New Laws

(from Maine Townsman, July 2005)
By MMA State & Federal Relations Staff

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. There will be two effective dates this year because the First Regular Session of the 122nd Legislature adjourned for technical reasons on March 31, 2005, then was called back in for a special session, which adjourned on June 18, 2005.

Accordingly, the effective date of non-emergency legislation that was enacted on or before March 31, 2005 will be June 29, 2005. If the new law was enacted on or before March 31, 2005, its effective date is so-noted after the Public Law citation.

The effective date of non-emergency legislation enacted on or after April 1, 2005, will be September 17, 2005. In the legislation summaries provided below, these laws are identified only by their Public Law citation.

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 188 – An Act To Promote the Uniform Implementation of the Statewide Standards for Timber Harvesting and Related Activities in Shoreland Areas. (Sponsored by Rep. Saviello of Wilton) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 226

This Act establishes the threshold point at which the statewide timber harvesting standards promulgated as rules by the Department of Conservation (DOC) for the unorganized territories will go into effect statewide. The threshold point is when at least 252 municipalities from a list of 336 municipalities developed by DOC agree either to repeal the timber harvesting standards in their shoreland zoning ordinances (thereby giving complete regulatory authority over to DOC), or repeal and replace their local shoreland timber harvesting standards with the DOC standards (thereby creating regulatory enforcement process that is shared between the municipality and the DOC). The list of 336 municipalities (on the basis of which the 252-municipality threshold is established) includes the municipalities that according to DOC had the highest acreage of timber harvesting activity on an annual basis for the period 1999-2003. That list is available for review by contacting MMA’s Jeff Austin at 1-800-452-8786.

LD 204 – An Act To Protect Dogs That Are Left Outside. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 340

This Act establishes certain minimum standards that would have to be employed when tethering is the primary means of confining a dog. In those circumstances, the dog must be provided a fully enclosed shelter with a portal that serves to keep wind and precipitation from entering the shelter. The shelter must also have clean bedding material sufficient to retain the dog’s normal body heat. The chain or tether confining the dog must have a swivel at both the collar and anchor. For most breeds of dogs, the chain or tether must be at least five times the length of the dog. For the Arctic breeds (Huskies, Malamutes, etc.), the minimum length of the chain or tether is 2.5 times the length of the dog.

LD 438 – (New title) Resolve, To Improve Access to Emergency Services in State Parks, Historic Sites and the Maine Wildlife Park. (Sponsored by Rep. Vaughan of Durham) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 26

This Resolve directs the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) to: (1) review policies and procedures for contracting emergency service providers when needed at state parks and other public facilities; (2) implement policies and procedures that allow emergency services providers immediate access to state-owned facilities; and (3) develop written emergency operating plans for all staffed DOC and IF&W facilities.

LD 486 – Resolve, To Extend the 2-year Rabies Vaccination Certificate to 3 Years. (Sponsored by Rep. Carr of Lincoln) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 21 (5/13/05)

This Resolve provides that for calendar years 2005 and 2006, a dog’s 2-year rabies vaccination certificate is valid for an additional year for the purposes of providing proof of vaccination for dog licensing purposes.

LD 1017 – (New title) An Act To Monitor the Distribution of Land Acquisitions. (Sponsored by Rep. Joy of Crystal) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 215

This Act amends the law governing the contents of a report to the Legislature that must be filed on a biennial basis by the Land For Maine’s Future Board regarding the Board’s various land and easement acquisitions. Specifically, the Act requires the report to include on a county-by-county basis a summary of the expenditures made by the Board and acreage conserved through the acquisition of fee interests and less-than-fee interests within each county, both for the reporting period and as cumulative totals.

LD 1309 – An Act To Exempt Agricultural Guard Dogs and Herding Dogs from the Barking Dog Ordinances. (Sponsored by Rep. Trahan of Waldoboro.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 138

This Act establishes that no municipal ordinance that prohibits or limits barking dogs may be applied to dogs if and when they are engaged in herding livestock or, if they are agricultural guard dogs, when they are engaged in protecting livestock or warning the owners of danger to livestock.

LD 1368 – An Act To Protect Small Forest Landowners. (Sponsored by Rep. Carr of Lincoln) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 358

This Act establishes that as a general rule, the addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of forest landowners enrolled in the Tree Growth program that are contained in reports filed with the Department of Conservation (Maine Forest Service) are confidential information and may not be released to the general public. This provision applies only to the information regarding landowners who own and have enrolled less than 1,000 acres statewide in the program. The Director of the Maine Forest Service may release that information only in two circumstances: (1) to another governmental entity that requires that information; and (2) to a nonprofit corporation that provides educational services to forest landowners regarding sound forest management as long as the information disclosed is used to provide information about forest management. The Act also adds two items to the list of types of information that municipalities must provide the Department of Conservation on an annual basis regarding Tree Growth enrollees. Under current law, the municipalities must provide the landowner’s name and address, the total acreage in the program categorized by type of wood grown on the land, and the year the parcel was enrolled in the program. The Act requires two additional pieces of information: (1) the year of recertification for each parcel; and (2) the tax map, plan number, and lot number for each parcel listed. The Maine Forest Service will provide forms to the town on which the information shall be recorded. To the extent MFS already has the two pieces of additional information, it will be pre-recorded on the form.

LD 1473 – An Act To Strengthen the Animal Welfare Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 422

This Act makes a number of changes to the animal welfare laws as they pertain to the determination of cruelty to animals, rabies vaccination requirements, certain licensing requirements, etc. Specifically, the Act: (1) requires rabies vaccination of all dogs that obtain the age of 6 months and establishes that a failure to display valid proof of vaccination to a animal control officer is evidence of a lack of vaccination; (2) establishes a $25 late fee for failing to obtain a municipal kennel license by the January 31 st licensing deadline; (3) defines an “abandoned” animal as an animal that is dropped off at an animal shelter or animal care facility by an unknown person or a person who provides a false name or address; and (4) further defines the circumstances of animal cruelty and animal abandonment.

Appropriations & Financial Affairs

LD 468 – 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, 2006 and June 30, 2007. (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 12 (Effective 6/29/05)

This Act is the state budget for the next two-year period (FY 06 and FY 07). This Act is inextricably linked to the enactment of LD 1, which is the “property tax reform” bill described in an article under the "Taxation" section. This budget was also substantially altered through the enactment of LD 1691 at the end of the legislative session (see below). What follows is a description of the elements of the state budget within this Act that have some impact on municipal government.

Increased school funding. This Act provides the increased school funding that was required with the enactment of LD 1. The state share of K-12 education provided through General Purpose Aid to Education in FY 05 was $739.3 million. Under LD 1 and this Act (and subsequent budget adjustments), the subsidy level will be $836.1 million, representing a $96.8 million increase over the FY 05 subsidy level.

Projected increase in URIP funding. The Act projects an increase in the Urban-Rural Initiative Program (formerly known as Local Road Assistance) from $22.8 million in FY 05 to $26.2 million for FY 06. The 15% increase in URIP funding reflects a parallel increase in funding for the state’s highway programs. (Note: Please see LD 739, under the Transportation section of this article, which reduces the URIP allocations established by this Act by $1 million over each year of the biennium in order to fund municipal sand/salt shed reimbursement priorities.)

Burn permits. This Act establishes an “on-line” burn permit pilot project to be initiated as of July 1, 2005. The pilot project would be available within the unorganized territory and within the southern region of the three geographic regions of Maine established by the Department of Conservation to organize their fire protection services. Under the pilot project, people could obtain their burn permits “on line” for a $7 fee. There would be no charge for obtaining the burn permit in the traditional manner from the local fire warden. The budget bill requires that the on-line program “must provide a fire warden with the ability to change the criteria for issuing a permit in a municipality except for times when the director imposes more restrictive criteria or a ban on the issuance of permits.”

Hunting/Fishing license fee increases. The proposed state budget makes a sweep of all fishing, hunting, combination fishing/hunting, and boat and ATV registration fees, and increases current license and registration costs by $2 across the board. The aggregate increase in state revenue associated with these across-the-board fee increases is estimated at $2.3 million in FY 06 and $2.9 million in FY 07.

Funding the BETR program “off-line.”The Act moves the entire state funding for the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program (BETR) “off line”. Instead of appropriating $73.5 million for BETR reimbursements in FY 06 and $75.7 million for BETR reimbursements in FY 07, those state payments would be made by Maine Revenue Services directly from the state income tax revenues, and before that revenue is allowed to flow into the state’s General Fund. The previous Legislature similarly moved the Circuit Breaker property tax and rent rebate program “off line” last year.

The effects of this change are: (1) it makes BETR reimbursements essentially automatic; (2) it slightly reduces Maine’s overall tax burden calculation because the state’s annual tax collections would be reduced by approximately $75 million a year; (3) it makes it $75 million easier for the Legislature to live within the spending limitation system placed on the Legislature in LD 1 because the money is no longer “appropriated”; and (4) it has the effect of causing an annual 3% reduction to municipal revenue sharing because the BETR reimbursements will no longer be appropriated, therefore 5.1% of that state revenue will no longer be dedicated to the Local Government Fund from which municipal revenue sharing is distributed.

When the combined impact of funding both the BETR program and the “circuit breaker” program “off line” are taken into account, municipal revenue sharing is reduced for FY 06 by approximately 5%.

Suspending a revenue sharing increase. The Act suspends for two more years a slight increase in the Local Government Fund, from which all municipal revenue sharing is distributed. In 2000, the Legislature put into motion an increase to the total municipal revenue sharing fund by directing an additional one-tenth of one percent of all state sales and income tax revenue to be provided for revenue sharing. Specifically, revenue sharing is capitalized with 5.1% of sales and income tax revenue, and the 2000 law increased that share to 5.2% beginning in 2003. In 2003, the Legislature pushed the scheduled increase from 2003 to 2005. Under this proposal, the change would be pushed-off until 2007. According to projections by Maine Revenue Services, the two-year suspension of the revenue sharing increase adds $4.8 million over the biennium to the state’s General Fund, which would otherwise accrue to the municipal revenue sharing fund.

Other BETR changes. The Act makes two additional changes to the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program (BETR).

First, retail stores over 100,000 square feet in size will be ineligible to receive BETR payments for personal property that would be first assessed by the municipality on or after April 1, 2007. An exception is provided for a retail store of that size that derives less than 50% of its total annual revenue from sales that are subject to the Maine sales tax. In addition, those retail stores that are receiving benefits for existing qualified property would continue to receive those benefits for the duration of that property’s 12-year BETR cycle.

Second, each business must indicate on the form it uses to apply for the BETR benefit whether the business is also participating in a Tax Increment Financing agreement with the municipality. Using that information, the State Tax Assessor is charged with reporting each year to the Legislature the “overlap” in tax benefits between the BETR and TIF programs. In addition to this gathering of data regarding the so-called BETR/TIF “double dip,” the budget bill in another section requires the recently formed Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) to formally review the BETR and TIF programs, as well as other economic development incentive programs, according to a cost-benefit analysis.

Jail Study. This Act earmarks $300,000 to the Department of Corrections to conduct a study that identifies the costs, benefits, and cost savings associated with alternative approaches to the current system of funding and administering jails and prisons. Specifically, the study is supposed to examine: (1) improved collaboration between state and county government; (2) regionalization opportunities and cost reductions; and (3) consolidation of correctional services under the Department of Corrections. The results of the study and any legislative recommendations are to be reported back to the Legislature by January 1, 2006. (Note: See LD 1691, immediately below, with respect to the provision that funds 50% of this study by appropriating $150,000 from the FY 06 “community corrections” subsidy that would otherwise be provided by the state to the counties to support the operation of county jails. In other words, the property taxpayers will be contributing 50% of this study’s funding.)

HOME program funding. The Act continues actions taken in previous state budgets by redirecting $7.5 million in Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue for each year (FY 06 and FY 07) from the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) to the state’s General Fund. If allowed to stay with MSHA, the money would be used to support affordable housing programs.

