New Laws

from Maine Townsman, May 2004)
 

Effective dates. Emergency legislation becomes 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 Second Session of the 121st Legislature adjourned for technical reasons on January 30, 2004, then was called back in for a special session, which adjourned on April 30, 2004.

Accordingly, the effective date of non-emergency legislation that was enacted on or before January 30, 2004 will be April 30, 2004. If the new law was enacted on or before January 30, 2004, its effective date is so-noted after the Public Law citation.

The effective date of non-emergency legislation enacted on or after January 31, 2004, will be July 30, 2004. In the legislation summaries provided below, these laws are identified only by their Public Law citation.

Any legislation which was enacted but not yet signed by the Governor at the time this issue of the TOWNSMAN went to press was cited as PL 2003, c. xx.

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 1644 – Resolve, To Clarify State Ownership of Land in the Town of Naples.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bruno of Raymond)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 102

This Resolve directs the Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands within the Department of Conservation to clarify ownership of the land in the vicinity of the Sebago Lake State Park in the Town of Naples.

LD 1693 – An Act To Improve the Property Boundary Marking Laws for Purposes of Timber Harvesting.  (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 550

This Act creates a civil violation for anyone to harvest a marked “line tree” that straddles a property line without first obtaining permission from the abutting property owner.  This Act also creates a civil violation for anyone to commence a timber harvesting operation without first flagging all established property lines that fall within 200 feet of the harvesting area.  Among the entities or persons who are exempt from this requirement are municipal employees, contractors or volunteers who are removing trees obstructing a right-of-way or fallen trees in an emergency.  Any harvest on a parcel of land which is less than five acres is also exempt.

LD 1962 - Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 23: Standards for Timber Harvesting To Substantially Eliminate Liquidation Harvesting, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Conservation (Sponsored by Rep. McKee of Wayne).  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. xx

This Resolve authorizes the adoption of Chapter 23 of the Department of Conservation rules regarding the forestry practice defined as liquidation harvesting.  Chapter 23 was provisionally adopted last year.

The rule defines liquidation harvesting as: (1) harvesting timber without regard to long-term sustainability and (2) subsequently selling the land that has been harvested within five years of original acquisition date of the property.

The rule provides several exemptions, such as (1) harvests on parcels of land less than 20 acres in size, (2) harvests on land where the owner owns less than 100 acres statewide, and (3) harvests that have been certified by licensed foresters to have been conducted in a manner that is consistent with the rule.

This issue is of interest to municipal planning boards which may not approve the subdivision of parcels of land on which liquidation harvesting has occurred.  [See description of LD 1617 in the Natural Resources section.]

Appropriations & Financial Affairs

LD 1828 – An Act To Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations of the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary for the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2004 and June 30, 2005.  (Sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 513 (Effective 4/30/04)

This Act is a supplemental amendment to the state’s FY 04-05 budget and is designed to balance the first budget year of the biennium (FY 04).  Fiscal year 2004 was determined to be $108 million out of balance primarily because of shortfalls in the state’s Medicaid program.  As finally enacted, there are very few provisions of the supplemental budget that have any direct effect on municipal government.  Beyond deappropriations of residual, unspent funds in the General Purpose Aid to Education (GPA) account, this Act deappropriates $145,000 over the remainder of FY 04 and throughout FY 05 from the account in the State Planning Office that provides comprehensive planning grants.

LD 1919 – An Act to Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and to Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2004 and June 30, 2005.   (Sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 673

This Act is the follow-up supplemental budget to bring the state’s biennial FY 04 – FY 05 budget back into balance with a focus on FY 05.  This supplemental budget is designed to fill a $160 million hole in the biennial budget, created primarily by a combination of increased costs and reduced federal reimbursement in the state-federal Medicaid program.  Pertinent to municipalities, this supplemental budget:

• Establishes the state’s General Purpose Aid to Education (GPA) appropriation for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 05) at $740.4 million.  That represents an increase of just $10.8 million from the current-year levels of state funding.  Under conservative estimates, the increased cost of providing K-12 educational services will grow by at least $60 million between FY 04 and FY 05, so the $10.8 million increase in state funding represents a minimum $50 million increase in property taxes.

• Redesigns the $24 million “Circuit Breaker” property tax and rent rebate program so that it will now be treated, at least technically, as an income tax credit.  This change will have the effect of shifting the source of state revenue from which the Circuit Breaker benefits are paid from a $24 million state appropriation to the unappropriated income tax withholding revenue stream.  The Circuit Breaker benefits will be rebated from a state revenue source before it gets recognized in the state treasury.  Because of the change, there will be $24 million less in state income tax revenue, and therefore $1.26 million less in state revenue sharing.  That reduction in Revenue Sharing will have the effect of cutting by two-thirds the amount of Revenue Sharing that was otherwise projection to be the distributed under the “Revenue Sharing II” formula.

• Increases the fee for schools to be licensed as “eating establishments” from $40 to $100, among a wide range of fee increases.

• Authorizes the sale of a bridge over the Maine Turnpike in Scarborough to the Maine Turnpike Authority, and the MDOT building in Augusta to the Department of Transportation.  $11.4 million is generated by these “sales” for the state’s General Fund.

• Creates a special “service provider tax” that would be applied at the rate of 5% against the revenues generated by “private non-medical institution services”, which are essentially non medical group homes for Medicaid eligible people.  The tax is created to leverage federal dollars because a tax on Medicaid-paid services can be included within the cost of the service, and the federal government pays 66% of Medicaid costs.  In order to pass muster with the federal government, however, the Medicaid-related tax must not be enacted solely to leverage federal dollars.  Instead, the Medicaid-related tax must be part of a larger tax system.  For that reason, this proposal removes six existing service-related sales tax categories (cable T.V., fabrication services, video rental, furniture rental, telecommunications, etc.) from the sales tax and includes them under the “service providers tax” at the 5% rate.  Municipal revenue sharing, however, would not be affected by this tax code reorganization.

