NEW LAWS

(from Maine Townsman, April 2010)

Effective dates. Emergency legislation became effective on the date it was signed by the Governor unless otherwise noted. If the new law was an emergency measure, it is so-noted before the Public Law citation. Non-emergency legislation becomes effective 90 days after adjournment of the legislative session in which it was enacted. The effective date of non-emergency legislation enacted this session will be July 12, 2010.

Mandate preamble. Legislation enacted with a “mandate preamble” contains the following language: “This measure requires one or more local units of government to expand or modify activities so as to necessitate additional expenditures from local revenues but does not provide funding for at least 90% of those expenditures. Pursuant to the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, Section 21, two-thirds of all of the members elected to each House have determined it necessary to enact this measure.” If the new law was enacted with a mandate preamble, it is so-noted along with the Public Law citation.

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

LD 1238 – An Act Concerning the National Animal Identification System. (Sponsored by Rep. Hamper of Oxford) PL 2009, c. 544

Carried over from the First Regular Session, this Act authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture to adopt rules to implement a national animal identification system, but only if federal law makes the system mandatory. Among other provisions of the Act, municipalities are preempted from adopting any ordinance requiring participation in an animal identification system except to conform to a program established by the Department.

LD 1587 – An Act To Amend the Animal Welfare Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Pieh of Bremen.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 548 (3/25/10)

This Act makes several changes to the state’s animal welfare law. Of municipal interest, this Act: (1) increases the late fee for dog licenses from $15 to $25, correcting an inadvertent result from changes to the late dog-licensing procedures enacted in 2009 that effectively reduced the late licensing fee from $25 to $15; and (2) expands the potential area where an unattended animal could be cited for trespass from “the property of another” to include any local, county or state road or highway.

Appropriations & Financial Affairs

LD 1668 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Initiative To Streamline State Government and To Make Other Necessary Changes to Law. (Reported by Rep. Cain of Orono.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 462 (1/21/10)

As part of the state budget that was enacted in the spring of 2009, the Appropriations Committee was directed to identify $30 million in additional budget cuts as an initiative to “streamline” state government. This Act is the result of that effort. Many of the changes involve moving state government personnel from state General Fund accounts to “Other Special Revenue” accounts so that their salaries and benefits, in whole or in part, are covered by revenue sources other than the General Fund. Among its various provisions, this Act makes an additional cut to municipal revenue sharing of $625,000 in the current fiscal year (FY 2010) and $9,300 in FY 2011. This Act also authorizes the Department of Education to begin adjusting subsidy payments to local school systems in the current fiscal year (FY 2010) to accommodate the $38.1 million “curtailment” to this year’s appropriation of General Purpose Aid for Local Schools ordered by the Governor on November 20, 2009.

LD 1671 – An Act To Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2010 and June 30, 2011. (Governor’s Bill) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 571 (3/31/10)

This Act is the supplemental state budget designed to bridge what turned out to be a $310 million gap between projected state revenues and the appropriations enacted in the biennial state budget last spring. The Act includes: (1) cuts to programs funded by state government; (2) a significant utilization of retired state employee health insurance reserves; and (3) some shifting of expenditures from the current budget biennium into the next (e.g., see “Homestead Exemption reimbursement push”, below).

In order of gross impacts, the proposed direct cuts to municipal government are:

School Subsidy: $48.2 million cut this round ($125.3 million over the biennium). The Act cuts General Purpose Aid for Local Schools by $38.1 million in the current fiscal year and $10.1 million in FY 2011. These reductions are applied on top of approximately $78 million in school subsidy reductions over the biennium enacted by the Legislature last spring. With these reductions, the state share of K-12 spending (not counting temporary federal “stabilization” funding) as measured by the Essential Programs and Services school funding model (EPS) will be 47% this year and 45% in FY 2011. Based on projections of recent actual spending levels, the state share of total K-12 spending will be approximately 43% over each year of the biennium.

Revenue Sharing: $16 million cut this round ($60 million over the biennium). Last spring, the Legislature took $44 million out of municipal revenue sharing to balance the state’s budget. This Act takes an additional $16 million by taking $6 million out of the current year’s revenue sharing distribution and another $10 million out of next year’s revenue sharing. The combined revenue sharing cuts enacted by the Legislature will result in a 19.4% reduction in revenue sharing distribution this year and a 28.3% reduction next year. All of these cuts are imposed on top of the reductions that are already taking place in revenue sharing as a result of the slumping economy.

Tree Growth Reimbursement : $531,000 cut this round ($2.35 million over the biennium). If the state was going to provide the amount of Tree Growth reimbursement called for by law, the appropriation would be $6.25 million. Last spring, the Legislature cut the appropriation by $877,500 for the current year and by $937,500 for FY 2011. This Act reduces the FY 2011 distribution by an additional $531,000.

The Homestead Exemption reimbursement “push”: $5.4 million. Before this year’s change, 80% of the homestead exemption reimbursement to which each municipality is entitled was provided by August 15th of the year in which the exemption is provided, and the remaining 20% of reimbursement was issued by December 15th of that same year. This Act amends that distribution to provide 75% of the entitled reimbursement by the August 15th deadline, but delays the payment of the remaining 25% (formerly 20%) of the reimbursement from the December 15th distribution to July 15th of the following year. By delaying this payment seven months, the state pushes a $5.4 million expenditure into the next biennium. It’s an accounting gimmick. Although the push creates a cash-flow issue for all municipalities, the towns operating on a calendar fiscal year will be most affected by this delay in distribution.

Other Notables in the Supplemental Budget. There are several other items of municipal interest in this supplemental state budget, including:

General Assistance. The Act appropriates $880,000 for the current fiscal year and $1.46 million for FY 2011 in order to make sure there are enough funds to adequately provide municipal General Assistance reimbursements.

Board of Corrections. $3.5 million is appropriated in this Act for the Board of Corrections Investment Fund to provide for the operational needs of the county jails under the new unified correctional system.

Disaster Assistance. The Act appropriates $1.75 million over each year of the biennium to pay the state’s 15% share of disaster assistance provided for a half-dozen declared disasters, including flooding in 2005, the St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 2007, the Patriots’ Day Flood of 2007, the May flooding in 2008, the July/August floods in 2008, the December ice/snow events of 2008 and the June/July floods in 2009.

Vital Records Fees. The Act reverses the significant fee increase imposed last year by the Legislature for vital records sought from and provided by the state. The background and final result of all the changes regarding vital records fees are discussed in a side-bar article on the subject on page 14 of this edition of the Townsman.

Property Tax Review Board. The State Board of Property Tax Review has been absorbing budget reductions for several years, and now there are not enough funds to allow the Board to dispose of appeal requests in a timely manner. In an effort to provide additional funding to the Board, the Act creates a filing fee system similar to the filing fee system that is used for appeals to Superior Court. The fees are established as follows:

– For applicants seeking an appeal from “current use” tax decisions made at the local level (e.g., Tree Growth, Farmland, Open Space), the filing fee will be $75.

– For applicants seeking an appeal from a valuation decision of a non-residential property with a taxable value over $1 million, the filing fee will be $150.

There will be no filing fee for a municipality seeking an appeal from a state valuation determination made by Maine Revenue Services.

Other K-12 Education Issues.

Removing the non-consolidation penalty for some. The Act includes an appropriation of $1.12 million to remove the financial penalty that would otherwise be applied to school systems that voted ‘yes’ on a school consolidation plan that was ultimately rejected because their proposed partners voted ‘no’.

More flexibility in timing school budget validation votes. Current law requires the school budget validation referendum vote to be scheduled within 14 days of the open meeting vote where the school budget is provisionally adopted. The Act extends that time period to within 30 days after the open meeting vote.

School budget validation referendum continuation question. The Act establishes 2010 as the year for all school systems to place an article on the school budget referendum ballot which asks the voters if they wish to continue with the school budget validation referendum process. The Act also restores the opportunity that used to be in law for the voters in subsequent years to petition a referendum article to restore the school budget validation referendum process if referendum voting is discontinued by the voters and in later years the petitioners wish to see it restored (see sidebar article on page 9).

Partial waiver of minimum local funding effort. The Act provides that for the next two years, if the state is able to fund only a percentage of its 55% share of the Essential Programs and Services school funding model, there will be no proportional reduction in any school’s state subsidy if the local school system raises at least the same percentage of their required local contribution. The Act repeals this statutory recognition of proportional-responsibility as of June 30, 2012.

LD 1826 – An Act To Authorize Bond Issues for Ratification by the Voters for the June 2010 Election and November 2010 Election. (Governor’s bill) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 645 (4/12/10)

This Act sends out to the voters a proposed $47.8 million transportation bond to be considered by the voters at the June 8, 2010 primary election. The bill also schedules a separate $5 million bond proposal to go out to the voters in November 2010 to create a community based dental school teaching clinic and upgrade dental clinics statewide. In addition, the bill amends two of the three bond questions that have already been scheduled to be placed on the June 8th ballot by increasing one component of those borrowing proposals by $5 million and decreasing three other components within those bond proposals by $13.5 million. It should be noted that until the point on enactment this bond included approximately $5 million for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, leveraging $26 million in matching federal funds to help deal with Clean Water Act mandates. The Legislature ultimately rejected these components of the bond. The specifics of the elements of this bill related to the June 8th bond election are:

• Transportation Bond - $47.8 million

– $24.8 million for state highway reconstruction and paving;

– $7 million to help finance the purchase and preservation of 240 miles of railroad track in Aroostook County;

– $5 million to purchase a portion of rail line and make other rail improvements to create a connector to the Lewiston-Auburn area;

– $4 million for repairs and improvements to the state-owned Mountain Division Railroad located in southern Maine;

– $6.5 million to help finance the Ocean Gateway deep water pier in Portland; and

– $0.5 million to provide challenge grants through the Small Harbor Improvement Program.

