New Laws
(from Maine Townsman, July 2003)

Effective dates.  Emergency legislation became effective on the date it was signed by the Governor.  If the new law was an emergency measure, it is so-noted along with the Public Law citation.

Non-emergency legislation.  These bills become law 90 days after adjournment of the legislative session in which they were enacted.  The effective date of non-emergency legislation enacted this session will be September 13, 2003.

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 245 – An Act To Promote Consistent Protection of the State’s Waters.  (Sponsored by Rep. Pineau of Jay)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 335

This Act puts into motion a series of directives and authorizations that are designed to culminate in the implementation of uniform rules governing non-development-related timber harvesting activities in shoreland areas throughout Maine’s organized and unorganized areas.  The Act directs the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation to adopt the statewide uniform rules no later than October 1, 2003 in accordance with the draft rules that were presented to the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee in February 2003.  According to the Act, the rules will become fully effective on January 1, 2006.  With respect to municipal timber harvesting regulation in the shoreland area, municipalities are provided three options:  (1) to repeal the timber harvesting standards in the municipal shoreland zoning ordinance, effective January 1, 2006, and notify the Maine Forest Service (MFS) so that MFS can take over the enforcement of the statewide standards; (2) to repeal the timber harvesting standards in the municipal shoreland zoning ordinance and replace them with the statewide standards, in which case the municipality and MFS can enter into an agreement to share enforcement responsibilities; or (3) retain the existing shoreland zoning ordinance standards or adopt timber harvesting standards that are stricter than the statewide standards, in which case the municipality will be responsible for all enforcement obligations.  The Act further directs the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Environmental Protection to amend and repeal the shoreland timber harvesting rules within their respective jurisdictions to harmonize the regulatory systems with the statewide standards.

LD 360 – An Act To Strengthen the Animal Control Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Hutton of Bowdoinham)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 71

This Act amends the penalty for keeping a dangerous dog.  Current law allows a court to set a financial penalty of not more than $1,000.  The Act amends the penalty to be not less than $250 or more than $1,000, and prohibits a court from suspending the fine.

LD 1531 – An Act To Amend Provisions of the Submerged Lands Law.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dudley of Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 254

This Act makes a number of changes with respect to the law governing submerged land leases and other submerged land issues, including some clarifying and non-substantive changes to the laws governing the determination of abandoned watercraft by the municipal board or commission entrusted with harbor management.

LD 1545 – An Act To Amend the Animal Welfare Laws.  (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 405

This Act makes a number of changes to dog licensing laws, animal welfare laws and the laws governing the state’s animal welfare program.  Those changes most pertinent to municipalities include:  (1) requiring state humane agents hired after 10/01/03 to successfully complete the 100-hour service training program at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in order to be provided continuing employment, and to be afforded 40 additional hours of training each year in the handling of small and large animals; (2) requiring a veterinarian’s sign-off before the euthanization of severely sick, severely injured or vicious cats; (3) establishing a procedure to follow when a person brings a pet to an animal shelter when the pet’s owner is incarcerated or hospitalized, a procedure for the animal shelter to either release the animal to the owner or owner’s designee or accept ownership of the pet if the owner fails to respond to a formal notification from the shelter, and an immunity from liability of all parties involved if these procedures are followed; (4) increasing the dog licensing fee for non-neutered dogs from $7.50 to $10 and the fee for neutered dogs from $4 to $6, with all increased fee revenue accruing to the Department of Agriculture; (5) increasing the late fee surcharge for licensing a dog after the January 31 deadline from $5 to $15 and from $10 to $25 for those cases where the delinquent dog owner’s name appears on a municipal warrant for collection; (6) increasing a variety of kennel and shelter fees; and (7) initiating a system whereby municipalities can arrange with the Department of Agriculture to facilitate on-line dog licensing for their citizens.

LD 1616 – An Act To Promote Stewardship of Forest Resources.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Colwell of Gardiner)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 422

This Act defines the practice of “liquidation harvesting” as (i) the purchase of property (ii) harvesting of that property’s timber without regard to good forestry management and (iii) the subsequent sale of the property within 5 years of the original purchase.  It establishes a legislative finding that liquidation harvesting is incompatible with responsible forest stewardship, and directs the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation to adopt “major substantive” rules to substantially eliminate the practice of liquidation harvesting.  Municipalities are among the interested parties that the Commissioner is instructed to take input from while developing those rules.  The Commissioner is directed to report back to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee with the Department’s recommendations no later than January 2, 2004. 

Appropriations & Financial Affairs

LD 483 – An Act To Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2003.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 2 (2/13/03)

This Act is the supplemental state budget designed to close a $44 million gap between state revenue and expenditures for the remainder of FY 03. The municipally-related changes associated with this supplemental budget are as follows:

FY 03 Appropriation for General Purpose Aid to Education (GPA).  The GPA appropriation for the last fiscal year (FY 02) was $702 million.  In May 2002 the Legislature approved $730 million for the FY 03 GPA appropriation and under the circumstances of a tightening economy seemed pleased to be able to deliver a 4% increase, one year to the next.  A “curtailment” order by former Governor Angus King, ratified by the Legislature last November, reduced the overall appropriation by $10 million - $2 million in school construction savings and $8 million in across-the-board cuts to the schools.  A follow-up curtailment was ordered in December 2002, further reducing the GPA appropriation by $6.3 million.  This December curtailment was achieved in large part by cutting back on state reimbursement to the schools that provide special education services to students who are really the state’s financial responsibility. 

At the end of the day, the FY 03 GPA appropriation ratified by this supplemental budget will be $714.5 million, which represents a 1.8% increase over the FY 02 appropriation.

Transportation.  The supplemental FY 03 budget transfers $7.2 million from the Highway Fund to the General Fund.  There was some policy debate over whether this Highway Fund revenue, which is constitutionally dedicated to transportation, can be transferred to the General Fund.  Proponents of the shift focus on the fact that the General Fund provided nearly $25 million to the Highway Fund in 2001, and this is merely a pay-back.  On the other side, a 15-year study conducted by the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review suggests that the Highway Fund is actually owed revenue.  Since FY 88, the General Fund has shifted nearly $65.6 million to the Highway Fund, but the Highway Fund has shifted $66.3 million back to the General Fund.  The full analysis gets murkier, however, when the General  Fund bond issues for highway purposes are taken into account, which have contributed over $60 million toward road and bridge repair in the last five years.

HOME Program.  The Real Estate Transfer Tax generates approximately $22 million a year, 10% of which goes to county government, 45% of which goes into the State’s General Fund, and 45% of which goes to the state’s HOME program.  HOME funds are administered by the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA).  The $9.5 million that annually accrues to the HOME program is used for a variety of subsidy programs for homeless shelters, multi-family housing projects, and first-time mortgage opportunities for low-income Mainers.

The supplemental FY 03 budget deappropriates $3.2 million from the HOME program, or 33% of the annual total, and lapses that revenue into the General Fund.  MSHA defined five components of the overall HOME program where the cuts will be concentrated.

• $1 million for supportive housing (25 units)

• $800,000 first-time homebuyer programs

• $600,000 security deposit program to help people transition out of shelters (similar to the discontinued THAP program)

• $500,000 home retrofit program for the disabled

• $300,000 Maine Cities grant program to rehabilitate deteriorating low-income residential neighborhoods

Conservation.  Of the various deappropriations in the Department of Conservation contained in the FY 03 supplemental budget, several affect municipalities.  The Community Forestry Fund, created in 2001, provides grants to municipalities to implement their forestry programs.  Of the $100,000 in the Fund, $90,000 would be deappropriated.  Federal funds that were provided after the ice storm of 1998 for similar purposes dwarfed the scope of this state-funded program and reduced its need.  The Boating Facilities Fund loses $128,000 which will result in the deferred development of one major boat launching facility until after 2006.  The Shore and Harbor Management Fund loses $169,000, otherwise dedicated for municipal grants to help with harbor management planning and public access.

SPO.  The municipally-related contribution of the State Planning Office toward filling the $44 million budget hole bridged by the supplemental FY 03 budget consists of a $118,000 deappropriation from the “Smart Growth Initiative”.  The Initiative consisted of a $1.7 million appropriation enacted in 2000 for municipal smart growth grants, technical assistance and the publication of resource materials.  The $118,000 cut represents $18,000 in salary savings and nearly $100,000 in grants.  $100,000 in grants in real terms represents funding for 4-6 comprehensive plans, or funding for 8 or 9 comprehensive plan updates or funding for 8 or 9 implementation grants to create the land use ordinances to implement a comprehensive plan, or some combination of these efforts.

