Carry Over Bills

(from Maine Townsman, July 2003)

Approximately 1,700 pieces of legislation were submitted for consideration during the First Regular Session of the 121st Maine Legislature, and 10% of those bills will be “carried over” to the Second Regular Session in 2004.  According to a certain process, each legislative committee is authorized to request permission from legislative leadership to “carry over” a limited amount of legislation from the first legislative session to the second.

Reasons for a carry-over request vary.  Perhaps the legislation was presented late in the legislative session and there was simply not enough time to “work the bill.”  In other circumstances, the legislation might parallel the work of an intersession “study commission” and the committee decided to hold onto the bill in case the recommendations of the study commission fail to satisfactorily address the issue.

During this legislative session, there were several bills dealing with gambling issues or comprehensive tax reform that were “carried over” for reconsideration after the voters make some decisions on those two subjects in the general election in November.  In addition, the Legislature adjourned on June 14th before it completed the development of its borrowing recommendation to go out to the voters, so an inordinate number of bond proposals were “carried over.”

What follows is a list of the 53 bills MMA was tracking that have been carried over into the next legislative session.

In some cases these bills will receive little attention until they reappear in January.

In other cases, the proponents of some of these bills will be actively working on the legislation during the remainder of this year, developing alternative language, collecting more information, contacting the bill’s sponsor and the appropriate committee members, and otherwise lobbying for the legislation. 

And some of the following bills will undoubtedly be considered in the context of one of the task forces or study commissions that have been authorized to develop recommendations on a broad spectrum of public policy issues.  (See accompanying article Task Forces & Working Groups in this edition of the Townsman.)

For these reasons, it is important that municipal officials do not lose track of these carryover bills.

Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

LD 338 – An Act to Stabilize the Maine Dairy Industry.  (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County) 

This bill would establish a program of direct subsidy payments to Maine’s dairy farmers that would be triggered when the basic price of milk at the farm falls below $17 per-hundredweight.

Appropriations & Financial Affairs

LD 190 – An Act to Expand Funding and Services to Students of Limited Proficiency in English.  (Sponsored by Rep. Cummings of Portland) 

This bill would appropriate $205,000 for each year of the FY 04-05 biennium in order to boost by 10% the component of the General Purpose Aid to Education appropriation dedicated to the English as a Second Language program.

LD 164 – An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $30,000,000 To Fund Healthy Schools Through the School Revolving Renovation Fund.  (Sponsored by Sen. Treat of Kennebec County)

LD 228 – An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $20,000,000 To Provide Maine’s 7 Technical Collages with Essential Facilities Improvements and Classroom Equipment. (Sponsored by Speaker Colwell of Gardiner)

LD 908 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $1,000,000 To Provide Funds to Riverfront Municipalities To Develop Riverfront Cultural Heritage Centers.  (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County)

LD 1292 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $20,000,000 for Capital Projects and Major Maintenance at State and Municipal Parks and Historic Sites, for Acquiring Land for Coastal and Inland Waterway Access and for Capitalizing a Revolving Loan Fund for Land Trusts and Municipalities To Acquire Land and Conservation Easements for Public Access.  (Sponsored by Sen. Daggett of Kennebec County)

LD 1569 – An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $16,800,000 To Construct and Upgrade Water Pollution Control Facilities, To Remediate Solid Waste Landfills, To Clean Up Uncontrolled Hazardous Substance Sites and To Make Drinking Water System Improvements.  (Governor’s Bill)  (Sponsored by Sen. Treat of Kennebec County)

LD 1572 – An Act To Authorize Department of Transportation Bond Issues In the Amount of $75,000,000 for Improvements to Highways; Bridges; Airports; State-owned Ferry Vessels; Ferry and Port Facilities; Port and Harbor Structures; Development of Rail Corridors; Improvements to Railroad Structures and Intermodal Facilities; Investment in Public Transportation Fleet and Public Park and Ride and Service Facilities; and Statewide Trail and Pedestrian Improvements.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Sen. Hatch of Somerset County)

LD 1591 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $13,300,000 To Address Health, Safety and Compliance Deficiencies in the University of Maine System; To Expedite the Creation of a Community College System; To Make Improvements to State Parks; To Make Cultural Improvements; and to Modernize the State Court System.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Sen. Brennan of Cumberland County)

Business, Research & Economic Development

LD 1025 – An Act To Ensure Uniform Code Compliance and Efficient Oversight of Construction in the State.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hall of Lincoln County) 

This bill would establish the Office of Building Codes within the Department of Professional and Financial Services.  The new Office would be responsible for licensing all building inspectors who may or may not be municipal or state employees.  All residential and commercial buildings constructed in the state would have to be inspected by an inspector licensed by the Office to ensure that the buildings were constructed according to the applicable municipal and state building codes.  Municipalities are authorized but not required to provide the building inspection service under this bill.