EPS changes. The Act makes a series of changes to the laws governing the Essential Programs and Service school funding model (EPS), as most recently amended by LD 1. Those changes include:

•  A one-time increase for FY 06 in the way the model allocates additional costs for schools with 15-26 English as a Second Language students;

•  A one-time increase for FY 06 in the way the model allocates as a default the transportation costs for schools with over 1,250 students, from 75% to 90% of the previous year’s actual costs;

•  A “transitional adjustment” for certain low-receiver schools with debt service obligations that would receive less state subsidy under the EPS system than they were projected to receive when they undertook the school construction debt;

•  A bump-up in the percentage of the EPS model that the state will recognize in FY 06, from 84% to 86%, for schools with less than 500 students and that meet the 8.26 mill “maximum local cost share expectation” effort; and

•  A series of directives to the Department of Education to further study the EPS model with respect to: (1) weighting the model for English as a Second Language students: (2) the regional adjustments to salary and benefit cost allocation system; (3) the entire minimum state allocation system for certain “outlier” school systems; and (4) the modeling of transportation costs for the rural schools.

LD 1125 – (New title) An Act To Establish the Disaster Relief Fund. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 439

This Act establishes the Disaster Relief Fund, but no funds are appropriated to capitalize it. To the extent the Fund is ever capitalized with state or non-state resources, the Disaster Relief Fund would be available as the first resource used when state emergencies or disasters are declared.

LD 1369 – (New title) Resolve, Directing the Intergovernmental Advisory Group To Review Unfunded Mandates. (Sponsored by Rep. Rines of Wiscasset) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 30 (5/20/05)

This Resolve directs the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission (IAC) to conduct a review of unfunded state mandates that pertain to municipalities and identify those unfunded state mandates that were enacted prior to November 23, 1992, which is the effective date of the constitutional amendment approved by the voters and designed to limit the enactment of unfunded state mandates. The IAC is directed to: (1) prepare a comprehensive list of state mandates on municipalities; (2) identify the legal origin of each mandate; (3) identify the statewide local government cost of each mandate; and (4) identify the characteristics of each mandate that make it deserving of further review, including archaic or unnecessary features, inadequate funding, disproportionate effort-to-benefit ratio, poor coordination between state and federal law, etc. The IAC is directed to issue its report back to the Legislature by November 2, 2005.

LD 1691 – An Act To Eliminate Pension Cost Reduction Bonding and Provide Replacement Budgeting Measures. (Reported by the Majority from the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 457

This Act replaces the element of the state budget enacted in March (see LD 468, above) that authorized $250 million in borrowing to cover state operational expenditures with a broad range of cuts throughout state and local government, and increased state revenue. The Act raises the taxes on tobacco to generate $125 million a year. Among the proposals in this legislation that affect local government, the Act:

•  Eliminates the Local Government Efficiency Fund for the next two years. The Local Government Efficiency Fund was created by the voters on June 8, 2004 and would set aside $4.8 million of revenue sharing funds over the biennium to fund a competitive grant program for municipalities to redesign service delivery systems. The Act appropriates that two-year stream of municipal revenue sharing resources to balance the state budget. (For a description of the bill that was enacted to manage the Efficiency Fund, which will now be unfunded for the next two years, see LD 1637 under the State and Local Government section of this article.)

•  Reduces municipal revenue sharing in FY 07 by $5 million. This Act directly cuts $5 million out of the FY 07 municipal revenue sharing distribution, a 4% cut.

•  $6.3 million Tree Growth and Veterans’ Exemption reimbursement “push”. Under this Act, the state reimbursements to municipalities under the Tree Growth and Veterans’ Exemption tax law will be delayed. Instead of being provided within FY 06 and FY 07, the payments will be made a month late, pushing them into each subsequent fiscal year. The delayed payments will result in increased property taxes this upcoming year for communities with fiscal years that begin on July 1.

•  $460,000 reduction in State Park fee sharing program. Currently the state shares 15% of state park fee revenue with the municipalities that host the state parks. This Act cuts the municipal share down to 7%, costing municipalities (and saving the state) $230,000 a year.

•  $250,000 cut to state support for county jails. This Act cuts state support for county jails by $55,000 a year. Another $150,000 will be taken from county jail support in FY 06 in order to fund a legislative study regarding the funding and operations of county jails.

•  Counties to pay state $100,000 a year for certain prisoners. In addition to the cuts to county jail funding described above, this Act requires the counties to pay the state $100 a day for high-risk prisoners that have to be removed from county jails and taken to state facilities. The increased cost to county government is projected to be $100,000 a year.

• Increases education costs. This Act makes a number of changes to education funding that will have financial impacts on local government.

1) Delay the phased-in increases toward 100% special education funding. Under the terms of LD 1, the state would phase-in its assumption of 100% of the EPS-determined costs of special education over a four-year period. This Act freezes that phase-in process in FY 07, saving the state $1.5 million for that year, with direct negative impacts to the affected school districts.

2) Cut state school bus subsidy by $3.2 million in FY 07.

3) Capture Medicaid reimbursement. The state will “capture” certain federal reimbursements to schools that provide Medicaid-eligible services, effectively reducing financial support that would otherwise go to the schools by $2.5 million in FY 07.

4) Delay new school construction funding. $5.1 million in new school construction funding will be effectively “pushed” out of this biennium. Apparently, the financial impact of this “push” on school budgets will be relatively insignificant because the schools could continue financing the projects using Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs), the increased interest of which will be recognized by the state as increased construction costs.

5) Pull $5.9 million out of the School Revolving Renovation Fund. Under current law, after a school renovation project partially funded with state funds is completed, the post-construction audit will identify unused state funds and return them to the School Revolving Renovation Fund. This Act retroactively identifies those funds over the last six years, and returns them to the state’s General Fund, pulling $5.9 million out of the Fund. The result is a dramatic reduction in the capacity of that Fund to support renovation projects over the next several years.

6) Increase teacher and non-teacher certification fees. This Act doubles teacher certification fees and creates additional certification fees for all non-teacher school employees. This change increases revenue to the state by $1 million a year. Presumably, those increased certification fees will either directly or indirectly be borne by the school budgets.

The sum total of all these cuts, pushes, and increased fees is approximately $36 million, which represents about 30% of all the reductions to overall state spending included in the Act.

Business, Research & Economic Development

LD 449 – An Act To Make Changes to the Pine Tree Development Zones. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 351 (6/09/05)

This Act makes dozens of technical and substantive changes to the laws governing Pine Tree Development Zones. Among the several changes to those laws, the Act: (1) establishes that under the 5,000 maximum acres per zone limitation, the acreage does not have to be contiguous and only developable acres may be counted; (2) repeals the limitation on the number of parcels within a zone, relying entirely on the acreage limit to control the size of individual zones; (3) clarifies that all aspects of a zone’s development program may be amended by a majority vote of the participating municipalities; (4) allows the voting decisions to be made by either the municipality’s legislative body or its municipal officers; and (5) authorizes municipalities to independently shift or delete acres within the zone within their boundaries as long as those changes in the designated acreage do not jeopardize existing benefits to qualified businesses.

LD 472 – An Act To Amend the Statewide Building Code. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 200

This Act establishes the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) as the model building rehabilitation code in Maine. The Act does not preempt existing rehabilitation codes, nor does it mandate the adoption of the IEBC. Any town that chooses to adopt a rehabilitation code must adopt the IEBC. The adopting town may make amendments to the code. The Act also authorizes the State Planning Office (SPO) to attempt to obtain public and private funds to conduct a project that would harmonize the building codes currently in effect with the Maine Model Building Code and the International Existing Building Code. SPO is required to report to the Legislature on the status of this project by February 1, 2006.

LD 1056 – (New title) Resolve, To Amend the Rule-making Process for the State’s Plumbing Code. (Sponsored by Sen. Sullivan of York County) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 81

This Resolve gives final authorization to the rules provisionally adopted by the Plumbers’ Examining Board to update the Maine State Plumbing Code by replacing it with the current version of the Uniform Plumbing Code published by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.

LD 1306 – (New title) An Act To Authorize the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to Develop a Model for Registration of Home Building and Improvement Contractors. (Sponsored by Rep. Jackson of Fort Kent) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 18

This Act authorizes the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to develop a model registration process for home building and home improvement contractors. The model registration process includes the development of model home building or home improvement contracts, threshold standards for registration, a process to receive complaints about contractors and communicate those complaints to consumers, and registration fees. The Department’s report must be submitted to the Legislature by February 1, 2006.

LD 1339 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Powers and Duties of the Washington County Development Authority. (Sponsored by Sen. Raye of Washington County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 367

This Act changes the composition of the board of trustees of the Washington County Development Authority (WCDA) to include 12 appointees, all made by the Governor. Nine of the members must be selected from candidates who are residents of Washington County and are nominated by private, nonprofit, countywide, federally recognized Washington County-based economic development organizations other than the WCDA. The Act provides that “primary impact communities” also may make nominations. It requires that the Governor ensure that all regions of the County, as defined by the 3 county commissioner districts, are equally represented on the board of trustees. A municipality may not have more than 2 trustees sitting on the board of trustees. The Act provides for staggered terms for the newly appointed members of the board of trustees and describes the manner in which trustees may be removed from the board. It also provides that trustees may not serve more than 2 consecutive 4-year terms on the board. The bill also expands economic development authorities of the WCDA.

LD 1445 – An Act to Protect the Integrity of Maine State Housing Authority Funds. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 261

This Act allows the Maine State Housing Authority to place a condition on the approval of funding for a housing project upon a municipality’s representation that the applicant, affiliate of the applicant or any owner controlled by the applicant has no record of a material municipal code violation of health, safety or sanitation standards.

LD 1503 – An Act To Amend the Economic Development Statutes. (Sponsored by Rep. Berube of Lisbon) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 425

This Act makes modest amendments to the economic development laws. With respect to municipalities, the bill would change the name of the Community Industrial Building Program to the Speculative Industrial Building Program, and the bill would further clarify that the municipal financial contribution to the program must be at least 25% of the amount of funding that the Finance Authority of Maine provides to the project, rather than 25% of the total project costs.

Criminal Justice & Public Safety

LD 53 – (New title) An Act To Clarify the Law Regarding Unlawful Interference with Law Enforcement Dogs. (Sponsored by Rep. Fischer of Presque Isle) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 69

This Act amends the law creating a crime for intentionally or knowingly harming a dog that is certified for law enforcement uses to remove an implicit requirement that the person harming the dog had knowledge of the dog’s certification status.

LD 102 – An Act To Allow the Part-time Assignment of State Police Officers to Municipalities. (Sponsored by Rep. Blanchette of Bangor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 53

This Act amends the law that authorizes municipalities to contract with the State Police for police services to clarify that the contract may include one or more police officers and may be designed to provide either full-time or part-time coverage. The Act also rewords a parallel authorizing statute to clarify that if a municipality contracts with the State Police or the Sheriff’s Office for policing coverage, the contract may authorize the state or county police to enforce municipal ordinances.

LD 620 – An Act To Clarify the Liquor Enforcement Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 139 (5/20/05)

This Act authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety to designate a local law enforcement agency to enforce liquor sale and distribution laws as they pertain to liquor licenses, provided the designation of authority is consented to and approved by the local law enforcement agency. (Please note that this law authorizes the police department and not the council or board of selectmen to enter into liquor sale and distribution law enforcement contracts with the state police. Although MMA requested that the bill be amended to require the municipal officers to assent in order to enter into these contracts, that request was not incorporated into the enacted law. )

LD 670 – An Act To Protect Children Using Maine’s Athletic Fields and Parks from Drug Dealers. (Sponsored by Rep. Hotham of Dixfield) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 415

This Act authorizes municipalities to designate athletic fields, playground or recreational facilities as “safe zones”, which has the effect of increasing the criminal penalties associated with trafficking illegal drugs within 1000 feet of those designated properties. The municipality must conspicuously mark every designated “safe zone” with an information sign that uses wording provided by the Commissioner of Public Safety.