• The June 8th Energy Investments Bond, as amended:

– A $26.5 million capital improvement package (down from $33.5 million), with:

- Zero funding for a program to weatherize low and middle income households and small businesses (down from $12 million);

- $15.5 million for capital upgrades at the University and Community College campuses; and

- $11 million for research and development investments targeted to ocean wind energy demonstration sites (up from $6 million).

• The June 8th Economic Development Bond, as amended.

– A $23.75 million economic development package (down from $25 million), with:

- $8 million to redevelop the Brunswick Naval Air Station site;

- $3.5 million for the “Communities for Maine’s Future” program;

- $3 million for research and development investments;

- $4 million for the Small Enterprise Growth Fund (down from $5 million);

- $3 million for an economic recovery loan program;

- $1 million to provide grants for food processing and lumbering industries; and

- $1.25 million for acquiring historic properties (down from $1.5 million).

LD 1830 – An Act To Make Administrative Changes to Tax Laws To Maintain a Balanced Budget. (Sponsored by Rep. Cain of Orono.) P& SL 2009, c. 41

This Act amends the comprehensive tax reform legislation enacted in 2009 which has by petition been made subject to a “people's veto” referendum on June 8, 2010. The purpose of the Act is to advance the effective date of the tax reform package if the voters elect not to repeal it on June 8th so as to avoid a significant reduction in income tax revenue collected during FY 2011 that would occur out of synch with the concomitant sales tax revenue increases associated with the reform package and create a revenue shortfall in the state budget for FY 2011 of nearly $50 million. Under the terms of the Act, if the voters elect on June 8th not to repeal the tax reform legislation, the effective dates of the various provisions of the enacted legislation would be extended by one year.

Business, Research & Economic Development

LD 91 – An Act To Fund the Maine Downtown Center. (Sponsored by Rep. Watson of Bath.) P & SL 2009, c. 42

Carried over from the First Regular Session, this Act appropriates $10,000 from the General Fund for FY 2011 to recapitalize the Maine Downtown Center.

LD 1389 – An Act to Create Regional Quality of Place Investment Strategies for High-value Jobs, Products and Services in Maine. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County.) PL 2009, c. 483

This Act creates a process for establishing a “quality of place jobs creation and investment strategy”. The term “quality of place assets” is defined as those exceptional, marketable, place-based competitive strengths, resources and advantages that drive the local and regional economy and its sustainability, including: sustainable economic activities based on natural resources, downtowns and community centers, historic buildings and structures, arts and “creative economy” activities, landscapes, access to outdoor recreational activities, workforce skills and knowledge, and intellectual assets such as colleges and research institutes. The Act establishes the 12-member Maine Quality of Place Council, which includes 6 state agency representatives and 6 private citizens appointed by the Governor. The Act directs the Council, in consultation with the regional economic development districts, to establish guidelines and standards governing the development of regional quality of place investment strategies. These strategies may be voluntarily created by regional Economic Development Districts. The Act also directs the Council to work with state agencies to identify how the state agencies can promote initiatives that support those regional strategies.

LD 1530 – An Act To Facilitate Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 517 (3/17/10)

This Act provides certain authorities to the Governor and to the county commissioners in order to facilitate the issuance and reallocation of facility bonds, economic development bonds and qualified energy conservation bonds pursuant to the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Specifically, the Act authorizes a reallocation process whereby each county’s allocation for those bonds would be waived, enabling the Finance Authority of Maine and the Maine Municipal Bond Bank to reallocate the unused bonding volume cap in a timely manner. For more information visit www.mainebondbank.com/arra.aspx.

Criminal Justice & Public Safety

LD 1497 – An Act To Amend the Law Pertaining to Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. (Sponsored by Sen. Diamond of Cumberland County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 551 (3/25/10)

This Act amends the law that requires installation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in multi-family and certain single family homes. Among the various amendments and clarifications, this Act: (1) clarifies that smoke detectors must be installed in rental units at the time of new occupancy if they are not already present; (2) establishes that carbon monoxide detectors are required in all dwelling units occupied under the terms of a rental agreement or under a month-to-month tenancy and further establishes that the buyer of any single-family dwelling or multifamily apartment building must install carbon monoxide detectors and certify that the buyer has done so; (3) establishes that carbon monoxide detectors in rental units, new construction and buildings converted into dwelling units must be powered by both electrical service and by battery; and (4) appropriates $115,000 from revenues in the State Fire Marshall’s Office for the purpose of distributing carbon monoxide detectors to the Maine State Housing Authority, community action agencies, local fire departments, realtors’ associations and other organizations willing to promote the placement of those detectors in houses.

LD 1610 – An Act To Establish the Silver Alert Program. (Sponsored by Rep. Rotundo of Lewiston.) PL 2009, c. 583

This Act directs the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to develop and implement the “Silver Alert Program”, which establishes certain law enforcement and media alert protocols when elderly people with physical or mental impairments are discovered missing. DPS is directed to develop this program with the cooperation of the Maine Turnpike Authority, the Department of Transportation, media broadcast companies, and law enforcement agencies. The program must include standards and procedures for local law enforcement agencies to determine that a missing person is a missing senior citizen and activate a “Silver Alert” to local or statewide law enforcement agencies and the media. The program must also include a plan for providing relevant information to the public through a system of dynamic message signs located across the state. The program must also include training for all law enforcement officers. According to the Act, the Silver Alert Program must be developed and implemented using existing resources.

LD 1822 – An Act To Further Amend the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 1999. (Reported by Rep. Haskell of Portland.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 570 (3/30/10)

This Act implements several changes to the sex offender registration laws in response to a 2009 decision of the Maine Supreme Court that found elements of that law unconstitutional. Many of those changes are focused on the process of verification performed by sex offender registrants and law enforcement agencies with respect to offenders sentenced on or after January 1, 1982 and prior to September 18, 1999.

Education and Cultural Affairs

LD 551 – Resolve, To Direct the Commissioner of Education To Review the Essential Programs and Services Funding Formula. (Sponsored by Rep. Finch of Fairfield) Resolves 2009, c. 197

Carried over from the first regular session, this Resolve directs the Commissioner of the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Maine Education Policy Research Institute (MEPRI), to conduct a review of certain finance and policy issues associated with the Essential Programs and Services school funding model (EPS). Among the various charges in this Resolve, the Commissioner’s review must include analyses of: (1) the original policy goal or educational objective established for each of the EPS cost components and a detailed description of the original and current methodology used to calculate the adequate level of resources to support each component; (2) the subsidy distribution methodology originally established for the EPS funding formula and the current subsidy distribution methodology; (3) the practices found in schools identified by MEPRI as “higher-performing, more efficient” schools and “lower-performing, less efficient” schools; (4) the current statutory framework related to the Commissioner’s annual funding level computations and recommendation; and (5) the process of reviewing and updating certain EPS cost components based on information provided by MEPRI. The Commissioner’s report must be provided to the Legislature by January 3, 2011.

LD 570 – An Act to Improve the Laws Governing the Consolidation of School Administrative Units. (Sponsored by Rep. Finch of Fairfield) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 580 (4/01/10)

Carried over from the first regular session, this Act amends the body of law governing the mandatory school consolidation process, as originally enacted in 2007 and amended in 2008, to either achieve or allow the following:

• An “Alternative Organizational Structure”, or AOS, which was created in law in 2008 in what is known as “unallocated language”, is now created in statute as a “school administrative unit” that can meet the requirements of school consolidation law. An “Alternative Organizational Structure” is a modified school union-type system where independent school systems share a superintendent; a consolidated administration of special education, transportation, and back-office business functions; a common core curriculum and student assessment systems; common school policies and calendar; and “consistent” collective bargaining agreements.

• Allows the number of students attending a school from the unorganized territories to be counted as students “served by the school system” for the purpose of meeting consolidation threshold standards.

• Expressly allows a regional school unit (RSU) or AOS to be formed that serves just 1,000 students (as opposed to the original 2,500-student threshold) if the proposed RSU or AOS:

– comprises three or more school units that were in existence prior to July 1, 2008, or

– the member municipalities of the proposed RSU/AOS are surrounded by already approved RSU or AOS systems and there are no other school systems available to join the proposed RSU/AOS, or

– the member municipalities of the proposed RSU/AOS include two or more “isolated small schools” as that term is defined in law.

• Allows an RSU/AOS designation to be granted to one or more school systems even if the 1,000 student threshold is not achieved if the applying school systems can demonstrate and otherwise convince the commissioner of the Department of Education that all reasonable and practical means of satisfying the various RSU standards have been exhausted and approval is warranted based on the unique or particular circumstances of those school units.

• Allows for the purpose of school subsidy distribution the individual school systems within an AOS to have their subsidy calculated as individual school systems, unless the participating schools systems decide in their reorganization plan for the AOS to be treated as a single school system for school subsidy distribution purposes. The governing bodies of existing AOS systems, which were not provided this option, would be given the opportunity to effectively change their reorganization plan in this respect if they wish to.

