Effective dates. Emergency legislation became effective on the date it was signed by the Governor. If the new law was an emergency measure, it is so-noted after 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 September 20, 2007.
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 & Forestry
LD 21 – Resolve, To Provide Access for Persons with Disabilities to Great Ponds. (Sponsored by Rep. Pineau of Jay) Resolves 2007, c. 22
This Resolve directs the Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to review the geographic and demographic distribution of great ponds in the state that already have adequate access for persons with disabilities and to develop priorities for increasing the number and providing a larger geographic and demographic distribution of great ponds with adequate access. The two departments are directed to submit their report of their findings and priorities to the Legislature by January 3, 2008.
LD 277 – An Act To Require Mapping of Conservation Easements and Public Lands. (Sponsored by Sen. Raye of Washington County) PL 2007, c. 331
This Act directs the Land for Maine’s Future Board to include certain maps in the reports the Board is already required to prepare on a biennial basis. The maps must depict all publicly owned land and permanent interests in land held for conservation purposes throughout the state.
LD 380 – An Act To Protect the Public from Dangerous Dogs. (Sponsored by Sen. Nutting of Androscoggin County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 170 (5/25/07)
This emergency Act expands the authority of a court to more specifically control the management of dangerous dogs by: (1) specifying the dimensions and standards of a “secure enclosure” to which dangerous dogs may be ordered confined; (2) authorizing the court to order the owner of a dangerous dog to provide the local animal control officer with identifying information for all other dogs in the possession of the owner; and (3) specifying the limited reasons why a dangerous dog can be removed from a secure enclosure to which it has been ordered, and the restraints that must be applied whenever a dangerous dog is removed from its enclosure.
LD 472 – An Act To Clarify Land Planning in the Unorganized and Deorganized Townships of the State. (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County) PL 2007, c. 264
This Act requires the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) to present its proposed comprehensive plan to the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee for review and information purposes no later than December 3, 2007 or at least 30 days prior to a scheduled final adoption vote by LURC on the comprehensive plan.
LD 717 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 1: General Provisions and Chapter 10: Land Use Districts and Standards, Major Substantive Rules of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission. (Reported by Rep. Pieh of Bremen for the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2007, c. 19 (5/14/07)
This emergency Resolve authorizes the final adoption of rules that were provisionally adopted by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) related to land use districts and standards. The rules finally authorized by this Resolve amend Chapter 1 (General Provisions) and Chapter 10 (Land Use Districts and Standards) of the LURC rules. As part of the final authorization provided by this Resolve, the rules provisionally adopted by LURC were amended in three ways: (1) to clarify LURC land use permit fee calculations in certain circumstances; (2) to remove a provision that would require applicants before LURC to pay for actual costs incurred for a public hearing; and (3) require public hearing costs to be paid by the applicant when the petition is to change a zone boundary change for the purpose of a subdivision or commercial development.
LD 875 – An Act To Continue the Protection of Marine Waters and Organisms from the Risks Posed by the Applications of Pesticides. (Reported by Rep. Pieh of Bremen for the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 50 (4/12/07)
This emergency Act makes several amendments to the law governing the spraying of pesticides adjacent to marine waters to control the browntail moth. Among the amendments, the Act adds Lincoln County to the three existing counties (York, Cumberland, and Sagadahoc) where the browntail moth spraying program may be conducted.
LD 1075 – Resolve, To Assist Maine Local Land Trusts. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland) Resolves 2007, c. 108
This Resolve directs the State Planning Office to consult with the Departments of Conservation and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the purpose of identifying potential funding sources in order to provide that information to municipalities and local land trusts interested in purchasing land or the development rights with respect to land parcels that the municipality or land trust would like to secure for outdoor recreational purposes. The State Planning Office is directed to submit a report to the Legislature by January 31, 2008 describing its efforts to comply with this Resolve.
LD 1293 – An Act To Enhance Protection against Rabies in Wolf Hybrids. (Sponsored by Rep. Miller of Somerville) PL 2007, c. 133
This Act establishes that the primary responsibility for enforcing the laws regarding rabies protection from wolf hybrids rests with municipal animal control officers. This Act further specifies that either the municipal animal control officer, local health officer or law enforcement officer is responsible for causing the euthanasia of any wolf hybrid suspected of having rabies that bites a person or domestic animal.
LD 1615 – An Act To Amend the Animal Welfare Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Pieh of Bremen) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 439
This Act makes a number of amendments to Maine’s animal welfare laws. Among the amendments that pertain to municipal clerks or animal control officers, this Act: (1) requires rabies vaccinations prior to the licensing of wolf hybrids; (2) clarifies that proof that a wolf hybrid has received a rabies vaccination does not affect the procedures that apply when a wolf hybrid is suspected of having rabies; (3) increases the dog licensing fees by $1 for dogs that are capable of producing young, from $10 to $11; (4) establishes certain shelter and tethering standards for dogs that are confined outside; (5) establishes a two-tier training program for Animal Control Officers, a basic course and an advanced course, to be conducted by the Department of Agriculture, where the advanced training course has a particular focus on animal cruelty and animal hoarding issues; (6) requires all animal control officers to attend the advanced training program to maintain certification; (7) prohibits a municipality from appointing an animal control officer who has been convicted of Class A or Class B felonies or assorted other crimes; and (8) establishes a detailed procedure to secure payments from the owners of animals seized by law enforcement officers or animal control officers in order to cover the costs associated with the medical, feed and boarding care of those animals.
LD 1727 – An Act To Require Veterinarians To Notify The Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources of Rabies Vaccinations of Dogs. (Sponsored by Rep. Hill of York) PL 2007, c. 119
This Act requires veterinarians who vaccinate a dog for rabies and issue a certificate of vaccination to mail, e-mail or fax a copy of that certificate within 30 days of issuance to the Department of Agriculture which, in turn, must periodically mail, e-mail or fax those certificates to the appropriate municipalities. The Department must provide the municipalities with the certificates no less often than four times a year. The goal of this process is to increase compliance with dog licensing laws.
Appropriations & Financial Affairs
LD 215 – 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 Year Ending June 30, 2007. (Sponsored by Rep. Fisher of Presque Isle) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 1 (2/13/07)
This emergency Act is the supplemental state budget to adjust the Fiscal Year 2007 budget for the state. There are very few items in the supplemental budget that directly impact municipal government. The Act:
• Appropriates $166,000, presumably from the Local Government Fund, to supplement the $500,000 originally budgeted for the purpose of providing municipal grants under the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services.
• Deappropriates $2 million from the $31 million originally appropriated for the purpose of reimbursing municipalities for 50% of the Homestead property tax exemption. Municipal revaluations and increases in state valuation, generally, and the resulting reductions in full value property tax rates, are responsible for the reduced demand for Homestead reimbursement revenues.
• Deappropriates $150,000 from the roughly $900,000 appropriated to cover the veterans’ property tax exemption reimbursement, reflecting a decline in the number of veterans claiming the exemption.
• Appropriates $1.835 million to provide the funding needed to cover the state’s share of disaster assistance for flooding on June 29, 2005 and May 25, 2006.
• Appropriates $100,000 so the State Police can reimburse the affected municipalities that covered the cost of training law enforcement officers at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy who ultimately were hired as State Troopers.
• Appropriates $270,000 from a special revenue fund to properly reimburse municipalities under the Municipal Excise Tax Reimbursement Fund, which covers municipalities for the difference between the sticker-price excise tax and the sales-price excise tax for certain commercial trucks that are excised at the sales-price base.
LD 499 – An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds, and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2008 and June 30, 2009. (Sponsored by Rep. Fischer of Presque Isle) (Mandate)Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 240 (6/07/07)
This emergency Act is the two-year state budget for FY 08 and FY 09. The five elements of the biennial budget that are most pertinent to municipal government are:
• Continuing the raid for the third and fourth consecutive year on municipal revenue sharing by capping the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services at $500,000 annually and appropriating the remaining $2 million of municipal revenue sharing each year that would otherwise capitalize the Local Government Efficiency Fund to help fund the state budget;
• Adjusting the General Purpose Aid to Education distribution system in a number of ways to reduce by $17 million what would otherwise be the FY 08 distribution according to the “ramp to 55% state funding” established in January 2005 with LD 1;
• Increasing the veterans’ property tax exemption, beginning in 2008, from the current $5,000 to $6,000;
• Showing a projected $3-$4 million annual decline each year over the next two years in the Community Development Block Grant program entirely related to reductions in federal, not state, appropriations; and
• Implementing the school regionalization/consolidation proposal. What follows is a description of the school consolidation legislation:
By July 15, 2007. The Commissioner is directed to convene at least 26 meetings, at least one within the geographic area of each “career and technical education center” throughout the state, concluding no later than July 15. The purpose of the meetings is to explain the new law and provide maps outlining potential school consolidations that would conform to the standards of the new law.
By August 31, 2007. Every school administrative unit must file either:
• A notice of intent to engage in planning and negotiations with specific other school systems to meet the consolidation standards of the law; or
• A notice of intent to submit an “alternative plan”. The alternative plan is to be submitted only by school systems that are either expressly exempt from the consolidation requirement or school systems that want to make the case that they should be exempt from the 2,500 minimum school requirement.
The school systems that are expressly exempt from consolidating are:
a) Off-shore island schools;
b) Tribal schools;
c) School systems with more than 2,500 students;
d) School systems defined as “efficient, high performing” schools. The new law includes a fixed definition of “efficient, high performing” schools that identifies six such school systems, four of which have less than 2,500 students and would therefore be exempt from consolidation requirements solely because of this exemption. The definition is that the school system has three or more school facilities within it that were identified as “high performing” and the school system reports per pupil expenditures for the superintendent’s office less than 4% of total per pupil expenditures.
With respect to the “high-performing” exemption, the new law directs the Department of Education to promulgate “major substantive” rules to create an ongoing definition of “efficient, high-performing” school systems so that eligibility into this club might be expanded.
The school systems that are not expressly exempt but may attempt to claim an exemption are those that serve less than 2,500 students but more than 1,200 students and believe they should be exempt from consolidation (or full consolidation) because of certain reasons. Unfortunately, those reasons are listed in the new law without any standards of measurement or quantification. Those reasons are:
• Population density; or
• Being a school system that after performing “due diligence” to develop a regional plan that meets the 2,500 student standard is stymied in that effort because of the decisions of its neighboring school systems. (This is the so-called “donut hole” exemption.)
The approval of any “alternative” plans is left to the discretion of the Commissioner.
By September 2007, Reorganization Planning Committees. After the filing of any “notice of intent” that involves school reorganization, the municipalities that are included in the geographic area of the proposed reorganization must create a “Reorganization Planning Committee”. (In another section of the same law, the task is given to the school administrative units rather than the municipalities.) Guidelines governing that committee-formation process are to be developed and provided by the Commissioner. The only statutory requirements associated with these as-yet undeveloped guidelines are that the Reorganization Planning Committees must include some form of representation from the affected school systems, municipalities and general public. The Commissioner’s guidelines must also explain the roles and responsibilities of the Committee, the timeline for the submission of its plan, the manner in which the Committee’s recommendation must be formatted, and the criteria by which the Commissioner will evaluate the Committee’s plan.
By December 1, 2007, the school systems are required to submit either their completed consolidation plan or the “alternative” plan, but December 1 is apparently something other than a hard-and-fast deadline. The very same section of law also implies that plans may be submitted after December 15, 2007. Apparently (and according to the debate on the floor the House prior to enactment) the December 1 deadline is most especially for those school systems that want to start-up the new system by July 1, 2008. Although all schools will be expected to file some planning documentation by December 1, follow-up submissions after that date are expected for those school systems that are not ready to start-up new school systems by July 1, 2008 and need more time to develop a plan to present to the voters.
This entire section of law is particularly sloppy because it appears to require something that is doesn’t. Cutting through the awkward language of the law, and matching it with the descriptions of the final amendments articulated on the floor of the House, this is what it says:
Timeline for local plans and local voting. The easiest way to understand the timeline issue is to work backwards. The school systems required under this law to consolidate in any way need to be up-and-running by July 1, 2009 or face financial consequences. The latest realistic date to vote on those consolidation proposals is November 2008. To hold a November 2008 election, the plan needs to be finalized and approved by the Commissioner by mid-September 2008. The new law doesn’t say you can vote on a consolidation plan as late as November 2008, but at the same time, if that is the way the consolidation actually happens, the school will not get financially penalized. That scenario represents the reality-based, outside edge of the consolidation time frame.
The statutorily-based inside edge of the consolidation time frame envisions school systems submitting their proposed consolidation proposals to the Commissioner by December 1, 2007 in order to schedule a referendum vote by January 15, 2008, in order (in turn) to subsequently elect a new school board, hire a new superintendent, and fully establish a new consolidated school system by July 1, 2008.
As described on the floor of the House at enactment, the December 1, 2007 deadline in the new law (and, therefore, the July 1, 2008 start-up date) is effectively optional. School systems that are not ready to present a consolidation plan to their voters may take extra time to further develop and advance their consolidation proposal for a July 1, 2009 start-up date. There is no statutory deadline to submit this second-year plan to the Commissioner, although as discussed above the Commissioner will apparently be suggesting a plan-submission deadline as part of the guidelines governing each Reorganization Planning Committee.
Unhelpfully, the new legislation requires a referendum vote on the second-year proposal to be held on June 10, 2008, even though a number of other dates in 2008 might work better for the region and would still allow the formation of a new consolidated school district in time to avoid the financial penalties. To put it another way, there would not appear to be a legally enforceable penalty that prohibits the municipalities from scheduling a coordinated referendum vote to ratify a consolidation plan at some time other than the “mandatory” June 10, 2008 referendum date.