LD 1271 – (New title) An Act Regarding Criminal Use of an Electronic Weapon. (Sponsored by Rep. Blanchette of Bangor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 264

This Act creates as a Class D crime the use of an electronic stun-gun or other type of electronic disabling weapon upon any other person. Exceptions are created for the authorized use of such weapons by law enforcement or corrections officers, or the personal use of such weapons for self-defense purposes or defense of a person’s dwelling place.

LD 1362 – An Act Regarding the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. (Sponsored by Rep. Blanchette of Bangor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 331

This Act amends the law governing the training requirements and policy adoption requirements of law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies as administered by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA) as that law governs the numerous certifications that a law enforcement agency must provide to the MCJA by certain dates regarding the adoption of policies governing the investigation and prosecution of certain types of crimes. Specifically, the Act requires the certified adoption of sex offender notification policies by June 1, 2006, and the full training of law enforcement officers regarding the sex offender notification policies by January 1, 2007. The Act further establishes that any local law enforcement agency that fails to comply with any policy-adoption or training mandate commits a civil violation, subject to a $500 fine. The Act also requires full-time law enforcement officers to successfully complete the basic training course at MCJA in the first 12 months of initial employment. If the officer fails to satisfy the admission standards of the basic course, the officer must meet all entrance standards and be approved by the MCJA Board of Trustees before being employed by any agency. The Act also clarifies that the government-to-government reimbursement requirements when a law enforcement officer is hired by one governmental entity when trained by another apply only in the case of full-time law enforcement officers. Finally, the Act requires local law enforcement agencies that terminate a law enforcement officers’ employment to notify the MCJA within 30 days.

LD 1645 – (New title) Resolve, To Establish the Task Force To Study Maine’s Homeland Security Needs. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 126 (6/23/05)

This Resolve establishes an 11-member Task Force to Study Maine’s Homeland Security Needs. The task force is made up of six legislators and five members representing public interests who are not directly involved in emergency preparedness or homeland security. The task force is charged with reviewing the state’s homeland security needs, the current state of homeland security preparedness, ways to improve information about homeland security in Maine, and ways to better advocate for homeland security assistance from the federal government. The task force must submit an interim report to the Legislature by December 7, 2005, along with any recommended legislation, and a final report by November 1, 2006.

LD 1659 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Crimes against People Who Are Homeless. (Sponsored by Rep. Dudley of Portland) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 393

This Act directs the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to include in the basic law enforcement training program a block of instruction designed to reduce barriers to reporting crimes against people who are homeless and deal with the unique challenges posed by crimes against the homeless or witnessed by the homeless. The Act also directs the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General to review the relationship between law enforcement agencies and homeless people and explore methods of encouraging law enforcement agencies where homeless people are located to take concrete steps to improve relations with homeless people and their advocates.

Education & Cultural Affairs

LD 564 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Student Code of Conduct. (Sponsored by Rep. Grose of Woolwich) (Mandate) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 307

This Act requires school boards to establish policies to address bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. It directs a subcommittee of the Children’s Cabinet to develop model policies, materials for communicating and implementing the model policies and training modules specific to recognizing and addressing bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. It directs the subcommittee to complete its work by February 15, 2006 and school administrative units to have policies and procedures in place by September 1, 2006.

LD 578 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Portland Public Library. (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 16 (5/20/05)

This Act removes a cap in the existing charter on the amount of contribution that can be made to the Portland Public Library by the City.

LD 856 – An Act Allowing School Unions To Improve Efficiency. (Sponsored by Rep. Merrill of Appleton) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 130

This Act authorizes the superintendent of a school union to act as the treasurer of the school union, and the school union committee to act as the fiscal agent for the school administrative units within the school union, all for the purpose of authorizing and making payments of the participating schools’ expenditure and payroll warrants. In order for these designations of authority to take place, a majority of the voters of each participating school unit’s legislative body will have to authorize the centralized fiscal-agent system through referendum or town meeting votes. If authorized by the participating municipalities, the centralized fiscal-agent system would have to be reauthorized by the participating municipalities no less often than once every three years.

LD 1668 – An Act To Establish a Cost-sharing Formula for the Five Town Community School District. (Sponsored by Rep. Merrill of Appleton) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 10 (5/12/05)

This Act establishes a cost sharing formula for the Five Town Community School District.

Health & Human Services

LD 21 – (New title) Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Adopt Rules Regarding the Licensing of New Opioid Treatment Programs. (Sponsored by Rep. Mazurek of Rockland) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 31

This Resolve directs the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt rules no later than November 1, 2005 that would establish certain requirements regarding the licensing requirements for “opioid treatment programs”, such as methadone clinics. The rules must require: (1) early discussions about the proposed clinic among representatives of the proposed program and the municipality and the residents of the municipality; (2) published public notice regarding the licensing hearing; (3) a public hearing in the municipality as part of the licensing process; and (4) annual public meetings in the municipality after the facility is licensed to review any local issues regarding the treatment facility.

LD 367 – An Act To Monitor and Maintain Maximum Levels of Assistance in the General Assistance Program. (Sponsored by Sen. Brennan of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 231

This Act amends the calculation of the aggregate maximum level of General Assistance, which is currently calculated as 110% of the federally-determined fair market rental rates in the various regions of Maine. Under the terms of this Act, the year-to-year change in the aggregate maximum level of General Assistance would be either the maximums as determined by the current formula or the previous year’s maximums as adjusted by the percentage increase in the federal poverty level, whichever calculation provides a higher aggregate maximum.

Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

LD 231 – An Act To Provide for Registration of Certain Snowmobile Trail-grooming Equipment. (Sponsored by Rep. Trahan of Waldoboro) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 93

This Act prohibits the use of snowmobile trail grooming equipment on snowmobile trails unless that equipment is registered. Only organizations that have an approved contract with the Department of Conservation, or persons belonging to those organizations, may apply for the registration. The registration fee is a one-time fee of $33, and the registration is valid until the trail grooming equipment is sold or transferred. Municipalities are exempt from the registration fee but not exempt from the obligation to register their trail grooming equipment.

LD 431 – (New title) An Act To Allow Certain Unregistered All-terrain Vehicles To Participate in Special Events in the State. (Sponsored by Rep. Lundeen of Mars Hill) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 177 (5/20/05)

This Act authorizes the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to exempt certain out-of-state All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) from Maine ATV registration requirements if the ATVs are in Maine to participate in a special event and the special event organizer submits a request for the exemption status to the Commissioner at least 60 days before the special event.

LD 977 – An Act To Create a Civil Violation for Operating a Snowmobile Left of Center. (Sponsored by Rep. Trahan of Waldoboro.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 73

This Act establishes that operating a snowmobile to the left of the center of a snowmobile trail when approaching or navigating a curve, corner, grade or hill is a civil violation with a penalty of not less than $100 or more than $500. The proscription would apply to snowmobile operations on trails that are funded in whole or part by the Snowmobile Trail Fund.

LD 1300 – An Act To Create the ATV Trail Advisory Council. (Sponsored by Rep. Moody of Manchester) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 186 (5/20/05)

This Act creates the ATV Advisory Council, an 11-member council including one member who represents municipal ATV Recreational Fund grantees. The duty of the Council will be to provide to the director of the ATV Recreational Management Fund advice and information on the ATV Recreation Management Fund, including the annual establishment of reimbursement rates for ATV municipal trail grants. The Council is also charged with: (1) studying the feasibility of establishing an ATV trail pass system; (2) reviewing property access laws and land use issues regarding the operation of ATVs on private property; (3) reviewing the state’s current age restrictions on the operation of ATVs; and (4) reviewing the recommendations of the Governor’s ATV Task Force report that have not yet been enacted and determining the feasibility of their enactment.

Judiciary

LD 301 – (New title) Resolve, To Implement the Recommendations of the Committee To Study Compliance with Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws. (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Committee to Study Compliance with Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 123

This Resolve creates a 13-member “Freedom of Access” Committee, generally charged with reviewing compliance with Maine’s “Right to Know”, (or “Freedom of Access”) laws. Of the 13 members on the Committee, there would be one representative of municipal government and one representative of school interests appointed by the Governor, and one representative of county or regional government and one representative of law enforcement appointed by the President of the Senate. The specific duties of the Committee are: (1) to advise the Legislature during its review of all exceptions to “public records”; (2) generally review the public’s access to public proceedings and records, and, (3) make recommendations to all levels and branches of government for changes in law and practice to maintain the integrity of the Freedom of Access laws.

LD 385 – An Act To Limit the Liability of Ambulance Services in Maine. (Sponsored by Rep. Tuttle of Sanford) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 398

This Act limits the liability of an ambulance service and the employees of an ambulance service to the limits established by the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA). If the ambulance service is a nonprofit, in order to be protected by the MTCA it must be acting within the scope of duties authorized by one level of government. If the ambulance service is for-profit, in order to be protected by the MTCA it must be engaged in an emergency response expressly authorized by a contract with a level of government. It further limits insurance companies that provide ambulance liability insurance from requiring coverage that exceeds the limits on liability established by the MTCA.

LD 467 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Committee To Study Compliance with Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws Concerning Personal Contact Information. (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Committee To Study Compliance with Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 381

This Act provides a uniform exception to the definition of “public record” in Maine’s Right to Know law with respect to the personal contact information of public employees. “Personal contact information” is defined as a public employee’s home address, telephone number, fax number, cellular phone number and pager number. The exception does not apply to elected officials.

LD 491 – An Act To Cure an Inconsistency Regarding Judgment Liens. (Sponsored by Rep. Davis of Falmouth) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 62

This Act corrects an inconsistency in the laws governing execution liens (a.k.a; “judgment liens”). Apparently, the inconsistency was created on September 29, 1995 when the duration of writs of execution was extended from one year to three years, but the period during which those writs could be used to create judgment liens was left at one year. The Act corrects that inconsistency by extending the period during which an execution of a lien on real estate, personal property or motor vehicles may be filed from one year to three years. The Act also provides that any lien that conforms to the requirements regarding notice and duration is valid for three years if notice of execution was filed after September 19, 1995.

LD 693 – An Act To Increase Public Safety through the Enhancement of Law Enforcement for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. (Sponsored by Sen. Clukey of Aroostook County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 310

This Act authorizes the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to appoint law enforcement officers to enforce all the laws of the State within the Houlton Band Trust Land. The Act stipulates that there is no limitation on the authority of state, regional or local law enforcement authorities to also enforce state laws on the Houlton Band Trust Land. The Act also authorizes cooperative mutual aid agreements between the Maliseet police officers and other law enforcement agencies.

LD 780 – An Act To Allow a Landlord To Discover Whether Sewer and Water Bills Have Been Paid. (Sponsored by Rep. Glynn of South Portland.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 306

This Act requires a municipality, sanitary district, sewer district or water district that provides sewer utility or water utility services to provide information to a landlord upon request regarding any rate payments due or overdue to the municipality or utility district by a tenant of the landlord if failure to make those payments could result in a lien being placed on the property.

LD 910 – An Act To Include Regional Transportation Systems under the Maine Tort Claims Act. (Sponsored by Rep. Saviello of Wilton) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 399

This Act includes regional transit systems under the liability limitations established in the Maine Tort Claims Act.

LD 936 – An Act To Amend the Maine Tort Claims Act. (Sponsored by Rep. Mills of Farmington) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 448

This Act amends the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA) to establish that the negligent operation of a motor vehicle does not fall under the definition of “performing a discretionary function”, and therefore would not trigger the limitations on liability provided by the MTCA for injuries or damage associated with a governmental employee’s “performance of a discretionary function”.

LD 1115 – An Act To Facilitate Voting by Participants in the Address Confidentiality Program. (Sponsored by Rep. Canavan of Waterville) (Mandate) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 364

This Act establishes an alternative voter registration process for participants in the Address Confidentiality Program under the Secretary of State’s Office. It requires that any voter who registers pursuant to this alternative method must be sent an absentee ballot. This Act also integrates voter registration information standards associated with the centralized voting list requirements and certain post-election voter list updating requirements regarding absentee ballots with the laws governing the system for registering voters who are participating in the Address Confidentiality Program. The Address Confidentiality Program provides people in domestic abuse circumstances protection from the publishing or public availability of their actual address. This Act specifies the manner by which those voters’ information is encoded and placed on the voter registration list.