LD 1319 – An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds, and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2004 and June 30, 2005.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 20 (3/27/03)

This Act is the proposed “Part I” state budget for the FY 04-05 biennium.  The supplemental “Part II” biennial budget is described under LD 1614.

As enacted, the Part I biennial budget makes the following changes that are pertinent to municipal government.

• A modest increase to General Purpose Aid to Education (GPA) for FY 04, from $730 million (original FY 03 appropriation) to $732 million, representing the state’s contribution to a $1.68 billion total cost.  By the most conservative estimates, the statewide property tax increase to cover increased school expenditures for FY 04 will be in the $35 million range. 

• A reduction in the Homestead Exemption benefit for “homesteads” with a value greater than $125,000.  The reduction in benefit will take effect for the tax year beginning on April 1, 2003.  For homesteads over $125,000 in value, the value of the exemption will drop to $5,000.  For homesteads over $250,000 in value, the value of the exemption will drop to $2,500.

• The elimination of the entire enforcement arm of the Bureau of Liquor Enforcement, including nearly 20 front-line liquor enforcement officers.  A large share of the enforcement task is to be picked-up by local or county (i.e., property tax based) law enforcement.

• The Part I budget also eliminates the state’s modest stipend to free public libraries and the annual stipend to municipal fire wardens.  Planning grants from the State Planning Office will be reduced and the “URIP” local road assistance grants will be slightly reduced in FY 04 because the state’s overall Highway Fund budget for transportation (of which URIP is a percentage share) will be reduced.

• The Part I budget shifts $24 million over the biennium from the Highway Fund to 46 “urban compact” municipalities for very generally described transportation purposes, and every dollar distributed to those municipalities will be subtracted from their municipal revenue sharing, releasing those revenue sharing dollars to the state’s General Fund.  $15 million over the biennium is stripped out of the Maine State Housing Authority’s low-income housing HOME program, a sum that is scheduled to be partially replaced in the Governor’s bond proposal (see LD 1566, below).  Also, $1 million is pulled from FY 05 municipal revenue sharing and then re-distributed through a set of unwritten rules to “municipalities that have demonstrated that they have adopted administrative and other service delivery practices that achieve cost savings in operating funds related to administrative services and that the money has been directed for property tax relief.”

• In the “increased fees” department, the Part I budget implements an increase of $3 on every license, permit, application, and registration fee administered by the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife beginning January 1, 2004 and January 1, 2005, except that this “temporary” increase for ATV and snowmobile registration ($13 for residents and $30 for nonresidents) will begin on July 1, 2003 and July 1, 2004.  All temporary license and registration fee increases are repealed on June 30, 2005.

LD 1566 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $60,000,000 for Municipal Facilities and for Investments in Research, Development, Farming and Affordable Housing in Order to Sustain and Improve Maine’s Economy.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 50

This Act sent out a $60 million bond proposal that was approved by the voters on June 10, 2003.  The bond issue provides for the following:

To be administered by the University of Maine:

• $6 million to expand wood composite research facilities at the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center.

• $4.4 million for the University of Southern Maine to expand and equip the research wing of the science building.

• $3.6 million for research and development activities through the Maine Economic Improvement Fund, in anticipation of $12 million in federal and other funds.

• $3 million for educational technology improvements.

• $1 million for the University’s agricultural research farms.

To be administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development:

• $20 million to the Maine Biomedical Research Fund, in anticipation of $80 million in federal and private funding, to support capital infrastructure and equipment.

• $6 million to recapitalize the Municipal Investment Trust Fund.

• $3 million to design and construct the Gulf of Maine Research Laboratory.

• $2 million for infrastructure improvements for Maine’s seven applied technology development centers.

• $1 million for the Marine Infrastructure and Technology Fund in anticipation of $1 million in federal and private funding.

To be administered by the Maine State Housing Authority:

• $8 million for affordable housing, in anticipation of $21.15 million in federal and private funding.

To be administered by the Department of Agriculture:

• $2 million for the Maine Farms for the Future Program

LD 1574 – An Act To Make Additional Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2003.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 51 (4/18/03)

This is another supplemental budget enactment (following LD 483, above) designed to balance the FY 03 state budget by deappropriating or transferring funds from a wide variety of state agency accounts and expediting the implementation of cost-cutting or revenue enhancing actions that were approved as part of the FY 04 – 05 state budget (see LD 1319).  The Act has only minor and tangential impacts on local government.

LD 1614 – 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, 2003, June 30, 2004 and June 30, 2005.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 451 (6/12/03)

This is the so-called “Part II” biennial budget enactment that readjusts the FY 04-05 state budget as initially enacted by LD 1319 (above).  The following are four elements of the enacted budget of interest to municipalities.

Budget Spending Cap/ Stabilization Fund.  This so-called “Part II” state budget places a cap on the amount of General Fund revenue the state can spend in any year.  This cap is adjusted annually using a formula based on the average percent increase in real personal income and projected consumer price index (CPI).  As enacted, the ten-year average growth in the real (i.e., inflation adjusted) personal income in Maine, as identified by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, is added to the projected CPI calculated by Maine’s Revenue Forecasting Committee.  That calculated percentage would control the annual increase in state spending.

For example, if the ten-year average growth in real personal income was 2.5% and the projected CPI was 2.7%, the state would have to limit any increase in General Fund expenditures during the next fiscal year by the sum of those two numbers, or 5.2%.

The state’s existing Rainy Day Fund is renamed and redesigned as the Maine Budget Stabilization Fund in this Part II budget.  In any year for which there are unappropriated state revenues at the close of each fiscal year, 32% of these revenues would be transferred into the Stabilization Fund.

The revenues dedicated to the Stabilization Fund would be capped at 10% of the total General Fund revenues generated in the previous fiscal year and could not be reduced below 1% of that General Fund aggregate, absent extraordinary circumstances.  If the Legislature has adjourned prior to the close of a fiscal year and it is determined that the available General Fund revenue will not meet General Fund appropriations, the Governor would be authorized to reduce the Stabilization Fund below the 1% minimum in order to balance the budget.  The 10% cap creates a larger Stabilization Fund than the current Rainy Day Fund, which is capped at 6% of General Fund revenues.  At a 6% cap, the existing Rainy Day Fund could contain as much as $145 million.  At a 10% cap, the Stabilization Fund could contain as much as $240 million.  Because of recent state revenue shortfalls, the state’s current Rainy Day Fund is empty.

LURC Assessments.  The Part II state budget establishes that the towns and plantations within the Land Use Regulation Commission’s (LURC) jurisdiction must pay an assessment to LURC in the amount of 0.01% of their equalized value.  The assessments begin in FY 04, which begins on July 1, 2003.  Municipalities subject to the assessment may opt-out of the assessment by accepting certain land use responsibilities.  There are 39 plantations and municipalities affected by this new assessment, which will generate over $62,000 from their property taxpayers to support LURC.  The assessments range from $335 (Codyville) to $8,755 (Rangeley Plantation).

No Child Left Behind.  The Part II budget provides that over the FY 04-05 biennium, $26.8 million in federal funds will be provided under the No Child Left Behind Act.  Some or all of that federal support is just the conversion of an existing program under a new name.  These funds replace the federal revenues that were previously provided to the state under the Eisenhower grant and “class size” programs.  School units will apparently be able to apply to the Department of Education for revenues to fund teacher and principal professional development programs and to increase the number of classroom teachers in order to reduce student-teacher ratios where they are higher than recommended.

Help America Vote Act.  The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) provides matching funds (5% state/ 95% federal) to address the federal mandate placed on states to facilitate the voting process.  Since the creation of HAVA in 2002, Maine has received $5 million from the federal program and is requesting an additional $4.1 million in federal funds through the Part II budget.  In order to receive the additional federal revenue, the state must raise the $218,420 state match.  Through a $118,420 General Fund appropriation and a transfer of $100,000 from the unencumbered funds in the Secretary of State’s FY 04-05 budget, the necessary state funds are raised.  The Secretary of State will use the $9.1 million in state and federal funds to meet the federal mandates that require the creation of a state-centralized voter list and provide each of Maine’s approximate 650 polling places with a $4,500 voting machine that will enable disabled residents to vote without assistance.