Plan contents.Whenever the deadline, there is a comprehensive list of issues that need to be addressed in any consolidation plan. In addition to meeting the district size standards described above, the plan must describe a kindergarten through grade 12 system that includes at least one “publicly-supported” secondary school. The plan must also describe the size and composition of the regional school board and the voting apportionment system; the composition, powers and duties of any local school committees that are created (or retained); the disposition of real property, financial assets and debt; the assignment of all contracts, including personnel contracts and collective bargaining agreements; the back-up plan if not all the members of the proposed consolidated system vote to support the consolidation plan, etc.
There are many pages of the new law devoted to such subjects as the retention, transition and integration of labor contracts, the transfer of debt obligations related to both state-approved and non-state approved school construction, the variety of ways school board membership and voting methodologies can be designed, and the circumstances where school district cost sharing arrangements are mandated by law, subject to private and special law, or open to negotiation.
Local savings? In addition — and this goes for the plans that need to be submitted by all school systems, even those that are exempt from consolidating and therefore filing “alternative plans” – each plan must address how the school system will reorganize its administrative functions, duties and non-instructional personnel so that the projected expenditures for system administration, transportation and special education and facilities and maintenance will not adversely affect the instructional programs. This standard does not appear to have any enforceable legal meaning.
State savings. The state’s savings are expressly detailed in the new law. Starting in FY 09, four internal components of the EPS school funding model will be toggled downward. The “system administration” component, which allocates funding for the superintendent’s office, will be cut in half, and the allocation models for special education, transportation, and facilities and maintenance will all be cut by 5%. The result of these four adjustments to the EPS model will save the state $36.5 million in FY 09.
Penalties for not consolidating. The following financial penalties will be applied to any school administrative unit existing on July 1, 2009 that is not expressly exempt from consolidation (as explained above), or whose consolidation plan (or “alternative” plan) has not been approved by the Commissioner and — when necessary — approved by the voters.
• Non-compliant school systems will receive 50% of the financial support they would otherwise receive from the EPS formula for “system administration” (the superintendent’s office);
• Non-compliant “minimum receivers” will receive 50% of their minimum subsidy;
• Non-compliant school systems will be ineligible for “transition” funding;
· Non-compliant schools will pay a higher mill rate expectation than the compliant schools (calculated as though the state was not required to pay a full 55% of the statewide EPS allocation as far as the non-compliant schools are concerned); and
• Non-compliant schools will receive less favorable consideration for school construction funding.
Budget validation process. The legislation requires all school systems, beginning in 2008, to both format and adopt their budgets according to the so-called budget-validation process. The budget-validation process includes a budget formatting requirement as well as a prescribed budget adoption process.
The formatting requirement of the budget validation process is a prescribed budget presentation format that lays out every proposed school budget according to 11 separate cost centers (regular instruction, special education, system administration, transportation and buses, facilities maintenance, etc.). In addition, the dollars proposed to fund each cost center must be compared to the comparable dollars to support the same cost center in a “high performing” school, as determined by the Department of Education. That “transparent” budget must first be presented in an open district meeting, which operates like a town meeting, where the proposed budget is debated, perhaps amended, and ultimately adopted. For the municipalities with town or city councils that ultimately adopt the school budget, the town or city council is the equivalent of the open meeting.
The “validation” part of the budget validation process then requires a referendum vote to be held within 10 working days of the open meeting where the voters at secret ballot can either accept or reject the budget that was adopted at the open meeting 10 days before. It is a single question ballot referendum. If the voters reject that budget, the process starts over again.
LD 603 – An Act To Support the Capital Riverfront Improvement District. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 26 (6/27/07)
This emergency Act appropriates $20,000 in FY 08 for the Augusta-based Capital Riverfront Improvement District.
LD 674 – An Act To Restore Funding to the Maine Joint Environmental Training Coordinating Committee. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County) P & SL 2007, c. 29
This Act appropriates $10,000 in FY 08 as supplemental funding for the Maine Joint Environmental Training Coordinating Committee program (JETCC), which provides training and education programs to wastewater facility operators.
LD 1796 – An Act To Authorize Bond Issues for Ratification by the Voters for the June and November 2007 Elections and the June 2008 Election and To Transfer Certain Funds. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 39 (4/10/07)
This emergency Act sends out to the voters three packages of bond proposals in June 2007, November 2007 and June 2008 that would collectively generate $295 million in borrowed revenue for a broad range of transportation, higher education, research and development, environmental and community revitalization purposes. Please refer to chart on the previous page titled “Bond Package Breakdown” which is a description of the three bond package installments according to the June 2007, November 2007 and June 2008 elections, sorted by category of expenditure.
Business, Research & Economic Development
LD 289 – Resolve, Directing the Commissioner of Labor to Convene a Task Force to Evaluate and Recommend Revisions to the Definition of Service Dog. (Sponsored by Rep. Robinson of Raymond) Resolves 2007, c. 96
This Resolve directs the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to convene a task force made up of at least 11 members for the purpose of evaluating and recommending changes to the statutory definition of “service dog”, which are dogs specially trained to assist people with disability. One of the members of the task force must be a representative of the Maine Town and City Clerks’ Association and one of the charges to the task force is to review criteria or documentation that town clerks must use to verify a dog as a service animal to qualify for the license fee exemption. The task force must submit its report and recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2008.
LD 677 – Resolve, Directing the Development of a Building Code and Building Rehabilitation Code Implementation Plan. (Reported by Sen. Dow of Lincoln County for the Community Preservation Advisory Committee) Resolves 2007, c. 46
This Resolve directs the State Planning Office (SPO), in consultation with four other state agencies (Office of State Fire Marshall, Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission), with input from others including MMA and municipal officials, to develop a plan for implementing the use of model building codes. As part of that process, the SPO must consider:
1. What state agency should provide oversight and administration of the model codes;
2. How code updates should be handled;
3. Outreach, communication and technical assistance to municipalities;
4. Training and certification of code enforcement officers, architects and builders;
5. Enforcement and appeal procedures;
6. Estimated costs to implement mandatory codes;
7. Projected costs for code administration;
8. Funding options for implementation and administration;
9. Identification of overlap between model codes and codes and standards listed in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 10, section 9703;
10. Guidance to municipalities regarding overlap between codes;
11. If rulemaking or statutory changes are needed to facilitate certain kinds of development, such as development of historic properties;
12. Phase-in dates for code adoption by service center communities, nonservice center communities with codes and towns adopting codes for the first time;
13. Identification of the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining the current state fire code, the NFPA 1, Uniform Fire Code, 2003 Edition, and the advantages and disadvantages of changing to the International Fire Code; and
14. Identification of measures that allow for preserving the artistic and architectural integrity of historic structures without unreasonable risk to life and safety.
The SPO is directed to present its report to the Legislature by February 15, 2008.
LD 768 – An Act To Ensure That Pine Development Zone Benefits Are Not Extended to Businesses That Compete with Existing Maine Businesses. (Sponsored by Senator Mills of Somerset County) PL 2007, c. 263
This Act requires that prior to certification of a qualified business within a Pine Tree Development Zone, the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development must determine that the proposed business activity will not result in a substantial detriment to existing businesses in the state. The State Economist must also provide an advisory opinion.
LD 1188 – An Act Regarding Local Plumbing Inspectors. (Sponsored by Sen. Perry of Penobscot County) PL 2007, c. 358
This Act prohibits a local plumbing inspector (LPI) or alternate LPI from issuing a permit with respect to any plumbing project when the LPI or the LPI’s employer, employee, agent or representative has performed or intends to perform a site evaluation, labor or any products or services.
LD 1469 – Resolve, To Enhance Accountability in Tax Increment Financing. (Sponsored by Rep. Berry of Bowdoinham) Resolves 2007, c. 70
This Resolve directs the Department of Economic and Community Development to review the accountability and reporting policies associated with municipal Tax Increment Financing agreements. Specifically, the Act directs DECD to review: (1) certain recommendations about the accountability of the state’s economic development programs, including tax increment financing, made by the Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Accountability; (2) the statutory goals and objectives of Tax Increment Financing related to job creation and retention; (3) the impacts of TIFs on regional development patterns; and (4) potential TIF monitoring and evaluation systems and performance measures. The DECD recommendations must include proposals for improving the transparency and accountability of TIF reports that are made to the Legislature, as well as improvements to the state’s training and outreach initiatives for municipal officials and state and local agencies to maximize the goals of Tax Increment Financing. The DECD report and recommendations must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2008.
LD 1519 – An Act To Amend the Membership and Reporting Requirements for the Citizen Trade Policy Commission. (Sponsored by Sen. Rotundo of Androscoggin County) PL 2007, c. 266
This Act changes the frequency with which the Citizen Trade Policy Commission studies and reports on the effect international trade agreements have on state and municipal laws, working conditions and the business environment. Current law requires the report annually. This Act requires the report to be produced once every two years. It also removes the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Development as an ex officio member.
LD 1926 – An Act To Expand the Pine Tree Development Zone Benefits to Small and Midsize Maine Manufacturers. (Sponsored by Rep. Smith of Monmouth) PL 2007, c. 468
This Act changes the thresholds for a business to become eligible to receive the tax benefits associated with location in a Pine Tree Development Zone. Current law establishes the employment threshold to be an expansion of 20 jobs at the Pine Tree Development Zone location, and the financial threshold requires a $2 million investment in the expansion. This Act reduces those thresholds to 4 employees and $225,000, respectively.
Criminal Justice & Public Safety
LD 362 – An Act To Effect the Seizure and Disposal of Contraband Fireworks. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 81 (5/08/07)
This emergency Act defines all fireworks lawfully seized as contraband and forfeited to the state, and provides a procedure for their disposal by law enforcement agencies.
LD 676 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force To Study Maine’s Homeland Security Needs. (Reported by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County for the Task Force to Study Maine’s Homeland Security Needs) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 462 (6/29/07)
This emergency Act implements recommendations of a task force to study Maine’s homeland security needs by: (1) requiring all municipalities to employ a local health officer and establishing qualifications for all local health officers which will consist of meeting yet-to-be-developed standards promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services; (2) directing the Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to work with the Public Health Group and other stakeholders and interested parties to further study local health officer qualifications, adopt rules that redefine the role of local health officers, recommend statutory changes to clarify that role and submit a report to the Legislature by January 1, 2008; (3) requiring school officials who are applying for state funding for major capital construction projects or renovation funds from the School Revolving Renovation Fund to state on the application form whether the school is intended to be used as a public community shelter; (4) directing the Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to work with municipalities to identify the level of need for pet-friendly emergency shelters; (5) directing the MEMA Director to work with municipalities to develop plans to provide both continuing care and transportation to persons needing medical care or transportation when displaced to a shelter in an emergency; and (6) directing the MEMA Director in cooperation with the Chief Information Officer and Statewide Radio Network Board, to obtain from the fire chiefs across the state a list of the facilities within each chief’s community that pose radio communications challenges and are identified as having a high potential of vulnerability.
LD 697 – An Act To Amend the Laws Relating to Department of Corrections Facilities. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) PL 2007, c. 102
This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing the Department of Corrections (DOC), including authorizing DOC to access records, including the records of detained or committed persons, as part of the inspection process for county and municipal detention facilities.
LD 886 – An Act To Clarify Certain Laws Related to Fire Safety. (Sponsored by Rep. Rines of Wiscasset) PL 2007, c. 82
This Act makes three changes to the laws governing fire safety issues. One of those changes requires all incident reports filed by municipal fire officials to be consistent with a national fire incident reporting system.
LD 1183 – An Act To Clarify Public Safety Laws Regarding the Disclosure of Information and the Storage of Evidence, To Reauthorize the United States Secret Service To Enforce Certain State Laws and To Allow Designees To Serve on the Maine Communications System Policy Board. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) PL 2007, c. 209
This Act makes a number of amendments to various public safety laws. Of municipal interest, the Act amends the current law that establishes a penalty on public safety officials for disclosing information of a confidential nature. This Act requires that in order for the violation to be triggered, the inappropriate disclosure must be done with the knowledge that the disclosure was a violation of confidentiality. The Act also amends the law governing which law enforcement agency must take custody of the forensic medical kit associated with gross sexual assault violations in the circumstance where no charges are initially filed.
LD 1491 – An Act To Prohibit Unauthorized Contact of Persons Convicted of Sex Offenses against Persons under 14 years of Age with Persons under 14 Years of Age. (Sponsored by Sen. Diamond of Cumberland County) PL 2007, c. 393
This Act further defines certain crimes related to prohibited contacts with a person under the age of 14 by a registered sex offender. In addition, this Act creates a new Class D crime that applies when registered sex offenders have contact with a child under the age of 14 in a “sex offender restricted zone”, which is defined as the real property comprising a public or private elementary or middle school, a child care center, a day care operated by a family child care provider, a nursery school, an athletic field, park playground, recreational facility, children’s camp, or other place where children are the primary users.
LD 1728 – An Act To Strengthen the Authority of Concealed Weapons Permits. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) PL 2007, c. 194
This Act places a four year term on concealed weapons permits issued by special application to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety to persons previously disqualified for a concealed weapons permit because of criminal convictions.
LD 1841 – An Act To Improve the Efficiency of the Maine Emergency Medical Services System. (Sponsored by Rep. Sykes of Harrison) PL 2007, c. 274
This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing the Maine Emergency Medical Services system and its governing board. Among the changes of municipal interest, this Act changes the membership of the Emergency Medical Services Board to replace the attorney position with a representative of emergency dispatch providers, and the position of fire services provider with municipal emergency medical services provider.
