AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul Le- Page announced Friday that he is calling the Legislature back to the State House for a special lawmaking session set to start Oct. 23.

“I am calling a special legislative session to address two time-sensitive issues,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “First we must amend the recently passed ‘food sovereignty’ law to ensure compliance with federal requirements. The second critical issue is the need to fund the Maine Office of Geographic Information Systems, which was left out of the final version of the budget by the Legislature.”

LePage, however, did not mention two high-profile issues: consideration of a bill that allows the state to tax and regulate the recreational sale of marijuana as approved by voters last fall, and legislation that would either repeal or modify another voter-approved law to move Maine to ranked-choice voting.

While the governor can call lawmakers back for specific reasons, he cannot control what State House leaders decide they want lawmakers to work on once they reconvene.

LePage said the state’s recently enacted food sovereignty law needs to be amended to make it clear that local food sales subject to inspection under federal jurisdiction remain so, and that any food products intended for wholesale or retail distribution outside of the local municipality must be in compliance with all food safety laws. According to LePage, the changes would allow the state to continue local inspection, rather than compelling federal inspectors to take over.

“We will not be able to continue growing the local food sector of our rural economy by subjecting Maine farms and businesses to inspectors and regulations based in Washington. If the state program is eliminated, small farms will lose the most,” Le- Page said.

LePage also contends that the Legislature failed to restore funding to operate the Maine Office of Geographic Information Systems. MEGIS is operating on funds that were carried forward from the previous fiscal year. Some State House leaders have said they believe the office is covered in another portion of the state budget recently enacted.

“If the Legislature does not appropriate money to state agencies to properly fund MEGIS, funding will dry up before November. If this happens, the future of MEGIS and the state’s ability to adequately provide GIS services will be in extreme jeopardy,” LePage said.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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