Analysis: Why Paul LePage is against term limits, red lights and assisted suicide

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Gov. Paul LePage clarified his stance on several issues during a radio appearance Thursday morning.

After some questions on WGAN-AM about his education proposals which resulted in a repeat of what LePage said Tuesday during a news conference at the State House, the discussion veered and re-veered. There’s not enough time for a complete fact-check or to add context to the governor’s off-the-cuff remarks, but they are illustrative of his penchant for using anecdotes and his own experiences to guide policy decision-making.

Here are some highlights:

On legislative term limits

During a discussion about bills that are destined to go no where — which is a topic covered recently by the Bangor Daily News — LePage said his problem with the Legislature is that it’s too large and that term limits are sapping the legislative branch of needed experience. “I’m losing so much faith in our Legislature,” said LePage. “Sometimes I think I’m at a comedy show. Other days I just want to break down and cry, seeing what we do to the Maine people.”

On the red lights on police cars

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“We’re literally going to kill people because some bonehead thinks it’s a good idea,” said LePage. That was in reference to LD 172, which LePage vetoed but the Legislature saved this week with override votes of 122-20 in the House and 31-0 in the Senate. The bill would allow police vehicles, in addition to the blue lights they use now, to use up to 50 percent red lights. LePage said that red lights on police vehicles will confuse the public and that red lights on ambulances and fire trucks don’t work.

“People are going to be confused. They don’t stop for red lights now,” said LePage. “We’re on the road all the time and we see people just refuse to let ambulances by.”

The Daily Brief crews drives too and we have never seen motorists refuse to let an ambulance by. Have you?

On doctor-assisted suicide

A second attempt at a bill to allow doctors help ailing patients commit suicide, sponsored by Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta, appears to be in trouble (read more about it in the “quick hits” section below) following a committee vote against it on Wednesday. One of the radio hosts stated incorrectly that LePage vetoed the bill (which hasn’t been sent to him), which led to confusing statements from LePage, who sounded like he supports the bill’s premise despite his stated opposition to it.

“I just don’t think that’s a government issue,” he said. “It’s between a doctor and a patient. To say we’re going to play God, I don’t believe it. … Let the doctors and the patient decide what a person wants to do.”

On being heckled during his University of Southern Maine appearance this week

As reported Wednesday by the BDN’s Jake Bleiberg, LePage faced a number of hecklers during a stop at USM Tuesday night. Today, LePage lashed out at both the protesters and the university.

“We’ve got to forgive them; they just don’t know any better and they’re not being helped by the university,” said the governor. “The propaganda is all one-sided. These kids are not allowed to use independent thought. They’re told what to do and say and they can’t have any independent thought. … They were telling me that it’s OK for a black guy to kill a man and a woman on Christmas Eve and they were screaming at me because I called him out. I’m sorry but I’m going to continue to call out murderers.”

For the record, there has been no trial yet in the case to which LePage referred.

Gov. Paul LePage

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