LD 1895 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Corrections Alternatives Advisory Committee. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick for the Department of Corrections) PL 2007, c. 377
This Act implements the recommendations of the Corrections Alternative Advisory Committee, which was created by the 122 nd Legislature. Among the recommendations, this Act: (1) authorizes without requiring each county, or each county working jointly with another county or counties or with the Department of Corrections (DOC), to establish a criminal justice planning committee. The committees include members from county government; representatives from law enforcement agencies, jails, the judiciary and the public; and prosecutors, defense attorneys and victim advocates. The committees are charged with coordinating efforts to educate, update and increase the use of evidence-based correctional practices; (2) provides that any county that does not establish or participate in a criminal justice planning committee is ineligible to apply for any funds from the Community Corrections Incentive Fund (see below); (3) creates a 9-member State Sentencing and Corrections Practices Coordinating Council, whose members include representatives from state and county corrections, county commissioners, municipalities, sheriffs, prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim services and the judiciary. One of those representatives is a representative of a statewide municipal association nominated by the association and appointed by the Governor. The council’s duties include coordinating criminal justice information and collaborating with persons who work in the criminal justice field to establish strategic goals and outcomes to guide the investment in and expenditures on corrections programs and facilities. The council must submit an annual report to the Legislature and to the Governor that includes recommendations and any necessary implementing legislation; (4) amends the existing state-funded county corrections assistance program by diverting state assistance into two funds; the Community Corrections Fund and the County Jail Prisoner Support Fund. The Community Corrections Fund provides state assistance to fund alternative sentencing methods, such as electronic monitoring, residential treatment and halfway house programs, temporary release programs, etc. The County Jail Prisoner Fund provides state funding for a portion of the counties’ costs of the support of prisoners detained in or sentenced to county jails. Beginning July 1, 2008 the DOC will distribute to the counties amounts to be dedicated to the Community Corrections Fund and to the County Jail Prisoner Support Fund. The state funds will be distributed according to each county’s percentage of statewide jail inmate days and will be calculated for the last fiscal year for which data is available. The legislation also creates a new nonlapsing fund, the Community Corrections Incentive Fund, and tasks the State Sentencing and Corrections Practices Coordinating Council with approving applications and awarding and administering to counties competitive grants from the fund. Grants must be used for initiatives to expand community corrections, regional programs and other efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the correctional system. The Fund is capitalized with the place-holding sums of $500 for FY 08 and $500 for FY 09.
Education & Cultural Affairs
LD 221 – Resolve, Requiring the Maine Community College System To Return Real Property and Buildings to the City of Eastport. (Sponsored by Rep. Norton of Bangor) Resolves 2007, c. 116
This Resolve requires the Maine Community College to return to the City of Eastport certain land and property located in and formerly owned by the City.
LD 222 – An Act To Ensure the Integrity of School Crisis Response Plans. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 408
This Act, identified a state mandate, requires every school board to annually approve a comprehensive emergency management plan developed by the school’s administration in consultation with local, regional and state public safety and emergency management officials. The Act also establishes which elements of the emergency management plan constitute “public information” that must be released to the general public under the Right to Know law and which elements are confidential. The “public information” elements are: (1) a description of the scope and purpose of the plan and the process used for developing and updating the plan; (2) general information on auditing for safety and preparedness; (3) roles and responsibilities of school staff and designated chain of command during an emergency; and (4) strategies for conveying information to parents and the general public during an emergency. Except for those four elements, the remainder of the school’s emergency management plan is potentially confidential to the degree it describes security plans, security procedures or risk assessments prepared specifically for the purpose of preventing or preparing for conduct that is designed to cause serious bodily injury or substantial risk of bodily injury to multiple persons, substantial damage to multiple structures whether occupied or unoccupied or substantial physical damage sufficient to disrupt the normal functioning of a critical infrastructure, and the release of that information could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the physical safety of government personnel or the public.
LD 468 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Compulsory School Attendance. (Sponsored by Sen. Bowman of York County) (Mandate) Enacted; PL 2007, c. 143
This Act, identified as a state mandate, adds to the duties of public school attendance coordinators the task of serving as the liaison between the school and local law enforcement agencies in matters pertaining to school absenteeism.
LD 484 – An Act To Adjust the School Funding Formula with Regard to Unorganized Territories. (Sponsored by Rep. Carter of Bethel) PL 2007, c. 424
This Act requires the Department of Education to pay to the “receiving school” the actual per-pupil cost as the tuition rate with respect to students from the unorganized territories. The Act removes the provision from current law that allows the Department to pay either that tuition cost or the state average per-pupil cost, whichever is less.
LD 791 – An Act To Ensure Equitable Geographic Representation on the State Board of Education. (Sponsored by Sen. Raye of Washington County) PL 2007, c. 179
This Act changes the composition of the State Board of Education in a going-forward manner by requiring that the membership of the 9-member panel be broadly representative of Maine’s geographic region. To accomplish that result, the Act requires that four members be residents of Maine’s First Congressional District and four members be residents of Maine’s Second Congressional District, with the residence of the remaining member left as a toss-up.
LD 910 – An Act To Permit Public Schools in the Lower Kennebec River Area To Regionalize To Achieve Efficiency and Improve Quality. (Sponsored by Rep. Percy of Phippsburg) P & SL 2007, c. 25
This Act authorizes the school administrative units of the City of Bath and the towns of Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich to merge into and organize as a single regional school unit to become operative July 1, 2008.
LD 967 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 007: Implementation of the Essential Programs and Services Funding Model, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Education. (Reported by Rep. Norton of Bangor for the Dept. of Education) Resolves 2007, c. 134
This Resolve finally authorizes the Department of Education’s “Chapter 007” rules governing the implementation of the Essential Programs and Services school funding model.
LD 1123 – Resolve, Relating to the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District. (Sponsored by Sen. Bowman of York County) Resolves 2007, c. 129
This Resolve directs the Town of Wells and the Town of Ogunquit to negotiate in good faith in order to resolve their differences over school funding matters. The towns are required by this Resolve to report back to the Legislature on the negotiation efforts by December 5, 2007.
LD 1785 – An Act To Permit Automated External Defibrillators in Kindergarten to Grade 12 Schools. (Sponsored by Rep. Norton of Bangor) PL 2007, c. 267
This Act allows schools boards to authorize the placement of automated external defibrillators in occupied school buildings and at school athletic events, and it further allows school personnel and members of the public to receive training on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use automated external defibrillators. Outside of the narrower context of school law, the Act also establishes a general immunity from civil liability for damages related to the use, possession or purchase of an automated external defibrillator as well as damages arising out of acts or omissions related to preparing for and responding to suspected cardiac arrest emergencies.
Health & Human Services
LD 29 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Welfare. (Sponsored by Rep. Beaudoin of Biddeford) PL 2007, c. 282
This Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services to include in its annual report to the Legislature a summary of any federal law changes that could impact Maine’s TANF programs.
LD 168 – Resolve, To End Fraud in Maine’s Welfare Benefit Programs. (Sponsored by Rep. Walcott of Lewiston) Resolves 2007, c. 31
This Resolve directs the Department of Health and Human Services to amend its rules governing the eligibility determination procedures for the MaineCare program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and the Food Stamp program in order to ensure that income and place-of-residence information provided by the applicant is verified.
LD 980 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Burial or Cremation of Certain Persons. (Sponsored by Rep. Crosthwaite of Ellsworth) PL 2007, c. 411
This Act removes the obligation of siblings from the string of relatives who are potentially financially responsible for the costs of burying or cremating an indigent person before the town is financially responsible for the burial under the General Assistance program.
LD 1661 – Resolve, To Support Community Planning for the Aging of the Population. (Sponsored by Rep. Campbell of Newfield) Resolves 2007, c. 29
This Resolve directs the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a stakeholders group for the purpose of encouraging community planning activities that include plans to address the needs of the elder population. The stakeholders group must include the Office of Elder Services’ Area Agencies on Aging, the University of Maine Center on Aging, the State Planning Office, the Public Health Work Group, the Maine Municipal Association and other interested parties.
LD 1812 – Resolve, Regarding the Role of Local Regions in Maine’s Emerging Public Health Infrastructure. (Sponsored by Rep. Cummings of Portland) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2007, c. 114 (6/21/07)
This emergency Resolve directs the Governor to expand the Public Health Work Group to make it a committee of no more than 40 members representing a range of public officials and representatives of hospitals, social service agencies and other non-profit organizations. From the local government sector, the Resolve calls for membership in the Public Health Work Group to include emergency services providers, county commissioners, elected municipal officials, municipal health departments, local health officers, emergency management officials and public school officials. By December 1, 2007, the Public Health Working Group is directed to file a report with the Legislature that includes: (1) current plans for a statewide public health services infrastructure; (2) a 5-year plan to improve that infrastructure within existing resources; (3) any recommended changes to the current scope and structure of public health duties; and (4) any recommended legislation.
Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
LD 153 – An Act To Improve the Control and Prevention of Invasive Plant Infestations. (Sponsored by Rep. Eberle of South Portland) PL 2007, c. 44
This Act incorporates the existing $10 lake and river protection sticker fee for Maine registered boats with the watercraft registration fee. This eliminates the need for producing and administering a lake and river protection sticker for Maine-registered watercraft. According to the fiscal note on the Act, merging the $10 sticker fee with the registration fee will result in a $46,000 annual reduction in printing and mailing costs for the state, and $124,000 in additional “other special revenue” for the state representing the $1 of each resident’s sticker fee that is no longer retained by the local registration agent.
LD 167 – An Act To Allow Military Personnel Stationed in Maine To Register All-terrain Vehicles As Residents. (Sponsored by Rep. Lansley of Sabattus) PL 2007, c. 70
This Act allows a person serving in the Armed Forces and permanently stationed at a military or naval post, station or base in Maine to register an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) at the resident rate, as well as the spouse and child of that person if the spouse and child permanently resides with the serviceperson. The applicant must provide a letter from the commanding officer stating that the applicant is permanently stationed in Maine.
LD 250 – An Act To Change Snowmobile Registration Requirements. (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County) PL 2007, c. 165
This Act amends the snowmobile registration process by eliminating the use of permanent registration numbers.
LD 888 – An Act To Clarify the Definition of “Personal Watercraft”. (Sponsored by Rep. Mills of Farmington) PL 2007, c. 169
This Act exempts from the definition of “personal watercraft” a motorized watercraft that does not have a horsepower rating greater than 15 horsepower and which does not generate an “unreasonable” amount of noise.
LD 1045 – An Act To Extend the Coyote Night Hunting Season. (Sponsored by Rep. Tuttle of Sanford) PL 2007, c. 242
This Act extends open night hunting season for coyotes to June 1 st; the season currently ends on April 30 th.
LD 1834 – An Act To Authorize the Use of Timber Harvesting Revenues for Land Management. (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County) PL 2007, c. 217
This Act repeals the requirement that the state pay 50% of the net profits that it receives from the sale or lease of natural products on certain wildlife areas to the municipalities where the wildlife areas are located. The Act requires the dedication of those funds to support the land management program within the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which apparently is a requirement of federal law.
LD 1912 – Resolve, To Develop the Outdoor Licensed Network. (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County) Resolves 2007, c. 83
This Resolve directs the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) to develop a plan to create and implement the “Outdoor Licensed Network” for the purpose of acquiring, preserving and enhancing access to land and the inland waterbodies; ensuring the coordinated planning for the future use and preservation of access for activities licensed by IF&W; and providing an effective grassroots system to identify, secure and manage access on an ongoing basis. One element of the Resolve directs IF&W to develop a plan to identify and secure funding sources for the purposes of operating this network, including possible changes to all IF&W-related license, permit and registration fees. The Department is instructed to submit its recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2008.
Insurance & Financial Services
LD 682 – An Act To Allow Schools in the State to Self-insure for Fire, Property and Theft Insurance. (Sponsored by Sen. Nutting of Androscoggin County) PL 2007, c. 84
This Act authorizes the Director of the Bureau of General Services to provide insurance advice to public schools. The Act also authorizes the Director to provide insurance services to public schools if certain criteria are met, including an authorization by law, approval by the Governor, unavailability or unaffordability of coverage on the commercial market, and a strong public need for the insurance services.
LD 911 – Resolve, To Promote Health Care Insurance for Volunteer Public Safety Personnel through the Dirigo Health Program. (Sponsored by Rep. Burns of Berwick) Resolves 2007, c. 118
This Resolve directs the Executive Director of Dirigo Health to conduct an education and outreach initiative to promote awareness of the Dirigo Health program among volunteer public safety personal. Specifically, the Director must contact the Maine State Federation of Firefighters, the Maine Municipal Association and each municipality in order to provide information regarding Dirigo eligibility.
LD 73 – An Act To Place Land in Centerville in Trust. (Sponsored by Rep. Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe) PL 2007, c. 221
This Act establishes a deadline of January 31, 2017 for the Secretary of the Interior of the United States to acquire and place in trust on behalf of the Passamaquoddy Tribe certain land acquired in Centerville.
LD 169 – An Act To Place Land in Township 21 in Trust. (Sponsored by Rep. Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe) PL 2007, c. 223
This Act establishes a deadline of January 31, 2017 for the Secretary of the Interior of the United States to acquire and place in trust on behalf of the Passamaquoddy Tribe certain land acquired in Township 21.
LD 397 – An Act To Limit Liability for the Performance of Community Service. (Sponsored by Rep. Cleary of Houlton) PL 2007, c. 275
This Act limits the liability of charitable organizations with respect to damage, injury or death caused by a juvenile or adult participating in a court-ordered or required supervised work or service program or performing community service.
LD 583 – An Act To Permit Medical and Social Service Professionals To Report Animal Cruelty. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn) PL 2007, c. 140
This Act permits the employees of certain social service agencies – as well as those professionals who are already mandated reporters of adult or child abuse, neglect or exploitation – to provide confidential information to local animal control officers and state animal welfare employees related to suspicion of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect.
LD 584 – An Act Concerning Animal Control Officers as Reporters of Abuse. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn) PL 2007, c. 139
This Act allows municipal animal control officers to report to the Department of Health and Human Services suspected cases of adult abuse, neglect or exploitation or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.