Business, Research & Economic Development

LD 692 – An Act To Protect Consumer Privacy Rights.  (Sponsored by Rep. McKee of Wayne)   Enacted; PL 2003, c. 512  (Effective 4/30/04)

This Act prohibits as a general rule any entity from denying goods or services to an individual because the individual refuses to provide a social security number.  A number of exceptions to the rule are provided for banks and lending institutions, insurance companies, health care organizations, or landowners.  A blanket exemption is also provided that might apply to the administration of municipal general assistance or related programs; specifically, an exemption for an entity “if the social security number is necessary to verify the identity of the individual to effect, administer or enforce a specific transaction requested or authorized by the individual or to prevent fraud”.

LD 1025 – An Act To Adopt a Model Building Code.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hall of Lincoln County)   Enacted; PL 2003, c. 580

This Act establishes the Maine Model Building Code; which is the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC) that are published by the International Code Council (the successor organization to BOCA).  The Act does not preempt existing building codes, nor would it mandate adoption of the model code.  Any town that wishes to adopt a code in the future must adopt the Maine model code, but may amend it to suit local needs.  Existing state codes such as the electrical and plumbing codes, are also not preempted by the Maine model building code.

To obtain a copy of the model codes, towns should contact the International Code Council directly.

LD 1663 – An Act To Provide Assistance to Municipalities Regarding Downtown Rehabilitation Building Codes.  (Sponsored by Rep. Lerman of Augusta)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 605

This Act directs the State Planning Office (within its available resources) to provide information, training and technical support to interested municipalities regarding local building codes and rehabilitation building codes.

LD 1715 – An Act to Facilitate the Recovery of Stolen Property.  (Sponsored by Sen. Rotundo of Androscoggin County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 582

This Act merely recodifies an existing, but little-known, statutory obligation on “dealers in used personal property” to keep records of transactions and make the records available to law enforcement officers upon request.

LD 1801 – An Act To Control Adult Entertainment Establishments.  (Sponsored by Rep. Paradis of Frenchville)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 595

This Act allows a municipality to adopt an adult entertainment establishment ordinance without first having to adopt a comprehensive plan.  Related to this Act, the Business, Research & Economic Development Committee has formally requested the Maine Municipal Association and others to craft a model/sample adult entertainment ordinance.

LD 1879 – An Act To Amend the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Law.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 597

This Act eliminates the legal requirement that low pressure steam boilers, hot water boilers and hot water supply boilers owned by schools, municipalities, water districts and other utilities need to be operated by licensed boiler operators.

Criminal Justice & Public Safety

LD 31 – Resolve, To Direct State, County and Local Departments and Agencies To Coordinate a Single-point Referral and Resource Service Related to Drug Issues in Washington County.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bunker of Kossuth Township)    Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 100

This Resolve directs the Departments of Behavioral and Developmental Services, Human Services, and Corrections, county and local law enforcement agencies and drug abuse service providers to coordinate a single point of contact for the distribution of information and treatment referral services for all drug-related issues to persons in Washington County.

LD 891 – An Act To Require Recording of Certain Custodial Interrogations.  (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County) (Mandate) Enacted; PL 2003, c. 677

This Act requires law enforcement agencies to adopt written policies regarding procedures for recording and preserving digital, electronic, audio or video interviews of suspects accused of committing serious crimes.  These policies must be adopted no later than January 1, 2005.

LD 1762 – An Act To Amend the Maine Emergency Medical Services Act of 1982.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 559

This Act amends the Maine Emergency Medial Services Act of 1982.  One amendment extends the deadline for completing the ambulance vehicle operator’s course requirements from January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2007.

LD 1789 – An Act To Revise the Minimum Firefighter Safety Standards.  (Sponsored by Rep. Duplessis of Westbrook)  (Mandate)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 570

This Act updates the firefighter safety standards to meet the National Fire Protection Association standards for protective equipment.  Elements of this mandate include: (1) the replacement of all protective equipment that pre-dates 1987; (2) the provision of hearing protection equipment; and (3) the provision of personal alert safety system devices for firefighters wearing a safety breathing apparatus.

LD 1803 – An Act Requiring Blood Testing of All Drivers Involved in Fatal Accidents.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bowles of Sanford)  (Mandate)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 565

This Act removes a certain amount of test-type discretion provided to law enforcement officers in current law by requiring the administration of a blood test (rather than by breath or urine analysis) to the driver of a motor vehicle involved in a fatal or likely-fatal accident.

LD 1821 – An Act To Increase the Amount of Restitution Allowed for State and Municipal Fire Service.  (Sponsored by Rep. Duplessie of Westbrook)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 556

This Act increases the amount of restitution municipalities can collect for the cost of suppressing an illegal or improperly conducted outdoor burn from $2,000 to $25,000. 

LD 1847 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission to Improve Community Safety and Sex Offender Accountability Regarding Public Notification by Law Enforcement.  (Reported by Rep. Faircloth of Bangor for the Commission to Improve Community Safety and Sex Offender Accountability)  (Mandate)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 656

This Act requires the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA) to establish policies for community notification of registered sex offenders by January 1, 2005.  The Act also encourages the MCJA to design its model policy on the policy drafted by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association in conjunction with sexual assault response teams and sexual assault crisis centers. The Act also requires all local law enforcement agencies to certify the adoption of local policies regarding community notification of registered sex offenders by January 1, 2005 and provide certification for orientation and training with respect to those policies by January 1, 2006.