LD 1202 – Resolve, To Study the Accessibility of Birth Certificates and Other Vital Records. (Sponsored by Sen. Brennan of Cumberland County) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 107

This Resolve directs the Department of Health and Human Services to study the provisions of the freedom of access laws as they relate to the access of certain vital records, such as birth, death and marriage certificates. The goal of the study is to determine the appropriate balance between the freedom of access issues and the prevention of identity theft and the privacy rights of adoptees.

LD 1212 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Effect of Foreclosure of a Tax Lien on Time-share Estates. (Sponsored by Rep. Collins of Wells) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 275

This Act exempts a municipality from paying the share of common expenses attributable to any time-share estates the municipality has acquired by reason of tax payment delinquency, provided the municipality does not use or lease the acquired time-share estates. The management of the time share estates is authorized by this Act to require the owner of the time-share subsequent to the municipality to pick up the prorated but unpaid portions of the costs of the common expenses, and the municipality is required to disclose that potential to any prospective purchaser of the acquired time share estate.

LD 1405 – An Act To Prepare Maine for Public Health Emergencies. (Sponsored by Sen. Mayo of Sagadahoc County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 383

This Act amends the laws governing the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services to respond to “extreme public health emergencies.” Among other changes proposed in the Act, the legislation grants to all employees in the state the right to a leave from employment under a variety of circumstances during a public health emergency. Most of the circumstances involve an employee’s exposure to an environmental hazard or dangerous substance and that employee’s potential to infect others. Leave is also granted to employees who are caregivers for spouses, parents or children who have been exposed during public health emergencies. The entitlement expressly applies to all municipal employees but there is an exception if the absence would create an undue hardship for the employer.

LD 1409 – An Act To Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Theft Offenses. (Sponsored by Rep. Rosen of Bucksport) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 320

This Act authorizes local law enforcement officers to assist and investigate in the prosecution of thefts, forgeries or the negotiation of worthless instruments within multi-municipal jurisdictions if there is reasonable cause to believe those crimes are being conducted in multiple jurisdictions and the board of municipal officers of the community in which the local law enforcement officer is employed authorizes the law enforcement officer’s participation.

LD 1559 – An Act To Adopt the Uniform Environmental Covenants Act. (Sponsored by Sen. Hobbins of York County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 370

This Act establishes the Uniform Environmental Covenants Act as prepared by a nationwide organization that works on creating base levels of uniformity among the laws of the individual states. This Act establishes the rights and responsibilities of landowners, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), municipalities, and other parties that may be interested in “holding” an interest in an environmental covenant that applies to any real property subject to an “environmental response project”. An “environmental response project” includes any federal or state program governing environmental remediation of real property under the laws governing uncontrolled hazardous substance sites, or the closure of a solid, special or hazardous waste management site. The Act specifies the required contents, permissible contents, notice requirements, recording requirements, enforcement procedures, duration standards, and the effect and relationship of environmental covenants to other recorded instruments affecting title.

Labor

LD 943 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Department of Labor’s Construction Industry Wage and Hour Survey. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 232

This Act creates a new procedural opportunity for any trade group affected by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) determination of the “prevailing wage” that must be provided in construction contracts for highway and other capital projects financed or supported with state funds. Specifically, if the particular group of trade workers believes that it was not represented in the system of surveys conducted by DOL to determine the “prevailing wage”, it could petition DOL to consider conducting a targeted survey for that particular trade group. DOL could conduct that targeted survey if DOL agrees that the trade group represents a definable trade or occupation that will be used in the construction of the various “public works”, and was underrepresented in the survey process.

LD 1044 – An Act To Care for Families. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 455

This Act requires an employer with 25 or more employees who provides paid sick leave, vacation time and/or compensatory time off to allow an employee to use that time, without any fear of retribution, to care for an immediate family member (child, spouse or parent) who is ill. The employer is allowed to adopt a policy limiting the number of hours of paid sick leave taken in these circumstances, but in no case may the number of hours be limited under these policies to less than 40 hours per year. Employers are also allowed to adopt an employment policy that limits the employee’s right to elect without restriction which type, and the amount of each type, of family-care leave to take for these purposes when employers provide more than one type of paid leave. If collective bargaining agreements provide family leave benefits that are equal to or greater than the benefits provided by this bill, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement prevails. Employers who violate this family leave benefit are subject to financial penalties.

LD 1123 – An Act To Promote Stability in Labor Relations. (Sponsored by Rep. Duplessie of Westbrook) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 324

This Act expands the list of management decisions that are subject to grievance procedures when a municipal or school labor contract expires and the contract is therefore subject to the doctrine of “static status quo”. Under current law, when a public sector labor contract expires, the employees covered by the expired contract are allowed to file grievances only with respect to disciplinary actions unless the contract expressly waives that limitation. Under this Act, with respect to any contract executed after October 1, 2005, employees are allowed to “grieve” all management actions except failure to provide the scheduled wage increases or step-pay increases. Under the “static status quo” doctrine, contractual pay increases are tolled and remain unenforceable when a contract expires. In the circumstance of a dispute, the determination of which management actions can be grieved and which can not under the static status quo doctrine is determined solely by the Maine Labor Relations Board.

LD 1170 – An Act To Exempt Fire Departments from Biweekly Pay Requirements for Volunteer Firefighters. (Sponsored by Sen. Savage of Knox County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 126

This Act amends the general law requiring employers to pay their employees no less frequently than every 16 days to create an exception for volunteer firefighters. Under the terms of the Act, a municipality is allowed to make payments owed to a volunteer firefighter no less frequently than every 6 months rather than every 16 days.

LD 1361 – (New title) An Act To Refine and Study Substance Abuse Testing Procedures and Treatment. (Sponsored by Rep. Perry of Calais) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 443

This Act specifies that for any “point of collection” substance abuse screening test, the preliminary results of that test, positive or negative, must be immediately released to the employee, but the preliminary results can not be released to the employer until the confirmation test is conducted (in the case of preliminary positive results) or until the confirmation test would have been conducted (in the case of preliminary negative results). The results of all confirmation tests must be immediately released to both employer and employee.

The Act also requires the Department of Labor to establish a six-member task force to study: 1) substance abuse testing and treatment after workplace accidents or other incidents; 2) point of collection screening testing; and 3) substance abuse treatment as it relates to small businesses. The task force consists of representatives from a large business; a small business; a labor union; a civil liberties association; a Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse employee and the legislative sponsor of the bill. The task force is required to submit its findings to the Labor Committee by December 7, 2005.

LD 1413 – An Act To Conform the Remedies under the Maine Family Medical Leave Requirements with Those Available under Federal Law. (Sponsored by Rep. Pelletier-Simpson of Auburn) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 228

This Act expands the remedies available to employees alleging employer violations of the state’s family medical leave law. The expanded remedies include back pay, interest, attorney’s fees and costs, and liquidated double damages if the employee can show the violation was willful.

LD 1419 – An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Certain Employment-related Matters. (Sponsored by Rep. Smith of Van Buren) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 119

This Act establishes that wages paid to election officials and election workers do not have to be reported under the laws governing unemployment compensation until they exceed $1,000 in a calendar year.

LD 1652 – An Act To Establish a Fair System for the Protection of Volunteer Firefighters’ Employment. (Sponsored by Rep. Duchesne of Hudson) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 296

This Act prohibits any public or private employer from taking disciplinary action against an employee who is late to work or misses work because the employee is a volunteer firefighter who participated in an emergency call and returned to work after the emergency call as soon as reasonably possible. Employers are authorized to obtain a statement from the chief of the volunteer fire department identifying the time of release from the emergency call, and employers are also authorized to designate certain employees as “essential employees” (and therefore not subject to an automatic right to miss work for emergency firefighting calls) if an absence of the employee would cause disruption of the employer’s business.

Legal & Veterans Affairs

LD 100 – Resolve, Requiring the Secretary of State To Develop Voting Systems Standards. (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick of Rumford) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 19 (5/13/05)

This emergency Resolve authorizes the Secretary of State to establish a stakeholders group that is charged with developing a comprehensive approach to voting system standards that apply uniformly and in a non-discriminatory manner and that define what constitutes a vote and what must be counted as a vote for each category of voting system used in Maine. The group charged with developing the comprehensive voting system standards was a six-member panel made up of members of the public experienced with elections and election recounts. The group was charged with issuing its report by June 1, 2005. The group's report, structured as a letter to the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee from the Secretary of State, is now available. The letter identifies three clarifying amendments to Maine's election laws the group is recommending to improve the ability of election officials to determine "voter intent". The letter also includes a fourth recommendation that the Secretary of State publish and make more widely available the uniform guidelines regarding the determination of voter intent that are already being used in the state's election officials' training programs. A copy of the group's recommendations can be obtained by contacting MMA's Laura Veilleux at 1-800-452-8786 or lveilleux@memun.org

LD 623 – An Act to Ensure Participation by Voters with Disabilities in the Electoral Process. (Sponsored by Rep. Lerman of Augusta) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 196

This Act provides alternative voter registration and petition-signing procedures for disabled voters who are unable to sign their names. Specifically, the Act authorizes the use of signature stamps or filing with the election clerk an “alternative registration signature statement”. Once accepted and filed by the municipal election clerk, the “alternative registration signature statement” allows the disabled voter to authorize any other registered Maine voter to sign a candidate’s petition on the disabled voter’s behalf, excepting the candidate for office, the disabled voter’s employer or employer’s agent, or the disabled voter’s labor union or labor union agent. If the disabled voter does not have access to another voter who can assist with the application for the “alternative registration signature statement”, the municipal registrar is required to provide that assistance, including making a home visit if necessary.

LD 929 – (New title) An Act To Create Freedom of Citizen Information Regarding Ballot Questions. (Sponsored by Rep. Faircloth of Bangor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 356

This Act adds three new requirements to the process of collecting signatures on statewide ballot initiatives: (1) the circulators of the petition must inform potential petition signers that they have the right to read the summary description of the petition, as prepared by the Secretary of State, before they sign the petition; (2) the petition itself must clearly describe that right to review the summary statement; and (3) the petition must also describe the general cost to the state to place a citizen-initiated question on the ballot.

LD 1026 – An Act To Provide Uniform Voter Verification and Recount Requirements for Voting Machines. (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 445

This Act requires all voting machines to be able to produce a paper record that allows for both manual voting auditing capacities and a voter to verify a vote before it is cast. This requirement pertains to special voting machines that are designed to assist voters with certain disabilities and currently exempt from the paper-record standard, unless the Secretary of State is unable to procure machines that are adequate to meet the legislation’s requirements.

LD 1173 – (New title) Resolve, Directing the Secretary of State To Design a Pilot Process for Early Voting. (Sponsored by Sen. Diamond of Cumberland County) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 70

This Resolve directs the Secretary of State to design a pilot program for early voting for the general election in November 2008. For the purpose of the pilot program, the Secretary is directed to select a municipality that wants to participate, and other municipalities may participate at the mutual agreement of both the Secretary and the interested municipalities. The Secretary is directed to file a pilot program plan with the Legislature by February 15, 2007, which will provide the Legislature an opportunity to give final approval for the pilot program.

LD 1266 – (New title) An Act Regarding Distribution of Information from the Central Voter Registration System. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 404

This Act establishes a temporary system for determining which information collected in the central voter registration system is available for public access. The temporary provision will be repealed on September 30, 2007. The Act further directs the Secretary of State to issue a report to the Legislature by March 15, 2007 that establishes a replacement process for regulating public access to information contained in the central voter registration system. In the creation of the process, the Secretary of State must take into consideration the impact making the information public would have on voter participation, voter fraud and the potential disenfranchisement of voters. The Act also requires the Secretary of State to publish uniform guidelines to be used by election officials for determining voter intent in the tabulation of state and local elections and in all recounts.