LD 681 – An Act Concerning the Examination of Persons in Protective Custody. (Sponsored by Sen. Nutting of Androscoggin County) PL 2007, c. 178
This Act amends the law governing how a law enforcement officer seeks to have a person involuntarily committed to a mental health hospital on an emergency basis by broadening the list of mental health professionals with whom the law enforcement officer may consult when the consultation occurs outside of a hospital emergency room.
LD 1027 – An Act To Clarify the Definition of “Physical or Mental Disability” in the Maine Human Rights Act. (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 385 (6/21/07)
This emergency Act creates a new definition of “physical and mental disability” as that term is used in the context of the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA). The new definition was enacted in response to a recent decision of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that placed Maine’s longstanding but rule-based definition into question because of the wording of the underlying MHRA statute.
LD 1372 – An Act To Increase Caps on Damages in Actions under the Maine Human Rights Act. (Sponsored by Rep. Mills of Farmington) PL 2007, c. 457
This Act increases some of the compensatory damage caps provided in the Maine Human Rights Act. Included in the bill is an increase from $200,000 to $300,000 for employers with 200-500 employees and from $300,000 to $500,000 for employers with over 500 employees in cases of intentional employment discrimination. It also doubles the penalties for 1 st, 2 nd and 3 rd instances of unlawful discrimination.
LD 1737 – An Act To Amend the Conservation Easement Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity) PL 2007, c. 412
This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing conservation easements. Among those changes, the Act establishes a conservation easement registration system administered by the State Planning Office whereby the holder of a conservation easement must annually report to the State Planning Office the book and page number at the registry of deeds for each conservation easement that it holds, along with the municipality and the approximate number of acres protected under each easement. The annual filing must be accompanied by a $30 filing fee. In addition, each newly created conservation easements must come with a statement of purpose and the holder of the easement must make written “monitoring” reports every three years.
LD 1822 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee. (Reported by Rep. Simpson of Auburn for the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 349
This Act, identified as a state mandate, requires all elected officials at the state, county, school and municipal level to complete a training course on the Right To Know law within 120 days of taking the oath of office. Currently elected officials will have until November 1, 2008 to take the training course. The training session must be designed by the so-called Freedom of Access Advisory Committee and should not take more than two hours to complete. All elected officials must send written or electronic communication to the Freedom of Access Advisory Committee upon completion of the training course, which must keep a record of all compliant elected officials.
LD 1906 – An Act To Clarify the Authority of Boards and Committees. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 396 (6/21/07)
This emergency Act overturns the portion of the Law Court decision in Stevenson v. Town of Kennebunk that held that a municipal board was not authorized to take any action because there was a vacancy on the board. The Law Court held that a charter or ordinance must specifically authorize a board to act in the event of a vacancy. This Act establishes that words in any statute, charter or ordinance giving authority to three or more persons to act on a board or committee of any kind authorize a majority of that board or committee to act, even when there is a vacancy on that board, unless the statute, charter or ordinance specifies otherwise. The Act includes a retroactivity provision to ensure that no previous actions of any board was in any way made void by the Law Court decision.
LD 375 – An Act To Amend the Family Medical Leave Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County) PL 2007, c. 261
This Act expands the Family Medical Leave Act to add domestic partners to the list of individuals for whose care employees may use family medical leave. The Act defines a domestic partner as one who: a) is a mentally competent adult; b) has been legally domiciled with the employee for at least 12 months; c) is not legally married to or legally separated from another individual; d) is the sole partner of the employee and expects to remain so; e) is not a sibling of the employee; and f) is jointly responsible with the employee for each other’s common welfare as evidenced by joint living arrangements, joint financial arrangements or joint ownership of real or personal property.
LD 1261 – An Act To Clarify Intermittent Leave under the Family Medical Leave Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn) PL 2007, c. 233
This Act amends the state’s family medical leave laws to allow for the current 10-weeks allowed under the law to be taken on an intermittent basis.
LD 1373 – An Act To Authorize the Board of Trustees of the Maine State Retirement System to Provide a Cost-of-living Adjustment to Retired Employees of Participating Local Districts. (Sponsored by Rep. Haskell of Portland) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 17 (6/04/07)
This emergency Act effectively establishes a one-time 4.3% cost-of-living adjustment beginning in September, 2006 to retirement allowances for retirees of participating local districts (PLDs) in the Maine State Retirement system, exceeding a cap on year-to-year increases in current law of 4%.
LD 1738 – An Act To Amend the Laws Relating to the Maine State Retirement System. (Sponsored by Rep. Clark of Millinocket) PL 2007, c. 249
This Act makes a number of changes to the law governing the Maine State Retirement system of a technical and “minor substantive” nature.
Legal & Veterans Affairs
LD 27 – An Act To Clarify Election Laws Concerning Election Clerks’ Qualifications. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 422 (6/27/07)
This emergency Act relaxes the residency requirement for the appointment of election clerks when the municipal officers are unable to appoint a sufficient number of election clerks who are residents of the municipality. In that circumstance, the Act requires the municipal officers to provide timely notice to the state and local chairs of the political parties about the lack of available election clerks from that municipality, and further authorizes the election clerk to appoint deputy clerks who are not residents of the municipality if they are at least residents of the county and otherwise qualified to serve as election clerks. The Act also requires the municipal election clerk to fill out a special form whenever a registered voter changes party enrollment status for the purpose of being able to serve as an election clerk because of the balance of political party membership that must exist among the election clerks who count ballots. The Act further requires that those forms be included with all ballots separated into lots when an election clerk who changed parties for the purpose of counting ballots participated in the count for that lot of ballots.
LD 176 – An Act To Provide Notice to the General Public about Proposed Initiative Questions. (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 234 (6/05/07)
This emergency Act changes the process of how the question to the voters that will appear on a citizen-initiated referendum ballot is developed. Under current law the wording of the ballot question is developed by the Secretary of State at the time the citizen-initiated petition is created, before any signatures are collected and long before the proposed initiated law is reviewed in the legislative process. This Act would require the Secretary to develop the question for the ballot after the initiated legislation receives the requisite number of signatures and the proposed initiative has gone through the public hearing and legislative review process. Specifically, within 10 days of the Legislature finally adjourning for the legislative session in which the initiated legislation was received, the Secretary of State must give notice of the proposed ballot question for the initiated law, and a 30-day period is provided for the general public to comment with respect to the accuracy or suitability of the proposed ballot question. After the 30-day public comment period, the Secretary is authorized to finalize the wording of the ballot question.
LD 663 – An Act To Update Absentee Ballot Procedures. (Rep. Barstow of Gorham) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 122 (5/15/07)
Current law provides that an immediate family member may request an absentee ballot for a person. This emergency Act amends the definition of “immediate family member” under the election laws to include domestic partners, and defines “domestic partner” for that purpose.
LD 892 – An Act To Authorize Nonprofit Organizations to Conduct Tournament Games. (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick of Rumford) PL 2007, c. 205
This Act authorizes the Chief of the State Police to issue a “tournament game” license to organizations that are eligible to conduct beano games and games of chance. In order to receive a tournament game license, the applicant must first show proof to the Chief of the State Police that the local governing authority of the community where the tournament games will be conducted approves the application.
LD 1422 – An Act To Provide Exceptions to the Games of Chance Laws for Children’s Games. (Sponsored by Sen. Diamond of Cumberland County) PL 2007, c. 254
This Act provides that certain games of chance that are intended for play by children at festival-style events may be operated by persons under 16 years of age and may be played by persons under 16 who are not accompanied by an adult. This exception to current law and rule would apply only to games in which a non-monetary prize valued at less than $10 is awarded for every chance played. The approval of the Chief of the State Police is required.
LD 1761 – An Act To Amend the Election Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick of Rumford) PL 2007, c. 455
This Act makes numerous changes to Maine’s election laws. Among the changes most relevant to municipal election clerks, this Act clarifies, specifies or establishes: (1) who is ineligible to serve as registrar of voters, especially when a person or a person’s immediate family member is running for any office; (2) that a person loses a voting residence when that person registers to vote in another state; (3) changes to the process for a voter registration appeals, including the appeals that may be conducted by the municipal officers, by specifying a minimum 20-day time period for written notice, establishing that the hearing is a de novo hearing and requiring that a voter’s name be kept in the central voter registration system and the voter allowed to cast a challenged ballot until the appeals are exhausted; (4) the requirements for the name by which a voter may register to vote as well as how a candidate’s name may be listed on a state ballot; (5) the Secretary of State’s authority to determine the format of all instructional election materials; (6) that the requirements for providing test ballots apply to other voting devices, such as the accessible voting system; (7) that the minimum requirement to allow one pollwatcher from each of the qualified parties applies to each segment of the incoming voting list if the municipality divides the list by voting district or by the alphabetic listing of the voters’ names; (8) the requirements for the accessible voting system and prohibits the municipality from using the accessible voting system for purposes other than voting; (9) the process for facilitating a voter’s use of the accessible voting system; (10) how a voter may receive assistance from another person in voting; (11) the process for establishing and consolidating voting places, as distinct from the process of establishing or consolidating voting districts; and (12) the process for an election official to challenge a voter as well as the process for the registrar to resolve the status of challenged voters after the election. The legislation also provides that a clerk does not have to issue a ballot by mail if the request is received on election day or on the day before election day if the voter is outside the municipality. The legislation also creates a system allowing municipalities to process absentee ballots the day before the election. The legislation also directs the Secretary of Sate to design a pilot program for the “early voting” system during the election to be held in November 2007, and further directs the Secretary to select one municipality that is willing and able to be the pilot “early voting” municipality, and authorizes the Secretary to select an additional municipality or municipalities to participate.
LD 1871 – Resolve, Authorizing Municipalities To Consolidate Voting Districts for a Special Election. (Sponsored by Rep. Crockett of Augusta) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2007, c. 12 (5/03/07)
This emergency Resolve authorizes municipalities to consolidate voting districts for the purpose of holding a special election on bond issues in June of 2007.
LD 1921 – An Act Regarding the Central Voter Registration System. (Reported by Rep. Patrick of Rumford for the Joint Standing Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 397 (6/21/07)
This emergency Act makes several amendments to the law governing the central voter registration list. Of direct municipal interest, the Act amends the fee system for the purchase of electronic records from the central voter registration system either at the state or municipal level. The fee system begins under the Act at $10 for the records of 1-1,000 voters and moves up in increments depending on the size of the electronic record. The Act also amends the current law that allows candidates for state or federal office to be provided free updates to the voter list they have purchased so that the candidate may not request or receive the free updates more than once per 30-day period.
LD 403 – An Act to Encourage Municipalities To Abate Coastal Pollution. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 15 (3/22/07)
This emergency Act establishes certain procedures that must be followed and authorities that municipalities may apply with respect to so-called “depuration shellfish harvesting”. The provisions of the Act apply when the municipality has a shellfish conservation committee and shellfish beds within the municipality’s jurisdiction are closed or may be closed to harvesting for water quality reasons. In general, the Act defines a “pollution abatement plan” and a “depuration management plan”, and the required elements of both plans are specified in the Act. The Act further provides that: (1) the Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources may not open the closed shellfish flats for depuration harvesting for a two-year period from the date of the reclassification if within 8-weeks of the reclassification the municipality notifies DMR that the municipality intends to develop a pollution abatement plan; (2) if the municipal shellfish conservation committee has adopted a pollution abatement plan, the Commissioner must obtain the approval of the shellfish conservation committee before authorizing depuration digging; and (3) if the municipal shellfish conservation committee has also adopted a depuration management plan, the municipality may directly manage depuration harvesting within shellfish flats under its jurisdiction.
LD 554 – An Act To Amend the Shellfish Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) PL 2007, c. 54
This Act makes several changes to the laws governing shellfish harvesting, including limiting the amount of shellstock any individual may harvest per day for personal use from ½ bushel to one peck, and preventing persons who have had their shellfish harvesting license suspended from being able to harvest for personal use. This Act also creates a special license available only to Maine residents that is required for any boat that used to drag for surf clams.
LD 1318 – Resolve, To Conduct an Independent Review of the Department of Marine Resources, Public Health Division. (Sponsored by Rep. Webster of Freeport) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2007, c. 82 (6/15/07)
This emergency Resolve directs the Maine Sea Grant to work with the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference to develop a request for proposals in order to secure a qualified person or firm to conduct a review of program procedures within the Department of Marine Services with respect to the Department’s water quality assessment functions. A report on that review must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2008.
LD 1409 – An Act To Make Technical Changes to Maine’s Aquaculture Statutes. (Sponsored by Rep. Percy of Phippsburg) PL 2007, c. 212
This Act makes several amendments and additions to the laws governing aquaculture facilities. Among those changes, the Act allows a limited-purpose aquaculture license to be issued to a municipal shellfish management committee.
LD 109 – An Act To Require a Model Radon Standard for New Residential Construction. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) PL 2007, c. 90
This Act requires that if a municipality adopts a radon code or standard for new residential construction, that municipality must adopt a radon code or standard recommended by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), designated as E-1465-06 Standard Practice for Radon Control Option for the Design and Construction of New Low—Rise Residential Buildings. The Act stipulates that no municipality is required by the terms of the Act to adopt a radon standard or code, and further stipulates that any radon standard or code adopted by a municipality prior to the effective date of the Act is not made invalid by the enactment of the legislation, except that if the municipality eventually replaces the pre-existing standard or code, it must adopt the model ASTM code.
LD 301 – An Act Relating to Alternate Directors for Public Waste Disposal Corporations. (Sponsored by Rep. Austin of Gray) PL 2007, c. 91
This Act allows a municipality participating in a public waste disposal corporation to elect one or more alternate directors to serve in the absence of the director elected by the municipal officers.