• Establishes the procedures for a municipality to withdraw from a RSU by essentially reinstating the procedures that used to be available for a municipality to withdraw from a School Administrative District (SAD). Under the terms of the withdrawal process, neither the withdrawing municipality nor the remaining RSU would be subject to the financial penalties for being noncompliant with the standards of consolidation for a 2-year period after withdrawal. If either the remaining RSU or withdrawing municipality are noncompliant with the standards of consolidation at the end of the 2-year period, the penalties would kick-in.

• Provides an authority for the RSU school boards to place an article before the voters that would permit the school board to establish a single common date for the beginning term of office for elected board members, who may be elected at different times at their municipal elections.

LD 1686 – Resolve, To Clarify the Reporting of Debt Service Costs and the Allowance of Minor Capital School Improvement Projects Costs under Essential Programs and Services. (Sponsored by Rep. Rotundo of Lewiston.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2009, c. 182 (3/30/10)

This Resolve directs the Department of Education to convene a stakeholder group, made up of representatives of the Maine School Management Association, to review the current school funding formula as it relates to recognizing, funding and approving non-state-funded debt service costs incurred for minor capital school improvement projects. The stakeholder group must report its recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2011.

LD 1705 – An Act To Align the Duties of School Boards Concerning Student Safety with the Requirements of the Federal Gun-Free Schools Act and To Prohibit the Discharge of Firearms within 500 Feet of Public and Private School Properties. (Sponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake.) PL 2009, c. 614

To achieve conformity with federal minimum standards, this Act clarifies that the current prohibitions against possessing a firearm on school property or discharging a firearm within 500 feet of school property applies to both public and private schools. The Act also articulates the standards that apply with respect to the exceptions to the general rule, such as for school board-authorized firearm education and training programs, authorized “hunters’ breakfasts” that are conducted outside of normal school hours, etc.

Health & Human Services

LD 1592 – An Act To Update the Laws Affecting the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Sponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake.) (Mandate) PL 2009, c. 589

This Act makes several changes to the fees assessed by the divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of municipal relevance are the vital records and plumbing permit fee increases.

With respect to the CDC’s Data, Research and Vital Records division, this Act, which is identified as a state mandate, authorizes DHHS to adopt “major substantive” rules governing the fees the state can assess on towns and cities for the vital records services provided to the municipalities by the CDC, including but not limited to fees for service, paper and supplies. The Act requires DHHS to review the fees it charges by rule every three years, beginning in 2013. To help communities cover the cost associated with the state service fee, the vital records fees assessed and retained at the municipal level are increased as follows: (1) original or corrected birth, marriage or death certificates from $10 to $15 (for the first copy) and from $5 to $6 (for subsequent copies); (2) burial permit, which is renamed “permit for the disposition of human reams”, from $5 to $20; and (3) marriage license from $30 to $40. The fee assessed for a burial permit that is paid through the General Assistance program is waived.

With respect to the CDC’s Subsurface Wastewater division, this Act increases the maximum fees that can be assessed for: (1) plumbing permit from $6 to $10; (2) combined internal plumbing permit from $24 to $40; and (3) non-engineered subsurface wastewater disposal system fee from $100 to $250.

LD 1781 – An Act To Allow Electronic Filing of Vital Records and Closing of Records To Guard against Fraud and Make Other Changes to the Vital Records Laws. (Governor’s Bill) PL 2009, c. 601

This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing the management of vital records. Among the several amendments and additions to those laws, this Act: (1) allows the state Registers of Vital Statistics, in addition to municipal clerks, to issue all forms of burial permits, cremation permits, or cremation-burial at sea permits; (2) shortens the time period in which a vital record can be corrected without a formal amendment from one-year to 90 days; and (3) clarifies the rules regarding the release of vital records to interested parties and establishes that the release of these records to the general public can only occur with respect to records that are 100 years old, although certain exceptions must be provided through state-agency rulemaking for genealogical research.

LD 1811 – An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Marijuana Act. (Governor’s Bill) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 631 (4/09/10)

This Act makes several amendments to the citizens’ initiative governing medical marijuana dispensaries that was adopted by the voters in November 2009.  Many of the amendments clarify certain “authorized conduct” on the part of physicians, dispensaries, patients, and people assisting patients or in their presence so as to differentiate that conduct from otherwise illegal activity. Of interest to municipalities, this Act makes the following clarifying amendments to the citizens’ initiative adopted by the voters in 2009: (1) July 1, 2010 is established as the deadline for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to promulgate rules governing the manner in which DHHS considers applications for registration cards for registered patients, registered caregivers, principal officers, board members and employees of dispensaries; (2) the confidentiality provisions governing the process whereby eligible applicants obtain their registration cards are amended to make it clear that nothing related to the process of approving the site location or land use approval of a dispensary at the local level is a confidential proceeding; (3) DHHS is authorized to issue registration cards for no more than one dispensary in each of the state’s eight public health districts in the first year of implementation; and (4) the originally-adopted provision of the citizen’s initiative that expressly authorized municipalities to limit the number of dispensaries and subject the dispensaries to reasonable zoning regulations is expanded to allow for reasonable local regulation that may not be zoning regulation per se, such as site plan review regulations.

Insurance & Financial Services

LD 1649 – Resolve, To Increase the Financial Stability of Low-income Families in Maine. (Sponsored by Sen. Simpson of Androscoggin County.) Resolves 2009, c. 156

This Resolve directs the Superintendent of Financial Institutions within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulations to establish the “Bank on ME” working group, composed of municipal officials and representatives of state and federal financial institutions, community organizations and state agencies. The working group is responsible for developing and implementing collaborative voluntary initiatives that increase the financial stability of low-income families by increasing awareness of, and access to, basic financial services.

Judiciary

LD 445 – An Act To Improve Tribal-State Relations. (Sponsored by Rep. Priest of Brunswick.) PL 2009, c. 636

Carried over from the first regular session, this Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing state and tribal relations. Among those changes, the Act adds the position of Representative of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to the Maine House of Representatives, just as there are currently Representatives of the Penobscot Indian Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe. The Act also adds a 714 acre parcel of land in the territory of Argyle in Penobscot County to the Penobscot Indian Reservation. The Act also amends the Interlocal Agreement Act, which allows municipal, county, school and other and quasi-municipal entities, along with state or federal agencies, to formally partner on the delivery of specified services. This Act expressly allows the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation, and their political subdivisions, to enter into agreements with other parties under the terms of the Interlocal Agreement Act.

LD 1551 – Resolve, Directing the Right To Know Advisory Committee To Examine Issues Related to Communications of Members of Public Bodies. (Sponsored by Rep. Dostie of Sabattus.) Resolves 2009, c. 171

This Resolve directs the Right to Know Advisory Committee to examine three issues related to Maine’s “Freedom of Access” or “Right to Know” laws and provide recommendations on those matters to the Legislature by January 15, 2011. The three issues are: (1) how the state’s Right to Know laws can address the use of electronic communication technologies to ensure that decisions are made in proceedings that are open and accessible to the public; (2) whether the penalties for violations of the right to know laws should be revised, including making them criminal violations; and (3) whether partisan party caucuses, which legislative committees often break into so as to deliberate on legislation behind closed doors, should be specifically excluded from the definition of “public proceedings”.

LD 1722 – An Act To Strengthen Protection from Abuse and Protection from Harassment Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Haskell of Portland.) PL 2009, c. 555

This Act allows for the service of temporary and final protection from harassment and protection from abuse orders when the original court orders have been electronically transmitted directly from the court issuing the order to the authorized law enforcement agency making the service. The Act also allows the return of proof of service to be made by electronic transmission directly to the court from the law enforcement officer making service.

LD 1791 – Resolve, Directing the Right To Know Advisory Committee To Further Examine Requirements That Public Bodies Keep Records of Public Proceedings. (Reported by Rep. Priest of Brunswick for the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary.) Resolves 2009, c. 186

This Resolve directs the Right to Know Advisory Committee to examine issues related to requiring public bodies to keep records of public proceedings (e.g., the mandated production of meeting minutes). The Committee’s examination must include the form and maintenance of the records to be kept, the time period within which the records must be made available, how long the records must be retained, the appropriate content of the records, and whether failure to comply with the records requirements results in the invalidation of any action taken by the public body. The Committee must submit its report to the Legislature by February 15, 2011.

LD 1792 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee Concerning Public Records Exceptions. (Reported by Rep. Priest of Brunswick for the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary.) PL 2009, c. 567

 

 

This Act implements a number of recommendations of the Right to Know Advisory Committee which are generally focused on statutory language in various places in Maine law regarding confidentiality provisions. In addition, this Act includes a recommendation of the Right to Know Advisory Committee to give itself the charge of reviewing and making recommendations concerning the issues involved with requests for public records in bulk, including: (1) public access to data bases; (2) protection of personal information not expressly designated as confidential but contained in data bases that include public records; (3) reasonable costs for copies when public records are requested in bulk; (4) whether access to public records or the costs of their reproduction should be based on the intended or subsequent use of the information requested in bulk; and (5) the acceptable formats for responses to requests for bulk records.