Prisoner Reduction Program.  Included in the Part II budget is the creation of a commission to study and develop mechanisms for reducing the overall costs of corrections at the state level and community corrections at the county level.  The sixteen-member Commission to Improve the Sentencing, Supervision, Management and Incarceration of Prisoners includes representatives from the executive, judicial and legislative branches of state government, as well as members representing county commissioners and sheriffs, trial lawyers and the general public.  The Commission is tasked with developing recommendations that meet the goal of controlling correctional costs by reducing the population of non-violent and repeat offenders in the corrections system while at the same time protecting community safety and holding offenders accountable for their actions.  To accomplish that balance, the Commission is directed to study the reasons that overcrowding exists in correctional facilities (i.e., demographics of the prison population, length of sentences, impact of mental illness, impact of substance abuse, etc.), determine how existing sentencing laws impact prison and jail overcrowding, and determine the effectiveness of current programs and treatment plans for deterring repeat offenders.  The Commission is required to report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by January 2, 2004.

Pine Tree Zones.  The “Part II” budget bill also incorporates the Pine Tree Zone Act, an initiative of Governor Baldacci’s that was initially moving through the legislative process as a separate bill (LD 1385).

The Pine Tree Development Zone program will be administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development.  Up to 8 Pine Tree Development Zones will be created statewide, four in already-determined locations (Aroostook County, Androscoggin Valley region, Penobscot Valley region, and the Washington County-downeast region) and four in other locations that meet certain criteria.  For each Pine Tree zone, the legislative body or bodies of a municipality or a group of municipalities will have to vote to designate the zone within their respective jurisdictions.  If adopted by the municipality or multi-municipal groups, certain qualified businesses in the manufacturing, technology and financial services sectors will be entitled to a cluster of tax breaks if they establish themselves within the designated zones.  The tax breaks run for a 10-year period for qualifying businesses, and no tax benefits created by the Act could be provided the qualifying businesses after December 31, 2018.  Those tax breaks are:

• A sales tax exemption for the construction materials to build the facilities;

• A sales tax exemption for any tangible personal property purchased for use directly and primarily for that business;

• A 100% premium tax credit (for the first 5-year period and a 50% premium tax credit (for the second 5-year period) for qualifying insurance companies;

• A 100% income tax exemption for the first 5-year period and a 50% income tax exemption for the second 5-year period;

• A reimbursement to the qualifying business for 80% of the employee withholding (income) tax the business would otherwise have to remit to the state; and

• Whatever property tax benefits the municipality with taxing jurisdiction may provide through the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program.  With respect to TIFs, the Act provides that the standard TIF limitations regarding the maximum allowable value created within a TIF district and the maximum allowable land area designated as a TIF district do not apply to TIF programs created within Pine Tree zones.

Business, Research & Economic Development

LD 133 – An Act to Clarify the Laws Relating to Public Water Systems.  (Sponsored by Sen. Mayo of Sagadahoc County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 33

This Act renames the Board of Licensure of Water Treatment Plant Operators as the Board of Licensure of Water System Operators and expands the membership of the board to require a representative of a “very small water system”. The Act also clarifies that the Board has licensing and regulatory powers over water distribution system operators as well as water treatment system operators.  It also extends the grace period for non-renewers from 6 months to 2 years.

LD 472 – Resolve, To Establish the Task Force To Study Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.    (Sponsored by Rep. Sullivan of Biddeford)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 73

This resolve directs the legislatively created Community Preservation Advisory Committee (CPAC) to conduct a comprehensive review of state-level, local-level, and market-level barriers to the creation of affordable housing.  Specifically, CPAC would be charged with examining state rules and local regulations that inhibit the construction of new affordable housing units; zoning practices that create barriers to affordable housing; local impact fee regulation, development moratoria, and rate-of-growth ordinances, and the degree to which affordable housing should be exempt from those regulatory systems; and the degree to which the unavailability of financial assistance for security deposits creates a barrier to the development of affordable rental housing.  The resolve stipulates that CPAC must consult with at least 21 “stakeholders” while conducting this study, including the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine Association of Planners, a city councilor, a municipal officer and a planning board member, as well as developers, bankers, homeless advocates, labor representatives and state agencies.  CPAC is authorized to develop legislation to implement its recommendations, and its findings and proposed legislation must be included in CPAC’s annual report to the Legislature, which is due by December 1, 2003. 

LD 682 – An Act To Expand the Membership of the Plumbers’ Examining Board To Include a Local Plumbing Inspector.  (Sponsored by Rep. O’Neil of Saco)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 107

This Act retains the current 5-member Plumbers’ Examining Board but changes the qualifications of membership.  Under current law, the Board is comprised of one member representing the general public, two members who are master plumbers and two members who are journeymen plumbers.  The Act replaces one of the journeymen plumbers with a local plumbing inspector who has been engaged in plumbing inspections for at least 4 years and is employed by a municipality.  The membership change is to be made effective on June 19, 2005.

LD 1004 – An Act To Clarify the Status of Regulated Water Utility Plumbing Permits.  (Sponsored by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 304

This Act adds the following to the list of plumbing installations for which inspections and permits are not required:  the installation of stand alone water meters, water meters in combination with non-testable backflow prevention devices, and related valves by water utility personnel or water utility contractors.  The Act further requires that any written notice provided to customers regarding entry to install such a meter or valves must include a statement that installation of a backflow device may necessitate the installation by the customer of additional devices, such as an expansion tank, due to thermal expansion.

LD 1554 – An Act Regarding Eligibility under the Municipal Investment Trust Fund.  (Sponsored by Sen. Bromley of Cumberland County) (Governor’s Bill)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 288 (5/23/03)

This Act allows service center communities, as defined by  State Planning Office regulation, to receive either grants or loans from the Municipal Investment Trust Fund (MITF).  Generally, the MITF is available to municipalities as a loan program, only.

LD 1560 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 1:  Community Industrial Building Program, a Major Substantive Rule of the Maine Rural Development Authority.   (Reported by Rep. Sullivan of Biddeford or the Maine Rural Development Authority)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 47 (5/23/03)

This resolve provides legislative approval of a set of rules provisionally adopted by the Maine Rural Development Authority regarding the Community Industrial Building Program (CIBP).  The provisionally adopted rules govern the application process for participation in the CIBP.

Criminal Justice & Public Safety

LD 151 – An Act Concerning Full-time Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers.  (Sponsored by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 19

This Act defines a full-time correction or law enforcement officer as a person who works more than 1,040 hours per year.  Prior to this change, a full-time correction or law enforcement officer was defined as a person who earned more than $10,000 annually.  

LD 249 – An Act to Aid Law Enforcement in Complying with Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor)  Enacted as a State Mandate; PL 2003, c. 185

This state mandate requires the chief administrative officer of all municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies to annually certify to the board of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy that the law enforcement agency has adopted a written policy regarding procedures to deal with freedom of information requests and that the chief administrative officer has designated a person within the law enforcement agency who is trained to respond to those requests.

LD 469 – An Act To Clarify Arrest Powers of Law Enforcement Officers.  (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 233

This Act authorizes the county commissioners and board of municipal officers to authorize the law enforcement officers in their respective jurisdictions to exercise full police functions anywhere in Maine outside their municipal or county-wide jurisdiction provided that the law enforcement officer exercising that authority notifies the jurisdictional law enforcement agency in advance or immediately after exercising that authority. 

LD 808 – An Act To Control County Jail Health Care Expenses.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bunker of Kossuth Township)  Enacted as a State Mandate; PL 2003, c. 461

This Act limits the amount a county has to pay a health care provider for services to prisoners to the MaineCare Medicaid rates when the medical services are provided to the prisoners outside of the county jail.  This bill was enacted as a state mandate to reflect the potential expenses counties might incur in coordinating with the state to receive information on reimbursement rate changes in the MaineCare program and for informing health care providers of the rate changes.  

LD 895 – An Act To Clarify the Responsibilities of Contract Law Enforcement Officers.  (Sponsored by Sen. Savage of Knox County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 80

This Act clarifies that a municipality lacking an organized police department may contract with the State Police or Sheriff’s Department to enforce municipal ordinances.  A state or county law enforcement officer under contract with the municipality is authorized to enforce local ordinances in addition to state laws pursuant to the terms of the contract.

LD 970 – An Act To Allow a Judge To Assess a Fee on a Defendant To Reimburse a Municipality for a Drug Test.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County) Enacted; PL 2003, c. 182

This Act authorizes a court to include in the sentence for a crime the costs of drug tests administered by a law enforcement agency, with those costs being directly reimbursed to the law enforcement agency that administered the tests.