LD 340 – An Act To Require the Replacement of Trees Cut in Shoreland Areas. (Sponsored by Rep. Hill of York) PL 2007, c. 92
This Act establishes that the correction or mitigation requirements to satisfy a violation of shoreland zoning law with respect to illegally removing a tree or understory vegetation must be the replanting of replacement trees or vegetation substantially similar in size to the removed trees and vegetation unless such a restoration requirement would result in a threat to public health, substantial environmental damage or injustice. As part of that correction or mitigation process, the violator must submit to the municipality a reforestation plan meeting certain standards and developed by a licensed professional forester.
LD 345 – An Act To Clarify Recent Changes to the Laws Regulating Land Use Ordinances. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 77 (5/08/07)
This emergency Act amends recently enacted law regarding local rate of growth ordinances by clarifying that the local building permit allowances must be based on a certain percentage of the number of building permits issued for new residential dwellings over the past 10 years rather than on the number of all building permits issued, such as for minor construction projects.
LD 774 – An Act To Coordinate the Implementation of the In-stream Flow and Water Level Rules among the Department of Environmental Protection, the Drinking Water Program of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Utilities Commission. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 235 (6/06/07)
This emergency Act provides direction to the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) with respect to the BEP’s rules governing in-stream water flows and lake or pond water levels that are designed to protect aquatic life and other specified uses. Specifically, the BEP is directed to incorporate into those rules a mechanism to reconcile the objective of protecting aquatic life with the objective of allowing community water systems to use their water supplies to provide water service. The Act further provides that before the Department of Environmental Protection issues a withdrawal certificate to a community water system, the certificate must be reviewed by the Drinking Water Program within the Department of Health and Human Services and by the Public Advocate’s Office.
LD 848 – An Act To Encourage Greater Public Input into the State Environmental Licensing Process. (Sponsored by Rep. Annis of Dover-Foxcroft) PL 2007, c. 43
This Act gives the Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Environmental Protection the authority to hold public hearings with respect to development proposals under their review for environmental permitting.
LD 895 – An Act Concerning Blasting near Residential Areas. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County) PL 2007, c. 297
This Act makes a number of amendments to the laws governing the regulation of blasting operations, rock crushing operations, gravel pits and quarries. Of specific interest to municipalities, the Act: (1) adds a provision to the state’s Site Location of Development law requiring all blasting to be conducted in accordance with certain performance standards unless otherwise approved by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); (2) amends the performance standards for gravel pits to clarify that the standards apply to any pit with a total area of 5 or more acres that is located on more than one parcel that is under a common owner or operator; (3) amends the “notice of intent to comply” sections of the state laws governing gravel pits and quarries to require that the notice to abutters and municipalities be sent by certified mail; (4) amends the performance standards of the gravel pit laws to clarify that setbacks from public drinking water sources apply to sources that exist at the time of filing a “notice of intent to comply” or exist prior to obtaining a permit for excavation into groundwater; (5) amends the performance standards of the quarry law to add a standard requiring the owner or operator to provide a detailed notice to the DEP within 48 hours of a blast event if the event exceeds any of the blasting standards; (6) amends the quarry law to require the owner or operator to develop and implement a plan that provides an opportunity for property owners within 1,000 feet of the blast site to receive prior notification, according to a variety of methods, of a scheduled blast; and (7) directs the DEP, the Department of Public Safety and the Office of the State Fire Marshal to study methods for the regulation of individuals and companies that conduct blasting operations, including certification and requirements for best management practices, and to submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources by January 15, 2008.
LD 935 – An Act To Continue To Ensure the Long-term Capacity of Municipal Landfills. (Sponsored by Rep. Makas of Lewiston) PL 2007, c. 338
This Act establishes standards whereby publicly-owned solid waste facilities may accept waste that is generated from out-of-state and still be considered public rather than commercial solid waste facilities. For solid waste facilities that are owned by public waste disposal corporations or refuse disposal districts, the standard is that the corporation or district controls the decisions regarding the type and source of the waste that is accepted at the facility and, if the facility is a landfill, it only accepts waste that is generated within the state unless the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection finds that the acceptance of any out-of-state waste provides a “substantial public benefit”. For solid waste facilities that are owned by a municipality, the standard is that the municipality controls the decisions regarding the type and source of the waste that is accepted at the facility and, if the facility is a landfill, it only accepts waste that is generated within the state, unless the DEP Commissioner finds that the acceptance of any out-of-state waste provides a “substantial public benefit”, and the acceptance of out-of-state waste is approved by a majority of the voters in the municipality at referendum.
LD 968 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 587: In-stream Flow and Lake and Pond Water Levels, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Department of Environmental Protection) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2007, c. 63 (6/06/07)
This emergency Resolve paves the way for final adoption of a “major substantive” rule promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), chapter 587, which regulates the quantity of water that may be withdrawn from surface water sources by users including public water supplies. This Act requires 17 amendments to the rule that was provisionally adopted by the DEP. Of particular interest to the owners of community water systems, the Act establishes certain standards governing the issuance of withdrawal certificates, which under the terms of the Act must: (1) allow withdrawals up to the water system’s design capacity; (2) include considerations of economic and technical feasibility including the water system’s legislative charter or other authority; (3) consider the watershed protection benefits of the existing source and the financial viability of the water system; and (4) allow a water system to incorporate the cost of compliance with conditions of a certificate into the system’s long-range capital plan. The stated intent of the withdrawal certificate process is to accommodate the needs of the water systems while striving to achieve water quality requirements.
LD 1108 – An Act To Change the Calculation of the Municipal Rate of Growth Ordinance Limit. (Sponsored by Sen. Bowman of York County) PL 2007, c. 155
This Act amends the law governing the calculation of the number of building permits that can be issued under a growth limitation ordinance. Previously, the law provided that the base number of permits controlling that calculation is the total number of building permits issued over the last 10 years, divided by 10. This Act clarifies that subtracted from that calculation are any permits issued for affordable housing.
LD 1297 – Resolve, Regarding Measures To Ensure the Continued Health and Commercial Viability of Maine’s Seacoast by Establishing Nutrient Standards for Coastal Waters. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland) Resolves 2007, c. 49
This Resolve directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to initiate the development of water quality criteria for nutrients in the state’s coastal waters. The development of the criteria must involve the development of a conceptual plan, a work plan and a timeline, a report on available technological approaches to nutrient reduction of wastewater, and an inventory of significant point and nonpoint sources of nutrients to Casco Bay. The DEP is directed to initiate a series of discussions with wastewater treatment facilities to solicit input and gather information. The DEP is directed to submit its report to the Legislature and recommended legislation by January 31, 2008.
LD 1313 – An Act To Amend the Solid Waste Management Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County) PL 2007, c. 192
This Act amends the laws governing the state-level oversight of solid waste management in Maine. The Act creates a 14-member Solid Waste Management Advisory Council charged with reviewing six areas of solid waste management laws including: (1) siting a state-owned solid waste disposal facility; (2) host community benefits; (3) the development of commercial solid waste facilities; (4) the development of regional disposal facilities; (5) the expansion of beneficial reuse and recycling; and (6) the role of municipal zoning in regard to the siting, expansion and operation of solid waste disposal facilities. The membership of the Council includes two members from municipal government.
LD 1431 – An Act To Provide for the Protection of Communities That Host a Solid Waste Disposal Facility. (Sponsored by Rep. Valentino of Saco) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 406
This Act, identified as a state mandate, amends the laws governing the “host community” benefits that are provided to those municipalities that host commercial solid waste disposal facilities. Specifically, this Act: (1) expands the definition of “host community” to include not only the municipality where the solid waste disposal facility is located but also any immediately contiguous municipality if the neighboring municipality can demonstrate that it incurs a direct financial impact related to its infrastructure or services as result of the location of the solid waste disposal facility; (2) expands the potential obligation to provide host community benefits to all solid waste disposal facilities including municipal and quasi-municipal solid waste disposal facilities, but excluding existing state-owned solid waste disposal facilities; (3) prohibits the Department from issuing a license to a solid waste disposal facility unless the host community agreement is in place; and (4) establishes a system of mediation and arbitration if the parties subject to a host community agreement cannot agree on its terms.
LD 1477 – An Act Concerning the Natural Resources Protection Laws and Related Provisions. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 290 (6/14/07)
This emergency Act amends the Significant Wildlife Habitat statutes in response to major substantive rules adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and approved by the Legislature in 2006 regarding the protection of vernal pool habitat, wading bird habitat and shorebird feeding and staging areas. The Act: (1) establishes 100-foot buffers for feeding and staging areas and 250-foot buffers for roosting areas: (2) establishes restrictions on the cutting of vegetation in these areas; e.g., (i) within the 250-foot the roosting area, cutting is prohibited unless it is done pursuant to a specifically enumerated exemption; (ii) within the 100-foot feeding area, the vegetation cutting standards are those used within 75 feet of a coastal wetland under the shoreland zoning laws: (3) establishes a permissive “grandfathering” process whereby the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife may determine that an area is not “significant” under the law due to development that existed as of June 8, 2006; (4) requires the DEP to notify the affected municipalities and the legislators representing the affected residents if, after the effective date of this legislation, any new areas are identified by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as a shorebird nesting, feeding or staging area, or a significant vernal pool habitat, or as a moderate value waterfowl and wading bird habitat; (5) specifies that these setbacks to don’t apply to habitat upland from a great pond unless the habitat is a freshwater wetland; (6) requires the DEP to promulgate new rules with respect to these designated areas that conform to the standards and requirements established in this Act, and, (7) requires the DEP to submit a proposal for “mitigation and compensation” standards.
LD 1743 – An Act Concerning the Sustainable Use of and Planning for Water Resources. (Sponsored by Sen. Bartlett of Cumberland County) PL 2007, c. 399
This Act addresses the issue of significant groundwater extraction and long-term protection of water supplies by: (1) directing the Land And Water Resources Council to convene the “Water Resources Planning Committee” which must be made up of representatives from six state agencies as well as members of the public with expertise in agriculture, public water utilities, the water bottling industry, residential water use, commercial water use, and the environment and conservation; (2) the Water Resources Planning Committee is directed to study and respond to the issue of water withdrawal activities and watersheds at risk according to a three-phase strategy – a data-gathering and investigation phase, a phase whereby planning groups would be convened in targeted watersheds-at-risk areas, and a third phase where specific recommendations would be developed if the oversubscription of water use continues; (3) defining “significant groundwater well” in terms water withdrawal rates and with respect to the well’s proximity to other natural waterbodies; (4) requiring DEP permit approval before the establishment or operation of any “significant groundwater well”; and (5) requiring the DEP and the Land Use Regulation Commission to amend their rules so as to require that a public information meeting be held prior to submission or an application for a significant groundwater well.
LD 1778 – An Act To Amend Certain Laws Administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County) PL 2007, c. 292
This Act makes many amendments to Maine’s environmental protection laws of a technical and “minor substantive” nature. Among the changes pertinent to municipalities, the Act modifies the tree harvesting and vegetation harvesting rules that apply in the shoreland zone by slightly expanding the tree measurement standards. Under current law, the 40% (by volume) removal allowance by applies to trees that are 4 inches in diameter measured at 4 ½ feet above ground level. This change would amend that standard to 4.5 inches in diameter. The Act also directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to file a report with the Legislature by February 1, 2008 regarding funding for the cleanup of sites contaminated by hazardous waste, biomedical waste and waste oil. The report must assess the adequacy of the Maine Hazardous Waste Fund, and the Act authorizes the Natural Resources Committee to develop legislation for 2008 regarding the fees for the transport and disposal of hazardous waste.
LD 1803 – An Act To Clarify Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Ordinances. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) PL 2007, c. 247
This Act makes a number of amendments to the law governing comprehensive plans and related requirements for those plans to be found “consistent” with Maine’s Growth Management Act by the State Planning Office (SPO). Among those amendments, the Act: (1) creates severability language so that if a local zoning ordinance is found to be inconsistent with a comprehensive plan, only the elements of the ordinance that are related to the inconsistency are subject to being struck down; (2) clarifies that cluster development ordinances and design-specification ordinances are not zoning ordinances for purposes of the requirement that zoning ordinances must be consistent with comprehensive plans; (3) adds as another reason why a municipality does not have to designate “growth areas” the circumstance where a municipality has no village or densely developed area; (4) establishes a 12-year limit on the SPO’s finding of consistency of a comprehensive plan without otherwise prejudicing the “consistency” of the plan from any other legal perspective; (5) adjusts the timeframe for SPO reviews of comprehensive plans to 35 business days for a notification of completeness and 10 additional business days for a determination of consistency, and, (6) creates a right of appeal for a municipality that would like to challenge an inconsistency finding by SPO. The Act places requirements on the SPO to clearly identify the goals under the Growth Management Act not adequately addressed by an “inconsistent” comprehensive plan as well as the specific sections of SPO rules related to reviewing comprehensive plan review not adequately addressed, and specific recommendations for resolving the inconsistency.
LD 1824 – An Act To Regulate Outdoor Wood Boilers. (Sponsored by Rep. Berry of Bowdoinham) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 442 (6/27/07)
This emergency Act establishes both a short-term (until April 1, 2010) and a longer-term particulate emission standard to be applied to the sale of outdoor wood boilers, beginning after April 1, 2008. In addition, the Act prohibits the operation of an outdoor wood boiler in a manner that creates a “nuisance condition”. The Act directs the Department of Environmental Protection to promulgate emergency, “major substantive” rules to further implement these standards, including provisions related to outdoor wood boiler siting standards, operation and labeling requirements, the definition of “nuisance conditions”, and municipal code enforcement officer training.