LD 1802 – Resolve, Directing the Right To Know Advisory Committee To Examine Issues Related to Private Information Contained in the Communications of Public Officials. (Sponsored by Rep. Hill of York.) Resolves 2009, c. 184

This Resolve directs the Right to Know Advisory Committee to examine issues relating to the protection of private information contained in communications, electronic or otherwise, that are sent and received by public officials, particularly communications between elected public officials and their constituents. The advisory committee is asked to consider confidentiality requirements related to legislators’ oversight responsibilities, as well as appropriate warning for public officials to provide with regard to communications that are or may be public records. The advisory committee must submit its recommendations to the Legislature no later than November 30, 2010.

Labor

LD 1524 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Labor To Research and Analyze the Methods Other States Utilize To Assess Benefit Charges When a Worker Becomes Unemployed and Receives Benefits. (Sponsored by Rep. Beaulieu of Auburn.) Resolves 2009, c. 147

This Resolve directs the Department of Labor to examine the methods employed by other states to assess benefit charges when a worker who has multiple employers becomes unemployed and receives unemployment benefits, and prepare a report on the information gathered. One focus of that report is how to best protect employers from inequitable assessments. The Department’s report must be submitted to the Legislature no later than January 15, 2011.

LD 1558 – An Act Regarding Accidental Death Benefits for Beneficiaries of Deceased Firefighters. (Sponsored by Sen. Jackson of Aroostook County.) PL 2009, c. 513

This Act provides an accidental death retirement benefit to the beneficiary of a professional firefighter who dies from cardiovascular injury or disease or pulmonary disease, provided the firefighter was a member of the Participating Local District Retirement Program administered by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System and the injury or disease that caused the firefighter’s death is the result of a condition that developed within 30 days of the active member’s participating in firefighting or training or a drill that involves firefighting. If the professional firefighter dies after 30 days but within 6 months of participating in firefighting or training or a drill that involves firefighting, the Act establishes a rebuttable presumption that the death is the result of an injury arising out of and in the course of employment as a professional firefighter. The Act makes the death benefit retroactive to November 1, 2004.

LD 1582 – An Act To Bring the Laws of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System into Compliance with the Federal Internal Revenue Code. (Sponsored by Rep. Tuttle of Sanford.) PL 2009, c. 474

This Act makes changes to the laws governing the qualified defined benefit retirement programs administered by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System to conform them to provisions in the United States Internal Revenue Code in order to ensure the continued qualified status and favorable tax treatment of the programs.

LD 1595 – An Act To Provide Continued Protection of Benefits for Retirees of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County.) PL 2009, c. 473

This Act amends the laws governing the Maine Public Employees Retirement System by requiring that if the Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreases for one or more years, retirement benefit cost of living increases, which are pegged to CPI, must not go negative. This protection against cuts to retirement benefits must be provided in a cost-neutral fashion such that subsequent increases in the CPI must be off-set by the negative CPI amounts avoided.

LD 1626 – An Act To Amend the Unemployment Compensation Laws Regarding Vacation Pay. (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven.) PL 2009, c. 638

Under current law, a person who is laid off from employment must effectively use up his or her accrued vacation time before becoming eligible for unemployment benefits. This Act would allow employees who are laid-off to receive unemployment insurance payments for any period that the worker also receives vacation pay.

Legal & Veterans Affairs

LD 1596 – An Act Regarding Mobile Service Bars at Municipal Golf Courses. (Sponsored by Sen. Perry of Penobscot County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 472 (2/23/10)

Current law allows golf courses with appropriate liquor licenses to dispense malt liquor from a licensed mobile service bar. This Act authorizes municipalities that own golf courses to contract with restaurants or lounges licensed to sell alcoholic beverages so that the employees of the contracted restaurant or lounge may sell or dispense malt liquor from a mobile service bar on the municipal golf course.

LD 1579 – An Act To Facilitate Voting by Uniformed Service and Overseas Voters. (Sponsored by Rep. Willette of Presque Isle.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 563 (3/29/10)

This Act allows voters from all municipalities in the state to request absentee ballots using the Secretary of State’s online absentee ballot request service. The Act also allows the Secretary to facilitate voting by uniformed service and overseas voters by allowing for the central issuance, receipt and counting of their absentee ballots by the Secretary of State’s Office. The Act requires the Secretary to adopt rules regarding the central issuance and processing of absentee ballots for uniformed and overseas voters to ensure the ballots are examined, counted and stored in the same manner as regular absentee ballots, and further requires the Secretary to issue a report on the central issuance and processing of absentee ballots to the Legislature by March 1, 2011. The Act stipulates that its provisions do not apply to the primary election scheduled to occur in June 2010.

LD 1627 – An Act To Improve Access to Data in the Central Voter Registration System. (Sponsored by Rep. Trinward of Waterville.) PL 2009, c. 564

This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing the centralized voter registration system, with a primary focus on the management of that system by the Secretary of State’s Office. Among those changes, the Act amends the fee schedule that pertains to the provision of voter information by electronic form by increasing the fee in all number-of-voter categories by 10%. The Act also entitles the person paying the fee and receiving the electronic records to receive, upon request, up to 11 updates free of charge during the subsequent 12-month period, with no more than one free update during any 30-day period.

LD 1656 – Resolve, To Transfer the Ownership of the Bath Armory to the City of Bath. (Sponsored by Sen. Goodall of Sagadahoc County.) Resolves 2009, c. 143

This Resolve directs the transfer of ownership of the Bath Armory from the State to the City of Bath for a sum of not less than $175,000 as long as the City agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the State from all claims, including any environmental clean-up costs, that may arise in connection with the land and buildings being transferred.

LD 1667 – An Act To Amend the Election Laws and Other Related Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Sullivan of York County.) PL 2009, c. 538

This Act makes a number of technical and minor substantive changes to the state’s election laws. Among those changes, the Act: (1) clarifies that certain restrictions on the offices a registrar of voters may hold apply only with respect to the electoral division in which the registrar is appointed; (2) allows that when there is a vacancy in the office of warden, ward clerk or deputy warden, those vacant positions can be filled on a per-election basis until the vacancy is filled with qualified persons who are registered voters of the county rather than registered voters of the municipality which they serve; (3) removes the requirements that the fiscal impact statement for direct initiatives of legislation must placed in each booth on election day and replaces it with a requirement that the fiscal information be posted with the sample ballots outside the guardrail so as to be visible to the voters; and (4) clarifies that any member of the public, and not just candidates or candidates’ representatives, may inspect absentee ballot envelopes and applications before they are processed according to the procedures and times as established in law.

LD 1730 – An Act To Strengthen the Ballot Initiative Process. (Sponsored by Sen. Nutting of Androscoggin County.) PL 2009, c. 611

This Act creates a registration requirement for companies that receive compensation to circulate petitions to advance statewide citizen initiatives or “peoples’ veto” initiatives. In addition to those companies having to register with the Secretary of State’s Office prior to circulating any petitions, each page of the circulated petitions must include a space for the circulator to place his or her name, along with a unique identifying number. The Act further provides that all circulated petitions must be signed by the circulator and notarized prior to being submitted to the municipal election officials for signature verification, and if they are not properly signed and notarized, the municipal registrar may not certify the petitions and must return them to the circulator. In addition, the Act mandates that any municipal registrar or clerk who suspects that a petition is submitted in violation of any of the circulation requirements must immediately notify the Secretary of State and provide a copy of the petition to the Secretary.

LD 1790 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Working Group To Study Landlord and Tenant Issues. (Reported by Rep. Trinward of Waterville for the Joint Standing Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs.) PL 2009, c. 566

This Act implements a number of recommendations of a working group studying landlord and tenant issues. Among the various recommendations, this Act expands the law enacted in 2009 that allows a municipality to provide heating fuel in certain circumstances to an apartment building when necessary to ensure the habitability of the property, and further establishes a process for the municipality to place a lien on the property to recover those costs. This Act expands that authority so a municipality could provide “basic necessities” other than heating oil according to the same procedures. The term “basic necessities” is defined as services, including but not limited to maintenance, repairs, and provision of heat and utilities, that a landlord is responsible to provide under the terms of a lease, a tenancy at will agreement or applicable law.

Natural Resources

LD 891 – Resolve, To Develop Practices for Developments of State and Regional Significance in Order to Reduce Dependency on Imported Fossil Fuels and Meet the State’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goals. (Sponsored by Sen. Seth Goodall of Sagadahoc County.) Resolves 2009, c. 206

This Resolve directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in consultation with the Efficiency Maine Trust Board, the Technical Building Codes and Standards Board, and experts in energy efficiency, to provide recommendations for the design and operation of non-industrial and non-manufacturing developments subject to the state’s Site Location of Development Act that when applied will ensure that the development will further the state’s climate action plan by minimizing overall energy use and dependence on fossil fuels, avoiding or minimizing emissions of greenhouse gases while considering mitigation and maximum energy efficiency. The DEP must submit a report on the recommended practices to the Legislature by January 1, 2011. The Resolve also directs the DEP, consulting with the same entities and according to the same report-back schedule, to evaluate the energy performance of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code in relation to other commonly used energy-efficiency benchmarking systems (e.g., the United States Green Building Council’s “LEED” system, etc.) and make recommendations as to whether the developments subject to the Site Location of Development Act that are designed and operated to those benchmarking systems will further the state’s climate action plan by minimizing overall energy use and dependence on fossil fuels, avoiding or minimizing emissions of greenhouse gases while considering mitigation and maximum energy efficiency.

