bills was closed.
Wondering how your place of employment affects your contraceptive coverage? It’s been a year since the Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case and, just last Friday, the Obama administration finalized rules that will allow women working for particular religious non-profits and corporations to still receive coverage for their contraceptives. With these new rules in place, employees in need of contraceptives will still have access to insurance plans that cover contraceptives, even if their employers have religious objections.
The October 2014 Supreme Court term has officially ended, and what a way to end. There is a term in bridge for when a player runs the table, whether they have the best cards or not; it is called a "finesse." That is what it was like watching the decisions come down in the last days of the term: a total finesse game, with civil liberties coming out the winner.
As we blogged about last week, the U.S. Senate has spent several years hemming and hawing over whether to protect LGBT students from discrimination at school. It's been an embarassing parade of inaction, with the original legislation, known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act, not even being given a chance for an up-or-down vote. Finally, yesterday, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota brought up the effort as an amendment to a separate bill as a way of forcing senators to vote on the issue.
Gov. LePage has set both the single-session and all-time record for vetoes by a Maine governor, and he still has three years left to go. For a number of months this session, he vetoed every bill that was sponsored by a legislator from the Democratic Party, even though each of the bills that reached him had both Democratic and Republican support. Then, suddenly, the vetoes stopped.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on marriage, it’s easy to feel like the law is finally on the side of LGBT rights. But for all the progress we’ve made, there is still much work to be done – especially when it comes to protecting young LGBT students.
Gov. LePage’s claim that he has used the “pocket veto” to keep nearly 20 bills from becoming law is invalid under the Maine Constitution. Under the Constitution, the governor has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to veto bills after they have been passed by the legislature and presented to him, unless the legislature adjourns during that time. In this case, several bills have been waiting for action from the governor for more than 10 days, and the legislature has not adjourned the session.