LD 1160 – An Act To Amend the Membership of the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission.  (Reported by Rep. Bull of Freeport for the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 160 (5/14/03)

This Act adds two members to the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission:  (1) the Director of Maine Emergency Medical Services; and (2) the Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency.  In addition to legislators and state agency personnel, the 23-member Commission includes a full-time, “call”, and volunteer municipal fire chief and six firefighters.  The primary statutory purposes of the Commission are to provide annual assessments to the Legislature regarding existing and needed resources to support the state’s fire protection services system, including training facilities, training programs, data collection systems, volunteer firefighter incentive programs, etc.

LD 1230 – An Act To Amend the Law Regarding Juvenile Restitution.  (Sponsored by Rep. Snow-Mello of Poland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 239

This Act adds a provision in the law regarding the restitution obligations of juveniles when found guilty of causing damage or economic losses.  The restitution provision is drawn from the restitution laws governing adults, and merely authorizes the court to enter an order for income withholding if the juvenile is employed.  The original purpose of the Act was to more easily obtain restitution from adults and juveniles who are found guilty of vandalizing street signs or traffic control signs.

LD 1401 – An Act To Provide the Office of the State Fire Marshal with Adequate Funding for Construction Plans Review.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bunker of Kossuth Township)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 358

This Act establishes a new fee schedule to be assessed by the State Fire Marshall’s Office to cover its role in examining and approving plans for construction.  The fee is 5 cents per square foot for occupied spaces and 2 cents a square foot for bulk storage occupancies, except the fee for new school construction can not exceed $450.  The fees for reconstruction, repairs or renovations are based on the cost of the project and cannot exceed $450.

LD 1434 – An Act To Ensure Basic Standards for Death Investigations by Law Enforcement Agencies.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bunker of Kossuth Township)  Enacted as a State Mandate; PL 2003, c. 370

This legislation, enacted as a state mandate, requires the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA) to develop a model policy regarding death investigations for law enforcement agencies to adopt by January 1, 2004.  All law enforcement agencies are required to adopt such a policy by June 1, 2004.  By January 1, 2005, all law enforcement agencies must certify to the MCJA board that the law enforcement agency has adopted orientation and training with respect to the new mandated policy.

LD 1546 – An Act To Amend Certain Provisions Relating to a Permit To Carry Concealed Firearms To Be Consistent with Changes to the Statute Relating to Possession of Firearms by Prohibited Persons.  (Sponsored by Rep. Carr of Lincoln)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 341

This Act creates a new application form to apply for a concealed weapon permit that includes 32 questions regarding the applicant’s criminal history and exposure to certain court orders.  The questionnaire coordinates with a law enacted last session regarding possession of firearms by prohibited persons.

LD 1573 – An Act To Make Minor Changes to the Required Law Enforcement Policies.  (Sponsored by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County)  Emergency Enacted as a State Mandate; PL 2003, c. 361 (5/30/03)              

This state mandate makes minor changes to the law governing the contents of certain written policies that all law enforcement agencies must develop and implement regarding domestic abuse victims and certain risk-assessment and risk-abatement procedures that need to be followed.

LD 1622 – An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Prisoner Participation in Public Works Projects.  (Reported by Rep. Bunker of Kossuth Township for the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 413

A law enacted in 2001 authorized county sheriffs instead of a court to make decisions concerning prisoner employment, participation in public works and participation in electronic monitoring and intensive supervision outside the jail.  The 2001 law authorizing these county-based decisions was sunsetted to expire in the fall of 2003, reverting the decision-making authority back to the courts.  This Act repeals the sunset so that county sheriffs will continue to make decisions regarding prisoner participation in employment, public works, electronic monitoring and intensive supervision. 

Education & Cultural Affairs

LD 69 – An Act to Clarify the Intent of School Budget Referendum Language.  (Sponsored by Rep. Colwell of Gardiner)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 474

This Act requires the addition of a prescribed “explanation” statement for each of the three statutorily required school budget revenue articles (“foundation allocation”, “debt service allocation” and “additional local funds”) that must be included in the warrant articles for any school budget appropriation.

LD 477 – An Act To Establish the Maine Week of Heroes.  (Sponsored by Rep. Vaughan of Durham)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 56

This Act creates a statute that encourages all municipalities and schools to celebrate the Maine Week of Heroes during the week every year that coincides with September 11th.

LD 527 – An Act To Improve the Method of Reapportionment of School Boards.  (Sponsored by Rep. Nutting of Oakland)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 57 (4/18/03)

Under current law, if a SAD requires reapportionment with a resulting reduction of directors from a municipality, the directors must choose by lot which directors are terminated. This Act would allow one or more directors in that circumstance to voluntarily resign to achieve the necessary reduction and further allows a municipality to reduce the number of open director positions on a municipal ballot even if the apportionment plan is filed less than 30 days before the municipal election.

LD 541 – An Act To Ensure Timely Responses to Requests for School Administrative District Reapportionments.  (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Penobscot County) Emergency Enacted as a State Mandate; PL 2003, c. 354 (5/30/03)

This emergency Act which is also identified as a state mandate requires the Commissioner of the Department of Education to make a determination whether the elected membership of a school administrative district needs to be reapportioned (to preserve the one-person-one-vote rule of representational government) within 30 days of receiving a request by the board of directors of the school district or a petition from district voters.

LD 628 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Education To Develop Standards for Outdoor Playground Surfaces.  (Sponsored by Rep. Trahan of Waldoboro)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 10

This resolve directs the Department of Education to develop policy guidelines for outdoor playground surfaces at public elementary and secondary schools no later than January 1, 2004.  The resolve requires those guidelines to be non-mandatory and non-regulatory in nature and communicated to the school and other interested parties through existing communication networks.

LD 842 – An Act Relating to Portable Classrooms for Certain Cases.  (Sponsored by Rep. Janet Mills of Farmington)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 314

This Act allows a school administrative unit to receive state financial support for a portable classroom beyond the 5-year limit provided in current law if the school has filed an application for a major capital improvement project but has not yet been awarded enough points in that process to be awarded financial support for the project and can demonstrate that the elimination of state subsidy for the classroom space creates an undue burden.

LD 1069 – Resolve, Directing the Maine Historic Preservation Commission To Examine Available Funding for Local Historical Societies.  (Sponsored by Rep. Thompson of China)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 18

This resolve directs the Maine State Cultural Affairs Council to study all available funding sources to fund projects for local historical societies to document and preserve the local histories throughout the state.

LD 1577 – An Act To Amend and Improve the Education Laws.  (An unidentified mandate) (Sponsored by Sen. Douglass of Androscoggin County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 477

This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing public education, including: (1) incorporating what appears to be updated federally-mandated language regarding homeless students; (2) clarifying the prorated tuition cost charges for students attending a school who also receive some of their education from applied technology centers; (3) adding “emotional disability” to the list of defining disabilities of “exceptional students”; (4) amending the section that governs state grants to schools for their “gifted and talented” programs from a required 2:1 state-local match to whatever the Department of Education requires; (5) requiring each school administrative unit to fully implement its plan for phasing-in its “gifted and talented” program for FY 05; (6) providing any school administrative unit with an opportunity to appeal the mandated FY 05 implementation of the gifted and talented program to the Commissioner of Education on the basis of “undue burden”; and (7) defining “undue burden” with respect to a school system’s appeal that it should be allowed to extend its lease for temporary, “non-administrative” space (i.e., portable classrooms) beyond the 5-year maximum limit.  The elements of this bill that require the implementation of Gifted and Talented programs in all the schools is clearly an unfunded state mandate, and the Legislature was appropriately made aware of the mandate prior to enactment.  Because the legislation was enacted without the mandate “preamble” attached to it and without state funding to provide at least 90% of the cost of funding the gifted and talented programs, schools are under no legal obligation to fulfill the required implementation of those programs (see 30-A MRSA § 5685(4)).