LD 1336 – An Act To Promote Economic Development in Commercial and Downtown Areas of the State. (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 269 (6/02/05)

This Act changes current law to allow the issuance of liquor licenses to businesses otherwise qualifying for a license even if they are located within 300 feet of a school or church if the new school or church locates itself within a preexisting commercially zoned area where liquor selling establishments are allowed or if the school or church is located within a designated downtown area.

LD 1602 – (New title) An Act Regarding Implementation of the Central Voter Registration System. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 453

This Act makes several election law changes to facilitate the implementation of the centralized voter registration (CVR) element of the federal Help America Vote Act. The Act: 1) replaces the definition of street address with residence address, which is defined as the street and number or other indicator of physical location; 2) defines voter participation history as an indicator in the CVR system used to determine if a voter has cast a ballot; 3) requires municipalities to use the CVR system to notify the Secretary of State of the appointment of a registrar, rather than mailing that information; 4) repeals from the list of duties placed on the registrars the responsibility to prepare the voter list used during an statewide election; and 5) clarifies that the voter list used at municipal caucuses must include only the name, residence, enrollment status, electoral district, voter status, voter record number and any special designation (i.e., uniformed service, overseas voters, etc.).

The Act also amends the way registrars notify voter registration applicants. Current laws require the registrar to notify an applicant as to whether the application to register to vote is accepted, rejected or incomplete, but leaves the method for notification to the registrar. As enacted the registrar is required to send the applicant written notice using a process that prevents mail from being forwarded to a new address. If the initial mailed notice to an applicant is returned as undeliverable 15 days after it is sent, the registrar must reject the application and mail a notice to that effect using a process that allows mail to be forwarded to a new address.

LD 1608 – (New title) Resolve, To Establish a Study Commission To Study Alternative Voting Procedures, the Citizen Initiative Process and Minor Party Ballot Access. (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 127

This Resolve establishes a commission to study voting procedures, the citizen initiative process and access to the political process by minor political parties. The study commission will consist of 11 members including six legislators, a representative of the Maine Municipal Association and a representative of the Maine Town and City Clerks’ Association. The charge to the commission includes reviewing the “Instant Run-off” voting system, the “fusion voting” system, the facilitation of the formation of minor political parties, the implementation of vote-by-mail systems and proposals to inform the public about the fiscal implications of proposed citizen initiated legislation. The commission must submit its report to the Legislature by December 7, 2005.

LD 1686 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Political Caucuses, Conventions and Committees. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 387

This Act amends the laws governing the local political caucusing procedures in a number of ways, including: (1) allowing people under the age of 18 to vote in the partisan caucus provided that person would be at least 18 years of age by the date of the general election; (2) authorizing a municipal political caucus to be held outside the municipality if it is being held in conjunction with a number of municipal caucuses and the location of the caucus is determined to be more suitable; and (3) clarifying the procedures to call a biennial municipal caucus and further clarifying that a biennial municipal caucus must be held on the year of a general election (even-numbered year) and before March 20 th of those years.

Marine Resources

LD 1619 – (New title) Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 2: Aquaculture Lease Regulations – Lighting Standards and Noise Standards and Noise and Visual Impact Standards, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Marine Resources. (Reported by Rep. Percy of Phippsburg for the Department of Marine Resources.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 58 (5/26/05)

This Resolve gives final approval to “major substantive” regulations promulgated by the Department of Marine Resources regarding the lighting standards, noise standards and visual impact standards of leased aquaculture facilities.

Natural Resources

LD 185 – An Act To Amend the Law on Mercury-added Products. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 148

This Act amends the law regarding the removal, recycling and disposal of mercury switches in scrapped motor vehicles. Among other provisions, the Act authorizes municipal code enforcement officers to enforce the prohibition on the crushing of motor vehicles without first removing any mercury switches.

LD 271 – An Act To Allow Counties To Recover the Cost of Cleaning Up Hazardous Spills. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 100

Current law provides that the state and municipalities are authorized to recover costs related to cleaning up hazardous waste spills. This Act allows a county to sue a person responsible for a discharge or spill of hazardous materials in order to recover the costs of the hazardous spill response and mitigation. If the county prevails in the action, it is entitled to recover the cost of bringing the legal action, including reasonable attorney’s fees. In order to bring the action, the county has to be requested to do so by one or more municipalities.

LD 286 – (New title) Resolve, Directing a Review of Comprehensive Planning and Growth Management in Maine. (Sponsored by Rep. Joy of Crystal) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 73

This Resolve directs the State Planning Office to study current law, policy and procedures regarding land use planning, management and regulations. The purpose of the study is to review the effectiveness of Maine’s growth management laws and identify changes in state law, policy and procedures that would facilitate more effective land use planning. The State Planning Office is specifically directed to assess its procedures and policies for reviewing comprehensive plans, consider ways to provide greater recognition and reward for municipalities that manage growth, and develop recommendations to change the focus and context of comprehensive plans. The SPO report is also supposed to identify any projected changes in cost to the state and the municipalities that are associated with its recommendations. The SPO report is due to be submitted to the Legislature by February 1, 2006.

LD 406 – (New title) An Act To Amend the Dates Associated with the State’s Recycling and Waste Reduction Goals and To Amend the Law Regarding Contracts for the Provision of Solid Waste Hauling Services. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec Cty. for the Maine State Planning Office.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 220

The previous Legislature enacted a law that required companies providing small containerized solid waste hauling contracts to undertake certain notification procedures and to refrain from requiring their customers to provide certain information regarding competitive bids, all in an effort to mitigate the effect of automatically renewable solid waste hauling contracts. Solid waste hauling contracts in force at the time of that enactment were not covered by the new requirements. This Act exposes those existing contracts to the new requirements. This Act also extends: (1) the state’s 2003 goal of recycling 50% of all municipal solid waste to January 1, 2009; and (2) the state’s 2003 goal of reducing the “biennial” generation of municipal solid waste tonnage by 5% to January 1, 2009.

LD 526 – (New title) Resolve, Regarding the Recycling Assistance Fee. (Sponsored by Rep. McKenney of Cumberland) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 35

This Resolve directs the Department of Environmental Protection to prepare a report to the Legislature over the next 18 months that is focused on revenue-producing alternatives to the current $1 tire fee that is used to support the activities of the Department. The Department is charged with evaluating the possibility of new or expanded fees on solid wastes and solid waste facility licensing fees. The Department is also charged with developing a fee schedule that is related and generally proportional to the programmatic efforts expended by the Department.

LD 597 – An Act To Amend the Solid Waste Landfill Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Twomey of Biddeford) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 341 (6/08/05)

Among other changes to Maine’s solid waste laws, this Act would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to hold an adjudicatory public hearing for any proposed increase in the vertical elevation of a solid waste disposal facility that accepts special waste when there is a request for a hearing from 5 or more residents of the municipality where the facility is located or abutters to the facility. DEP is also authorized in that circumstance to request the Board of Environmental Protection to assume jurisdiction over the application. The Act further specifies that the applicant for the vertical expansion of the facility is financially responsible for the costs associated with conducting the public hearing. The Act also adjusts the membership of the joint citizen advisory committee that oversees the operations of the West Old Town Landfill by reducing the committee’s membership from 9 to 8 by eliminating one of two representatives of the Penobscot Nation.

LD 608 – An Act To Assist Municipal Implementation and Enforcement of Storm Water Management Programs. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 240

This Act adds municipal storm water ordinances (which some municipalities must enact pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act) to the list of ordinances that a municipality may enforce using the “Rule 80K” land use enforcement procedures, under which a municipal code enforcement officer (rather than a lawyer) may prosecute ordinance violations in court.

LD 625 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 500: Stormwater Management and Chapter 502: Direct Watersheds of Lakes Most at Risk from New Development and urban Impaired Streams, Major Substantive Rules of the Department of Environmental Protection. (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Department of Environmental Protection.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 87 (6/03/05)

This Resolve provides for the Legislature’s review of two “major substantive rules” of the Department of Environmental Protection. The rules to be reviewed are Chapter 500: Stormwater Management, and Chapter 502: Direct Watersheds of Lakes Most at Risk From New Development and Urban Impaired Streams. Prior to legislative review, the rules had received the approval of the Board of Environmental Protection.

These rules govern the storm water management obligations for developers of property. The general policy is that larger projects and projects in watersheds that are showing signs of stress require greater storm water mitigation efforts. Correspondingly, smaller projects and projects in cleaner watersheds require less storm water mitigation. The rules address both “quantity” mitigation efforts such as detention basins and buffers and “quality” issues such as allowable total suspended solids and phosphorus allocations.

The Legislature conditioned its approval of the Resolve pending three changes to the rules. The changes all relate to the quality standards for large “site law” projects in Chapter 500.

Of municipal interest may be the following:

1.  There is now a uniform threshold – one acre disturbed - for when a developer needs to obtain a state storm water permit.

2.  Municipalities may establish a storm water management program locally. A municipality with a DEP approved local program would substitute compliance with the local program with the requirement for a developer to get a state storm water permit.

3.  Ongoing maintenance of storm water management measures are not the responsibility of the municipality; they are the responsibility of the applicant/developer.

The rules and related material are available on the DEP website below.

http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/docstand//stormwater/rule500and502/material.htm

LD 692 – An Act To Require That Hazardous Waste Be Removed from Junked Vehicles. (Sponsored by Sen. Nass of York County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 247

This Act amends the laws governing the licensing of junkyards, automobile graveyards and automobile recycling businesses to require that: (1) all fluids (oil, fuels, transmission fluids, engine coolant, steering fluid, brake fluid, etc.) be removed from non-operational automobiles; (2) all refrigerants and other fluids be removed from appliances; (3) all batteries and mercury switches be removed from automobiles and appliances; (4) a log be kept by the owner or operator of the junkyard, automobile graveyard or automobile recycling business identifying when each automobile was acquired, the proof of title, and the date the various fluids, batteries and mercury switches were removed. The removal, storage, disposal and recycling of the fluids, batteries and mercury switches must be accomplished in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations. All existing junkyards, automobile graveyards and automobile recycling facilities have until January 1, 2007 to comply with these new requirements. After October 30, 2005, the municipal officers are authorized to reject an application for an automobile graveyard or automobile recycling business if a notice of intent to comply with the general permit provisions for storm water discharge has not been filed by the owner or operator of the facility with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), unless the DEP has determined that no permit is necessary.

LD 1076 – (New title) Resolve, To Grant the Town of Alton Automatic Intervenor Status. (Sponsored by Rep. Duchesne of Hudson) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 74

This Resolve directs the Department of Environmental Protection to grant the Town of Alton automatic intervenor status if the State Planning Office files for a permit to expand the West Old Town Landfill and the town requests that status.

LD 1161 – (New title) An Act To Provide for Variance Notification in the Shoreland Zoning Law. (Sponsored by Rep. Hutton of Bowdoinham) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 440

This Act requires all municipalities to provide formal notification to the Department of Environmental (DEP) whenever a person files a request with the municipal Board of Appeals for a variance from the standards in the local shoreland zoning ordinance. The notification must include the application and all supporting documentation provided by the applicant. The DEP is authorized to provide its comments to the municipality if the Department believes the variance, if granted, would not be in compliance with state law. (Enacted without a mandate preamble.)

LD 1265 – (New title) Resolve, Regarding Source Water Protection. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 29

This Resolve directs the Drinking Water Program within the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a report back to the Legislature by February 1, 2006. The report must address whether additional requirements are needed for source water protection in Maine and describe recommended options to address those needs. Those options could include source water supply protection approaches that: (1) are modeled after shoreland zoning; (2) rely on statutory performance standards; or (3) rely on specific land use prohibitions and controls.