LD 1887 – An Act To Provide Additional Financing for Costs Associated with the Remediation of a Waste Oil Site in Plymouth. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 220 (6/04/07)
This emergency Act amends the Plymouth Waste Oil Loan Program and authorizes the Finance Authority of Maine to loan money in the Waste Oil Clean-up Fund to eligible responsible parties to pay their share of oversight costs of the United States and the State, remedial action costs and costs related to certain settlements offered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under federal law.
LD 1888 – An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Drinking Water Program Regarding Public Water Supply Protection. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County. for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources) PL 2007, c. 353
This Act: (1) creates and defines a “community public water system primary protection area” as a new protected natural resource area under the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA); (2) requires applicants for a NRPA permit who are proposing an alteration within a “community public water system primary protection area” to meet the soil erosion and water quality standards under NRPA; (3) provides that transportation reconstruction or replacement projects within a community public water system primary protection area do not need a permit as long as a permit is not required due to the presence of any other type of protected natural resource; (4) requires an applicant to notify the DHHS Drinking Water Program and the community public water system if the proposed alteration is to a resource or its underlying groundwater which is used by a community public water system; (5) exempts community public water systems from the laws governing NRPA permitting requirements for activities within community public water system primary protection areas; (6) allows the Department of Environmental Protection to delegate review authority with respect to whether an activity requires a permit because it is located within a water system primary protection area to either the Department of Health and Human Services or a community public water system that demonstrates adequate technical capacity to perform the review; and (7) requires the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules to specify requirements for an activity located in a community public water system primary protection area. DEP is directed to report back to the Natural Resources Committee by January 15, 2008.
LD 1903 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Working Group Studying Mold in Buildings. (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources) PL 2007, c. 355
This Act requires the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to study various issues related to mold or excess moisture in buildings, including the public health consequences, the training of local health officers on this subject, and the warranty of habitability as it relates to landlord-tenant disputes with respect to this issue. The Center must submit to the Legislature a report on its study of these matters by February 1, 2008.
LD 1908 – An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Solid Waste Management. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County. for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources) PL 2007, c. 414
This Act makes several amendments to Maine’s solid waste management laws, including: (1) requiring state-owned solid waste disposal facilities to obtain a public benefit determination prior to being licensed to operate with the exception of the solid waste disposal facility currently owned by the state; (2) defines the term “waste generated within the state” to include certain solid wastes that may not have originated within the state if those wastes are used for daily cover, frost protection or stability, or if those wastes are “bypass” wastes or wastes generated within 30 miles of the solid waste disposal facility.
State & Local Government
LD 142 – Resolve, To Improve the Professional Development of County Officials. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) Resolves 2007, c. 3
This Resolve directs the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission (IAC) to establish a working group to examine and suggest improvements to the professional development opportunities available to county officials. The working group is authorized to make recommendations requiring new qualifications of office and updating those qualifications currently required for county officials. The working group is also tasked with considering the feasibility of having county officials appointed where election is the current method of selection. The working group will include representatives from municipalities, counties and the State and report its findings to the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government by January 15, 2008.
LD 202 – An Act To Allow the Municipal Clerk to Inspect Municipal Election Ballots. (Sponsored by Rep. Blanchard of Old Town) PL 2007, c. 19
This Act authorizes municipal election clerks to inspect municipal ballots for errors prior to municipal elections.
LD 214 – An Act To Improve Access to the Government Chart of Accounts. (Reported by Rep. Barstow of Gorham for the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission) P & SL 2007, c. 3
This Act requires the Department of Audit to post on its website the government accounting “chart of accounts” that was developed in 2006 for voluntary use by a legislatively-created working group made up of representatives from municipal, county and state government.
LD 312 – An Act To Allow Plantations to Enact an Animal Control Ordinance. (Sponsored by Rep. Jackson of Allagash) PL 2007, c. 35
This Act authorizes plantations to enact animal control ordinances.
LD 336 – An Act To Reauthorize the Community Preservation Advisory Committee. (Reported by Sen. Dow of Lincoln County for the Community Preservation Advisory Committee) PL 2007, c. 458
This Act extends the life of the Community Preservation Advisory Committee (CPAC), which was scheduled to expire on June 1, 2008, to June 1, 2012. CPAC includes six legislative members, and the annual state cost to reimburse those members for their costs attending meetings, etc., is $3,270.
LD 523 – An Act To Provide for Enforcement of Land Use Limitations Relating to Cemeteries. (Sponsored by Rep. Hanley of Gardiner) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 112
This Act amends the laws governing the statutory limitations on construction and excavation near burial sites. One amendment adds the enforcement of violations of the minimum statutory setbacks from burial sites and established cemeteries (13 MRSA §1371-A) to the list of laws that are enforceable by local code enforcement officers.
LD 702 – An Act To Allow Municipalities To Establish Foundations To Support Education. (Sponsored by Rep. Holman of Fayette) PL 2007, c. 405
This Act authorizes the establishment of municipal education foundations that would be designed to hold and invest gifts and other financial contributions to the foundation for the purpose of supporting the public education program. The Act directs the State Planning Office to establish a template for municipalities to use when establishing these foundations.
LD 1007 – An Act To Promote County-based Economic and Community Development. (Sponsored by Sen. Raye of Washington County) PL 2007, c. 321
This Act allows any county to raise and appropriate money within its assessment on the municipalities for the purpose of county economic and community development provided certain conditions are met. Under the terms of the Act, the funding of the annual salary and operating expenses of a county economic and community development officers or development agency or office must be supported by a majority of the county budget committee or budget advisory committee. Similarly, any county bond issue proposed for this purpose must be supported by a majority of the county budget committee or budget advisory committee.
LD 1135 – An Act To Allow Municipal Cost Sharing for County Services. (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 105 (5/11/07)
This emergency Act authorizes counties to negotiate with island municipalities that are not connected to the mainland by bridge to establish a credit to the island community to partially offset the cost of contracted public safety services, with the credit calculated as the portion of the county assessment that would have been used to provide sheriff patrol services if the municipality was on the mainland.
LD 1173 – An Act To Clarify the Application of the Definition of “Tract or Parcel of Land” under the State Subdivision Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Millett of Waterford) PL 2007, c. 49
This Act establishes that the definition of a “tract or parcel” of land under subdivision law means all contiguous land in the same ownership except for lands located on the opposite side of a public or private road, which are each considered a separate parcel unless the road was established by the owner of land on both sides of the road after September 22, 1971.
LD 1336 – An Act To Allow the Town of Kennebunk To Adjust the Definition of Original Assessed Value for the Route 1 Municipal Tax Increment Financing District. (Sponsored by Rep. Babbidge of Kennebunk) P & SL 2007, c. 13
This private and special Act allows the Town of Kennebunk to define the “original assessed value” for the Route 1 tax increment financing district as the assessed value as April 1, 2003.
LD 1462 – Resolve, Regarding the Department of Audit’s Municipal Internal Control Observation Program. (Sponsored by Sen. Weston of Waldo County) Resolves 2007, c. 66
This Resolve requires the Department of Audit to convene a working group with municipal officials, the Maine Municipal Association and other interested parties to determine the requirements of the municipal internal control observation program as operated by the Department of Audit, whether the program is or should be mandatory, whether the program’s focus should be directed to issues of fraud or education, and whether the Department’s website accurately describes the program. The Department of Audit is directed to report back to the Legislature on the results of the working group effort by January 15, 2008.
LD 1735 – An Act To Facilitate and Promote Regional Cooperation. (Sponsored by Rep. Saviello of Wilton) PL 2007, c. 215
This Act requires the minutes of meetings of the Regional Planning Commissions (RPC) to be posted on the Internet and made available on request to the municipal officers and planning boards of the RPC’s member municipalities. The Act also clarifies that RPC’s are authorized to provide a variety of services to municipalities, including but not limited to, transit, solid waste, economic development, code enforcement, etc.
LD 1810 – An Act To Enact the Informed Growth Act. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 347
This Act is known as the “Informed Growth Act” and requires that a “comprehensive economic impact study” be prepared by a “qualified preparer” whenever a large scale retail development is proposed in a municipality. A “large scale” retail development means any retail business establishment having a gross floor area of 75,000 square feet or more in one or more buildings in the same location. It also means any expansion or renovation of an existing building or buildings that results in a gross floor area greater than 75,000 square feet, except when the expansion is less than 20,000 square feet.
Under the terms of the Act, every municipality is mandated to implement the comprehensive economic impact study process, but the funding for each study would come from a $40,000 fee assessed to the developer of a qualifying project, thereby making the process a “funded state mandate”. The $40,000 would be first paid to the State Planning Office (SPO) and then paid-out by SPO to the “qualified preparer” and to cover any other direct municipal expenses associated with the mandated process. The list of “qualified preparers” must be developed by the State Planning Office.
The Act requires the “comprehensive economic impact study” to be completed within 4 months of filing of the application and to include an analysis of the: 1) economic effects of the large-scale retail development on existing retail operations; 2) supply and demand for retail space; 3) number and location of existing retail establishments where there is overlap of goods and services offered; 4) employment, including projected net job creation and loss; 5) retail wages and benefits; 6) captured share of existing retail sales; 7) sales revenue retained and reinvested in the comprehensive economic impact area; 8) municipal revenues generated; 9) municipal capital, service and maintenance costs caused by the development’s construction and operation, including costs of roads and police, fire, rescue and sewer services; 10) the amount of public subsidies, including tax increment financing; and 11) public water utility, sewage disposal and solid waste disposal capacity.
After the preparation of the comprehensive economic impact study by the qualified preparer, the municipality must hold a public hearing on the study and the notice of that public hearing must include certain details regarding the development proposal, including the name of the potential retailer, a map of the development location and a map of the comprehensive economic impact area. The notice of the public hearing must be provided to all the municipalities that abut the municipality where the development will be located, as well as all property owners within 1000 feet of the proposed development.
After the public hearing, the municipal planning authority – in addition to any land use regulation procedures that may be locally required — must make a written finding of “undue adverse impact” or “no undue adverse impact” with respect to the proposed development, and the municipality may not issue a permit for the development if it makes a finding of “undue adverse impact”.
This procedure does not apply to a municipality that has adopted or adopts economic and community impact review criteria that apply to large-scale retail development land use permit applications and require a study of the comprehensive economic and community impacts as part of the development review and approval process. It is not clear to what degree the local regulatory standards must conform to the procedural and substantive standards of the Informed Growth Act in order for the exemption to apply.
LD 1835 – An Act To Amend the Laws Relating to Notaries Public. (Sponsored by Sen. Hobbins of York County) PL 2007, c. 285
This Act repeals and replaces the law governing the appointment and renewal process for notaries, and creates a board to review violations of notary law and complaints about notaries.
LD 1840 – An Act To Define the Process for a Municipality to Secede from a County. (Sponsored by Sen. Weston of Waldo County) PL 2007, c. 401
This Act establishes a process for a municipality to secede from one county and join another. The process involves: (1) the voters of the seceding municipality petitioning the municipal officers to initiate the secession process; (2) a required public hearing to fully discuss the ramifications of secession and possible alternatives to secession; (3) a referendum vote in the seceding municipality to initiate the secession process; (4) a presentation of the secession plan to the Legislature; and (5) a referendum vote in both the seceding and receiving counties to finally approve the secession.
LD 1892 – An Act To Allow the City of Auburn To Adjust the Definition of “Original Assessed Value” for the City of Auburn’s Mall Area Municipal Tax Increment Financing District and the City of Auburn’s Downtown Area Municipal Tax Increment Financing District. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn) P & SL 2007, c. 23
This Act allows the City of Auburn to define the term “original assessed value” as that term is used with respect to the City’s Tax Increment Financing districts for the Auburn Mall and the downtown district as the assessed value of those districts as of April 1, 2001.
LD 1911 – Resolve, To Authorize the State To Sell a Certain Property with Buildings Located within the City of Old Town. (Sponsored by Rep. Blanchard of Old Town) Resolves 2007, c. 117
This Resolve directs the State Planning Office to sell certain real estate purchased by the state during the state’s acquisition of the West Old Town Landfill.
LD 1916 – Resolve, Establishing an Apportionment Commission To Increase the Number of Androscoggin County Commissioners. (Sponsored by Rep. Lansley of Sabattus) Resolves 2007, c. 135
This Resolve authorizes the Androscoggin Commissioners to establish a reapportionment commission to apportion the Androscoggin County Commissioner jurisdiction to create 5 commissioner districts rather than 3, as is currently the case. If the Androscoggin County Commissioners establish the reapportionment commission, the commission must develop the reapportionment plan by October 1, 2009. The Androscoggin County Commissioners are further authorized by this Resolve to submit the reapportionment plan to the voters of Androscoggin County at the general election in November 2009. Also, if the reapportionment plan is developed, it must be submitted to the Legislature in January 2010 for potential enactment by the Legislature.
LD 208 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Economic and Community Development To Analyze and Evaluate the Effect of Tax Increment Financing for Retail Businesses on Economic Development. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn) Resolves 2007, c. 127
This Resolve directs the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to analyze and evaluate the effect of tax increment financing for retail businesses on economic development in the state. DECD is specifically directed to: (1) determine the most appropriate definition of “retail business” for the purpose of this analysis; (2) identify the impact of approved TIF financing for retail businesses on decisions to initiate or expand retail business in Maine, the impacts on other existing businesses, and the economic development impacts; (3) identify the property tax shifts resulting from TIF agreements with respect to both the retail businesses and the sheltering of state valuation; and (4) research the use of TIF incentives for retail businesses in other states. DECD is required to submit its report to the Legislature by November 1, 2007.
LD 227 – An Act To Allow the Reimbursement of Motor Vehicle Excise Taxes in Certain Cases. (Sponsored by Rep. Holman of Fayette) PL 2007, c. 83
This Act authorizes a municipality to issue a refund to the motor vehicle excise taxpayer in the circumstance where the motor vehicle excise tax credit that is applied when a person is transferring a registration to a replacement automobile exceeds the excise tax applicable to the replacement automobile. If the municipality chooses to refund the excess tax credit in these circumstances, it must issue a refund in all instances where there is an excess credit.