This Resolve also directs the DEP, in consultation with the State Planning Office, the Department of Transportation, and technical experts in architecture, transportation and site development, to develop a series of best management practices for the design and site layout of developments subject to the Site Location of Development Act that will contribute to minimizing or avoiding the emission of greenhouse gases, maximizing energy efficiency and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The DEP must submit the report on those best management practices to the Legislature by January 1, 2011.

LD 1526 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 700: Wellhead Protection: Siting of Facilities That Pose a Significant Threat to Drinking Water, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection. (Reported by Rep. Duchesne of Hudson.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2009, c. 149 (2/18/10)

This Resolve provides final legislative authorization of a rule promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection entitled Chapter 700: Wellhead Protection: Siting of Facilities that Pose a Significant Threat to Drinking Water. The rule regulates the siting of facilities such as automobile graveyards, automobile body shops or other commercial automobile maintenance and repair facilities, dry cleaners, metal finishing and plating facilities and commercial hazardous waste facilities within wellhead protection zones and over certain ground water aquifers.

LD 1527 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 692: Siting of Oil Storage Facilities, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection. (Reported by Rep. Duchesne of Hudson.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2009, c. 148 (2/18/10)

This Resolve provides final legislative authorization of a rule promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection entitled Chapter 692: Siting of Oil Storage Facilities. Chapter 692 combines the existing siting standards and restrictions for underground storage facilities found in Chapter 691 with new, identical provisions for aboveground storage facilities.

LD 1553 – An Act To Facilitate Establishment of Watershed Districts. (Sponsored by Rep. Eberle of South Portland.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 506 (3/15/10)

This Act clarifies that the laws enabling the creation of watershed management districts are open rather than exclusionary enabling laws, and a watershed management district can also be created by one or more municipalities pursuant to municipal home rule authority or municipal interlocal cooperation authority. The Act further establishes this clarification to apply retroactively to July 1, 2009. The Act also amends the laws governing site location of development to authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to make a finding that the storm water management standards are met if a redevelopment project is located in a watershed with an approved watershed management plan and the developer has obtained the necessary approvals or entered into the necessary agreements to participate in that management plan.

LD 1573 – An Act To Improve Water Quality through the Phaseout of Overboard Discharges and the Improvement of the Boat Pump-out Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven.) PL 2009, c. 654

This Act amends the laws governing the replacement and licensing of overboard discharge systems in several ways. Among the various changes, this Act rewrites and builds-up the so-called “transfer” provisions that apply when a property operating an overboard discharge system is transferred or is significantly reconstructed (“significant action”) or there is a division of the lot upon which the system is located. A “significant action” is defined as a single construction projected performed on a primary residence with an overboard discharge system when the total material and labor cost of the construction project exceeds $50,000. Certain exemptions are provided if the construction is to make the residence accessible to the disabled or in response to fire or severe weather-related damage. At the center of the transfer or “significant action” provisions is a requirement that an analysis must be conducted regarding the possibility of installing a technologically proven alternative to the overboard discharge and, if so, that the alternative system be installed within 90 days of the transfer or significant action provided certain grant and loan funds are available to financially assist with the installation.

LD 1603 – An Act To Amend Laws Administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. (Sponsored by Sen. Goodall of Sagadahoc County.) PL 2009, c. 501

This Act, submitted by the Department of Environmental Protection, is a housekeeping Act making a number of technical amendments to the state’s environmental laws. Among those amendments, this Act restores to its original language a section of law governing the authority of a town meeting or village corporation to authorize the municipal officers to use municipal highway equipment on private ways whenever it is considered advisable for fire and police protection. With the enactment of legislation in 2009 related to another subject (providing a limited authority to use public resources on private roads for water quality protection purposes), this section of law was inadvertently expanded to implicitly allow for the regular or ongoing winter maintenance of private roads (rather than private ways) for the stated purpose of fire and police protection.

LD 1631 – An Act To Provide Leadership Regarding the Responsible Recycling of Consumer Products. (Sponsored by Rep. Walsh Innes of Yarmouth.) PL 2009, c. 516

This Act authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to submit on an annual basis to the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee a report regarding products and product categories that when generated as waste may be appropriately managed under a “product stewardship program”, which is a program financed without a visible fee at purchase that is either managed or provided by the producer of the product and includes the collection, transportation, reuse and recycling or disposal of the unwanted product. The Natural Resources Committee, in turn, is authorized by this Act to annually submit legislation that would establish a new product stewardship program or revise an existing program.

RepresentativesLD 1699 – An Act To Update and Modernize Maine’s Floodplain Mapping. (Sponsored by Rep. Legg of Kennebunk.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 522 (3/18/10)

This Act establishes a Floodplain Mapping Fund within the State Planning Office and initially capitalizes the Fund with $500 for each year of the FY 2010-11 biennium. The Fund may be further capitalized with contributions from private sources, federal funds, bond funds issued or other funds received for the purpose of floodplain mapping.

LD 1716 – An Act To Expedite Rulemaking Concerning Agronomic Utilization of Sludge. (Sponsored by Rep. Duchesne of Hudson.) PL 2009, c. 507

This Act changes the status of rules adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection relating to the agronomic utilization of sludge. Those rules are currently “major substantive” rules, ultimately requiring legislative approval before final adoption. This Act gives those rules a “routine technical” status, so that legislative approval is not a necessary step in the approval process.

LD 1725 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Section 10: Stream Crossings within Chapter 305 Permit by Rule Standards, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection. (Reported by Rep. Duchesne of Hudson for the Department of Environmental Protection.) Resolves 2009, c. 208Senator David Trahan

This Resolve provides final legislative authorization of part of a rule promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) entitled Chapter 305 Permit by Rule Standards. The Resolve is the result of legislation enacted last spring which required the Department of Environmental Protection to amend its permit-by-rule standards under the Natural Resources Protection Act (Chapter 305) in such a way as to require municipalities to achieve “natural stream flow” when installing road culverts for the purpose of protecting water passageways for fish and other aquatic organisms. As originally promulgated by DEP, the proposed rule required two significant changes. First, culverts must be embedded in a riverbed and not just laid upon it. Second, the size of the culvert must equal the size of the river channel at its “bank-full” level. As finally passed, the Resolve limits the application of these standards to the construction of new steam crossings only. The Resolve further directs the DEP, along with the Departments of Transportation, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Marine Resources, to conduct a series of meetings with municipal public works officials to provide training, information and opportunities to evaluate stream crossings subject to the requirements of the rule as approved by the Resolve as well as stream crossings already in existence that might become subject to these types of rules. The meetings must be held in locations around the state to provide for widespread participation by municipal officials and must provide opportunities for field work. After conducting those meetings, the DEP is authorized by the Resolve to adopt major substantive rules regarding stream crossings already in existence, and submit those provisionally-adopted rules to the Legislature by January 1, 2011 for legislative review.

LD 1787 – An Act To Provide for Legislative Review of Recently Proposed Revisions to Certain Rules Adopted Pursuant to the Site Location of Development Laws and the Storm Water Management Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Goodall of Sagadahoc County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 602 (4/02/10)

This Act establishes that most rules adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection in the category of Site Location of Development regulation between January 1, 2010 and January 1, 2012, including storm water management rules, are “major substantive rules” and therefore need to be ultimately approved by the Legislature. The Act further establishes that DEP Site Location rules promulgated after January 1, 2012 are routine technical rules and therefore would not require subsequent legislative ratification.

LD 1818 – Resolve, To Continue Evaluating Climate Change Adaptation Options for the State. (Reported by Sen. Goodall of Sagadahoc County.) Resolves 2009, c. 195

In 2009, the Legislature enacted a Resolve that directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to convene a stakeholder group made up of representatives of the business community, non-governmental organizations and state government to study the impacts of climate change on, among other systems, built infrastructure including coastal and inland flooding effects on roads and facilities, the heat effects in urban centers, beach scouring, water supplies and drinking water, emergency response systems, etc. According to that Resolve, the DEP submitted a report to the Legislature identifying the findings and recommendations of that effort. This Resolve directs the DEP and the stakeholder group to continue those efforts to evaluate the options and actions available to Maine people and businesses to prepare for and adapt to the most likely impacts of climate change. The DEP must submit a report on the progress of developing a plan for state climate change adaption to the Legislature by January 31, 2011, and its final plan by January 31, 2012.

State & Local Government

LD 1512 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Somerset County Budget Procedure. (Sponsored by Rep. Curtis of Madison.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 576 (3/31/10)

This Act amends the law governing the Somerset County budget procedure to allow the county to operate on a provisional budget that does not exceed the previous year’s budget if the county budget is not approved before the start of the fiscal year. The previous law restricted the provisional budget to be no more than 80% of the previous year’s budget.

LD 1513 – An Act to Authorize Municipal Officers to Resolve Road-naming Disputes. (Sponsored by Rep. Magnan of Stockton Springs.) PL 2009, c. 477

This Act authorizes the municipal officers to make the final decision when there is a dispute in the naming of a town way, private way or private road for E-911 purposes, unless an alternative decision-making authority is otherwise provided by local ordinance or charter.