LD 1268 – An Act To Amend the Law on Junkyards, Automobile Graveyards and Automobile Recycling Businesses. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 424

This Act amends the law governing the licensing of junkyards, automobile graveyards and automobile recycling business to correct or adjust the comprehensive amendment of those laws enacted two years ago. Specifically, the Act: (1) authorizes municipalities to require automobile hobbyists (who operate facilities that otherwise meet the automobile graveyard or junkyard definition) to meet the statutory screening standards for junkyards and automobile graveyards and certain statutory environmental standards; (2) allows a municipality to provide electronic notice, rather than mailed notice, of an application to establish a new automobile graveyard or recycling business to the Secretary of State; (3) prohibits the renewal of a license if there is clear evidence that the permitted activities have contaminated a well; (4) establishes a requirement that the applicants for a license for a junkyard or automobile graveyard are engaged in the activity for commercial purposes; (5) clarifies that the applicants are financially responsible for the direct costs of notice of the licensing hearings; and (6) requires municipalities to provide written or electronic notice to the Secretary of State’s Office, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, dealer licensing section at least seven days before the municipal officers hold a hearing on the proposed suspension or revocation of a junkyard, automobile graveyard, or automobile recycling business. (Enacted without a mandate preamble.)

LD 1506 – An Act To Update the Laws Governing Borrow Pits and Quarries. (Sponsored by Sen. Nass of York) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 158

This Act makes a number of changes to the state-level standards governing gravel pit and topsoil excavation and quarry mining. With respect to municipalities, the Act allows for variances from the setback and natural buffer standards from public roads and right of ways if the public entity or entities with the authority to grant those variances provides written authorization.

LD 1558 – An Act Concerning Storm Water Management (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 219

This Act makes a number of changes to the stormwater management laws. The Act: (1) gives rulemaking authority to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide exemptions or apply relaxed permitting standards to discharges of stormwater from surface and subsurface wastewater disposal systems if the discharges will not have a significant adverse effect on the quality or classification of waterbodies; (2) recalibrates the development trigger that requires stormwater permitting – structured on the basis of the number of square feet of impervious surface created (e.g., 20,000 sq. ft.) or the number of acres disturbed (e.g., 5 acres) – to an across-the-board 1 acre of disturbed area; (3) removes the current language restricting the enforcement of stormwater quality standards to limited areas (i.e., “the direct watersheds of waterbodies most at risk from development and in sensitive or threatened geographic regions or watersheds”), making the enforcement of the stormwater quality standards apply statewide; (4) restructures the fees for stormwater permits; and (5) authorizes the DEP to require the owners of developed areas that meet the definition of “significant existing source of stormwater” to implement stormwater management systems.

LD 1574 – An Act To Assist Towns with the Implementation of the Laws Governing Growth Management. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 290

This Act amends the laws governing the permitted uses of resources distributed through the Municipal Investment Trust Fund to include the restoration of public service infrastructure and the acquisition of open space.

LD 1588 – An Act To Amend Certain Laws Administered By The Department of Environmental Protection. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 330.

This Act is the Department of Environmental Protection’s omnibus bill containing 42 sections. Of interest to municipalities, the Act changes the effective date of the disposal ban on products containing cathode ray tubes from January 1, 2006 to 9 months following the adoption of the rules that will govern the disposal ban. Accordingly, the approximate effective date of the disposal ban is July 1, 2006.

LD 1633 – An Act To Prohibit the Disposal of Dangerous and Unsafe Material in Solid Waste Facilities. (Sponsored by Rep. Daigle of Arundel) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 406 (6/17/05)

This Act establishes as a civil violation the act of knowingly concealing dangerous or unsafe materials within other waste materials and disposing of the dangerous materials in a solid waste facility. Dangerous and unsafe materials are defined to include pressure tanks or propane tanks, flammable materials, or explosive materials. The Department of Environmental Protection is directed to adopt rules further defining “dangerous or unsafe material”. The maximum penalty for the civil violation is $500.

State & Local Government

LD 121 – An Act To Improve Communication, Cooperation and Efficiencies in State Government. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 222

This Act changes the name of the Intergovernmental Advisory Group to the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission, and adds two members to the (current) 17-member Intergovernmental Advisory Commission (IAC), making it a 19-member group. The two additional members will be representatives of public safety, one of whom must be a municipal official recommended by a statewide organization representing public safety interests and one of whom will be a county official recommended by a statewide association of county officers. The Act also allows the IAC to meet up to six times more in any year than the four meetings per year the IAC is allowed to conduct under current law, provided the funds to support the IAC for all additional meetings is provided to the Commission from sources other than the state. In addition, this Act directs the State Planning Office to designate one of its employees as the “intergovernmental coordinator”. The coordinator’s purpose will be to encourage governmental cooperation, efficiencies in service delivery and coordination of regional and cooperative efforts initiated through state departments and agencies.

LD 240 – An Act To Update Certain Provisions Pertaining to County Government. (Sponsored by Rep. Plummer of Windham) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 79

This Act makes housekeeping changes to the laws governing county government, such as defining “county official” to distinguish that term from “county officer”, and removing outdated references to the Legislature’s approval of county budgets.

LD 361 – An Act To Reestablish the Penobscot County Budget Committee. (Sponsored by Rep. Blanchard of Old Town) (Mandate) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 124 (5/18/05)

This Act establishes the Penobscot County Budget Committee and that Committee’s budget-setting authority. The Budget Committee is made up of 15 members: 2 municipal officials elected at caucus from each of the three commissioner districts; 2 municipal officials appointed by each of the three commissioners; and 1 legislator from the county delegation appointed by each of the three commissioners. The Budget Committee is authorized to modify the commissioners’ proposed county budget by a majority vote, but the commissioners can override the Budget Committee’s modifications by a unanimous vote.

LD 379 – An Act To Raise the Marriage Fees. (Sponsored by Rep. O’Brien of Lewiston) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 86

This Act increases the fee for recording marriage intentions from $20 to $30.

LD 473 – An Act To Increase Vital Records Fees. (Sponsored by Rep. Lewin of Eliot) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 112

This Act increases the statutory fee for a birth, marriage or death certificate from $7 to $10, the fee for additional copies from $3 to $5, and the fee for burial permits from $4 to $5.

LD 488 – An Act To Clarify City Election Procedures. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 59 (4/21/05)

This Act establishes the notice of election requirements in Title 21-A as the required method of calling for an election in a city unless the municipal charter provides otherwise.

LD 551 – An Act To Amend the Budget Timetable for Oxford County. (Sponsored by Rep. Hanley of Paris) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 29

This Act amends the deadline for the Oxford County commissioners to approve the county budget from December 15 th to the third Tuesday in December.

LD 557 – An Act To Provide Relief from the Cost of Rescue Services to Certain Communities. (Sponsored by Rep. Carr of Lincoln) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 413

This Act authorizes the state to reimburse municipalities of less than 200 people that have no direct access to Interstate 95 for the costs associated with providing fire, ambulance or other rescue services for accidents that occur on Interstate 95, although no funds are appropriated for that purpose. Instead, the Act creates the Reimbursement for Rescue Services Fund within the Department of Public Safety. The Commissioner of Public Safety is authorized to accept revenue for the fund through gifts, grants, bequests and donations, and to appropriate collected funds to qualifying municipalities when deemed necessary.

LD 575 – An Act to Amend the Laws Governing the Community Preservation Advisory Committee. (Sponsored by Sen. Bromley of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 201

This Act allows the Community Preservation Advisory Committee (CPAC) to submit legislation by January 15 th of each odd-numbered year (i.e., during the first legislative session) that is related to CPAC’s annual report.

LD 727 – An Act To Amend the Knox County Budget Process. (Sponsored by Rep. Bowen of Rockport) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 105

This Act amends the law governing the Knox County Budget Committee to clarify that a vacancy on the Budget Committee must be filled with a person from the same county district.

LD 744 – An Act To Make Technical Changes to the Laws Establishing the Lincoln and Sagadahoc Multicounty Jail Authority. (Sponsored by Sen. Mayo of Sagadahoc County) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 47 (4/08/05)

This Act: (1) makes the Lincoln and Sagadahoc Multicounty Jail Authority a public instrumentality of the counties and “public body corporate and politic”; (2) provides the Maine Tort Claims Act liability protections to members of the jail authority, members of the jail authority’s board and employees of the jail authority; and (3) provides these designations and liability protections retroactively to December 8, 2003.

LD 900 – (New title) Resolve, Directing the State Planning Office To Establish a Process for the Collection of Municipal and County Data. (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 15

This Resolve directs the State Planning Office to establish a process to collect municipal and county revenue and spending data in order to convert that data into the U.S. Census forms for its Annual Survey of Local Government Finances. The SPO is directed to meet its charge by cooperating with the state Department of Audit, Maine County Commissioners’ Association, Maine Municipal Association and other organizations.

LD 991 – An Act To Restore Municipal Authority To Review Development Using Flexible Standards. (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 244

This Act amends the law governing the granting of variances from dimensional zoning standards in zoning ordinances, which is currently controlled by a 6-part statutory “practical difficulty” test. The Act establishes that a zoning ordinance may explicitly delegate to the municipal planning board the ability to approve development proposals that do not meet the dimensional standards otherwise required by the ordinance for the purpose of promoting cluster development, accommodating lots with insufficient frontage or providing for reduced setbacks for lots or buildings made nonconforming by municipal zoning. As long as the development falls within the “parameters” of an ordinance delegating this kind of discretionary authority, the approval of the development is deemed not to be considered the granting of a variance. This delegation of authority does not allow for the reduction of the dimensional standards required under the state’s mandatory shoreland zoning laws.

LD 1029 – An Act To Allow Municipalities To Acquire Title to Abandoned Cemeteries. (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 225

This Act allows municipalities to acquire title to abandoned cemeteries according to certain procedures. Specifically: (1) the cemetery is deemed abandoned if no burials have been made in 40 years and no maintenance has been provided in 10 years except by the municipality; (2) the municipality must use “due diligence” in attempting to identify the owner of the cemetery; (3) the municipality must publish notice of its intention to acquire the abandoned cemetery for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the cemetery is located, and the notice must contain certain descriptive information regarding the cemetery; (4) any owner of the abandoned cemetery who receives notice must fail to respond to reassert his or her ownership within 14 days of receiving the notice; (5) assuming no owner has reasserted ownership, title to the cemetery reverts to the municipality and the municipality must record its title ownership, along with certain descriptive information regarding the cemetery, in the local registry of deeds; and (6) the municipality must maintain its ownership in perpetuity and maintain the characteristics of the cemetery with no change in use of the cemetery land.

LD 1204 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Farmington Village Corporation. (Sponsored by Sen. Woodcock of Franklin County) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 15

This Act amends the charter of the Farmington Village Corporation to incorporate the standardized, statutory water district charter authorities.

LD 1380 – An Act To Protect Use of Municipal Seals. (Sponsored by Sen. Weston of Waldo County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 293

This Act makes it a Class E crime for a person to use a likeness of a municipal seal without the permission of the municipality, which may be provided by the municipal clerk.

LD 1626 – (New title) Resolve, Regarding the Town of Cooper. (Sponsored by Sen. Raye of Washington County) (Mandate) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 78

This Resolve is provided as an alternative to deorganization and directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to work with the Town of Cooper in the development of plans to provide for the winter maintenance of Route 191, including the section of Route 191 that is currently the town’s responsibility. The Resolve also directs the State Planning Office (SPO) to work with Cooper and surrounding towns to share town services to address municipal officer vacancies in Cooper. DOT, SPO and the Town of Cooper are further directed to report back to the Legislature on the implementation of the Resolve by January 15, 2006, when the Legislature can reconsider Cooper’s deorganization request.

LD 1637 – An Act To Implement the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) (Governor’s Bill) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 266

This Act creates the management of the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services, which was created by the voters upon the enactment of Question 1A on June 8, 2004. Under the terms of the Act, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) and a specifically appointed review panel would control the administration of the Efficiency Fund, which is capitalized annually with 2% of municipal revenue sharing funds which are set aside for that purpose. (Note: the Legislature has appropriated for other purposes the revenue that would otherwise capitalize this Fund for the next two years. See LD 1691 under the Appropriations section of this article.) The panel that will review and rank proposals from all multi-municipal and municipal-regional applicants will consist of seven members, including the Director of the State Planning Office, the Commissioner of DAFS, the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, one representative of county or regional government recommended by a statewide organization of county or regional government, two current or former members of municipal government recommended by the Maine Municipal Association (with one representing municipalities under 4,000 in population and one representing municipalities over 4,000 in population), and one municipal representative of service center communities recommended by the Maine Service Center Coalition. DAFS is directed to issue a request for proposals no later than November 1 of each year from multi-municipal and multi-regional applicants, and DAFS is authorized to build into that RFP process the various submission requirements, scoring systems and related grant review and approval procedures. DAFS will be required to consult with the review panel with respect to the details of the RFP process.