LD 1623 – An Act To Implement School Funding Based on Essential Programs and Services.  (Sponsored by Sen. Douglass of Androscoggin County) (Governor’s Bill)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 504

This Act implements an entirely new method of calculating what is now referred to as the “foundation allocation” within the school funding formula (General Purpose Aid to Education), which is the defined amount of state and local dollars that is ascribed as the necessary funding that should be provided to each school administrative unit.  The new method of calculating that state and local “allocation” is called Essential Programs and Services (EPS).  EPS is designed to calculate the appropriate allocation for each school system through a benchmarking approach, based on statewide experiential data.  The curricular base upon which EPS rests is the Learning Results system as mandated by the Legislature which is now scheduled to be fully implemented by 2007.  The current “foundation allocation” calculation is $4,816 times the number of students in the school system.  The $4,816 is simply an artifact of historical spending levels and the level of state funding for education that the Legislature appropriates.  The EPS model breaks down the cost of delivering all operational educational services into the several functional cost centers (instruction, physical plant, administrative, clerical, etc.) and develops a base cost of operations.  The EPS model then adjusts the base cost according to several factors, including the number of economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficiency students, and the education and experience attainment levels of the teaching staff.  An in-depth description of EPS as implemented by LD 1623 is provided in the May 2003 issue of the Maine Townsman.  This legislation also implements the state’s financial contribution toward the EPS allocation by requiring a gradually increasing percentage share of state contribution (from 49% in FY 06 to 50% in FY 2010) to a gradually increasing percentage implementation of EPS (from 84% of EPS in FY 06 to 100% of EPS in FY 2010).  In this analysis, EPS does not include what are currently defined as program costs, special education, transportation, vocational education, debt service,  or adjustments, which would continue to be financed as they are currently under the General Purpose Aid to Education system (GPA).

Health & Human Services

LD 147 – An Act to Allow Members of the Maine Public Drinking Water Commission to Serve More than 2 Consecutive Terms.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 191

This Act repeals the term-limit requirement that provides that no member of the Public Drinking Water Commission may serve more than two consecutive terms.

Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

LD 354 – An Act To Impose Restrictions on the Operation of ATVs and Snowmobiles.  (Sponsored by Sen. Carpenter of York County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 122

This Act requires all snowmobile operators or passengers under the age of 18 on any trail that is identified by the Department of Conservation as being maintained by the Snowmobile Trail Fund to wear a protective helmet or face a fine of $100 to $500.  The Act also requires the Department of Conservation to develop an “administratively simple” means of identifying the Snowmobile Fund trails.

LD 647 – An Act To Prohibit Personal Watercraft on Lake St. George in the Town of Liberty.  (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity)   Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 484 (6/23/03)

This Act authorizes the Town of Liberty to ban the use of personal watercraft on Lake St. George provided the Town submits an enforcement plan to the Department of Conservation for review and comment. 

LD 778 – An Act To Create the Snowmobile Trail Fund Advisory Council.  (Sponsored by Rep. Clark of Millinocket)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 260

This Act creates the Snowmobile Trail Fund Advisory Council as an 11-member council including 3 members representing snowmobile clubs that are Fund grantees, 3 members representing municipal Fund grantees, 2 members representing a statewide association with an interest in snowmobiling, 1 member representing snowmobile business interests, 1 member representing land owner interests and the Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands as an ex-officio member.  The duties of the Council are to provide the Director with advice and information on the management of the Fund, including recommendations on the annually-established reimbursement rates and the approval of certain expenditures that are over $30,000 in value.

LD 1083 – An Act To Encourage Hunting by Simplifying Hunting Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 333

Among a number of changes and reorganizations to Maine’s hunting laws, this Act establishes a maximum $6 aggregate agent fee for issuing multiple fishing and hunting licenses in a single transaction.

LD 1482 – An Act To Revise Certain Provisions of Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Laws.   (Sponsored by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 403 (6/03/03)

This Act makes a number of changes to hunting, fishing and snowmobile laws enforced by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.  Among the several changes, the Act amends the laws governing dogs illegally chasing certain species of wildlife to include wild turkeys.  The Act also preempts municipalities from enacting any ordinance or rule regulating the operation, registration or numbering of All Terrain Vehicles except that municipalities are allowed to regulate ATV operations on municipally-owned property, right of ways and easements. 

Insurance & Financial Affairs

LD 494 – An Act To Enhance Consumer Protections in Relation to Certain Mortgages.  (Sponsored by Rep. O’Neil of Saco)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 49

This Act makes a number of changes to the law governing a creditor’s obligations when the creditor engages in the provision of “high rate, high fee” mortgages.  Among other changes, this Act provides a preemption of municipal authority to enact, issue or enforce ordinances, resolutions, rules, regulations, orders, requests for proposals or requests for bids pertaining to the making of a high-rate, high-fee mortgage by persons who are otherwise regulated with respect to these mortgage instruments.

Judiciary

LD 168 – An Act to Allow a Municipality To Donate Abandoned Bicycles to a Charitable Organization.  (Sponsored by Rep. Fischer of Presque Isle)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 77

This Act allows any municipal legislative body to dispose of unclaimed bicycles in a manner decided by that town meeting or town or city council, and exempts the municipality from the “unclaimed property” procedures with respect to those abandoned bicycles.

LD 274 – An Act to Correct Errors and Inconsistencies in the Laws of Maine.  (Reported by Rep. Norbert of Portland)  PASSED TO BE ENACTED

This is an “errors and corrections” Act that, among other technical amendments, straightens out a number of municipally-related enactments from the last legislative session that were incorrectly codified. 

LD 286 – Resolve, Concerning the Titling of Mobile Homes, Boats, All-terrain Vehicles, Snowmobiles and Other Property.  (Sponsored by Rep. Norbert of Portland)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 12

This resolve directs the Secretary of State to study the issue of requiring titles for mobile homes, boats, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.  The Secretary is directed to invite interested parties to participate in the study and report back to the Judiciary Committee by January 15, 2004 with any recommendations.

LD 519 – An Act To Provide Testing for a Public Safety or Health Care Employee Exposed to in the Course of Employment.  (Sponsored by Rep. Maietta of South Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 88

This Act is focused on the circumstances of an employee being exposed to the potentially harmful bodily fluids of another person in the course and scope of employment.  The Act amends current law to require a court to conduct an “expedited” hearing on a petition for judicial consent to test the source of body fluids associated with occupational exposure. Current law requires the court to hold that hearing “as soon as practicable”.

LD 523 – An Act To Hold Supervisors Personally Liable for Discrimination in the Workplace.  (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 36

This resolve directs the Maine Human Rights Commission to issue a report to the Judiciary Committee no later than January 14, 2004 that documents the number of complaints the Commission has received in which the employee has suffered discrimination through actions or inactions of a supervisor, but the employer has an affirmative defense against liability.  The Judiciary Committee is authorized by the resolve to submit legislation in 2004 in response to the Commission’s report.

LD 1311 – An Act To Clarify the Filing of Municipal Personal Property Tax Liens.  (Sponsored by Rep. Norbert of Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 355

This Act amends the procedures for creating, filing and perfecting personal property tax liens to correct for changes made to the generic process governing filings of liens under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Those changes, enacted in Maine a few years ago under a sweeping measure to harmonize UCC process nationwide, effectively required personal property tax liens to be filed in whatever state the owner of the property resides in rather than in Maine.  This Act reestablishes the process of filing a personal property tax lien in the office of Maine’s Secretary of State, division of the Uniform Commercial Code, and provides a set of 10 special instructions for filling out the UCC form for this purpose.

LD 1419 – An Act To Protect Campers by Making Personal Information Confidential.  (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 409

This Act establishes a general confidentiality with respect to the names of campers or other identifying information and the dates of a camper’s reservations in Maine’s state parks.  An exception to the general rule of confidentiality is made for law enforcement officers investigating criminal activity. 

LD 1425 – An Act Relating to the Protection of Whistleblowers.  (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 357

Current law provides “whistleblower” protection to an employee who refuses to carry out a directive that would expose the employee or any individual to a condition that would result in serious injury or death.  This Act expands that whistleblower protection to any employee who refuses to carry out a directive to engage in an activity that would be a violation of local, state or federal law.

 

LD 1454 – An Act To Clarify that the Unauthorized Sale of Public Records Is a Crime.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 365

This Act prohibits the sale or transfer of a public record which is defined as “all documentary material, regardless of media or characteristics, made or received and maintained by an agency in accordance with law or rule or in the transaction of its official business.”  According to the legislation’s summary statement, the Act does not affect public access to public records or the public’s receipt of copies of public records.