LD 1554 – An Act Regarding Document Fees at County Registries of Deeds. (Sponsored by Rep. Crockett of Augusta.) PL 2009, c. 575

This Act establishes the basis for a fee a county may charge for providing a person copies or abstracts from its registry records. The Act allows the commissioners to determine potentially different fees for different categories of abstracts and copies, and further authorizes the commissioners to consider the following factors when determining those fees: the cost of depleted supplies, record storage media costs, actual mailing and alternative delivery costs, amortized infrastructure costs, direct equipment operating and maintenance costs, costs associated with media processing time, personnel costs including actual costs paid to private contractors for copying services, contract and contractor costs for database maintenance and for online provision and bulk transfer of copies, and a reasonable rate related to the dedication of a computer server.

LD 1569 – An Act To Clarify the Informed Growth Act. (Sponsored by Rep. Beaudette of Biddeford.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 549 (3/25/10)

This Act adds the following “clarification” to the Informed Growth Act (IGA). The IGA mandates a certain analytical review before a “big box” retail store can be approved for construction. This Act clarifies that the IGA does not apply when the retail business is proposing to occupy an existing building in which the most recent occupant was a large-scale retail development and the building will not be expanded by more than 20,000 square feet.

LD 1718 – An Act To Amend the Laws Relating to Government Records. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland.) PL 2009, c. 509

This Act establishes that a record created by or belonging to the state or any local or county government in the state remains the property of the state until ownership and possession are formally relinquished in accordance with applicable rules and statute, and that the state’s ownership pertains regardless of when the record was created. To facilitate an understanding of this law, the Act directs the State Archivist to prepare a detailed explanation, written in plain language that includes practical examples of what constitutes a “record” and “records belonging to the State or to a local government or any agency of the State”.

LD 1832 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Election of Androscoggin County Commissioner District Budget Committee Members. (Sponsored by Sen. Craven of Androscoggin County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 650 (4/13/10)

This Act amends the law governing the method of calculating the votes for the Androscoggin County budget committee members to reflect the current commissioner districts which were reapportioned in 2003.

Taxation

LD 71 – Resolve, To Create a Working Group To Review the Property Tax Exemption for Veterans. (Sponsored by Rep. Nass of Acton.) Resolves 2009, c. 181

Carried over from the First Regular Session, this Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services to convene a working group to review the current property tax exemption for veterans and make recommendations for changes that will increase that exemption. The working group is instructed to review alternatives for increasing the exemption, such as by increasing it on a one-time basis or increasing it over time either by indexing it to inflation or increasing it at a 5% annual rate. The working group must include representatives of the Bureau of Maine Veterans’ Services, the Maine Municipal Association and other interested parties. The report of the working group must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2011.

LD 839 – An Act To Authorize an Alternative Calculation of the Property Growth Factor for Municipalities with Exempt Personal Property. (Sponsored by Rep. Gilbert of Jay.) PL 2009, c. 545

Carried over from the first regular session, this Act authorizes a municipality that has a significant amount of personal property in its tax base to include the value of newly installed personal property in the numerator and the denominator of the calculation of that municipality’s growth factor under the LD 1 property tax levy limit system even though the newly installed personal property is exempt from taxation.

LD 1121 – An Act To Protect Elderly Residents from Losing Their Homes Due to Taxes or Foreclosure. (Sponsored by Rep. Chase of Wells.) PL 2009, c. 489

This Act authorizes the legislative body of a municipality to adopt an ordinance creating a program that would allow all homeowners 70 years of age or older to have the property taxes for their residences (and the land upon which the residence is located) deferred for an indefinite period provided the applicant has lived in the homestead property for at least 10 years and has an income at the time of application that is less than 300% of the federal poverty level. The right to this property tax deferral expires when the applicant dies, no longer owns the property, or no longer resides in the property (unless the absence is related to health issues). When the municipality establishes the applicant no longer qualifies for the deferral, the deferred taxes plus interest are owed within the next 45 days. The applicable interest rate is the established interest rate for delinquent taxes plus one-half of one percent (.5%). If the deferred taxes are still unpaid at the conclusion of the 45-day period after notification, the normal tax lien paperwork must be filed in the registry and the deferred tax obligation could be fully enforced 18 months later. A public policy issue associated with this “local option” elderly tax deferral program is that only one member of a household needs to qualify with respect to the age and length-of-residency standards for the entire household to be eligible for the deferral, and it would appear that the household income standard only has to be met at the time of application and not thereafter. There are also administrative issues associated with managing this local option program that should be carefully considered by a municipality before implementation, including: (1) administering the application part of the program confidentially; (2) filing annual reports in the registry of deeds listing the properties falling within the deferred tax collection program and the value of the deferred taxes; (3) completely discharging tax liens by default by inadvertently or mistakenly failing to file an annual listing in the registry of deeds or forgetting to include a deferred property in the annual listing which had previously been listed in the annual filing.

LD 1514 – Resolve, To Promote Efficiency and To Streamline Access to the Circuitbreaker Program Application Process. (Sponsored by Rep. Crockett of Augusta.) Resolves 2009, c. 189

This Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services to explore with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) the possibility of coordinating the determination of eligibility for the “Circuit Breaker” property tax and rent rebate program with income information available through DHHS’ Automated Client Eligibility System (ACES). A report on that study must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2011.

LD 1539 – An Act Concerning Technical Changes to the Tax Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Watson of Bath.) PL 2009, c. 496

This Act provides a number of “technical” changes to the state’s tax laws. “Technical changes” legislation typically rewrite sections of existing statutes in a way to remove unintended ambiguities. Among the several clarifications within this Act, the law governing state reimbursements to businesses under the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program (BETR) is clarified to provide that with respect to BETR property assessed for the first time after 4/1/08 and any BETR property that has been enrolled in the program over 12 years, the so-called “double dip” is extinguished; that is, reimbursement may not exceed the actual property taxes paid on the qualifying property less any tax increment financing refund received.

LD 1540 – An Act To Amend the Tax Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Watson of Bath.) PL 2009, c. 625

Initially prepared by Maine Revenue Services, this Act provides a number of amendments to Maine’s tax laws that are somewhat more substantive than purely technical housekeeping legislation. Among the many provisions of this Act, it amends the law governing when the counties must issue their warrant to both the municipalities and the state tax assessor by fixing July 15th as the latest date for the issuance of that warrant and requiring a county to pay for any costs associated with a making a supplemental assessment if the county fails to meet that deadline.

LD 1635 – An Act To Avoid Unnecessary Removal of Land from the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law Program. (Sponsored by Rep. Watson of Bath.) (Mandate) PL 2009, c. 577

Current law requires assessors to provide a 60-day notice to landowners in the Tree Growth program who fail to provide the assessor with the necessary 10-year update certifications. This Act rewrites the assessors’ notification procedures in the following way:

1. The existing 60-day notification procedure (which as written does not allow the notification to be issued until the landowner had already failed to meet his or her 10-year deadline) is repealed and replaced with a more flexible, pre-deadline notification procedure.

2. For any Tree Growth landowner whose 10-year deadline is approaching and who has not filed the necessary certifications, the assessor must issue a written notice, sent by regular U.S. mail, that includes the following information:

– The specific date of the deadline;

– The statutory citation that describes the landowner’s responsibilities, which is 36 MRSA §574-B; and

– A statement that the consequences of failing to meet the deadline could result in substantial financial penalties being assessed against the owner.

3. This particular notice must be mailed within 185 days, or 6 months, of the deadline.

4. If the notice is mailed between 185 days and 120 days of the deadline, then the specific date of the deadline is the final deadline, and if the landowner fails to provide the necessary certifications by that day, the property is removed from the Tree Growth program and the penalties are applied.

5. If the notice is mailed within 120 days (4 months) of the deadline, the notice must inform the owner that he or she has a full 120 days from the date of the notice to provide the assessor with the documentation to achieve compliance, and provide the actual date of that 120-day deadline. In this case, the 120-period expressly trumps the specific date of the initial deadline.

LD 1694 – Resolve, To Increase Transparency and Accountability and Assess the Impact of Tax Expenditure Programs. (Sponsored by Rep. Cain of Orono.) Resolves 2009, c. 199

This Resolve directs the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to convene a working group of state agencies to develop recommendations about quantifying the effectiveness of the state’s “tax expenditure programs”. “Tax expenditure programs” include tax exemptions or tax rebate programs designed to support or enhance business activities, and include the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program (BETR), municipal tax increment financing programs (TIFs), Employment Tax Increment Financing programs (E-TIFs), Pine Tree Zone program, etc. The working group is charged with defining the purpose of each tax expenditure programs, designing a method of collecting data that measure the economic impact of each tax expenditure program, and recommending a regular reporting schedule for that data to be presented to and reviewed by the Taxation Committee. The Working Group’s report must be presented to the Legislature by November 3, 2010.

LD 1807 – An Act To Establish Municipal Cost Components for Unorganized Territory Services To Be Rendered in Fiscal Year 2010- 11 and To Make Certain Changes in the Laws Governing Tax Increment Financing Payments in the Unorganized Territories. (Reported by Rep. Watson of Bath for the Department of Audit.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 619 (4/08/10)

This Act establishes the “municipal cost components” for state and county services provided to the unorganized territories (UT), which establish the property taxes for the UT.