LD 1667 – An Act To Allow Lincoln and Sagadahoc Counties an Exemption from the Limitation on County Assessments. (Reported by Rep. Barstow of Gorham for the Joint Standing Committee on State & Local Government) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 348 (6/08/05)

This Act creates a two-year partial exemption for Sagadahoc and Lincoln Counties from the spending limitation system for county government established by LD 1. Specifically, the Act exempts those counties from including in the calculation of their year-to-year limit on the growth in the total county assessment any costs attributable to the construction, debt service, operation and maintenance of a new jail facility. The partial exemption applies to Sagadahoc County for fiscal year 2005 – 2006 and fiscal year 2006 – 2007. The partial exemption applies to Lincoln County, which operates on a calendar-year basis, for fiscal year 2006 and fiscal year 2007.

Taxation

LD 1 – An Act To Increase the State Share of Education Costs, Reduce Property Taxes and Reduce Government Spending at All Levels. (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick) (Reported out by the Joint Standing Committee on Property Tax Reform) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 2 (Effective 6/29/05)

This Act represents Governor Baldacci’s and the Legislature’s version of what Maine voters enacted when they adopted the School Finance and Tax Reform Act of 2003 (also known as “Question 1A”) on June 8, 2004.

Actually, in five separate sections of LD 1, the law adopted by the voters in 2004 is repealed and then replaced with the Governor’s and the Legislature’s alternative vision of “property tax reform”. In its final form, this Act closely resembles the Legislature’s competing measure to Question 1A (known at the time as “Question 1B”) which was rejected by the voters in November 2003.

LD 1 has five separate but interrelated elements. The new law:

•  Phases in the state’s obligation to fund 55% of the cost of K-12 education over a four-year period, as that entire cost is measured by EPS. This is accomplished by installing two parallel school funding “ramps”. These ramps were originally constructed by the Legislature in 2002 and re-employed in the Legislature’s failed competing measure in 2003.

The first “ramp” is a phased-in, four-year increase in the amount of the operational component of the EPS model the state will even recognize, beginning with 84% in FY 06, 90% in FY 07, 95% in FY 08 and 100% in FY 09.

The second, interrelated ramp is a phased-in, four-year increase in the share of the EPS model (i.e., the amount of the EPS model the state is willing to recognize) that the state will pay, beginning with 52.6% in FY 06, 53.86% in FY 07, 54.44% in FY 08 and 55% in FY 09.

By combining these two ramps, the state will pay 52.6% of 84% of the EPS (operational) model in FY 06, 53.86% of 90% of the EPS (operational) model in FY 07, 54.44% of 95% of the EPS (operational) model in FY 08, and 55% of 100% of the EPS model in FY 09.

For the purposes of context, 52.6% of 84% of the EPS (operational) model, which is the state’s share of K-12 spending for FY 06, represents 47% of the EPS model at 100% in FY 06, and approximately 44% of all real-life state and local spending on K-12 education.

For the purposes of further context, the terms of this Act increase the state’s contribution to K-12 education by $96 million from FY 05 to FY 06, a 13% increase.

•  Establishes a spending limitation system on state, county, school and municipal governments which consists of various formulas to define a year-to-year spending growth allowance for each level of government and permits those allowances to be exceeded by majority votes at each respective legislative level. A complete description of the local government spending limitation systems is provided in the March 2005 edition of the Maine Townsman.

•  Doubles the face value of the homestead property tax exemption to $13,000, but provides only 50% state reimbursement for the lost property tax revenue, shifting approximately $35 million of the cost of municipal services to local businesses, non-residents, renters, farmers and other and owners of open land.

•  Shifts the municipal revenue sharing distribution to move approximately 5% of those existing revenue sharing funds from low mill rate communities to higher mill rate communities.

•  Expands the eligibility and benefit levels under the circuit breaker property tax and rent rebate program, increasing the statewide costs of that program from $23 million a year to $40 million a year.

•  Formalizes the creation of the two efficiency funds created when the voters adopted Question 1A in June 2004, except that this Act appropriates the funds that were earmarked for the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services for FY 06 and part of FY 07 in order to provide “transitional funds” for various school systems that do not fare well under the EPS school funding model. Another legislative Act (see LD 1691 under the Appropriations section of this article) raided the municipal revenue sharing revenue earmarked for the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services in order to help balance the state budget.

LD 135 – (New title) An Act To Authorize a Tax Rebate Program for Established Residents. (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 395

This Act allows municipalities to adopt an ordinance that would provide cash property tax rebates to qualifying residents, similar to the rebate provided by the state under the so-called “circuit breaker” property tax and rent rebate program. The municipal program authorized by this Act must: (1) provide rebates only to municipal residents who have a primary residence in the municipality; (2) provide benefits to both owners and renters of their primary residence; and (3) calculate the benefits in a way that provides greater benefits to claimants with lower incomes. Under the terms of the bill, the municipal ordinance creating the local “circuit breaker” program could restrict the beneficiaries to only qualifying residents 62 years of age or older. In addition, the local circuit breaker program could also establish limits on the benefits. For example, the benefits could be limited to a maximum proportion of the benefit relative to the total tax obligation, or a maximum proportion of the local benefit plus any state circuit breaker benefits the taxpayer receives relative to the total tax obligation.

LD 299 – Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Permit the Legislature To Allow the Current Use Valuation of Waterfront Land Used for or That Supports Commercial Fishing Activities. (Reported by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth for the Joint Select Committee on Property Tax Reform.) Finally Passed, Constitutional Resolution, c. 1 3/09/05 (Effective 6/29/05)

This Resolution sends out to the voters on November 8, 2005 a proposed amendment to the Constitution of Maine to allow the Legislature to provide for the assessment of waterfront land that is used for or that supports commercial fishing activities based on the “current use” of that property, similar to the tax treatment now available for farms, open space and forestland.

LD 358 – An Act To Limit Property Tax Abatement for Reasons of Poverty or Infirmity to Applicants’ Residential Property. (Sponsored by Rep. Fletcher of Winslow) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 169

In a case decided in 2004, Hustus v. Town of Medway, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court held that there was no limitation in state law governing eligibility for a property tax abatement for reasons of poverty or infirmity that prevents the issuance of a poverty-based tax abatement to the owner of commercial property. This Act creates that limitation by establishing that a person may be found eligible for a so-called “poverty abatement” only with respect to that person’s primary residential property.

LD 1094 – (New title) Resolve, To Study Adoption of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. (Sponsored by Rep. Lerman of Augusta) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 110

This Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services to prepare a report that: (1) identifies the changes necessary to amend Maine’s sales tax code to conform the code to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, including the options available to achieve that conformity; (2) identifies the impact of each option identified to achieve conformity; and (3) identifies any fiscal and policy issues associated with achieving conformity. The report, along with implementing legislation, must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2006. Conforming Maine’s sales tax code to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement would move Maine toward adopting a sales tax code that is sufficiently common with the sales tax codes of other participating states with a goal of establishing a multi-state or nationwide system that would permit collecting sales taxes related to Internet or catalogue sales.

LD 1244 – (New title) An Act To Clarify the Municipal Responsibility To Provide Assessing Information to Property Owners. (Sponsored by Rep. Hutton of Bowdoinham) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 187

This Act amends the law governing tax assessing information to parallel current Freedom of Information Act law by requiring the municipal tax assessors, municipal officers or other municipal officials with custodial authority over the assessing records to make the entire assessing record available to the owner of that property upon request in a timely manner.

LD 1364 – An Act To Establish Municipal Cost Components for Unorganized Territory Services To Be Rendered in Fiscal Year 2005 – 2006. (Reported by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth for the Department of Audit.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 9 (5/12/05)

This Act establishes the property tax commitment for the Unorganized Territories for FY 06 in the amount of $14.6 million.

LD 1462 – An Act To Make Minor Substantive Changes to the Tax Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 332

This Act makes a number of so-called “minor substantive” changes to Maine’s tax code. Among the many provisions in the Act, there is an amendment to the standard used by the State Treasurer to determine the maximum interest rate that municipalities may apply to delinquent property taxes. Under current law, the Treasurer must determine on the first business day of the calendar year the “highest conventional rate of interest charged from commercial unsecured loans by Maine bankers,” and that rate is the maximum interest rate that municipalities can charge for delinquent taxes related to that year’s property tax commitment. Under the terms of the Act, the Treasurer must determine instead the prime rate as published in the Wall Street Journal on the first business day of January, rounded up to the next whole percent plus three percentage points. This represents the same standard the State Tax Assessor uses to determine the interest rates charged by state and county government.

LD 1546 – An Act Concerning Technical Changes to the Tax Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 218

This Act makes numerous technical and housekeeping changes to the state’s tax code. Among the many changes, two separate sections of the property tax code governing the property tax exemption available to the widows of veterans are updated by this Act to reflect the change to the veterans’ exemption enacted last year that provides a parallel benefit to a veteran’s widower as would otherwise be available to a veteran’s widow.

LD 1584 – Resolve, Directing the State Tax Assessor To Adjust the State Valuation for the Town of Wiscasset. (Sponsored by Rep. Rines of Wiscasset) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 67 (5/31/05)

This Resolve establishes the 2005 state valuation of the Town of Wiscasset at $338.6 million, except that for the purpose of calculating the distribution of the 2005 county assessment among the towns in Lincoln County, the Lincoln County commissioners are directed to use a state valuation figure for Wiscasset of $488.45 million.

Transportation

LD 39 – An Act To Amend the Definition of Authorized Emergency Vehicle. (Sponsored by Sen. Courtney of York County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 14

This Act defines a “rescue vehicle” as any rescue vehicle operated by a municipal rescue chief, deputy chief or assistant chief, and allows a “rescue vehicle” to be equipped with a red light or a combination of red and white light.

LD 113 – An Act To Allow Animal Control Officers and Individuals Who Collect Trash To Use Flashing Amber Lights on Their Vehicles. (Sponsored by Rep. Browne of Vassalboro) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 15

This Act authorizes a motor vehicle used by a municipal animal control officer to be equipped with auxiliary lights that emit a flashing amber light.

LD 243 – An Act To Allow Emergency Responders To Equip Their Vehicles with 2 Emergency Flashing Lights. (Sponsored by Rep. Davis of Falmouth) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 299

This Act authorizes a municipal or volunteer firefighter to mount one flashing red light or two flashing red-and-white lights on their personal vehicles, provided that permission to install the lights has been granted by both the municipal officers and the fire chief. The auxiliary lights can be used only when the firefighter is en route to or at the scene of a fire or other emergency. The fire chief can revoke the use of the lights at any time.

LD 360 – (New title) An Act To Allow Retired Firefighters To Retain Their Firefighter License Plates. (Sponsored by Rep. Jackson of Ft. Kent) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 80 (5/10/05)

This Act allows a firefighter who has obtained a firefighter registration plate for his or her motor vehicle to retain that plate even when the firefighter retires from active service, provided the retention of the plate meets with the approval of the fire chief, assistant chief or acting fire chief. Upon the death of the firefighter, the firefighter’s family may retain the plate, but it cannot be used on any motor vehicle. Effective on March 1, 2006, the Act also directs the Secretary of State to issue firefighter registration plates that are also vanity plates.

LD 498 – An Act To Amend the Laws Relating to Changeable Signs. (Sponsored by Rep. Glynn of South Portland) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 195

This Act amends the laws governing the management of electronic “changeable” signs. Specifically, the Act allows municipalities to adopt ordinances that govern how often the message on changeable signs may be changed which, unless otherwise controlled by ordinance, can not be changed more often than once every 20 minutes. The Act also allows municipal ordinances to control how the electronic message is changed with respect to such factors as phasing, rolling, scrolling or blending, all of which are not allowed unless otherwise controlled by ordinance. In no case may a local ordinance allow for the flashing of changeable sign messaging.