LD 1551 – An Act To License Home Building and Improvement Contractors.  (Sponsored by Rep. Cowger of Hallowell)

This bill would create a comprehensive system to license home building contractors.  The bill would establish the 7-member Maine Home Contractor Licensing Board in the Department of Professional Regulation.  Board membership would include 2 public members, a municipal code enforcement officer, a home contractor, an engineer or architect, a representative of the state fire service and an insurance company representative.  The Board would be responsible for overseeing the licensing of anyone engaged in the business of constructing houses or home improvement who receives more than $1,400 a year from any one owner in a year.  The bill would also establish the International Residential Code as the residential building code for the entire state and the Board would be responsible for enforcing the code statewide.  The bill would prohibit the Board from shifting the costs of enforcement onto the municipalities but the Board could contract with municipal code officers to enforce the code.  The statewide residential building code would preempt municipal building codes to the extent they are less stringent than the statewide code.  Municipalities would be prohibited from issuing a building permit to a home building contractor unless the contractor showed proof of license or proof of exemption from licensing.

Criminal Justice & Public Safety

LD 475 – An Act To Improve Conditions for Inmates with Mental Illness. (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick)

This bill would appropriate $300,000 for the purpose of providing competitive grants to three county correctional facilities to fund jail diversion programs, discharge planning and mental health services to inmates with mental illness. The bill would also require the county commissioners who oversee each county correctional facility to appoint a 5-member “board of visitors” which is charged with regularly inspecting the county jail facilities and make recommendations regarding the management of those facilities. The bill would also mandate that if an inmate in a county jail has been determined by an appropriate medical or mental health professional to need inpatient treatment because the inmate is a danger to self or others, the county would be responsible for placing the inmate in a forensic hospital and no other setting.

LD 891 – An Act To Require the Videotaping of Police Interrogations.  (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County)

This bill would require all police departments and other law enforcement agencies to videotape any examination of an individual regarding the commission of a crime when that examination or interview is conducted within a police department or law enforcement facility.

LD 1186 – An Act To Revise the Reimbursement by the County Jail Prisoner Support and Community Corrections Funds and To Provide Additional Support to County Jails.  (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County)

This bill would repeal and replace the formula used to provide state financial support to county government for the purpose of providing county jail and “community corrections” services.  Under current law, each county receives a prorated amount of the community corrections appropriation based on that county’s share of the appropriation in 1997.  This bill would provide each county with a fixed percentage of the county’s total actual costs.  In FY 06 that share would be 10% and it would increase in increments of 5% each year until FY 2010, when it would top-off at 30%. 

Education & Cultural Affairs

LD 149 – An Act to Transfer Bureau of General Services School Construction Functions to the Maine Department of Education.  (Sponsored by Sen. Nass of York County)

This bill is a “concept draft” that would move current oversight of state-approved school construction projects from the Bureau of General Services to the Department of Education for the purpose of creating a single oversight and service entity regarding school construction, from the point of application through final project completion.

LD 230 – An Act Concerning Restructuring of School Districts.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)

This bill is a “concept draft” that proposes the restructuring of the school districts in northern Maine to provide for only one school administrative district covering Aroostook county.

LD 1344 – An Act To Give Teachers a Greater Voice in School Improvement.  (Sponsored by Rep. Norton of Bangor)

Current law provides sole authority on matters of  “education policy” to the school administration. This bill would open up negotiations with teacher unions to new territories of education policy, to expressly include the length and scheduling of a teacher’s working day; the number of hours a teacher can be required to teach or be in attendance at school; the length and scheduling of a teacher’s work year; the scheduling, assignments and duties within the teacher’s working day; the specific responsibilities for the supervision of students; the qualifications of teacher evaluators, etc. The bill also establishes the arbitration requirements for deciding negotiation “controversies.”