LD 1903 – An Act To Further Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Improve the Sentencing, Supervision, Management and Incarceration of Prisoners and the Recommendations of the Commission To Improve Community Safety and Sex Offender Accountability.   (Reported by Rep. Grose of Woolwich for the Commission to Improve the Sentencing, Supervision, Management and Incarceration of Prisoners)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. xx

This Act implements a series of recommendations of the Commission to Improve the Sentencing, Supervision, Management and Incarceration of Prisoners.  Among the many recommendations, the bill creates within the Judicial Branch the position of Coordinator of Diversion and Rehabilitation Programs and authorizes that coordinator to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with local and county governmental entities to encourage the development of diversion and rehabilitative programs.  The Act also requires counties to annually verify to the Department of Corrections that 20% of their community corrections funding from the state was used to fund diversionary programs.  If a county fails to submit documentation illustrating the investment in diversionary programs, the county will receive just 80% of its community correction funding in the following year.   The Department is directed to distribute any withheld funds to the counties that meet the diversionary program funding requirements using a formula based on the county’s share of the total state appropriation for community corrections.

Education & Cultural Affairs

LD 1716 – Resolve, Regarding Participation in the Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.   (Sponsored by Sen. Brennan of Cumberland County)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 128

This Resolve prohibits the Department of Education from using state funds to implement any unimplemented policies of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and further requires the Department to investigate the costs and benefits of participating in the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.  The Department is directed to submit its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2005.

LD 1768 –An Act To Authorize Certain School Children To Carry Emergency Medication On Their Persons.  (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham) (Mandate)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 531

This Act, identified as a mandate, requires all public schools to adopt a written local procedures policy allowing students to possess and self-administer asthma inhalers in schools.

Health & Human Services

LD 1066 – Resolve, To Establish a Committee To Examine Issues Relating to the Administration of Municipal General Assistance.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dudley of Portland)   Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 116

This Resolve directs the Department of Human Services to convene a committee for the purposes of: (1) determining if the administration of the General Assistance program can be simplified and access to services improved; (2) examining the potential for regional general assistance offices; (3) maximizing federal housing programs to assist low-income residents; and (4) improving the state’s collection of data regarding the General Assistance program.  In addition to the Department, the Committee consists of municipal general assistance administrators, advocates for low-income people and the Maine Municipal Association.

Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

LD 787 – An Act To Clarify the Landowner Liability Law with Regard to construction and Maintenance of Snowmobile and Other Trials for Recreational Use.   (Sponsored by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis County)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 509 (1/09/04)

This emergency Act limits the liability of snowmobile clubs and other legal entities that construct or maintain trails or other improvements for public recreational use by including those entities in the larger definitions of entities who enjoy a general limited liability when the property under their control or management is used for recreational or harvesting activities.

LD 1743 – An Act To Make Technical Corrections to Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 614 (4/12/04)

This emergency Act makes several technical corrections to Maine’s fish and wildlife laws.  Of interest to municipalities the bill would “clarify” that the lake and river protection sticker must be issued annually to all boat owners in order for the sticker to be considered valid.

The Act also prohibits the operation of motor vehicles on Pickerel Pond located in Township 32 Middle Division except for authorized emergency vehicles and motor vehicles of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. 

Additionally, it changes the effective date for the recodification of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife laws (PL 2003, c. 414) from September 13, 2003 to August 31, 2004. 

LD 1912 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on ATV Issues.  (Sponsored by Rep. Landry of Sanford)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 695 (5/07/04)

This Act adopts several recommendations developed by an ATV Task Force that was convened in 2003.

It expands the list of approved uses of ATV Recreation Management Fund resources to include the purchase of equipment and interests in land used for ATV trails. 

It creates a new Law Enforcement Grant Program.  The source for the grants will be the existing ATV gasoline tax fund.  Municipalities and other law enforcement agencies may apply for these grants.  The enforcement grants (either Level 1 or Level 2) are used to fund specific, temporary, enhanced law enforcement efforts.  Level 1 grants are for places identified as multijurisdictional high-problem areas.  The applicant must demonstrate that the grant will be used as part of a multijurisdictional effort (i.e. some combination of local police, county sheriff, state police and IF&W wardens.)  Level 2 grants are for general ATV enforcement.  Level 2 requires at least a local match of 25%, Level 1 does not require a match.  A minimum 10% of the grant money will also be available as grants to aid the purchase of equipment. 

In addition, the Act makes several changes to the laws regarding the operation and use of ATVs.  Issues ranging from permissible decibel levels and age restrictions, to evasion of law enforcement officers and the destruction of signs are amended. 

Finally, the Act addresses the issue of landowner permission for ATV use.  The Act makes explicit the requirement that the user of an ATV must have the permission of the landowner to ride on that landowner’s property.  Permission is presumed to be granted if permission is posted.  Permission is also presumed if it is the landowner’s “policy.”  Written permission is required for use of cropland or pastureland.

Judiciary

LD 1765 – An Act To Clarify the Responsibilities under the Adult Protective Services Act.  (Sponsored by Rep. Norbert of Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 653

This Act clarifies the so-called “required reporter” responsibilities under the Adult Protective Services Act.  Under existing law a number of professionals who may be municipal employees (e.g., law enforcement, emergency rescue personnel) are so-called “required reporters” who have a legal obligation to report to the Department of Human Services when they believe that an incapacitated or dependant adult has been or is at substantial risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.  The specific change with regard to that law provided by this Act makes those reporting requirements specific to the reporter rather than potentially subject to delegation to a third party.

LD 1957 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Committee To Study Compliance with Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws.  (Reported by Rep. Norbert of Portland for the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. xx

This Act makes the following changes to Maine’s Freedom of Information Act, also known as Maine’s Right to Know law. Pertinent to municipalities, the Act:

1. Requires that any board proposing to enter executive session must move into that session on a motion that includes: (1) the precise nature of the business of the executive session, which is current law, plus (2) a recitation of one or more of the statutory authority citations permitting the executive session for the nature of the business stated in the motion. For example, if the board intends to take up a personnel matter that needs to be addressed in executive session, the proper motion would be “I move that the board enter executive session to discuss a personnel matter pursuant to 1 MRSA, Section 405, subsection 6(A).”

