Politics

Citing Shutdown, Maine Governor Declares Civil Emergency

Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday declared a state of “civil emergency” in an effort to minimize the financial impact on state operations of the federal government shutdown.
October 10, 2013

Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday declared a state of “civil emergency” in an effort to minimize the financial impact on state operations of the federal government shutdown.

With the proclamation, LePage has taken the authority to circumvent state laws or rules if he determines they “prevent, hinder and delay effective management of the emergency.”

Meanwhile, the largest union representing state workers called the proclamation an “unnecessary power grab.”

“The failure of leadership in Washington, D.C., has resulted in a federal shutdown, preventing the flow of federal money to Maine,” wrote LePage in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, this means that a large number of our federally funded state employees may have to be laid off. The State of Maine simply cannot fill the financial gap created by the prolonged loss of federal dollars. It would be unlawful for the State to ask our federally funded employees to continue to work without having the authority to pay them.”

READ: Full coverage of the shutdown's impact on states and localities

Top members of LePage’s staff stressed Wednesday that the governor’s goal is to prevent state employees from losing their jobs. One of the powers given to the governor in a civil emergency is the ability to transfer state personnel to ensure the ability to “cope with the emergency,” according to state law. That could potentially free the governor to ensure that certain government functions handled by laid-off employees continue despite the shutdown.

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