Health & Human Services

LD 1066 – An Act to Address the Temporary Maximum Levels of Assistance for General Assistance Established in 1991.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dudley of Portland)

Current law establishes the “temporary maximum levels of assistance” through the General Assistance programs as 110% of the federally-determined “fair market rents” (FMR) for the area.  This bill would increase that “temporary maximum level” by adding to the 110% FMR maximum benefit the maximum food benefit established by the General Assistance program, which is effectively the federal food stamp benefit.

Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

LD 158 – An Act to Limit Agent Fees to the Number of Transactions.  (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County)

This bill was carried over as a vehicle to make changes that might be needed once the on-line licensing system known as Maine's On-line Sportsman Electronic System (MOSES) is operating, possibly this summer.

LD 854 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Operation of All-terrain Vehicles.  (Sponsored by Rep. Landry of Sanford)

This bill increases the ATV registration fee from $17 to $25 for residents not belonging to an ATV club and $20 for residents belonging to a club.  The bill would also increase the severity of the violations of ATV operational law and expressly authorize the impoundment of an ATV by law enforcement officers for some of those violations.

Judiciary

LD 999 – An Act To Ensure Fairness in Payment of Superior Court Witness Fees by Counties.  (Sponsored by Sen. Savage of Knox County)

This bill would provide a $50-per-day reimbursement to the employer of a law enforcement officer who testifies in Superior Court in a pretrial hearing for a Class D or Class E crime.

LD 1473 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Public Easements. (Sponsored by Rep. McKee of Wayne)

Under current law, when a municipality formally discontinues a road, a public easement is retained over that right of way unless the local legislative body expressly discontinues the public easement.  This bill would flip that default arrangement by requiring the local legislative body to expressly retain the public easement or else the easement would be extinguished by default.  This bill would also allow a person who is directly benefited by a public easement to collect funds to maintain that easement.

Labor

LD 561 – An Act To Improve Standards for Public Assistance to Employers in the State.  (Sponsored by Rep. Hutton of Bowdoinham)

This bill would require that all employers receiving a variety of economic development incentives, including BETR and TIF benefits, must provide their employees a “living wage” and, at a minimum, certain levels of retirement and health insurance benefits.

LD 575 – An Act To Encourage Workers’ Compensation Dispute Resolutions.  (Sponsored by Rep. Smith of Van Buren)

This bill would establish surcharges to be assessed against employers when a workers’ compensation mediation or hearing officer decision results in the award of benefits to the employee that is greater than what the employer offered prior to the mediation or trial before the hearing officer. When the mediation results in benefits that exceed the employer’s offer, the surcharge is $500. When a hearing officer decision results in the higher benefits, the surcharge is $1,500. The proceeds from the surcharge would be dedicated to a fund to defray the costs of the workers’ compensation advocate program.  

LD 718 – An Act To Create a New Pension System for Newly Hired Teachers and State Employees.  (Sponsored by Rep. Mills of Cornville)

This bill is a “concept draft” that proposes to establish a new pension system for all newly-hired state employees and school teachers.  The plan would require all new hires to participate in Social Security and a newly created defined-benefit plan with an actuarial cost of 4% of payroll, the premium of which would be allocated 75% to the state and 25% to the employee.

LD 752 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Labor To Develop the Family Security Fund To Implement the Recommendations of the Committee to Continue to Study the Benefits and Costs for Increasing Access to Family and Medical Leave for Maine Families.  (Reported by Rep. Colwell of Gardiner)

This resolve would direct the Department of Labor to develop legislation that would create and design the “Family Security Fund”, the purpose of which would be to provide financial assistance to employees who become temporarily disabled. As designed by the resolve, all private employers with one or more employees would be required  to make a minimum 50% contribution to the Fund. The maximum 100% employee payroll deduction would be 90 cents per week per employee. Participation would be optional for governmental employers.

LD 919 – An Act To Require Public Improvement Projects Contractors and Subcontractors To Meet Certain Criteria.  (Sponsored by Rep. Duplessie of Westbrook)

This bill would amend the law governing “public improvement projects” which are state construction projects and school construction projects. The bill would establish certain criteria that all contractors and subcontractors would have to meet, including prevailing wage law, employer-paid health insurance and hospitalization benefits, and proper employee classification with respect to workers’ compensation law, unemployment law, etc.

Legal & Veterans Affairs

LD 212 – An Act to Establish Instant Run-off Voting.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport)

This bill would establish a new system of tabulating the ballots for President, Vice President, United States Senator, United States Representative to Congress, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. The new system of tabulation is called the “instant run-off voting method”. Under this method, the various candidates for each office are ranked in order of preference by the voter, and there are successive tabulations of the voters’ rankings as the low-ranking candidates are gradually eliminated.