LD 1582 – An Act To Protect Critical Homeland Security Information.  (Sponsored by Sen. Rotundo of Androscoggin County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 392

This Act adds a new category of records or information under Maine’s Right to Know law that is not a “public record” which must be shared with the general public as a matter of right.  Those records are “records or information that describes the architecture, design, access authorization, encryption or security of information technology infrastructure and systems” of state or local governments.  Information technology systems are defined to include voice, video, radio or data systems.  The Act also exempts from the definition of “public record” records related to the risks or threat assessments detailed in information technology business continuity and disaster recovery planning documents.

LD 1598 An Act To Ensure Access to Intelligence and Investigative Information.  (Sponsored by Rep. Janet Mills of Farmington)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 402

This Act allows a victim, a victim’s agent or a victim’s attorney to have access to law enforcement intelligence and investigative records, subject to the same limitations that govern the distribution of those records to other parties pursuant to a law enforcement prosecution.

Labor

LD 34 – An Act to Ensure that Child Labor Laws Apply to Public Sector Employers.  (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 10

This Act requires that the state’s child labor laws apply to all employers, both private and public, except that service in the National Guard is exempt from the application of the child labor laws.

LD 35 – An Act to Increase the Assessment on Workers’ Compensation Insurance To Fund the Workers’ Compensation Board Administrative Fund.   (Reported by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 425 (6/05/03)

This Act sets the maximum allowable assessments against insurance companies, associations and self-insured employers to support the activities of the Workers’ Compensation Board for FY 04 (at $8.39 million) and FY 05 (at $8.565 million).  The Act also directs the Workers Compensation Board to adopt rules, through the consensus-based rule development process, that will require the electronic filing of information with the Bureau of Labor Standards.  

LD 83 – An Act to Expand Unemployment Benefits.  (Sponsored by Rep. Clark of Millinocket)   Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 28 (4/08/03)

This Act provides that an employee is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits when the employee volunteers to be laid off in response to a formal plan by the employer to reduce the work force. 

LD 240 – An Act to Ensure that Maine’s Unemployment System is Responsive to the Needs of Today’s Workforce.  (Sponsored by Rep. Norton of Bangor)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 458

This Act establishes three criteria allowing a person to remain qualified to receive unemployment benefits even though a person is only available for part time work:  (1) if the individual worked less than full time for a majority of the weeks during the individual’s base period; (2) if the individual can only work part time because of the illness or disability of an immediate family member; or (3) if the individual can only work part time because of limitations necessary for the safety or protection of the individual or immediate family members.  This opportunity to receive unemployment benefits, even though the applicant is only available for part-time work, has a sunset provision in that it applies to applications for benefits that are filed before October 1, 2005. 

LD 411 – An Act To Provide Employees Fair Access to Personnel Files.  (Sponsored by Rep. Hatch of Skowhegan)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 58

This Act requires an employer to provide a copy of an employee’s personnel file without charge to the employee when requested.   The employee is limited to one complementary copy of the personnel file in each calendar year.   If an employee requests a second copy of the file within the calendar year, all materials added to the file after the original request must be provided free of charge.  An employee may make other requests in the same calendar year, but the employee must pay the costs of copying any additional material that was previously provided by the employer.

LD 831 – An Act Pertaining to Former Members of the Maine State Retirement System.  (Sponsored by Rep. McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 273

This Act allows a participating local district in the Maine State Retirement System to adopt any provision of the System’s laws after the local district withdraws from the System, regardless of whether the provision was enacted before or after the local district withdrew.  These changes, however, can only apply to persons who were in the retirement system plan at the time the local district withdrew, and employees may not be added to the plan after withdrawal.

LD 1117 – An Act Regarding Wrongful Discharge.  (Sponsored by Rep. Hutton of Bowdoinham)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 442

This Act requires the Department of Labor to amend the employment posters that are required to be posted at all places of employment to include in bold type of at least 24 points the following paragraph:

“Under Maine law, an at-will employee may be terminated for any reason not specifically prohibited by law.  In most instances, you are an at-will employee unless you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement or other contract that limits termination.  If you have questions about at-will employment, contact your human resources department or the State Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards.” 

LD 1435 – An Act To Clarify Immunity and Workers’ Compensation for Search and Rescue Volunteers.  (Sponsored by Rep. Duplessie of Westbrook)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 489

This Act establishes that any person certified by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) as a qualified search and rescue worker is an “employee of the state” within the meaning of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act while that person is performing search and rescue activity at the request of a state, county or local government entity. 

LD 1501 – An Act To Amend the Laws Relating to the Maine State Retirement System.  (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County) Enacted; PL 2003, c. 387.  

This Act makes the following changes and clarifications to the law governing the Maine State Retirement System (MSRS).  The Act:  (1) establishes that the opportunity for rehabilitation services for state employees, teachers and participating local district disability retirees are optional and must be agreed to by both the retiree and the executive director of the MSRS; (2) clarifies that retirees who take the recently enacted option that allows retirees to return to covered employment without a limitation on earnings take that option with full knowledge that they have chosen to forego the ability to accrue additional service credit for retirement purposes; and (3) provides the MSRS with the ability to collect the necessary information from employers to determine the impact of the new law allowing post-retirement reemployment. 

LD 1544 – An Act To Revise the Standards for Reporting Public Sector Workplace Deaths and Serious Injuries.  (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 244

This Act reduces the time frame in which a public employer must report a death or serious injury to the Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards from 48 hours to 8 hours for a death and 24 hours for serious injury, consistent with OSHA standards.

LD 1619 – An Act To Provide Equitable Treatment to State Employees.  (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 423

As a result of recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, it has been determined that state employees are not automatically entitled to the same treatment as employees in the private sector with respect to their entitlement to overtime pay.  This Act provides that state employees will be treated like private-sector employees with respect to the entitlement to time-and-a-half for overtime hours worked, and the Act provides for the remedies if those wage benefits are not provided.  The law expressly does not include local or county government employees into the definition of “employee” with respect to the entitlement. 

Legal & Veterans Affairs

LD 426 – An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voting Process.  (Sponsored by Rep. Thomas of Orono)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 395

This Act makes the following changes to election law:  (1) anyone interested in monitoring the registration of voters at the polling place on election day must inform the registrar or election clerk of that intent by submitting a written, signed statement containing the monitor’s name, address and intent; (2) monitors are subject to limitations if their actions inhibit the work of election officials; (3) a challenge to the qualification of a voter must be accompanied by an affidavit signed by the challenger containing a list of specific information regarding the challenger and the nature of the challenge; and (4) the timeframes within which a challenge may be made against a voter and against an absentee ballot are established.  

LD 466 – An Act Concerning the Issuance of a Temporary Liquor License.  (Sponsored by Rep. Cowger of Hallowell)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 213

This Act allows an applicant who is submitting an application for an on-premises liquor license as a result of a transfer of ownership to simultaneously submit to the Bureau of Liquor Enforcement an application for a temporary on-premises license which the Bureau can issue unless an objection to the issuance of the temporary license is raised by either the municipal officers or county commissioners (for premises in the unorganized territories), as applicable.  The temporary license is valid for no longer than 60 days.

LD 981 – An Act To Ensure Segregation of Spoiled Ballots.  (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 298

This Act requires that spoiled, defective and void ballots be segregated in labeled envelopes and packaged and returned according to the requirements for other ballots and voting materials.  The law also requires the Secretary of State to provide each municipal clerk with either an instructional label for each type of segregated ballot envelope or a specially printed envelope containing the label and instructions. 

LD 1361 – An Act To Support Harness Horse Racing in Maine, Equine Agriculture in Maine, Maine Agricultural Fairs and the General Fund of the State.  (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County)  PASSED TO BE ENACTED PENDING GOVERNOR’S VETO

This Act allows video lottery terminals to be placed at off-track betting facilities (OTBs) in the state. In addition to the licensees, certain percentages of the gross terminal income generated by the video gaming devices will be distributed to the state’s General Fund, harness racing purses, the Agricultural Fair Support Fund, programs to prevent and treat problem gambling and the municipalities that host the racetracks or OTBs. Specifically, 3% of the gross terminal income will be distributed to the host municipalities.  Governor Baldacci has indicated that he will issue a veto message with respect to this legislation when the Legislature next convenes.