2. Requires that an agency or official custodian of a public record must provide the record for the purposes of inspection within a reasonable period of time after the request, and that no charge may be required for the mere inspection of a public record.

3. Requires that the charges required by a public agency for photocopying a public record upon request must be “reasonable”, although the courts, the county registries of deeds, and other predominantly state entities whose fees for certain records are established in statute are exempted from this requirement.

4. Clarifies that a public agency may charge the actual direct costs for “translation” of a public record, which typically means computer printing.

5. Establishes a limit on the charge for researching and retrieving public records on request of not more than $10 per hour after the first hour of staff time per request.

6. Establishes a right for public entities to request payment in advance for significant requests for public records, provided the direct costs of meeting the request would exceed $100 or the person making the request has previously failed to pay a properly assessed fee for providing that person copies of public records.

The Act also extends for another year the ad hoc committee that developed the set of recommendations that led to this Act, and charged that committee with reviewing a number of additional issues associated with the Freedom of Information Act, including the degree to which personal home contact information of governmental employees should be kept from public-record disclosure and the degree to which voicemail and e-mail are public records, etc.

Labor

LD 1688 – An Act To Clarify the Law Regarding Interpreting Services for People Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing.  (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 685

This Act rewrites the law governing the requirement of state, county and local government to provide interpreting services for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and appearing before agencies associated with the governmental entity.  Among the “clarifications” of the Act, there is more detail provided with respect to the rights of the person who is deaf to identify the services that they need, and new language expressly apportioning the cost of providing the interpreting services to the state, county or local governmental entities before whom the deaf person is appearing.  The Act also provides more detail regarding the qualifications for interpreters.

LD 1760 – An Act To Amend the Random Drug Testing Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Saviello of Wilton)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 547

This Act provides an optional workplace substance abuse testing program for employees of 50 or more nonunionized workers.  Under current law, random or arbitrary testing programs may be imposed only on persons in safety-sensitive positions or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.  The Act allows certain employers a third option:  a random or arbitrary substance abuse testing program that applies to all employees, regardless of position.

LD 1810 – An Act To Amend the Laws Concerning Optional Membership for Participating Local Districts in the Maine State Retirement System.  (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 630

This Act amends the law governing optional membership for participating local districts in the Maine State Retirement System to parallel changes enacted for state employees in 2003.

Legal & Veterans Affairs

LD 212 – Resolve, Directing the Secretary of State To Study the Feasibility of Instant Run-off Voting.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport)   Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 117

This Resolve directs the Secretary of State to study the issue of instant run-off voting (IVR).  The IVR method allows voters to rank their choices for the candidates in an election by order of preference.  Under an IVR system, the voter would rank their favorite candidate with the number one, the second choice as number two, and so on for each candidate on the ballot.  If after all the votes were counted none of the candidates had received more than 50% of the votes, an instant run-off election would be conducted using the same ballots.  The candidate receiving the fewest votes would be eliminated from the race.  The second choice candidates for those who had voted for the eliminated candidate would be counted as first choice candidates.  The elimination process would continue until one of the remaining candidates had obtained a majority of the votes.

LD 640 – An Act To Reduce the Voting Age Qualification for State Primary Elections for Voters Who Will Reach 18 Years of Age by the Time of the General Election.  (Sponsored by Rep. Cummings of Portland)   Enacted; PL 2003, c. 577

This Act allows 17 year olds who will be 18 by the November general election to vote in the immediately preceding June primary election only for the selection of candidates.  A qualifying 17 year old is prohibited from participating in any other election issue (e.g., municipal referenda, state bond questions, etc.) that may also be decided at the June election.    This Act will first be implemented during the June 2006 primary election.

LD 1639 – An Act To Make Polling Places More Convenient.  (Sponsored by Rep. Percy of Phippsburg)   Enacted; PL 2003, c. 569

This Act clarifies that municipalities can utilize for municipal elections the same multiple polling places used for county, state and federal elections.

LD 1755 – An Act To Amend the Election Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Clark of Millinocket)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 584

This Act makes a number of changes to election laws, including:  (1) decreasing from 5 years to 2 years the time that voter registration records must be kept for a voter whose name has been removed from the voting list; (2) clarifying the information on an application that must be filled out by a voter who is registering in person before the municipal registrar; (3) allowing the election officials to open the packages of official ballots one hour before the polls open instead of the one-half hour that is currently specified; (4) clarifying that the election clerk in charge of the incoming voting list may make a horizontal red line beside the voter’s name on the voting list to indicate that a voter has voted; and (5) establishing that voter registration records in electronic format are not public records, but in paper format they are public records.

LD 1759 – An Act To Ensure the Accurate Counting of Votes.  (Sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 651

This Act requires that any voting machine used in the state produce a paper audit trail.  It also bans the use of mechanical lever and punch card voting machines.  The Act further directs the Secretary of State to report to the Joint Standing Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs by January 15, 2005 on the progress made to implement the accessible voting equipment requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 and places a moratorium on the purchase and approval of direct recording electronic voting machines, or similar voting systems, until March 1, 2005.

Marine Resources

LD 1857 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force on the Planning and Development of Marine Aquaculture in Maine.  (Reported by Rep. Bull of Freeport for the Task Force on the Planning and Development of Marine Aquaculture in Maine)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 660

This Act implements a set of recommended changes to the laws governing the siting and lease approval of shellfish and finfish aquaculture facilities in Maine waters developed by a Governor-appointed task force.      

The provisions of the Act with the most direct effect on municipalities are: (1) a reorganization of the section of law dealing with the municipal process for issuing permits for the exclusive use of portions of the intertidal zone for shellfish aquaculture, including the standards of review for approving permit applications and the maximum fees; (2) a prohibition on the municipal regulation of moorings used to secure aquaculture equipment and a prohibition on towns from charging fees for those moorings; (3) a clarified authorization of the municipal right to regulate, and collect fees for, moorings used to secure boats within an aquaculture lease area; (4) a direction to the Department of Marine Resources to establish rules governing the regulation of light, noise and visual impacts caused by aquaculture facilities; (5) the expansion of the permissible aggregate lease area from 250 to 300 acres, including an allowance of a total of up to 500 acres as long as the acreage above 300 is held fallow; and (6) the initiation of a bay management study effort by the Land and Water Resources Council.