LD 1812 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 37: Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. (Reported by Rep. Pieh of Bremen for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2009, c. 187 (3/31/10)

This Resolve finally implements the major substantive rules promulgated by the Department of Agriculture regarding the voluntary municipal farm support program, which allows a legislative body of a municipality to exchange property tax payments from a farm property for the development rights of that property for periods of no less than 20 years.

LD 1823 – Resolve, To Review and Update the Telecommunications Taxation Laws. (Reported by Rep. Watson of Bath.) Resolves 2009, c. 202

This Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services to convene a working group to review the current telecommunications tax structure and make recommendations for modernizing the applicable tax codes. In addition to Maine Revenue Services, the working group includes MMA, incumbent local exchange carriers, newer competitive phone services such as the wireless carriers, and the cable industry. The charge to the working group is to review options for updating the telecommunications tax law in a way that is revenue neutral for the state and provides equitable tax treatment of the telecommunications providers. Maine Revenue Services must report any recommendations back to the Legislature by January 17, 2011.

Transportation

LD 1503 – An Act To Establish Emergency Zones on Public Ways To Minimize Accidents. (Sponsored by Sen. Trahan of Lincoln County.) PL 2009, c. 554

This Act creates a traffic infraction for failing to operate a motor vehicle in a careful and prudent speed when approaching or passing through an emergency zone, or failing to have due regard for the safety of any individual present in the emergency zone. The Act defines an emergency zone as any portion of a travelled way where at least one stationary ambulance or emergency medical service, fire department, hazardous material response or police vehicle is located with emergency lights in use. An emergency zone may be identified by any method reasonably visible to an approaching operator, including vehicle emergency lights, signs, traffic cones, flaggers or mobile lighting.

LD 1561 – An Act To Regulate the Use of Automated License Plate Recognition Systems. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County.) PL 2009, c. 605

This Act regulates the use of automated license plate recognition systems as may be used by transportation or law enforcement agencies. The recognition systems are defined as a system of one or more mobile or fixed high-speed cameras combined with computer algorithms to convert images of registration plates into computer-readable data. The Act creates a general prohibition against the use of automated license plate recognition systems, with three exceptions.

The Maine Department of Transportation may use them to protect public safety and transportation infrastructure; the Maine State Police may use them for the purposes of motor vehicle screening and inspection; and any state, county or municipal law enforcement agency may use them when providing public safety, conducting criminal investigations and ensuring compliance with local, state and federal laws. Specifically, a law enforcement officer may use the collected license plate data only when based on specific and articulable facts of a concern for safety, wrongdoing or a criminal investigation or pursuant to a civil order or records from the National Crime Information Center database or official published law enforcement bulletin. The data that are collected and retained through the use of the automated license place recognition system are confidential and not public records, although summary reports using aggregate data regarding the overall use or effectiveness of the systems may be published and released. The data collected by the automated license plate recognition systems that do not fall within the definition of intelligence and investigative information may not be stored for more than 21 days.

In addition, this Act directs the Secretary of State to establish a working group to study and assess potential issues relating to the use of automated license place recognition systems. The working group must include representatives of the Maine State Police, local and county law enforcement agencies, the Department of Transportation, the Maine Turnpike Authority, and representatives of organizations representing privacy and constitutional interests. The working group’s report must include model policy language or draft legislation related to its findings regarding the use of this technology. The report must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2011.

LD 1639 – An Act To Stimulate the Maine Economy and Promote the Development of Maine’s Priority Transportation Infrastructure Needs. (Sponsored by Rep. MacDonald of Boothbay.) PL 2009, c. 648

This Act establishes the standards governing major transportation-related construction partnerships between private sector construction companies and the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT). In summary, the Act provides a framework for private sector companies to propose projects to MDOT where the initial capital cost of the project is $25 million or more and the state’s capital funding obligation is less than 50% of the initial capital cost, including transportation projects that involve the installation of tolls. The Act further requires MDOT to prioritize all proposals and authorizes the Department to further negotiate with the company or companies submitting the highest priority proposal. When the proposal is finally developed, the Act requires the proposal to be submitted to the Legislature for approval. With respect to local government, the Act requires that all proposals must provide that all reasonable costs of substantially affected local governments and utilities related to the construction proposal are borne by the private entity or are otherwise provided for to the satisfaction of MDOT. The Act also requires that notices of unsolicited but otherwise qualified proposals received by the Department must be mailed to each local government in the area affected by the proposal.

LD 1675 – An Act To Reduce Noise Caused by Motorcycles and Improve Public Health. (Sponsored by Sen. Sullivan of York County.) PL 2009, c. 624

Effective January 1, 2012, this Act requires motorcycle inspection stickers to be affixed to the rear of the motorcycle, either on a mounting plate secured to the motorcycle’s frame or on a rear fender or similarly integral part of the motorcycle’s frame. The Act also directs the Maine State Police to convene a working group made up of motorcycle enthusiasts, citizen groups, municipal officials, the motorcycle industry and local law enforcement agencies. The working group is charged with studying the most feasible ways to implement motorcycle noise emission standards and how to incorporate those standards into Maine law. The Maine State Police must issue its report to the Legislature by January 15, 2011.

LD 1736 – An Act To Improve Safety on Maine’s Primary and Secondary Roads, Reduce Road Maintenance Costs and Improve the Environment and the Economy by Allowing Certain Heavy Commercial Vehicles on the Interstate Highway System in Maine. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 469 (2/12/10)

Federal law was enacted with an effective date of December 16, 2009 providing Maine an exemption from the federal 80,000 lb. truck weight limit on federal interstate highways for a one-year trial period, thereby allowing trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 100,000 lbs. or less to operate on those highways. This Act parallels the federal law by allowing tractor trailer vehicles with a gross vehicle weight up to 100,000 lbs. to operate on the Maine Interstate Highway System for as long as federal law exempts the state from the 80,000 lb. federal limit.

LD 1728 – An Act To Make Supplemental Allocations from the Highway Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of State Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2010 and June 30, 2011 (Governor’s Bill) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 600 (4/02/10)

This Act is the supplemental Highway Fund budget for the FY 2010-11 biennium, designed to bridge a $13.5 million gap between appropriations and recently re-projected Highway Fund revenues. Much of the deficit is covered by a transfer of $11.1 million of reserves from the state employee retirement health insurance fund into the Highway Fund. Of municipal interest, the Act allocates nearly $2 million for the purpose of replacing cross culverts, pothole patching, shoulder grading, bridge repair and street sweeper rental for winter sand cleanup on town-plowed state aid roads in village areas. The Act also adjusts the distribution of the local road assistance fund (URIP) as a result of recent revenue re-projections by increasing the FY 2010 allocation by $1.1 million and increasing the FY 2011 allocation by $366,000.

Utilities & Energy

LD 1504 – An Act To Provide Predictable Benefits to Maine Communities That Host Wind Energy Developments. (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County.) PL 2009, c. 642

This Act provides some guidance to municipalities and communities where wind power developments are proposed. It requires wind power developers to provide a “community benefit package”, in addition to property tax payments, valued at least $4,000 per year per turbine. The Act also requires the developer to include in the permit application to the Department of Environmental Protection information regarding the number of jobs created, the estimated amount of annual energy generated, projected property taxes and other tangible benefits to be provided. The Act also provides ‘fast-tracking’ for any appeal of a permitting decision regarding an expedited wind project.

LD 1515 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Caribou Utilities District. (Sponsored by Rep. Edgecomb of Caribou.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2009, c. 29 (3/01/10)

This Act amends the charter of the Caribou Utilities District.

LD 1516 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Dexter Utility District. (Sponsored by Rep. Thomas of Ripley.)
P & SL 2009, c. 35

This Act amends the charter of the Dexter Utility District.

LD 1525 – An Act To Create the Buckfield Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Hayes of Buckfield.) P & SL 2009, c. 36

This Act creates the Buckfield Water District.

LD 1557 – An Act To Raise the Indebtedness Limit of the Eagle Lake Water and Sewer District. (Sponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake.) P & SL 2009, c. 28

This Act amends the charter of the Eagle Lake Water and Sewer District.

LD 1589 – An Act To Authorize Sanitary Districts, Water Utilities and Sewer Districts To Waive an Automatic Lien Foreclosure. (Sponsored by Rep. Chase of Wells.) PL 2009, c. 490

This Act authorizes the trustees of sanitary districts, water utility districts and sewer districts to waive the automatic foreclosure of a district’s lien mortgage by causing the appropriate wavier to be recorded in the registry of deeds.

LD 1601 – An Act To Create the Lincolnville Sewer District. (Sponsored by Sen. Weston of Waldo County.)
P & SL 2009, c. 32

This Act creates the charter of the Lincolnville Water and Sewer District.

LD 1645 – An Act To Streamline Collections for Consumer-owned Consolidated Water and Wastewater Utilities. (Sponsored by Rep. Fitts of Pittsfield.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 541 (3/24/10)

This Act allows a consumer-owned water utility that also provides sewer services to disconnect water service to a user when the user fails to pay the utility’s sewer service charges. In exchange for that authority, the water utility must provide annual reports with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on the number of disconnection notices issued as well as the number of disconnections and reconnections completed. The water utility must also provide its customers who receive disconnection notices information about assistance programs that may be available to help pay for their water, sewer and other utility obligations. The PUC is directed to submit a report on January, 15, 2012 regarding the impact of this legislation.

