NEWCASTLE — Gov. Paul LePage abruptly canceled a scheduled forum at Lincoln Academy Thursday with little explanation.

Local police officers assigned to oversee the event were present at the scheduled start time, as were members of the public and a handful of protesters. Ted Talbot, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation sometimes called on to help staff the governor’s forums, told the Press Herald that LePage canceled the forum at the last minute because he felt he needed to stay at the State House while the Legislature continued to work toward adjourning for the session.

Talbot said that he no further information about what legislation or issue would require the governor’s immediate attention. Peter Steele, the governor’s communications director didn’t provide additional explanation in an emailed statement, saying only that LePage felt compelled to stay in Augusta as lawmakers enter the final stretch.

“The governor really enjoys having weekly dialogues around the state with the Maine people, and he sincerely regrets not being able to attend,” Steele wrote. “But in the frenzied last days of the legislative session, there is just too much work to do in Augusta.”

Legislative leaders have indicated all week that they hoped to finish their work by Friday or Saturday. It was unclear if a particular bill required the governor’s attention, but he has taken a keen interest in several that lawmakers hope are scheduled to deal with either Thursday or Friday.

Among the proposals, is a bill that would greatly expand solar development in Maine, another designed to bailout the state’s ailing biomass plants and another proposal to expand MaineCare coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The governor is in a solid position to defeat the MaineCare bill and is expected to prevail in killing the solar bill, although an amended version picked up several Republican votes on Thursday.

LePage has not taken a formal position on biomass bailout that would tap $13.4 million from the state’s rainy day fund, but his energy director has played a key role in drafting a compromise.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.