LD 507 – Resolve, To Allow the Town of Dennysville To Sue the State and the Atlantic Salmon Commission for Breach of Contract.  (Sponsored by Rep. Goodwin of Pembroke)

This resolve would allow the town of Dennysville to sue the State for an alleged failure of the Atlantic Salmon Commission to ensure that water could be drawn from a dry hydrant after placing a weir in the Dennysville River.

LD 640 – Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Reduce Voting Age Qualifications by 12 Months.  (Sponsored by Rep. Cummings of Portland)

This resolution would send out to the voters a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution that would reduce the minimum voting age from 18 years of age to 17 years of age.

LD 1242 – An Act To Recognize the Regional Impact of Casino-style Gambling Facilities.  (Sponsored by Rep. Lemoine of Old Orchard Beach)

This bill would require that before any gambling casino can be operated, the legislative body of the host community and the legislative body of all abutting municipalities must approve the casino’s operation.

LD 1354 – An Act To Permit Video Gaming for Money Conducted by Nonprofit Organizations (Sponsored by Rep. Thompson of China)

This bill would permit non-profit charitable organizations to conduct video gaming operations provided they are licensed by the state police according to standards established by the bill, one of which is that the applicant has received local approval, after a public hearing, by the municipal officers.  The standards of approval applied by the municipal officers are not specified.  Of all the net revenue brought in by the gambling operation, it appears that either 8% or 10% would be dedicated either to the Local Government Fund, from which municipal revenue sharing is distributed, or a newly-created “Public Education Fund”, which would operate in the same way as municipal revenue sharing.  90% of the net gambling income would stay with the charitable organization.

Natural Resources

LD 1253 – An Act to Ensure Playground Safety.  (Sponsored by Rep. Trahan of Waldoboro)

This bill would impose a 25-cent fee on the retail sale of all tires for the purpose of capitalizing a playground safety and Tire Recycling Fund.  The fund would be used to provide grants to public schools and public parks to build playground areas with recycled tire materials.

LD 1617 – An Act To Improve Subdivision Standards.  (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor)

This bill would prohibit a municipal planning board or subdivision reviewing authority from approving a subdivision if all of the following circumstances of the subdivision apply:  (1) the subdivided land is not located in a municipally designated growth area; (2) the subdivided parcel was used primarily as timberland for the 5-year period prior to the date of the subdivision application; (3) during the same 5-year period the land changed ownership; (4) the subdivision would convert the use of the land to a non-timberland use; (5) the subdivided parcel exceeds 100 acres by itself or in combination with other adjacent parcels that were part of a mother-parcel within the 5-year period before the filing of the subdivision application.

State & Local Government

LD 103 – An Act to Establish the Regional County Corrections Construction Authority.  (Sponsored by Rep. Snowe-Mello of Poland)

This bill is a “concept draft” that would establish the Regional County Corrections Construction Authority, which would be a board comprised of state, county and local officials that would be authorized to issue bonds for the construction of regional county correction facilities.

LD 419 – An Act To Repeal Outdated and Unfunded Municipal and Educational Mandates.  (Sponsored by Rep. Millett of Waterford)

This bill is a “concept draft” that proposes to repeal outdated and unfunded state mandates that pertain to municipalities or school systems.

LD 942 – An Act To Create Guidelines To Promote Good Science in Rulemaking.  (Sponsored by Rep. Saviello of Wilton)

This bill would require state agencies to adopt specific standards of information quality and apply those standards to the information used to support the promulgation of any new regulation.

LD 1210 – Resolve, To Establish the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bowen of Rockport)

This resolve would create a 21-member Intergovernmental Advisory Commission charged with studying ways to obtain efficiencies in the delivery of services among and within the various levels of state, regional and local government.  Membership of the commission would be equally divided between state, county and local government.

LD 1322 – An Act To Recognize the Maine Rural Development Council.  (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County)

This bill would create the 24-member Maine Rural Development Council charged with coordinating rural development policies and economic resources, advocacy for the needs of rural communities, and reviewing public policy initiatives for their effect on rural communities.  Two of the 24 members would represent municipal government.