Natural Resources

LD 1253 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Conservation To Implement a Pilot Project To Evaluate Outdoor Playground Surface Materials.  (Sponsored by Rep. Trahan of Waldoboro)   Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 110

This Resolve directs the Department of Conservation to implement a pilot project at a state park or state recreation area using waste tire material as a playground surfacing material.

LD 1617 – An Act To Improve Subdivision Standards.  (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor)   Enacted; PL 2003, c. 622

This Act amends the subdivision law to prohibit a planning board from approving the subdivision of land upon which “liquidation harvesting” has occurred.  A planning board will have to make a determination if a violation of the liquidation harvesting rule (Chapter 23 of the Department of Conservation rules) has occurred before approving any subdivision.  The planning board may request assistance from Maine Forest Service.  Alternatively, towns may request from the applicant a certificate of compliance by a licensed forester.

[For a description of Liquidation Harvesting please refer to LD 1962 in the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry section.]

LD 1655 – An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating to the Department of Environmental Protection.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 551

This Act makes a number of routine, technical and so-called “minor-substantive” changes to the laws administered by the Department of Environmental Protection.  Among several changes effected by this bill, it would exempt wastewater treatment plants from the licensing provisions in Maine’s professional licensing laws governing electrical installations.

LD 1668 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Growth Management.  (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 604

This Act further regulates the municipal preference order for certain state grants and awards.  The preference order is now:  (1) to a municipality that has received a certificate of consistency for its growth management program; (2) to a municipality that has a SPO-approved comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances which SPO has determined are consistent with the SPO-approved comprehensive plan; and (3) to a municipality that has a SPO-approved comprehensive plan.

LD 1723 – An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Invasive Aquatic Species.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County) Enacted; PL 2003, c. 627

 This Act makes the following changes regarding the issue of invasive species:  (1) provides that a person may not place a watercraft on inland waters without a lake and river protection sticker; (2) adds a provision that a person who operates a watercraft on inland waters without a sticker commits a civil violation; (3) removes the restriction that only warnings can be used for sticker violations when there are no other boating law violations; (4) provides that a person commits a Class E crime if that person places or operates a watercraft on inland waters without a sticker after committing 3 or more violations of inland fisheries and wildlife laws within the last 5 years; (5) provides that if a person operates, launches or removes a watercraft at a restricted access site or refuses inspection of a watercraft in violation of a surface use restriction order, that person commits a civil violation; (6) allows a municipality to appoint a harbor master only to enforce the invasive species laws; (7) requires a person to remove aquatic plants or parts of plants from a vehicle, watercraft or trailer; and (8) allows the Commissioner of Environmental Protection and the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to restrict access to an infested water body by issuing an emergency order.  It also allows the commissioners to require inspections and cleaning of watercraft and trailers at sites identified in the order.  Designated state boat inspectors must conduct the inspections.

LD 1806 – An Act To Provide for the Safe Disposal of Household Hazardous Waste.  (Sponsored by Rep. Curley of Scarborough)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 567

This Act establishes another grant-preference system that gives priority for certain state grants to municipalities that participate in regionalized household hazardous waste collection activities.

LD 1863 – An Act To Provide Additional Financing for Costs Associated with the Remediation of a Waste Oil Handling Facility Site in Plymouth.   (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 596 (4/06/04)

This emergency Act amends the law governing the use of funds to bring about the remediation of the waste oil handling facility site in Plymouth, Maine.  Specifically, the Act expands the allowable use of the funds to include “remedial design” and “technical impracticability” studies.  Applications for funding for these and other permitted uses must be filed within 90 days of the effective date of the bill, or by July 6, 2004.

LD 1866 – An Act Relating to Storm Water Management.  (Reported by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 607

This Act directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to begin the rulemaking process to make changes to Chapter 500 which governs stormwater management.  It is anticipated that the rules will expand the applicability of the rule and better coordinate the stormwater thresholds and requirements with other, related, environmental regulations.

Further, the Act exempts certain manure storage facilities from needing a stormwater permit.

LD 1892 – An Act To Protect Public Health and the Environment by Providing for a System of Shared Responsibility for the Safe Collection and Recycling of Electronic Waste.  (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 661

This Act establishes a comprehensive collection and recycling management system for the segregation, consolidation and distribution back to the manufacturer of discarded cathode ray tubes, which are television and computer screens.  The Act expressly obligates municipalities which choose to participate in the recycling program to ensure that discarded television and computer are delivered to “consolidation facilities”, which are public or private facilities specifically established to temporarily store discarded cathode ray tubes.  From the point of consolidation, manufacturers are responsible for the recycling of their own products and collectively for the products of manufacturers which are no longer in business.  Manufacturers which do not participate in the recycling program are prohibited from selling their product in Maine.  The DEP is responsible for monitoring  the prohibition. 

Municipalities are not prohibited from charging residents a fee for the special collection of cathode ray tubes. 

LD 1900 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Community Preservation Advisory Committee Regarding the State Planning Office’s Review of Growth Management Programs.   (Reported by Sen. Martin of Aroostook Cty. for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 641 (4/14/04)

This emergency Act does the following: (1) clarifies that financial aid contracts pertaining to the development of comprehensive plans are allowed to extend beyond a single fiscal year; (2) clarifies that floodplain ordinances that comply with the Federal Flood Insurance Program are exempt from the requirement that ordinances must be consistent with a comprehensive plan; (3) clarifies that a consistent comprehensive plan must be consistent with the procedures, goals and guidelines established in the growth management law; (4) provides that the State Planning Office, if requested, may review certain ordinances to determine whether they are consistent with a comprehensive plan without requiring submission of all elements of a growth management program; and (5) amends notice requirements for follow-up comprehensive plan public hearings that are held as a result of comments made at an initial public hearing, such that notice for follow-up meetings concerning comprehensive plans will be governed by the standard public notice law (1 MRSA, § 406).