LD 1486 – An Act To Comply with Federal Election Laws Including the Help America Vote Act of 2002.  (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 407 (6/03/03)

This Act makes changes to Maine’s election laws to bring them into compliance with the requirements of federal election laws, including the “Help America Vote Act of 2002” and the “Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act”.  Specifically, this law establishes special rules for processing absentee ballot applications received from uniformed service voters and oversees voters.  The Act establishes that those applications are valid even if received by the elections clerk more than 3 months prior to an election, which is the earliest application opportunity under current law.  An application or request for an absentee ballot by a uniformed service voter or oversees voter remains valid through the next two regularly scheduled general elections for federal office and entitles the voter to receive absentee ballots for all elections during that period.  The Act also establishes that if any applicant requests a blank write-in absentee ballot prior to the time when regular absentee ballots are available or indicates that it takes more than six weeks to receive and return mail to the applicant’s location, the election clerk must send a blank write-in absentee ballot to the voter.  The clerk may subsequently send a regular absentee ballot to the voter when the regular absentee ballots become available according to the procedures for sending a second absentee ballot already established in election law. 

LD 1513 – An Act To Update the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Clark of Millinocket)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 404

This Act makes a number of changes to the laws governing the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.  Among those changes, this law establishes that any certificate of release or discharge from active duty issued by the U.S. government and filed for safekeeping with any state, county, or local government is confidential for a period of 75 years following its filing. 

LD 1548 – An Act To Amend the Election Laws.  (Sponsored by Rep. Clark of Millinocket)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 447

This Act sweeps through election laws and makes the following changes.  The Act:  (1) establishes that when ballots are to be destroyed after they have been kept for the required time, they must be destroyed using a method that makes the contents unreadable; (2) clarifies the process for adding a new voter’s name to the voting list; (3) adds a new reason to justify a challenge to a voter’s right to vote, which is that the voter registered during the “closed period” or did not provide satisfactory proof of identity and residency; (4) reorganizes the various ways to illegally vote, illegally influence voting, illegally and legally advertise candidates within the immediate voting place on election day, illegally alter or tamper with a voting machine, and illegally contribute to a political campaign by making a contribution in another person’s name; (5) clarifies the process of segregating municipal and state ballots in tamper proof ballot containers and the state’s  responsibility for providing those containers for state ballots only; (6) establishes that ballots must be secured in an area that is accessible only to the election clerk or the clerk’s designee; (7) establishes new fees that must be deposited when challenging election results that are outside certain margins; (8) establishes the precise information that must be provided in an application for an absentee ballot and the process for applying for an absentee ballot by telephone; and (9) clarifies the process of issuing a duplicate or second absentee ballot. 

LD 1581 – Resolve, Authorizing Municipalities To Consolidate Voting Districts for Special Elections on Bond Issues Held in 2003.   (Sponsored by Sen. Mayo of Sagadahoc County)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 7 (4/30/03)

Current law requires multi-ward municipalities interested in consolidating their several polling places into a single polling place to hold a public hearing on the proposed consolidation at least 90 days before the election.  Because the Legislature decided to hold a bond issue referendum on June 10, 2003, this resolve allowed municipalities to expedite that process (for the June, 2003 election only) by holding the required public hearing no less than 35 days before June 10, 2003, or no later than May 6, 2003.

Marine Resources

LD 1388 – An Act To Expand the Mission of the Marine Patrol.  (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County)    Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 60 (4/18/03)

This Act provides that Maine’s Bureau of Marine Patrol may assist the U.S. Coast Guard in the enforcement of safety and security zones established by the Coast Guard pursuant to a memorandum of agreement.  The Act also provides that the Bureau must coordinate with other local, state and federal agencies when it provides safety and security services.

LD 1396 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 2:  Aquaculture Lease Regulations, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Marine Resources.   (Reported by Rep. Bull of Freeport for the Department of Marine Resources)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 20 (5/15/03)

This resolve approves the rules provisionally adopted by the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) governing the approval of aquaculture leases except that DMR is required to amend the rules to remove a proposed requirement that local harbormasters provide DMR with information regarding ecologically significant flora and fauna in areas near proposed aquaculture lease sites.

LD 1417 – An Act To Make Changes to the Laws Governing Aquaculture Leasing.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 247

This Act makes several changes to the law governing the awarding of leases by the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) for finfish or shellfish aquaculture facilities, including:  (1) adding as a condition of lease approval that the proposed facility will not result in unreasonable impact from noise and light at the boundaries of the lease site; (2) adding as a condition of lease approval that the proposed facility is in compliance with visual impact criteria adopted by DMR relating to color, height, shape and mass; (3) expanding the process of general notification of granted leases to require a recording of the lease in the local registry of deeds as well as a notification to all riparian owners and the municipality; (4) requiring the aquaculture facility to provide DMR with annual stocking and harvesting reports, which are designated by statute as confidential, and requiring DMR to share these reports with the municipality; (5) establishing the standards DMR has to follow in order to renew leases; and, (6) requiring applicants for limited-purpose leases to notify riparian landowners within 1,000 feet of the proposed location of the lease that the application to DMR has been deemed complete, with the names and addresses of those riparian landowners taken from the municipality’s property tax maps.

LD 1519 – Resolve, To Establish a Task Force on the Planning and Development of Marine Aquaculture in Maine.   (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 40 (5/21/03)

This resolve creates both an 11-member task force and an 11-member stakeholder advisory panel to the task force, with both groups charged with studying and developing recommendations regarding the ongoing development of the aquaculture industry in Maine.  The 11-member task force is to be made up of members of the public with expertise in marine resources, fisheries, economic development, business, planning and natural resource conservation, all appointed by the Governor.  The 11-member stakeholder advisory panel is charged with providing advice to the task force, which is responsible for developing the finalized recommendations.  The 11-member stakeholder advisory group includes representatives of:  finfish acquaculture (2); shellfish aquaculture (2); fishing industry (1); coastal municipal official (1); marinas or related industry (1); recreational boat captain (1); land conservation groups (1); environmental interests (1); and tourism industry (1).

The specific issues to be reviewed are:  (1) bay management or aquaculture development strategies in national or international jurisdictions that operate under a bay zoning-type system; (2) an evaluation of the size and characteristics of the aquaculture industry in Maine and its growth projections; (3) an assessment of the impacts of aquaculture on tourism, recreation, conservation lands, surrounding fisheries and the ecological health of the surrounding waters; (4) an assessment of how the external impacts of aquaculture can be best mitigated; (5) an assessment of the role of municipal government in the aquaculture leasing approval process; (6) an assessment of the economic impacts of aquaculture in the state; and (7) a review of submerged property law.

No later than December 31, 2003, the task force is required to submit its draft recommendations to the stakeholder advisory panel.  The advisory panel is then charged with reviewing and responding to the task force with its recommendations no later than January 15, 2004.  The task force is then required to review the recommendations of the advisory panel and submit its final report to the Marine Resources Committee no later than January 31, 2004.

Natural Resources

LD 188 – An Act To Amend the Waste Management Laws Regarding the Spreading of Sludge on Land.  (Sponsored by Rep. Rines of Wiscasset)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 231

This Act:  (1) prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from licensing the land spreading of “residuals” containing human pathogens, such as municipal treatment plant sludge, under any permit-by-rule process; and (2) requires DEP to establish and maintain a list of interested parties, including a statewide association of municipalities, to whom notice of sludge land spreading license applications, and applications to modify existing licenses, must be provided.  The Act also requires DEP to electronically mail the notice to each municipality equipped to receive electronic mail.

LD 531 – An Act To Clarify the Use of Municipal Rate of Growth Ordinances.  (Sponsored by Rep. Suslovic of Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 127

This Act authorizes municipalities to establish different limits on the number of building or development permits that are allowed in designated rural areas and designated growth areas.

LD 645 – An Act to Provide Additional Financing for Costs Associated with the Remediation of Waste Oil Site in Plymouth.  (Sponsored by Rep. Carr of Lincoln)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 129 (5/13/03)

This Act authorizes the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) to provide loans to the “potentially responsible parties” (PRPs) to contribute to the costs of implementing institutional controls at the waste oil dump site in Plymouth, Maine.  The Act further provides a partial exemption to the general rule that FAME loans cannot be used to pay for the PRP’s attorney fees by allowing the loan funds to be used to cover the legal costs of developing and implementing restrictive covenants and easements to put institutional controls into effect within the site’s institutional control zone.  Applications for funds must be submitted within 90 days of the effective date of the law.

LD 695 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Minimum Lot Size.  (Sponsored by Rep. McNeil of Rockland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 308

This Act authorizes Local Plumbing Inspectors to approve the installation of subsurface waste disposal systems on lots that are less than 20,000 square feet provided the system is not an engineered system and meets the criteria for a first-time system without requiring a variance.  When those conditions do not apply, the approval must be issued by the Department of Human Services.  The maximum fee that can be charged for the review is $50.