LD 313 – An Act To Extend the Property Tax Exemption for Veterans to Persons Living in Cooperative Housing. (Sponsored by Rep. Cain of Orono) PL 2007, c. 418
This Act extends the property tax exemption for certain veterans to otherwise qualified veterans (or their families) who are living in cooperative housing communities. The Act would grant the exemption to the cooperative housing organization and require the cooperative to provide the actual benefit to the eligible veteran or the veteran’s family. Maine Revenue Services calculates the statewide financial impact to the municipalities in lost property tax revenue associated with this exemption to be approximately $36,000, 50% of which would be reimbursed by the state.
LD 528 – An Act To Make BETR Better. (Sponsored by Rep. Smith of Monmouth) PL 2007, c. 372
This Act does not change current law but clarifies that property eligible for the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement Program (BETR) that may be used property or transferred from one owner to another nonetheless retains its eligibility for BETR benefits.
LD 559 – An Act Regarding the Valuation of Land within Buffer Areas Established under the Natural Resources Protection Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Joy of Crystal) PL 2007, c. 389
This Act does not change current law but clarifies that designation of land as “significant wildlife habitat” by rules promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection is a factor like any other potential “relevant factor” with respect to the determination of the property’s “just value” for assessing purposes.
LD 736 – An Act To Require Notification before Withdrawal of Land from Classification under the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law for Failure to File Certain Statements. (Sponsored by Rep. Watson of Bath) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 425
This Act, identified as a state mandate, pertains to the requirement that landowners with property enrolled in the Tree Growth tax program must file statements with the municipal assessor(s) regarding the required forest management plan every ten years, or else the property is automatically withdrawn from the Tree Growth program. The Act requires the municipal tax assessor to provide written notice by regular mail that notifies the owner of property enrolled in the Tree Growth program of the deadline for filing the required statements regarding the development of a forest management plan. That written notice must be provided at least 60 days prior to any property being withdrawn by the assessor from the Tree Growth program because of a failure to file those10-year updates.
LD 738 – An Act To Assist the Community Affected by the Closure of the Cutler Naval Base. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 21 (6/20/07)
This emergency Act authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development to approve an expanded range of costs as authorized “project costs” for a special Tax Increment Financing agreement developed for the Town of Cutler in response to the military base closure in that community.
LD 739 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Economic and Community Development To Review and Report on Whether a State Tax Increment Financing Structure Should Be Established to Support Economic Development in Washington County. (Sponsored by Rep. Perry of Calais) Resolves 2007, c. 123
This Resolve directs the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to review the state tax increment financing mechanism to determine whether a similar mechanism to share state revenues from new economic activity in Washington County would an effective method of providing economic development assistance to that county. DECD’s report on this review must be submitted to the Legislature by November 1, 2007.
LD 789 – Resolve, Directing the Bureau of Revenue Services To Convene a Study Group on the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. (Sponsored by Rep. Sirois of Turner) Resolves 2007, c. 107
This Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services to convene a study group to review the motor vehicle excise tax, including representatives from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, municipal government and automobile dealers. The study group is charged with reviewing the structure and administration of the motor vehicle excise tax, including its relationship to the personal property tax, and research taxes on motor vehicles imposed in other states. The study group must report its findings and any recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2008.
LD 893 – An Act To Exempt from Excise Tax Maine Military Personnel Who Are Serving Their Tours of Duty in Maine. (Sponsored by Rep. Flood of Winthrop) PL 2007, c. 404
Under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003, a member of the United States Armed Forces who is not a resident of the state is exempt from the excise tax imposed on motor vehicles. This Act extends that exemption from the payment of excise tax on motor vehicles to all members of the United States Armed Forces, regardless of their state of residency, who are permanently stationed at a military or naval post, station or base in Maine. The effective date of the Act is November 1, 2007.
LD 1096 – An Act To Make Circuitbreaker Program Benefits Proportional If a Resident Moves. (Sponsored by Rep. Prescott of Topsham) PL 2007, c. 325
This Act amends the method to determine the benefit available to a household under the Circuit Breaker property tax and rent rebate program when the applicant owned and occupied two or more homesteads during the calendar year for which the Circuit Breaker benefit is being determined. Under current law, the focus is only on the property tax obligation related to the home owned on the April 1 universal date of assessment. Under this Act, the benefit is calculated on a prorated basis between the two (or multiple) households, using the tax obligation related to each household but prorating it for the duration of occupancy by the applicant.
LD 1100 – Resolve, Directing the Bureau of Revenue Services To Provide Guidance Regarding the Valuation of Certain Affordable Housing Property. (Sponsored by Sen. Schneider of Penobscot County) Resolves 2007, c. 89
This Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services to review the factors that should be considered by municipal assessors when determining the value of property that qualifies for the low income rental housing tax credit, and prepare guidance to be provided to municipal assessors that indicates that the income approach should be considered unless a different approach results in a more accurate determination of just value.
LD 1144 – An Act To Provide Information to Property Tax Payers. (Sponsored by Rep. Samson of Auburn) (Mandate)PL 2007, c. 432
This Act changes and adds to the state-required information that must be provided on all property tax bills beginning in 2008. With respect to changes from current law, the Act removes the requirement that the property tax bill contain “a statement” of the assessed value of the taxpayer’s “homestead” property (if any), before and after the calculation of the Maine resident homestead property tax exemption, and the amount of the exemption applied to the homestead. Accordingly, the tax bill need show no more than the numerical value of the homestead property tax exemption in the area of the bill where all exemptions are identified. With respect to additional language, the Act requires all property tax bills to indicate the percentage of property taxes distributed to education, local, county and state government. The Act also requires all property tax bills to indicate the outstanding bonded indebtedness of the municipality as of the date the bill is issued.
LD 1182 – An Act To Enable the Creation of Tax Increment Financing Districts for Arts Districts. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland) PL 2007, c. 413
This Act amends the tax increment financing laws to permit their application to the development of municipal arts districts.
LD 1225 – An Act To Make Technical Changes to the Repeal of the Personal Property Tax on Business Equipment. (Sponsored by Sen. Perry of Penobscot County) PL 2007, c. 435
This Act clarifies that the May 1 deadline for property owners to file information to the municipal assessor with respect to business personal property eligible for exempt status is merely a filing deadline and does not affect the universal April 1 date of assessment upon which the taxable status of the property is determined.
LD 1414 – An Act To Support Farms and Limit Sprawl. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity) PL 2007, c. 301
This Act allows the legislative body of a municipality (town meeting or town or city council) to enter into an agreement with a farmer whereby the farmer provides the town a “term easement” on the farmer’s property which prohibits development of the property for at least 20 years and the municipality, in turn, agrees to return to the farmer each year some or all of the property taxes the farmer pays on the property subject to the restricted development, up to the fair market value of the easement.
LD 1504 – An Act To Make Minor Substantive Changes to the Tax Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity) PL 2007, c. 437
This Act makes a number of “minor substantive” changes to Maine’s tax laws, including: (1) amending the partial tax exemption for the homestead of certain paraplegic veterans to include those veterans who served during specific periods of time during the 1980s or who received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; and (2) amending the definition of telecommunications equipment subject to the state, rather than the municipal, personal property tax to specify the applicability of the state property tax on certain “two-way” telecommunications property on the basis of what the personal property is capable of doing rather than what it actually does.
LD 1558 – An Act To Improve the Process for Adjustment for Sudden and Severe Disruption of Valuation. (Sponsored by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth) PL 2007, c. 322
This Act amends the laws governing the system of expediting adjustments to a municipality’s state valuation in response to a “sudden and severe” disruption of value. Specifically, the Act allows municipalities experiencing a sudden loss in value greater than 2% that is attributed to a mill closing or other significant valuational change related to a single taxpayer to apply for the adjustment of state valuation at any time, rather than the prescribed time frames established in current law. The Act further allows the State Tax Assessor to determine the appropriate adjustment in state valuation and when that adjustment should be applied, and further allows related changes in school subsidy that may be associated with the state valuation changes to be provided from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund.
LD 1707 – Resolve, Directing the Bureau of Revenue Services To Convene a Study Group on Excise Tax Enforcement. (Sponsored by Rep. Wheeler of Kittery) Resolves 2007, c. 113
This Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services to convene a study group to explore opportunities for more effective enforcement of motor vehicle and watercraft excise taxes. The study group must include representatives of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, municipal government and motor vehicle and watercraft dealers. The charge to the study group is to review the extent of evasion of the motor vehicle excise and watercraft excise taxes, particularly in the border areas of the state, and identify strategies to decrease the extent of evasion. The study group must report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2008.
LD 1739 – An Act Concerning Technical Changes to the Tax Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity) PL 2007, c. 438
This Act makes a number of changes to the state’s tax laws of a technical and “minor substantive” nature. Among the changes of interest to municipalities, the Act: (1) requires that all owners of property proposed to be enrolled in the Tree Growth program consent to the application in writing; (2) authorizes the State Tax Assessor to adopt rules governing the assessment of tree growth land and the computation of reimbursements; (3) rewrites and provides structure to the process regarding withdrawal of land from the Tree Growth program; and (4) provides structure to the process of obtaining information from applicants for enrollment of their property in the Farmland and Open Space program and the application of the penalty for withdrawing from that program when the withdrawal is not reported to the municipal assessor.
LD 1816 – Resolve, Authorizing the State Tax Assessor To Convey the Interest of the State in Certain Real Estate in the Unorganized Territory. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity) Resolves 2007, c. 65
This Resolve authorizes the State Tax Assessor to sell various tax acquired parcels of land and other real property located in the unorganized territories.
LD 1875 – An Act To Establish Municipal Cost Components for Unorganized Territory Services To Be Rendered in Fiscal Year 2007-08. (Reported by Rep. Piotti of Unity for the Department of Audit) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 28 (6/27/07)
This emergency Act establishes the municipal cost components for state and county services provided to the unorganized territory. The municipal cost components constitute the property tax commitment for the unorganized territory, which is $14.8 million.
LD 9 – An Act To Continue the Axle Weight Law Changes Beyond September 15, 2007. (Sponsored by Rep. Thomas of Ripley) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 453 (6/28/07)
An Act passed by the 122 nd Legislature amended truck weight-limit standards as they apply not to overall truck weights but to the truck’s axle weights. That Act: (1) amended the calculation of the tandem axle weight fines for 6-axle trucks hauling special commodities to clarify that the lower of the fines specified in statute apply; (2) amended the axle weight fine schedules to moderate the fine increases for smaller violations for trucks hauling forest products; and (3) eliminated axle weight fine violations during the months of January and February on most state roads. The changes went into effect on September 17, 2005 and are scheduled to be repealed (sunsetted) on September 15, 2007. This emergency Act extends the sunset date to September 15, 2009.
LD 23 – An Act To Clarify the Use and Purpose of Center Turn Lanes. (Sponsored by Sen. Savage of Knox County) PL 2007, c. 8
This Act amends the law governing a two-way traffic lane located in the center of a multiple-lane roadway, often referred to as a turning lane. The Act establishes that it is a proper use of the turning lane when a motorist turns into such a lane when making a left-hand turn onto the roadway from a driveway or entrance until such a time as the vehicle can safely enter the single-way travel lane.
LD 24 – An Act to Make Failure to Wear a Seat Belt a Primary Offense. (Sponsored by Sen. Savage of Knox County) PL 2007, c. 60
This Act establishes the failure to wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle as a primary offense, meaning a police officer may stop a motor vehicle and issue a ticket for that offense even if no other motor vehicle operational violation has occurred. The Act further specifies that a motor vehicle stop by a law enforcement agency solely for the failure to wear a seat belt may not provide justification for a search of the vehicle, the contents of the vehicle or the vehicle operator.
LD 160 – An Act To Provide Safe All-Terrain Vehicle Access on Public Ways. (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland) PL 2007, c. 33
This Act authorizes municipalities to direct the use of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) on the public right-of-ways designated as ATV access routes with more flexibility than the standard in current law (“extreme right of the public way”), provided the ATV traffic travels in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.
LD 161 – An Act To Prohibit the Use of Electronic Devices by Minors while Driving. (Sponsored by Rep. Hogan of Old Orchard Beach) PL 2007, c. 272
This Act prohibits drivers 18-years of age or under from actively using any electronic device while operating a motor vehicle, such as a cellular telephone or electronic game, unless the device is related to the operation of the motor vehicle.
LD 232 – Resolve, To Direct the Department of Transportation to Establish the Elton R. Brooks Memorial Rest Area and Boat Launching Facility. (Sponsored by Sen. Raye of Washington County) Resolves 2007, c. 1
This Resolve directs the Department of Transportation to designate a rest area and boat launching facility in the Town of Robbinston as the “Elton R. Brooks Memorial Rest Area and Boat Launching Facility” as requested by the town’s selectmen.
LD 327 – 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 Year Ending June 30, 2007. (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 4 (3/13/07)
This emergency Act is the supplemental Highway Fund budget for the current fiscal year (FY 07).
LD 328 – Resolve, To Require an Engineering Study To Determine the Cost of Extending Rail Service from Portland to Fryeburg. (Sponsored by Sen. Diamond of Cumberland County) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2007, c. 18 (5/14/07)
This emergency Resolve directs the Department of Transportation to conduct an engineering study to determine the cost of extending rail service from Portland to Fryeburg. The study must be presented to the Legislature’s Transportation Committee on or before January 15, 2008.