LD 1901 – An Act To Protect Health and the Environment by Improving the System for the Collection and Recovery of Mercury-added Thermostats.  (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 640

This Act is of interest to solid waste management officials regarding the proper disposal of mercury-containing thermostats.  The Act requires manufacturers of these thermostats to provide “incentives” for the recycling or reuse of their thermostats.  Also, thermostat wholesalers must agree to function as used thermostat collection centers.

Regionalization & Community Cooperation

LD 1930 – An Act To Promote Intergovernmental Cooperation, Cost Savings and Efficiencies.  (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 696

At the center of this Act is the creation of a permanent 17-member Intergovernmental Advisory Group (IAG).  The membership of the IAG includes 2 legislators, 3 state agency or department heads, 3 county officials, 2 representatives from regional planning agencies, 3 municipal officials, 2 members representing school administrative units or special districts, and 2 private sector representatives, one from the non-profit sector and another from the for-profit sector.  The Governor is responsible for appointing the non-legislative members to the group.  The municipal and county members must be appointed from a list provided by Maine Municipal Association and Maine County Commissioners Association.   The gubernatorial appointments must include at least three members from each of three regions defined in the Act.  Region One includes Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties.  Region Two includes Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Somerset and Waldo counties.  Region Three includes Cumberland and York counties. 

The IAG is tasked with finding ways to reduce duplication and improve efficiencies in the delivery of governmental services; promote communication and cooperation between the entities delivering services; design and implement a process to allow the state to offer technical support, assistance and incentives to encourage regionalization; identify and create a best management practices database; prepare legislation and report the IAG’s findings annually to the State and Local Government Committee.   The State Planning Office is responsible for staffing the IAG.

In addition to creating the IAG, the Act also accomplishes the following: 1) it repeals statutory references to salaries for county officials, location and minimum number of county commissioner meetings, and legislative delegation involvement in the county budget estimate process; 2) it authorizes the county commissioners to initiate a charter commission without receiving permission from the voters of the county (final adoption of the charter still requires approval from the voters in the county); 3) it authorizes a county that adopts a charter to develop its own budget process; and 4) it clarifies that municipalities, counties, school administrative units and state agencies are authorized to work together under the Interlocal Cooperation laws.

State & Local Government

LD 1653 – An Act To Authorize the Town of Verona To Change Its Name.  (Sponsored by Sen. Youngblood of Penobscot County)   Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 534 (3/5/04)

This emergency Act authorizes the Town of Verona to change its name to the Town of Verona Island if the name change is approved by its voters at a referendum election held sometime in 2004.

LD 1779 – An Act Concerning the Boundary Line of the Town of Unity.  (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity)  Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 37

This Act reestablishes the boundary line for the Town of Unity.

LD 1780 – Resolve, to Promote Transparency In Budgeting.  (Sponsored by Rep. Colwell of Gardiner)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 133

This Resolve directs the Chief Information Officer, State Planning Office and the Department of Audit to create and determine the ongoing feasibility of a publicly accessible site on the Internet where municipalities and counties could voluntarily post their budgets.  A representative of the Maine Municipal Association is also to take part in the development of the project.   The group is required to report its findings and recommendations to the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government by January 14, 2005.

LD 1872 – An Act To Extend the Deadline for Reconsideration by Boards of Appeals. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Penobscot County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 635

This Act amends the law to require that the request for a reconsideration of the decision of the Planning Board of Appeals be made within 10 days of the original decision, and gives the Planning Board of Appeals 45 days from the date of the original decision to act on the reconsideration request.  The Act also provides that an appeal to the Supreme Court of a reconsidered decision must take place within 15 days of that decision.

Taxation

LD 1746 – An Act To Provide Equity in Veterans’ Property Tax Exemptions.  (Sponsored by Rep. Thompson of China)  (Mandate) Enacted; PL 2003, c. xx

Under current law the veterans’ property tax exemption is available to a widow of a deceased (but otherwise eligible) veteran as well as the widowed mother of a deceased veteran if the mother of the deceased veteran is 62 years of age or older.  This Act expands that form of the veterans’ exemption to a widower of a deceased (but otherwise eligible) veteran and the deceased veteran’s widower father, as a matter of gender equity.  This change will take effect with respect to the tax year beginning April 1, 2005.

LD 1763 – An Act To Promote Responsible Pet Ownership.  (Sponsored by Rep. Colwell of Gardiner)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 682

This Act, based on New Hampshire law, establishes the Companion Animal Sterilization Program to provide funding, through a voluntary check-off on the individual income tax form, to help Maine residents who adopt a cat or a dog from an animal shelter and need the animal to be spayed or neutered.  The Act directs the Department of Agriculture to develop the program in its details.

LD 1794 – An Act To Expand Maine’s Homestead Exemption for the Blind.  (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick)  (Mandate) Enacted; PL 2003, c. 686

This Act expands the eligibility of the property tax exemption for the legally blind to property held in a revocable living trust for the benefit of (and occupied by) residents of Maine who are legally blind.  This change will take effect with respect to the tax year beginning April 1, 2005.

LD 1804 – An Act To Clarify Property Eligible for Reimbursement of Property Taxes under the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement Program.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bowles of Sanford)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 625

This Act excludes gambling machines and Maine State Lottery machines from eligibility for property tax reimbursement under the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program (BETR).