LD 1696 – An Act Regarding Community-based Renewable Energy. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 565 (3/29/10)

This Act builds on legislation enacted in 2009 that established a “community-based renewable energy” pilot program that provides certain incentives for “qualifying local owners”, including municipalities and other political subdivisions, to install renewable-resource electricity generating systems, which include wind power installations, solar arrays and installations, generators fueled by landfill gas, or biomass generators that use fuel including anaerobic digestion of agricultural products, byproducts or waste. This Act augments that 2009 legislation by directing the establishment and administration of a program allowing retail consumers of electricity to make voluntary contributions to fund renewable resource research and development and to fund community demonstration projects using renewable energy technologies. The voluntary contributions must be collected by the electricity transmission and distribution utilities and provided to the Efficiency Maine Trust for distribution. The voluntarily provided research and development funding would be distributed to the public universities and colleges. The voluntarily provided community demonstration projects would be distributed to the array of community-based organizations, including municipalities, that develop community development projects using renewable energy technologies. The law also clarifies the process used by a municipality to endorse a community-based renewable energy project. Municipal endorsement is required for a project to participate in the program.

LD 1717 – An Act To Increase the Affordability of Clean Energy for Homeowners and Businesses. (Sponsored by Rep. Crockett of Augusta.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 591 (4/01/10)

This Act is the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act, or PACE Act. The Act authorizes municipalities, working in conjunction with the Efficiency Maine Trust (Trust), to adopt ordinances establishing property assessed clean energy programs. Through these PACE programs, property owners in a participating municipality can apply for funding to finance an energy savings improvement to their property. An energy savings improvement means an improvement to the property that is new and permanently affixed, will result in increased energy efficiency and substantially reduced energy use, either meets nationally-recognized energy efficiency standards (if an appliance) or involves weatherization, or involves a renewable energy installation or an electric thermal storage system. The Trust is directed by this Act to adopt a quality assurance system with respect to the renewable energy installations.

Property owners who elect to participate in the municipal PACE program must enter into an agreement to establish a mortgage on their property to finance the improvement and repay that mortgage through an assessment on the property. The money that is loaned through this program is intended to be provided, at least initially, through the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.

With respect to actually authorizing the loans, the Trust is directed by the Act to adopt underwriting requirements that would govern the approval of any PACE loans. Among the minimum requirements listed in the Act, the underwriting standards must: (1) limit the size of a PACE mortgage to no more than $15,000: (2) require participants to have a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 50%; (3) limit the term of a PACE agreement to no longer than the useful life of the installed improvements; and (4) require that the qualified property is current on property taxes and sewer charges, lien-free, and unencumbered by a reverse mortgage.

A participating municipality must adopt an ordinance to implement the program, and may directly administer the program. The Trust is authorized by this Act to pay reasonable administrative expenses of a municipality that may be incurred when carrying out the purposes of the Act. The Trust is also directed to develop model documents and educational materials for the benefit of the municipalities that would like to participate. In the alternative, a participating municipality that has adopted an ordinance may enter into a contract with the Trust that allows the Trust to administer some or all of the functions of the PACE program.

As part of program administration, the Act requires that a notice of a PACE agreement must be filed in the registry of deeds. This notice creates the PACE mortgage. A PACE mortgage is provided no special or senior priority. As far as day-to-day administration is concerned, the Act specifies that the PACE assessment is not a tax but may be assessed and collected by a municipality, the Trust or a designated agent by any reasonable means. Municipal officials, such as selectmen, councilors, tax assessors and tax collectors are expressly held to be not personally liable to the Trust or any other person for claims related to the administration of a PACE program.

Finally, the Act directs the Trust to convene a stakeholder group to review and make recommendations regarding the implementation of PACE programs. The Trust must submit an interim report to the Legislature by March 1, 2011, and a final report not later than January 30, 2012.

LD 1720 – Resolve, Regarding Waste-to-energy Power. (Sponsored by Rep. Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.) Resolves 2009, c. 163

This Resolve directs the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security (Office) to examine the issue of qualifying certain waste-to-energy power for renewable energy credits and renewable resource portfolio requirements. The examination must include: (1) relevant legislative proposals and actions by Congress and in other states, with particular attention to the New England states; and (2) the potential implications of allowing certain waste-to-energy facilities to qualify for renewable energy credits or renewable resource portfolio requirements with respect to the market for renewable energy credits and the environment. The Office shall conduct this examination in consultation with the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Efficiency Maine Trust. The Office’s report must be submitted to the Legislature by February 15, 2011.

LD 1756 – An Act To Amend the charter of the Gardiner Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Hanley of Gardiner.)
P & SL 2009, c. 37

This Act amends the charter of the Gardiner Water District.

LD 1778 – An Act To Enable the Installation of Broadband Infrastructure. (Sponsored by Rep. Dill of Cape Elizabeth.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 612 (4/06/10)

This Act establishes a new entity known as a “dark fiber provider”, or “provider of federally-supported dark fiber”, which is a business that installs fiber optic cable infrastructure without including any of the electronic equipment required in order to make the fiber capable of transmitting communications. The legislation is closely linked to the provision of federal grant funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the purposes of expanding broad-band communication infrastructure in rural areas of the country. As envisioned, after installing the dark fiber infrastructure, the provider would then offer its dark fiber on an open-access basis to all carriers and end users according to a posted schedule of rates, terms and conditions, and the dark fiber would “light up” when agreements between the carriers and the dark fiber providers are implemented. Among the Act’s provisions, the Act expressly provides dark fiber providers with the same authority as is provided to other communication utilities to construct, maintain and operate their lines within the municipal right of ways.

LD 1783 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Kennebec Water District. (Sponsored by Sen. Marraché of Kennebec County.) P & SL 2009, c. 38

This Act amends the charter of the Kennebec Water District.

LD 1810 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force. (Governor’s Bill) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 615 (4/07/10)

This Act is designed to encourage ocean-based electricity-generating systems using off-shore wind power, tidal power or wave power and should be of special interest to Maine’s coastal and island communities. The Act has eight separate components dealing with the state’s wind energy generation policies, submerged lands policies, tax code, state-level land use regulatory jurisdictions in both the unorganized (LURC) and organized (DEP) areas of the state, and municipal land use regulatory authority. Of particular pertinence to municipal government, the Act: (1) directs Maine Revenue Services to review whether and under what circumstances renewable ocean energy-generating machinery, equipment and related components that are in transit to be located in, on or above state submerged lands but happen to be located in a municipality on the April 1 universal date of assessment are exempt from property taxation under current law and provide a report on that review to the Legislature by November 1, 2010; (2) establishes the capacity to create a “community-based offshore wind energy project”, which is an off-shore energy-based project located within one nautical mile of an offshore island that will offset part or all of the island community’s electrical requirements and have an aggregate generating capacity of less than 3 megawatts; (3) requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide notice of any off-shore wind power project to the municipality where the proposed development will occur, as well as to any municipality within three miles of the proposed development, and requires the DEP to consider any comments provided by the affected municipalities; (4) prohibits a municipality from enacting a zoning ordinance that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the siting of renewable ocean energy projects and their associated facilities within the municipality; (5) prohibits a municipality from enacting or enforcing any land use standards regarding a renewable ocean energy project unless the project or part of the project is located within the municipal boundaries as established in its legislative charter prior to the effective date of this Act; and (6) establishes as a rebuttable presumption that the boundaries of a municipality in coastal areas do not extend below the mean low-water line on waters subject to tidal influence. While not part of the Act, it is anticipated that representatives of the State Planning Office and those of coastal municipalities will meet informally to see what regulatory authority municipalities would like to exert over these projects in submerged lands and whether a consistent set of regulations can be established by agreement.

LD 1813 – An Act Relating to the Recommendations of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability Regarding Emergency Communications Services. (Reported by Rep. Hinck of Portland for the Government Oversight Committee.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2009, c. 617 (4/07/10)

This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). Specifically, this Act: (1) establishes the 15-member Maine Communications System Policy Board within the Department of Public Safety, rather than the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), as the entity that determines the fees that must be paid by municipalities for services provided by the state’s PSAPs; (2) provides that the three municipal members of the Maine Communications System Policy Board be nominated by a statewide municipal association rather than the current system which allowed appointees to only be municipal officers from municipalities of specific population ranges; (3) provides guidance to the Policy Board that in establishing the fees charged to municipalities they should be based on the incremental costs of providing PSAP and dispatch services; (4) directs the Emergency Services Bureau within the PUC to implement a quality assurance program to audit and monitor compliance with emergency dispatching standards, practices and procedures; (5) authorizes the funding of two additional positions to provide supervisory services within the state-run PSAP systems; and (6) amends the scheduled increase to the E-9-1-1 surcharge so that it will increase from the current monthly amount of 37 cents (per line, per month) to 45 cents on July 1, 2010 instead of 52 cents.

LD 1828 – Resolve, Regarding Emergency Communications Services. (Reported by Rep. Hinck of Portland.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2009, c. 196 (4/01/10)

This Resolve directs the Emergency Services Communication Bureau within the Public Utilities Commission to follow through with the recommendations advanced by a technology consulting group (Kimball) that was hired by the state to review the current configuration of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in the state. To advance those recommendations, this Resolve directs the Bureau to establish a plan to reduce the number of PSAPs in the state from 26 to 15-17. In developing the plan, the Bureau is directed to examine the various issues raised in the Kimball report. The Bureau must submit its plan to the Legislature by November 1, 2010.