Taxation

LD 345 – An Act to Reinstate a Milk Handling Fee.  (Sponsored by Rep. Mills of Cornville)

This bill would work as the revenue raising element in a package of legislation designed to stabilize Maine’s dairy industry. This bill would create a 32 cents per gallon tax on the retail sale of milk, generating approximately $13 million annually to the state’s General Fund. The “milk handling fee” would be sunsetted to expire on January 1, 2005.

LD 746 – An Act To Adopt a Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement That Allows for Local Option Taxes.  (Sponsored by Rep. Lemoine of Old Orchard Beach)

This bill is a “concept draft” that proposes to adopt the model sales and use tax developed by a consortium of representatives of 34 states and adopted in November, 2002.  The effort of the 34 states is to harmonize the Sales and Use tax code among the participating states so that, with the cooperation of Congress, the sales and use taxes can be collected by retailers across state lines. 

LD 938 – Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Change the Assessment of Lands Used for Long-term Ownership.  (Sponsored by Rep. Percy of Phippsburg)

This resolution would send out to the voters a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a new “current use” tax category to add to the three existing categories (farm land, forest land, and open space).  The new category would be land used for long-term ownership.  The details of implementing this category are not provided in the resolution, except that the withdrawal penalty would be triggered by “a transfer outside the immediate family or by other than a designated bequest”.  This constitutional amendment would be implemented by LD 951 (the “Land Bank” program).

LD 951 – An Act To Establish the Maine Land Bank and Community Preservation Program.  (Sponsored by Rep. Percy of Phippsburg)

This bill would implement the “Land Bank and Community Preservation Program” which is the implementing legislation for the constitutional amendment proposed by LD 938.  The “Land Bank” program would allow any landowner in Maine to enroll his or her land in the program, and upon enrollment the assessed value of the land (excluding all structural property upon it) could not increase year-to-year more than either 2% or the annual Consumers’ Price Index, whichever value is smaller.  Development activity on the land would not restrict ongoing eligibility.  When the land is transferred (unless to relatives or willed as a bequest), a withdrawal penalty would have to be paid which is identical to the Tree Growth withdrawal penalty; i.e., 30% (sliding down to 20%) of the difference between the just value of property at time of withdrawal and its “Land Bank” assessment, or the 5-year “back taxes” value, whichever is greater.

LD 975 – An Act To Improve the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement Program.  (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County)

This bill would eliminate the so-called BETR-TIF “double dip” by prohibiting a BETR reimbursement if the property taxes are also being effectively reimbursed under a municipal Tax Increment Financing agreement.

LD 1141 – An Act To Provide Property Tax Relief for Maine Residents and Business and Implement Comprehensive Tax Reform.  (Sponsored by Rep. McGowan of Pittsfield)

This bill is the statutory implementation of a tax reform proposal that also requires certain constitutional changes.  This bill would provide for a referendum ratification of a legislative enactment designed to achieve property tax relief for Maine residents and businesses and implement comprehensive tax and education funding reform. The legislation would: (1) establish a cap on local property taxes of 12 mills on secondary residential property and 4 mills for all other property for the purpose of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12; (2) require notification on local budget documents of the impact of school and municipal budgets on property tax mill rates for the purpose of providing clear information to the voters regarding conformity to the mill rate caps: (3) allow the legislative body of a municipality or district school to raise additional revenues for education over the established mill rate limits provided the voters were properly notified of the impact of those budget decisions and provided the school budget that would result in exceeding the limits is approved by the voters at referendum or through a referendum validation process existing in current law; (4) repeal the homestead property tax exemption; (5) repeal the personal property tax with respect to all personal property first introduced into the State after April 1, 2004; (6) establish an Education Funding Stabilization Fund, funded by a portion of year-end surplus state revenues for the purpose of ensuring adequate state funding for education in years when General Fund revenues do not provide adequate revenue for education funding; (7) make more tenants and low-income property taxpayers eligible for the Maine Residents Property Tax Program (“Circuit Breaker” program) by lowering the threshold of property tax burden which governs the eligibility for benefits; (8) create the Income Tax Rate Management Fund and capitalize that Fund through the growth of individual income tax revenues that exceed the growth of total personal income; (9) proportionately reduce income tax rates across the board as revenues accumulated in the Income Tax Rate Management Fund permit; and (10) direct the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over taxation matters to report out legislation to the Second Regular Session of the 121st Legislature pursuant to the direction given it by the voters at referendum to provide for the necessary revenue for the Legislature to meet the state’s education funding obligations required by the bill. By the wording of the referendum language, the voters are given a choice to obtain the necessary additional revenue either by increasing the three sales tax rates (“general” sales, “meals and lodging”, and automobile rental) by two percentage points or by expanding the general sales tax base to the extent practicable, and increase the rate no more than 1%. According to the terms of the referendum language, if a majority of the voters adopt the plan to cap property taxes for education purposes but reject both sales tax options to provide the alternative revenue to support K-12 education, the referendum fails of adoption.