LD 513 – An Act To Amend the Motor Vehicle Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County) PL 2007, c. 383
This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing motor vehicle registration, focusing primarily on the issue of specialty license plates. The Act also includes a definition of “sport utility vehicle”, allows a sport utility vehicle that does not exceed certain weight standards to be registered either as an automobile or a truck, and requires a sport utility vehicle with a gross vehicle weight or combined gross vehicle weight in excess of 10,000 pounds and used in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise to be registered as a truck.
LD 545 – Resolve, To Name the Bridge on Route 201 in Jackman over the Moose River the Veterans Memorial Bridge. (Sponsored by Rep. Pinkham of Lexington Township) Resolves 2007, c. 15
This Resolve names the bridge on Route 201 in Jackman the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
LD 576 – Resolve, To Examine Issues Related to Distracted Driving. (Sponsored by Rep. Babbidge of Kennebunk) Resolves 2007, c. 86
This Resolve directs the Department of Public Safety to analyze available data to determine the role various types of distractions play in motor vehicle accidents. It also directs the Department to develop recommendations for strengthening laws relating to distracted driving. The Department is directed to submit to the Legislature an interim report that includes recommended legislation to strengthen laws related to distracted driving by January 15, 2009. The Department is also directed to provide to the Legislature a final report on the data it has collected and its analysis of that data, together with any additionally-recommended legislation, by January 15, 2010.
LD 781 – An Act Making Unified Highway Fund and Other Funds Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal years Ending June 30, 2007, June 30, 2008 and June 30, 2009. (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 329 (6/19/07)
This emergency Act is the Highway Fund budget for the FY 08 – FY 09 biennium. The Act appropriates and allocates $340 million in Highway Fund revenue for FY 08 and $344 million in Highway Fund revenue for FY 09, along with approximately $192 million of federal highway revenue for each year of the biennium and some other special revenue funds, for the purpose of funding the state’s FY 08-09 Biennial Capital Work Plan, as well as assorted other programs that are partially funded with Highway Fund revenues, including some Department of Public Safety programs (e.g., partial State Police, partial motor vehicle inspection), the Secretary of State programs (partial Bureau of Motor Vehicles), etc.
LD 830 – An Act to Permit the Use of Pictorial Graphics and Photographs on Changeable Signs. (Sponsored by Rep. Browne of Vassalboro) PL 2007, c. 124
This Act amends the laws governing changeable signs by allowing the use of graphic, pictorial or photographic images on changeable signs unless the municipality in which the sign is located adopts an ordinance prohibiting such images on changeable signs and assumes responsibility for the administration of that ordinance. The municipality is required to notify the Department of Transportation, in writing, of the adoption of the ordinance. The Act further provides that continuous streaming of information or video animation on changeable signs is prohibited.
LD 921 – An Act To Allow a Landowner To Erect Installations in or near a State or State Aid Highway. (Sponsored by Rep. Jackson of Allagash) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 191 (5/30/07)
This emergency Act authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue permission by means of a waiver to a landowner who wishes to erect, construct or install structural development within the non-development zone within or immediately adjacent to a state highway right-of-way. The waiver may be issued provided certain conditions are met, including: (1) the commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) receives a written statement from the municipal officers either requesting or supporting the waiver; (2) the posted speed limit where the development will occur is no greater than 35 miles per hour; and (3) the DOT Commissioner determines that highway safety and public welfare will not be adversely affected.
LD 1018 – An Act To Require That a State Road Be in Good Condition before Being Turned over to a Municipality. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) PL 2007, c. 417
This Act amends the law governing the condition of a state or state aid highway when the responsibility for maintenance of that highway is transferred from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to a municipality in a compact area. The Act provides that when the responsibility for maintenance of a section of state or state aid highway is to be transferred to a municipality as a result of a population growth (determined using the decennial United States census) or the municipality meets the definition of a compact or built-up section, and when the municipality is not eligible to opt out of summer maintenance, the DOT shall prepare a capital and maintenance plan to ensure that the section of state or state aid highway is in good repair at the time of transfer.
LD 1180 – An Act To Promote Transportation Planning, Increase Efficiency and Reduce Sprawl. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity) PL 2007, c. 208
This Act establishes a program within the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide technical assistance and incentive grants to municipalities that effectively manage the impacts of development along state transportation corridors in a way that meets the objectives of the Sensible Transportation Policy Act and avoids or minimizes the need for future costly transportation capacity or retrofitting projects. The Act directs the DOT to solicit municipal incentive funding applications beginning in FY 09 and to identify suitable sources for providing incentive funding beginning in FY 2011. Funding must be derived from funds available under the DOT’s “Quality Community Initiative” programs.
LD 1720 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority To Conduct a Study of Possible Western Connector Roads to Municipal Centers in Cumberland and York Counties. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) Resolves 2007, c. 95
This Resolve directs the Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority to study potential strategies for enhancing connections from Route 1 and the Maine Turnpike to municipal centers in York and Cumberland Counties. The report required by this Resolve must be submitted to the Legislature by February 28, 2008.
LD 1808 – An Act to Improve Road Safety and Update Bicycling Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County) PL 2007, c. 400
This Act amends several titles of Maine law that govern the operations of bicycles and toy vehicles on public roads. With respect to the operation of bicycles on the public way, the Act: (1) requires motor vehicles to pass bicycles with at least three feet of clearance; (2) establishes as a general rule the obligation of the bicyclist to operate on the right-side portion of the public way as far as practicable, but then lists the circumstances when that obligation may be excepted; (3) clarifies that a municipal ordinance governing the proper operation of a bicycle in the public way, if approved by both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety, replaces the statutory standards; (4) establishes a fine of $25 for a person under 16 years of age who is cited for a second offense of operating a bicycle without a helmet and gives a law enforcement officer the authority to waive that fine if the person can provide proof of the purchase of bicycle helmet since the citation; and (5) establishes a fine of $25 to $250 for person 17 years of age or older who attaches a “toy vehicle” (e.g., skateboards, roller skates, wagons, sleds and coasters) to a moving vehicle on the public way and rides on that vehicle.
LD 1817 – An Act To Strengthen and Clarify Maine’s Motor Vehicle Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County) PL 2007, c. 348
This Act makes a number of amendments to Maine’s motor vehicle inspection laws. Among the amendments pertinent to municipal government, the Act creates a definition of “fire department vehicle” with respect to the laws governing the use of flashing emergency lights. The Act also clarifies the method of calculating the “apparent property damage” in a motor vehicle accident report.
Utilities & Energy
LD 36 – An Act To Transfer the Administration of the Renewable Resource Fund from the State Planning Office to the Public Utilities Commission. (Sponsored by Rep. Bliss of South Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 18 (effective 7/01/07)
This emergency Act transfers administrative responsibilities from the State Planning Office to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of the Renewable Resource Fund, which is a fund previously established by the PUC that allows retail electricity customers to make voluntary contributions to fund renewable resource research and development and to fund demonstration community projects using renewable energy techniques. The Act also expands the list of entities that are eligible to participate in the demonstration community projects to include municipalities, quasi-municipal corporations or districts, and school administrative units. The Act requires the PUC to report annually on the uses of these funds.
LD 267 – An Act To Ensure Proper Funding of the Public Utilities Commission. (Sponsored by Rep. Bliss of South Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 16 (3/23/07)
This emergency Act removes the specific aggregate value of the authorized assessment of the Public Utilities Commission (currently $5.5 million) and replaces that part of the law with a process whereby the PUC must present its budget recommendation, which is based on its proposed assessments against the various utilities that fall within its jurisdiction, to the Legislature’s Utilities Committee for review and recommendations before the proposed budget is then presented to the Appropriations Committee as part of any proposed state budget.
LD 547 – An Act To Create Fairness in E-9-1-1 Funding. (Sponsored by Rep. Fitts of Pittsfield) PL 2007, c. 68
This Act: (1) establishes that pre-paid wireless telephone services are subject to the monthly telecommunications services surcharge that provides funding for the administration of the E-911 program; (2) specifies three methods for providers of pre-paid wireless telephone services to calculate the monthly surcharge; (3) adds interconnected voice over Internet protocol service as a type of service subject to the E-911 surcharge; and (4) requires the Public Utilities Commission to adopt rules to implement the provisions of the E-911 funding law.
LD 627 – An Act To Ensure Uniform Emergency Medical Dispatch Services in Maine. (Sponsored by Rep. Rines of Wiscasset) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 42 (4/10/07)
This emergency Act requires licensing for all persons and entities that provide emergency medical dispatching services. Current law requires certification for those dispatchers within public safety answering points (PSAPs). This Act allows emergency medical dispatching to be done outside of and under contract with PSAPs, provided the licensing requirements are met.
LD 645 – An Act To Promote Municipal Energy Conservation. (Sponsored by Rep. Eberle of South Portland) PL 2007, c. 66
This Act expands the Efficiency Partners Program that is administered by the Maine Municipal Bond Bank. Under existing law, the Efficiency Partners Program provides loans for cost-effective energy efficiency improvements to achieve cost savings in municipal and school buildings. Under this Act, the loan revenue could also be used for energy audits that might identify the efficiency improvements.
LD 878 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Harrison Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Sykes of Harrison) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 4 (4/09/07)
This emergency Act amends the charter of the Harrison Water District.
LD 941 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Long Pond Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Eaton of Sullivan) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 5 (4/09/07)
This emergency Act amends the charter of the Long Pond Water District in the Sorrento-Sullivan area.
LD 993 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Winterport Water District. (Sponsored by Sen. Weston of Waldo County) P & SL 2007, c. 8
This Act amends the charter of the Winterport Water District.
LD 1153 – An Act To Allow Affordable Housing Discretionary Water and Sewer Fee Waivers. (Sponsored by Rep. Chase of Wells) PL 2007, c. 174
This Act authorizes the municipal officers, governing body, or board of trustees (as applicable) of water or sewer utilities to provide reduced impact fees or connection fees for water or sewer installations to affordable housing units. The water or sewer utility is required to notify ratepayers of any reduction in the connection or impact fees, and may allocate the cost of the fee reduction to all other ratepayers.
LD 1205 – An Act To Amend the Laws Preventing the Pollution of Portland’s Water Supply. (Sponsored by Sen. Bartlett of Cumberland County) P & SL 2007, c. 15
This Act amends the law concerning contact with the waters of Sebago Lake within 2 miles of the Portland Water District intake pipes. First, it significantly increases the fines for violation. It also amends the current law (written in 1913) which states that a person may not “bathe” in the protected area. That wording is changed to prohibit any “bodily contact” with Sebago Lake in the protected area.
LD 1236 – An Act To Create the Princeton Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. McLeod of Lee) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 6 (4/12/07)
This emergency Act creates the Princeton Water District.
LD 1303 – An Act To Establish the Columbia Falls Village Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Tibbetts of Columbia) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 12 (5/11/07)
This emergency Act creates the Columbia Falls Village Water District.
LD 1347 – Resolve, Regarding Alternative Fuel Incentives To Stimulate the Production, Distribution and Use of Biofuels. (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven) Resolves 2007, c. 51
This Resolve directs the state’s Office of Energy Independence and Security to study and make policy recommendations regarding the creation of an alternative fuel incentive program to stimulate the production, distribution and use of biofuels. The Office is directed to study and develop a range of policy options, including a model program from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania model involves grants to municipalities and others to cover the incremental cost of purchasing biofuels. The Office must submit its report to the Legislature by January 15, 2008.
LD 1360 – An Act To Permit the University of Maine System to Install Lines on Utility Facilities in Public Rights-of-way. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2007, c. 268 (6/08/07)
This emergency Act authorizes the University of Maine System to install wires or line on existing utility facilities located within the public right of way for the purpose of transmitting data and communications between and among the University’s facilities and partnering entities.
LD 1382 – An Act To Create a Utility District in Edgecomb. (Sponsored by Rep. McKane of Newcastle) P & SL 2007, c. 10
This Act creates the Edgecomb Utility District and authorizes the new district to purchase water and wastewater plants, property, assets and franchises from the Town of Edgecomb.
LD 1655 – Resolve, To Improve the Energy Efficiency of Residential and Commercial Buildings. (Sponsored by Rep. Hinck of Portland) Resolves 2007, c. 93
This Resolve directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Maine State Housing Authority to study the feasibility of state policies or programs to increase compliance with the model building energy code developed by the PUC. The Resolve requires the two state agencies to consult with homeowners, building contractors and real estate representatives while conducting the study. A report and any related recommendations must be submitted to the Legislature by January 1, 2008.
LD 1656 – An Act To Amend the Fryeburg Water District Charter. (Sponsored by Rep. Muse of Fryeburg) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2007, c. 11 (5/10/07)
This emergency Act amends the charter of the Fryeburg Water District.
LD 1675 – Resolve, Regarding Full, Fair and Nondiscriminatory Access to the Internet. (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County) Resolves 2007, c. 106
This Resolve deals with the issue of “net neutrality” and the degree to which uneven access to the Internet may develop over time by directing the Office of the Public Advocate to: (1) evaluate federal legislative and regulatory actions regarding any impediments to indiscriminately access to the Internet; (2) monitor the Federal Communications Commission’s inquiry into broadband industry practices; (3) collect legislative and regulatory information on the subject from other states; (4) review Maine’s telecommunications and technology policies; and (5) review the extent of state authority to protect the rights of Internet users to nondiscriminatory access. The Public Advocate’s Office must report its findings to the Legislature by February 1, 2008.
LD 1754 – An Act To Incorporate the Greater Augusta Utility District. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County) P & SL 2007, c. 22
This Act creates the Greater Augusta Utility District, subject to approval at referendum. If approved by the voters of both Augusta and Hallowell, the Act provides for the merger of the Augusta Water District, the Augusta Sanitary District and the sewer functions of the Hallowell Water District to create the Greater Augusta Utility District. If approved by the voters of Augusta but not by the voters of Hallowell, the merger will not include the sewer functions of the Hallowell Water District.