LD 1850 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 31:  Affordable Housing Development District – Recovery of Public Revenue, a Major Substantive Rule of the Maine State Housing Authority.  (Reported by Rep. Sullivan of Biddeford for the Maine State Housing Authority)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 115  (3/24/04)

This emergency Resolve provides for final legislative review of a “major substantive rule” promulgated by the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA).  The rule, chapter 31: Affordable Housing Development District – Recovery of Public Revenue,  requires municipalities that approve Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programs for affordable housing districts to unshelter the value of the housing district (thereby recognizing its full value for the purposes of calculating the municipality’s equalized state valuation) if and whenever the affordable housing districts fail to meet the several threshold definitions of affordability established in this new (2003) variation on TIF law. If the municipality does not properly unshelter the value of the affordable housing district, the rule authorizes the MSHA to recoup the subsidy and assessment benefits (including school funding, revenue sharing and county assessments) that the municipality enjoyed because the property value was sheltered through the TIF program.

LD 1882 – An Act To Establish Municipal Cost Components for Unorganized Territory Services To Be Rendered in Fiscal Year 2004-05.   (Reported by Rep. Lemoine of Old Orchard Beach for the Department of Audit)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 44 (4/14/04)

This emergency Act establishes the property tax commitment for the unorganized territories for the FY 04-05 fiscal year.

LD 1887 – Resolve, To Reduce the State Valuation for the Town of Lincoln.  (Sponsored by Sen. Cathcart of Penobscot County)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 124

This Resolve allows an expedited adjustment of the 2005 state valuation for the Town of Lincoln to reflect the bankruptcy of the Eastern Pulp and Paper Company.

LD 1895 – Resolve, To Reduce the State Valuation for the Town of East Millinocket.  (Sponsored by Sen. Stanley of Penobscot County)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 123

This Resolve allows for an expedited adjustment to the 2004 state valuation of the Town of East Millinocket to account for the reduction in value associated with the 2003 bankruptcy of the paper mill located in that town.

LD 1924 – An Act To Reduce the Cost of Local Government through Increased State Education Funding and Provide Property Tax Relief. (Sponsored by Sen. Douglass of Androscoggin County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. xx

This Act implements the Essential Programs and Services school funding model (EPS), including the mill rate expectation system that will control the distribution of state educational subsidy beginning in FY 06.  The Act also directs school transportation and special education costs to be incorporated within the EPS modeling system by FY 06, which is the first year EPS is scheduled to go “on line”. 

In addition, this Act commits the state to be financially supporting at least 55% of the costs of K-12 education (as measured by EPS) by the year 2010. Current law, which the Act replaces, committed the state to only a 50% share of the EPS model by that date. As importantly, the Act further establishes a generally equalized annual increase in state financial commitment for each of the intervening years, beginning in FY 06. The so-called “straight line ramp”.

With respect to the implementation of the mill rate expectation system, the Act establishes that no municipality can be required to levy more than a certain mill rate for K-12 education purposes, provided the school budget is no larger than the amount identified as reasonably necessary by the EPS model. The maximum mill rate for FY 06 is set by this Act at no more than 9 mills, although in actual implementation it is estimated to be approximately 8 mills. The maximum mill rate for the year 2010 may not exceed 8 mills, and is estimated to be significantly less by that time.

It should be noted, however, that during the entire transition period from FY 06 to FY 2010, the “maximum mill rate expectation” will in almost all cases not be the maximum mill rate for education at the local level, because the state will not recognize the full EPS model until 2010. In FY 06, for example, the state will recognize only 84% of the EPS model, and in FY 07, only 88% of the model, and so on until FY 2010, when 100% of the EPS model will be recognized. Therefore, until FY 2010, the mill rate expectation system will only apply to a portion of the EPS model, and the municipality will have to pay for the remainder of the unrecognized school budget without any state support. In that sense, the “mill rate expectation”, which will be touted by some as a school spending “cap”, is a false cap.

That being said, under the mill rate expectation system, if the municipality can generate the EPS-identified school spending level at or below the defined mill rate expectation, the municipality, generally, would receive no state subsidy. If the municipality cannot generate the full EPS-recommended funding level, the state would provide what is necessary to fill-out the EPS budget, as long as the municipality levies the maximum mill rate expectation as its local share. If the school’s budget exceeds the EPS-identified budget, the municipality has to pay for that extra expenditure without any state support, as “local option” spending.

The Act provides that a minimum subsidy allocation system will be retained even for those school systems that may be otherwise “zeroed-out” by the mill rate expectation system. The Act also provides that the state will honor its previously arranged debt service commitments for approved new construction, even in the circumstance where a municipality is otherwise “zeroed-out” by the mill rate expectation system.

In conjunction with the “straight line” ramp-up in defined state financial commitment to education, the Act provides a mechanism to review both state and property tax support for K-12 education over time. A 6-member “Municipal Budget Analysis Committee” is created to begin reviewing in FY 07 the precise level of state financial support and property tax support for public schools for at least two reasons: (1) to see if the state is meeting its minimum statutory funding commitments; and (2) to see if the increased state support for education is translating to reduced property tax demands for the schools. Benchmarks are established that suggest the property tax demand for education in each fiscal year beginning in FY 07 should be less than the property tax demand for education during the previous fiscal year.

Transportation

LD 1676 – An Act To Allow Communications Towers on Land of the Maine Turnpike Authority.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hatch of Somerset County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 572

This Act amends current law to allow the Maine Turnpike Authority to construct radio communication facilities and equipment, such as radio towers, on the Authority’s property even if that communication facility is not for the exclusive use of the Authority.

LD 1694 – An Act To Amend the Motor Vehicle Laws.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hatch of Somerset County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 633

This Act makes a number of changes to motor vehicle laws.  Of interest to municipalities it:  (1) amends the law governing the enforcement of disability parking restrictions to allow all law enforcement officers to enforce those restrictions; (2) creates a traffic infraction that prohibits a person from parking in a parking space that is clearly marked for use by a physically disabled person only if a person has not been issued a disability registration plate or placard or is not transporting a person who has been issued a disability registration plate or placard; (3) clarifies the recently enacted law allowing certain non-police vehicles to use auxiliary blue lights in certain circumstances by expressly requiring those lights to be displayed on the rear of the emergency medical services vehicle, fire department vehicle or hazardous material response vehicle so that it is visible to rear-approaching traffic only and expressly prohibits blue lights to be used on privately owned vehicles; (4) changes the requirements regarding school bus inspections so that each bus must be inspected twice a year at an inspection station during certain months established by the state police and once (instead of twice) per year by a state police officer; and (5) prohibits the possession of devices designed to remotely change traffic lights by unauthorized persons.