LD 739 – An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, Highway Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2006 and June 30, 2007. (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland) (Governor’s Bill) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 36 (4/01/05)

This Act is the FY 06-07 Highway Fund budget bill. Of municipal interest, the Act allocates over $26 million annually to the Urban-Rural Initiative Program (URIP), formerly known as “Local Road Assistance”, which would represent a 15% FY 05 to FY 06 URIP funding increase. At the same time, however, the Act also reduces by $1 million annually the amount of local road assistance provided to municipalities under the URIP program to fund municipal sand and salt storage facilities. The set aside would be for fiscal years FY 06 and FY 07 only. The net increase to the URIP program from FY 05 to FY 06 will be $2.2 million, a 10% increase.

LD 1217 – An Act To Permit the Stopping of Traffic by Charitable Nonprofit Organizations for Certain Fund-raising Projects. (Sponsored by Rep. Millet of Waterford) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 106

This Act exempts certain events or projects sponsored by charitable nonprofit organizations from the general rule that prohibits hawkers and street vendors from stopping motor vehicles in the public way for the purpose of solicitation or ticket sales. The exemption applies if the charitable organization has received municipal and local law enforcement approval for the event.

LD 1280 – Resolve, To Name the New Augusta Bridge. (Sponsored by Rep. Lerman of Augusta) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 22

This Resolve establishes the Augusta Bridge Naming Committee.

LD 1337 – (New title) An Act To Allow Firefighters and Emergency Service Personnel To Direct Traffic. (Sponsored by Sen. Nass of York County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 167

This Act authorizes certain municipal firefighters and emergency medical services personnel to be “public safety traffic flaggers” who, unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, would be authorized to control vehicular traffic on a public way at or around a public safety emergency. The Act also creates a traffic infraction for failing to obey the directions of a public safety traffic flagger, and creates a liability for the registered owners of motor vehicles for the traffic infraction even if the registered owner was not operating the motor vehicle at the time of the infraction.

Under the terms of the Act, all public safety traffic flaggers are required to receive training approved by the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding traffic control on public ways, and the types of acceptable training could be provided by DOL through video instruction, classroom instruction, or the distribution of informational handbooks. When directing traffic, public safety traffic flaggers are also required to wear a reflective traffic vest or similar protective clothing. Any public safety traffic flagger who observes a motor vehicle that fails to obey the flagger’s instructions is directed to report to a law enforcement officer the time and location of the violation, along with the registration plate number. Except for four specific exceptions (leased car, stolen car, etc.), the fact that a person was the owner but not the operator of the car at the time of the infraction is not a defense against the infraction charge.

LD 1363 – An Act To Make Supplemental Highway Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2006 and June 30, 2007. (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 405 (6/17/05)

This bill is the proposed supplemental Highway Fund budget for FY 06 and FY 07. Among other reorganizations in this bill, it would fold the Collector Road Improvement Program into the Highway and Bridge Improvement Program.

LD 1463 – An Act To Amend the Motor Vehicle Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 433 (6/23/05)

This emergency Act makes a number of changes to Maine’s motor vehicle laws. Among the changes related to municipal government, the Act establishes specific penalties for failing to register a motor vehicle in this state within 30 days of establishing a residency in Maine. If the failure to register occurs more than 30 days but less than 150 days after establishing residency, the penalty is a traffic infraction with a maximum fine of $50. The Act makes it a Class E crime for failing to register a motor vehicle in Maine more than 150 days after establishing residency. The Act also clarifies that a person commits a traffic infraction for parking in the access aisle element of a parking place designated for disabled people.

Utilities & Energy

LD 244 – An Act To Standardize Water Lien Provisions. (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Greenville) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 7 (Effective 6/29/05)

This Act provides that all consumer-owned water utilities, including municipal water departments, have a lien on property served by the utility to secure payment of unpaid rates.

LD 355 – An Act To Amend the Mexico Water District Charter. (Sponsored by Rep. Hotham of Dixfield) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 7

This Act amends the charter of the Town of Mexico Water District to establish that the compensation of waster district trustees will be in accordance with the provision of state law that governs water district trustee compensation.

LD 389 – An Act To Amend the Waldoboro Utility District. (Sponsored by Rep. Trahan of Waldoboro.) EmergencyEnacted; P & SL 2005, c. 11 (5/13/05)

This Act amends the charter of the Waldoboro Sanitary District to clarify that a person may connect a private sewer to the public sewer after receiving permission from the trustees and paying the entrance fee, and to conform the compensation of District Trustees to the standard compensation-setting process established in statute rather than fixing a specific compensation in the charter. The Act also re-establishes the several expenditures of the District that can be financed through the District’s rate structure, including a new authority of the Trustees to establish and capitalize a variety of reserve accounts. The provisions of the Act that pertain to any new or amended rate-setting authorities and the establishment of reserve accounts must be further approved by the Waldoboro voters at referendum in order to become effective.

LD 413 – (New title) An Act To Amend the Charter of the York Sewer District. (Sponsored by Sen. Andrews of York Cty.) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 22

This Act amends the charter of the York Sewer District. Among the various amendments to the charter, this Act creates a process for both voluntary dissolution of District and involuntary (by petition) dissolution of the District, and transfer of obligations to the Town of York.

LD 459 – An Act To Amend the Mexico Sewer District Charter. (Sponsored by Rep. Hotham of Dixfield) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 8

This Act amends the Mexico Sewer District charter to establish the compensation of the District trustees at the compensation rate established for sewer district trustees by statute.

LD 864 – (New title) An Act To Streamline Sewer District and Sanitary District Borrowing and Amend Laws Governing Water District Borrowing To Ensure Consistency. (Sponsored by Rep. Rines of Wiscasset) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 192 (5/20/05)

This Act: (1) clarifies that referendum elections called to establish or increase a water district’s debt limit may be held outside the territory of the water district if the usual voting place for persons located within the district is located outside the district; (2) authorizes sewer districts to propose increases to the district’s debt limit to be decided at local referendum; and (3) similarly clarifies that those sewer district debt limit referenda elections may be held outside the territory of the sewer district if the usual voting place for persons located within the district is located outside the district.

LD 982 – An Act To Revise the Charter of the Kennebunk Sewer District. (Sponsored by Rep. Babbidge of Kennebunk) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 13 (5/20/05)

This Act repeals the charter of the Kennebunk Sewer District and replaces it with a revised and updated charter.

LD 1113 – An Act To Create the Fryeburg Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Muse of Fryeburg) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 14 (5/20/05)

This Act creates the charter of the Fryeburg Water District.

LD 1128 – An Act Directing the State Planning Office To Study Municipal Capabilities To Become Providers of Internet Services. (Sponsored by Sen. Bromley of Cumberland County) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 19

This Act directs the State Planning Office to study the economic, technological and funding issues associated with municipalities providing Internet services to their communities.

LD 1162 – An Act To Permit the Establishment of Regional Water Councils. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 209 (5/24/05)

This Act authorizes the creation of “regional water councils” which would be comprised of two or more water utilities. No water utility will be required to join a regional water council. The regional water councils will be authorized to study issues common to the council members, including matters affecting water supply, watershed protection, water use policies, regional economic conditions and future development. The councils are also be authorized to: (1) promote cooperative arrangements such as group purchasing, billing, accounting and customer services; (2) make recommendations for review and action by the member utilities and other public agencies (e.g., municipalities) within the region; and (3) exercise its powers and authority as a nonprofit corporation (rather than a governmental entity), except the council may not become a separate water utility. This Act further limits the state, its agencies or instrumentalities (including municipalities) from placing conditions on any funds, grants, gifts or services to water utilities that would require the water utilities to becoming members of regional water councils.

LD 1259 – An Act To Sustain Maine Schools and Libraries. (Sponsored by Sen. Rosen of Hancock County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 251

This Act increases the surcharge on the retail charges for telecommunications services from .5% to .7% for the purpose of capitalizing the Telecommunications Education Access Fund, which provides Internet connection resources to Maine schools and libraries. The Act also directs the Public Utilities Commission to prepare a report for the Legislature by January 30, 2006 that details the status of available revenues and expenditures, including federal funds, for the school and library programs currently supported by the Telecommunications Education Access Fund.

LD 1373 – An Act To Implement Emergency Medical Dispatch Services for E-9-1-1 Calls. (Sponsored by Rep. Adams of Portland) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 303

This Act establishes the process of qualifying and certifying the employees of public safety answering points (PSAPs). The process will be overseen by the Emergency Medical Services Board (EMSB) within the Department of Public Safety. The Act requires the Emergency Services Communication Bureau within the Public Utilities Commission to finance the required training programs for PSAP personnel to achieve certification by providing both free training courses and reimbursing PSAPs for other training-related costs. The Act directs the EMSB to adopt rules governing the qualification and certification standards, which must include at a minimum: (1) biennial certification of dispatchers; (2) minimum education and continuing education standards; (3) the establishment of an emergency medical dispatch priority reference system; (4) the establishment of an emergency medical dispatcher certification training program, including qualifications for that program’s instructors; and (5) a requirement that each PSAP appoint a director of emergency medical dispatch services to ensure compliance with the EMSB rules.

LD 1375 – An Act To Improve Cooperative Energy Purchasing for Schools, Towns and Nonprofits. (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 190

This Act authorizes the Maine Municipal Bond Bank to aggregate municipalities and nonprofit organizations for the purpose of purchasing electricity, petroleum products, fuel oil and natural gas.

LD 1591 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 920: Maine Model Building Energy Code, a Major Substantive Rule of the Public Utilities Commission. (Reported by Rep. Bliss of South Portland for the Public Utilities Commission.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 88 (6/03/05)

This Resolve provides a final legislative review of major substantive rules promulgated by the Public Utility Commission regarding the Maine Model Building Energy Code (Chapter 920). In conjunction with LD 1685 (see below), this Act generally establishes that the Maine Model Building Energy Code (MMBEC) is comprised of the energy standards published by the International Code Council and ASHRAE. The MMBEC does not apply to owner-built single-family homes, log homes or to modular homes. The MMBEC is not applicable to residential housing generally until the code is adopted by the municipality. The MMBEC is applicable to the construction or alteration of commercial property regardless of municipal adoption.

LD 1612 – (New title) Resolve, To Ensure Proper Handling by the E-9-1-1 TDD System of Calls Made by Persons Who are Deaf, Hard-of-hearing or Speech-impaired. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 63

This Resolve directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to convene a stakeholders’ group, including representatives of E-9-1-1 dispatch centers and the Maine Center on Deafness to examine how to ensure that the E-9-1-1 system adequately handles calls made by persons who are deaf or speech-impaired. The stakeholder group is charged with examining training needs and procedures, system standards and testing procedures. The PUC report must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2006.

LD 1658 – An Act To Expand the Powers of the Stonington Sanitary District. (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 24

This Act expands the territory of the Stonington Sanitary District to include the entire town, establishes the residency requirements of the sewer trustees, and expands the authorities of the District. All changes to the charter of the District would not become effective until ratified by voters of Stonington by referendum or town meeting vote.

LD 1685 – An Act Regarding Energy Codes. (Reported by Rep. Bliss of South Portland for the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 350

This Act: (1) provides for the Public Utilities Commission rather than the Department of Economic and Community Development to administer the laws governing the energy efficiency building performance standards; (2) amends the language of existing law governing those energy efficiency standards to conform to certain model energy efficiency code standards in the family of International building codes; (3) updates the mandatory energy standards for multifamily residential buildings less than four stories in height to the standards in the model building energy code; (4) directs the Public Utilities Commission to provide information about the mandatory commercial building standards to municipalities and other appropriate entities involved in permitting building construction so the information can be distributed to permitees; and (5) authorizes municipalities to adopt amended versions of the model building code that delete certain standards in the model code or provide new exemptions within the local version of the model code as long as the local amendments do not modify any standard in the model code.