Legislature kills Gov. Paul LePage’s immigrant status bill

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AUGUSTA — A proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to force municipalities to share information about immigrants was killed by House Democrats in a rare parliamentary maneuver practically before it saw the light of day on Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Ellie Espling, the House minority leader, said she was furious with the move.

LD 1652, which was proposed by LePage this week through Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst, sought to deny state dollars for school funding, general assistance and municipal revenue sharing to any municipality that “formally or informally” resists the exchange of any individual’s immigration status ineligible.

The bill was scheduled to be referred to a legislative committee on Tuesday, but House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, motioned for the bill to be “tabled unassigned.” His motion carried on a 77-67 party-line vote.

McCabe said after the vote that the bill is essentially dead because under legislative rules, he is the only person who can recall it.

McCabe said Tuesday that he’s seen the motion used only a few times during his eight years in the Legislature.

“The committees have plenty of work right now,” said McCabe. “At this point in time, to be submitting bills that are political in nature doesn’t seem to be the best use of the Legislature’s time. If the governor wants to submit bills to address job creation and the mill closings we’re seeing in the state of Maine, I’m all for it. … This bill was a waste of the taxpayers’ time.”

After the vote, Espling, of New Gloucester, expressed outrage about McCabe’s maneuver.

“Let the bill go to committee and let it go through the process,” she said. “There’s no need of this. … The Democrats could do this with the rest of the governor’s bills this session. “

McCabe said that’s a possibility.

“That could start happening,” he said. “At some point in time there needs to be a cutoff for these bills.”

By statute, the governor may submit proposed bills any time the Legislature is in session.

House Clerk Robert Hunt said Tuesday that “tabling unassigned” has been used infrequently in recent years. He said technically, if the bill is not recalled from the table, it will die when the Legislature adjourns “sine die.”

McCabe’s move Tuesday adds more fuel to the conflict between LePage and legislators, especially Democrats. The Republican governor regularly castigates lawmakers for wasting time, and during last year’s legislative session, he vowed to veto every bill sent to him.

LePage’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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