LD 1943 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 299: Highway Driveway and Entrance Rules, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Transportation. (Reported by Rep. Marley of Portland)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 138 (4/22/04)

This emergency Resolve provides for legislative review of portions of Chapter 299:  Highway Driveway and Entrance Rules, a major substantive rule of the Department of Transportation.  The amendments to the rule relax some of the existing provisions regulating development on state and state aid roads.  Among the adopted changes is an amendment to the waiver standards allowing for greater flexibility in obtaining driveway and entrance access to these state roads.

Utilities & Energy

LD 1659 – An Act To Streamline the Time-share Rate Collection Process.  (Sponsored by Rep. Collins of Wells)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 526 (3/03/04)

This emergency Act allows sanitary districts to utilize the same methods of collecting their charges against time-share estates as municipalities are allowed to use with respect to the real estate taxes.  Specifically, the Act allows a sanitary district to consolidate its charges against all the separate time-share estates and assess them against the managing entity.

LD 1672 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Dover and Foxcroft Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Annis of Dover-Foxcroft)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 39 (3/24/04)

This emergency Act amends the territory of the Dover-Foxcroft Water District and increases the number of trustees from 3 to 5.

LD 1683 –An Act Relating to the Establishment of a Central Maine Regional Public Safety Communication Center.  (Sponsored by Sen. Daggett of Kennebec County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 678

This Act establishes the Maine Communications System Policy Board within the Department of Public Safety, which is directed to establish policies, plans and standards for the cooperative use of the department’s communication systems by all levels of government.  The 15-member Board will consist of 3 municipal representatives, 1 fire chief and 1 police chief representative, and an EMT representative appointed by the Governor.

The Board is also directed to establish a plan for the voluntary consolidation of the communications systems of various governmental entities within Kennebec County into the Department’s system. 

LD 1692 – An Act To Enhance Pine Tree Development Zones.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hall of Lincoln County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 610

This Act makes four changes to the law governing Pine Tree Development Zones:  (1) it authorizes electricity transmission and distribution utilities to offer reduced rates to qualified Pine Tree Development Zone businesses; (2) it changes the obligation to hold a public hearing prior to the initial designation of a PTD Zone from being the responsibility of the legislative body to that of the municipal officers, (3) it allows for municipalities to contract with private entities to manage PTD zones, and, (4) the existing requirement that a municipality’s legislative body expressly ratify or approve a proposed change to a Pine Tree Development Zone “development plan” is amended to authorize either the legislative body or the municipal officers to ratify such a change.

LD 1750 – An Act To Improve the Ability of Water Utilities To Maintain a Contingency Allowance.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bliss of South Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 529

This Act allows a consumer-owned water utility to include in its rates funding for a contingency allowance that could not exceed 10% of its annual operating revenues for water utilities with annual revenues of $85,000 a year or less, and 5% of annual operating revenue for water utilities with annual revenues of more than $85,000 a year.

LD 1819 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Study Group To Examine an Emergency Alert Notification System of Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Individuals.  (Submitted by Sen. Treat of Kennebec County for the Study Group to Examine an Emergency Alert Notification System for Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Individuals)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 553

This Act implements the recommendations of a special study group examining the emergency alert notification system for deaf individuals.  Among those recommendations, the Act establishes as state policy the encouragement of a communications system that involves seamless, integrated, robust and redundant means of communication that enable rapid contact with first responders, ensure emergency alert notification to all affected persons in the State, including at-risk populations such as the hearing or visually impaired, and enhance homeland security.

LD 1846 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 895: Underground Facility Damage Prevention Requirements, a Major Substantive Rule of the Public Utilities Commission.   (Reported by Rep. Bliss of South Portland)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 127 (4/09/04)

This emergency Resolve does two things.  First, it approves draft Public Utilities Commission (PUC) rules which increase the reporting requirements (e.g. digital mapping) for members of the Dig Safe system with the aim of improving the accuracy of the Dig Safe data as long as the rules are amended to provide greater security of those documents from public access. This provision does not implicate most municipalities since most are not members. 

The Resolve also requires non-members, which would include municipal operators of certain underground facilities, to register with the PUC.  The registration requirements are: (1) a contact name, (2) the contact’s telephone number, and, (3) the location, by municipality, of the underground facility.  The goal of this non-member registration is help excavators know whom to call and will expedite non-members receiving calls.

LD 1874 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the South Berwick Water District.    (Sponsored by Sen. Lemont of York County)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 40 (4/06/04)

This emergency Act amends the charter of the South Berwick Water District to increase the value of its debt limit from $4 million to $5.2 million.

LD 1935 – An Act To Create the Starboard Water District.  (Sponsored by Sen. Shorey of Washington)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 47 (4/22/04)

This emergency Act authorizes the creation of the Starboard Water District within Machiasport.  The territory of the District is a portion of Machiasport that was affected by contamination from a U.S. Air Force radar transmission tower.  The citizens of Machiasport must approve of the creation of the District by referendum vote, which must take place by July 1, 2005.

LD 1948 – An Act Relating to Energy-related Building Standards.  (Reported by the Majority of the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 645

This Act repeals existing energy code standards for spec-built residential property.  It directs the Public Utilities Commission to establish by rule a model energy code that will be the only energy code that may be adopted by municipalities.  Municipalities are not mandated to adopt the model, and municipalities that currently have an energy code may keep the code they have.