LD 1394 – An Act To Modernize the State’s Tax System.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dudley of Portland)

This bill would comprehensively reform Maine’s tax code in the following ways: (1) expand the Circuit Breaker property tax and rent rebate program in four ways: (a) the renter’s presumed property tax payment would be increased from 18% to 25% of gross rent; (b) the maximum circuit breaker payment would increase from $1,000 to $6,000; (c) the threshold income eligibility levels would be increased from $25,700 for single person households to $45,000 and from $40,000 for multi-person households to $75,000, and (d) the property-tax-to-income ratio that triggers benefits would be lowered from 4% to 2.5% over a four-year period; (2) increase the percentage of sales and income tax revenue that is dedicated to municipal revenue sharing from 5.1% to 8.5%; (3) create a new 10% income tax rate category for households with an income of $150,000 or more (the current highest marginal rate is 8.5%); (4) conform the state income tax personal exemption to the federal exemption; (5) increase the state’s earned income tax credit from 5% to 30% of the federal credit and make it refundable (i.e., provided to households with zero income tax obligation); (6) expand the sales tax base to include a broad range of amusement and recreation, personal, and business and professional services; (7) increase the lodging element of the state sales tax from 7% to 10%; (8) limit the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement (BETR) benefit to just 70% of the amount by which the taxes paid by the business exceed the amount of taxes reimbursed by the municipality through a Tax Increment Financing arrangement; and (9) exclude certain types of property, including retail property, from receiving BETR reimbursements.

Transportation

LD 155 – An Act to Allow a Business to Obtain a Municipal Permit for One Off-premises Business Advertising Sign.  (Sponsored by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis)

This bill would allow a business to apply to the municipality in which it is located for permission to install one off-premises advertising sign on private property within the municipality and within 5 miles of the business. The sign must not be illuminated or changeable or larger than 16 square feet, and only one sign per private lot would be allowed. Municipalities would be authorized to provide additional limitations.

LD 1070 – An Act To Increase Traffic Fines and Apportion a Part of the Increase to the Issuing Jurisdiction.  (Sponsored by Rep. Suslovic of Portland)

This bill would increase traffic fines by 5% every 2 years beginning on January 1, 2004 and ending on January 1, 2012.  This bill would also distribute 10% of all traffic fine revenue to the law enforcement agency that issued the traffic summons, beginning in 2004.  That percentage of fines allocated to the law enforcement agencies would increase every two years until 2012, when it would level off at 50% and stop increasing.

Utilities & Energy

LD 222 – An Act Providing for Regulation of the Cable Television Industry by the Public Utilities Commission.  (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick)

This bill would subject basic tier rates and services of cable t.v. systems to regulation by the Public Utilities Commission.

LD 1157 – An Act To Promote Clean and Efficient Energy.  (Sponsored by Sen. Brennan of Cumberland County)

This bill is a “concept draft” that proposes a number of strategies to promote clean and efficient energy.  Among those strategies, the bill proposes to require the so-called “LEED Green Building Standards” be established as the new residential building code in Maine and increase enforcement of building codes to ensure compliance.

LD 1201 – An Act To Require the Owner or Operator of a Casino To Improve or Replace Utilities and Infrastructure in the Vicinity of the Casino.  (Sponsored by Rep. Collins of Wells)

            This bill would obligate the owner or operator of a gambling casino to certain water, sewer, utility and road construction and repair responsibilities within 25 miles of the casino.

       USERRA is generally administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, but serious employer infractions may be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney General or the Office of Special Counsel.

 What remedies are available for USERRA violations?

       Remedies under USERRA can include return to work, back pay, reinstated benefits, corrected personnel files, lost promotions, retroactive seniority, pension adjustments, restored vacation time and liquidated damages (for willful violations).

       For more USERRA information, go to U.S. Dept. of Labor website at www.dol.gov/vets/#userra  or Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve at www.esgr.org/members/thelaw.asp .