LD 707 – An Act To Require the Department of Environmental Protection To Develop and Implement an Eradication Plan for Invasive Aquatic Plants.  (Sponsored by Sen. Nass of York County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 136

This Act authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to: (1) develop a plan to use water level draw-down for the eradication of invasive aquatic plants; (2) implement that plan when determined feasible; and (3) seek funding for that purpose from private sources.

LD 709 – An Act To Require Public Hearings prior to State Agreements for Dam Removal.   (Sponsored by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 134

This Act requires any person intending to file an application for a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to remove a dam to:  (1) attend a pre-application meeting with the DEP prior to filing the application; and (2) hold a public informational meeting prior to filing the application.  Both meetings must be held in accordance with the DEP rules on the processing of applications.

LD 743 – An Act To Protect Health and the Environment through the Collection and Recycling of Electronic Waste.  (Sponsored by Rep. Thompson of China)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 150

This Act prohibits any person from disposing of a cathode ray tube (CRT) (e.g., television or computer monitor) in a solid waste disposal facility after January 1, 2006.  The Act also requires the Department of Environmental Protection to convene a stakeholders group to develop a recommended plan for the collection and recycling of cathode ray tubes among manufacturers, distributors, retailers, consumers and other parties.  The stakeholders group must include representation from environmental groups, CRT manufacturers, recycling businesses, the State Planning Office, a solid waste disposal business and a statewide municipal organization.  The stakeholders group report and recommendations must be submitted to the Natural Resources Committee by January 30, 2004.

LD 1045 – Resolve, Directing the Community Preservation Advisory Committee To Study the State Planning Office’s Review of Municipal Comprehensive Plans and Growth Management Programs.  (Sponsored by Rep. Collins of Wells)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 34

This resolve directs the Community Preservation Advisory Committee to study the State Planning Office’s (SPO) system of reviewing municipal comprehensive plans, growth management programs and local ordinances for consistency with state goals.  The study must include a review of the SPO rules that govern the review process and the time frames within which those reviews are supposed to be conducted.  The Community Preservation Advisory Committee is directed to submit its report to the Natural Resources Committee by December 1, 2003.

LD 1234 – Resolve, To Protect High and Moderate Value Waterfowl and Wading Bird Habitats.  (Sponsored by Rep. Faircloth of Bangor)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 82

This resolve directs the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to define, identify and map all high and moderate value waterfowl and wading bird habitats through rulemaking.  The Department is required to report back to the Legislature on the progress of its efforts and the schedule of the entire project by January 15, 2004.  The project is contingent on a specific appropriation from the state’s General Fund to the Department. 

LD 1309 – An Act To Protect Public Health by Reducing Human Exposure to Arsenic.  (Sponsored by Rep. Cowger of Hallowell)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 457

This Act addresses the issue of arsenic in the environment in the following ways.  The Act:  (1) prohibits retail establishments that sell wood or wood products for residential uses from adding to their inventory of arsenic-treated wood or selling arsenic-treated wood for residential uses after April 1, 2004; (2) directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a plan to be presented to the Natural Resources Committee by January 1, 2005 regarding the disposal of arsenic-treated wood; (3) directs the Department of Human Services to prepare an assessment of the need for a comprehensive safe drinking water program for private wells to address arsenic contamination; and (4) directs the Real Estate Commission to submit a report to the Legislature by October 1, 2004 describing efforts by realtors to better educate the buyers and sellers of real estate with respect to the arsenic-related issues of drinking water quality, on-premise arsenic-treated wood structures, and how to seal arsenic-treated wood products to reduce exposure.  With respect to the plan developed by DEP for the disposal of arsenic-treated wood, the Department is directed to consult with interested parties and include in the plan recommendations regarding the separation of arsenic-treated wood at solid waste facilities, restrictions on burning arsenic-treated wood at incineration facilities and biomass boilers and restrictions on the disposal of arsenic-treated wood at unlined landfills. 

LD 1367 – An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Junkyards, Automobile Graveyards and Automobile Recycling Businesses.  (Sponsored by Rep. Hutton of Bowdoinham)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 312

The Act addresses the state’s junkyard statutes in three areas – definitions, licensing and operating regulations – in an attempt to improve the ability of municipalities to permit and regulate automobile recyclers and graveyards.  The following definitional changes have been made: (1) “automobile graveyard” is re-defined as 3 or more unregistered or uninspected vehicles; (2) the number of exemptions to that definition has been expanded from 1 to 8 to include insurance salvage yards, farm equipment, government vehicles, hobbyists, licensed car dealers and temporarily unused commercial vehicles; (3) the definition of “automobile recycling business” is amended to make clear that a license is required from the Secretary of State; (4) four exemptions to the definition of “automobile recycling business” are established including financial institutions, insurance companies, licensed car dealers and temporarily unused commercial vehicles; and, (5) the definition of “junkyard” is expanded to include the storage of electronic or industrial equipment.

Changes to the licensing standards are as follows: (6) The Secretary of State must notify municipalities of any “recycler” who is in the business of reselling the vehicle or its component parts and to which it has granted a state license; (7) written notice of an application for a municipal permit from a first-time applicant to operate a graveyard or recycling business must be given to abutters; (8) hearings for renewal applications are optional at the discretion of the municipality; (9) beginning in 2004, the permit renewal date will be moved from December 31 to October 1 so that inspections can be conducted at a more practical season.

Operational changes are: (10) the Department of Transportation’s existing set-back and screening rules are incorporated into statute; (11) a new 100-foot setback from all water bodies is established for any vehicles containing fluids; (12) the existing 100-foot setback from a drinking water supply for newly licensed facilities is increased to 300-feet; and, (13) municipalities are give three specific remedies to recover enforcement costs (i) civil action (ii) real estate lien and (iii) special tax assessment – based on the special assessments that can be levied under current law to recover municipal costs of abating and repairing failed septic systems.

LD 1493 – An Act To Expedite the Removal of Overboard Discharge.  (Sponsored by Rep. Daigle of Arundel)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 246

This Act makes a number of changes to the law governing overboard discharge licensing.  Among the several changes, the Act would increase the “base” fee charged to “public source” overboard discharge sources from $75 to $210.  The Act would also require that when property is being transferred that contains an overboard discharge (and unless it has already been demonstrated during the previous 5-year period that there is no proven alternative to the overboard discharge), an evaluation be conducted by a licensed site evaluator to determine if there is a feasible alternative to the overboard discharge and, if so, that the alternative system be implemented.  The Act also establishes that the Department of Environmental Protection may require the installation of a wastewater holding tank as a proven alternative to overboard discharge when the elimination of the discharge alone or in conjunction with the elimination of other discharges will result in the opening of shellfish harvesting areas or remove a public nuisance condition.

LD 1515 – An Act To Promote and Monitor Competition in the Solid Waste Industry.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 338

This Act applies to so-called “evergreen” contracts in the trash hauling industry.  Specifically, the Act requires contractors in the small container (i.e., 2 to 10 cubic yard) commercial trash hauling business to give specific notice to their customers with a contract containing an automatic renewal provision between 60 and 90 days prior to the contract termination date that if the customer does not, with 60 days, notify the contractor of the customer’s intention to terminate the contract, the contract will be automatically renewed.  The Act also limits the charge for early termination of a small container commercial trash hauling contract to a maximum of 3 times the current monthly charge, and prohibits these contracts from requiring the customer to inform the contractor of the prices or terms offered by competitors.  The contract restrictions established by the Act do not apply to current contracts.  The Act also requires the State Planning Office to include in its annual report to the Legislature an analysis of how changes in available disposal capacity have affected or are likely to affect disposal prices.

LD 1529 – An Act To Reclassify Certain Waters of the State.  (Sponsored by Rep. Colwell of Gardiner)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 317

This Act provides a list of reclassifications of waterbodies according to the state’s water quality classification system in response to a list of proposed reclassifications recommended by the Board of Environmental Protection.  The Act authorizes the Natural Resources Committee to report out legislation in 2004 with respect to proposed reclassifications that were not adopted in this legislation and with respect to the definition and designated use of “subsistence fishing” in certain segments of the Penobscot River.  The Act also provides for license limits for existing discharges of wastewater on a segment of the Kennebec River in Augusta.

LD 1547 – An Act To Amend Certain Laws Administered by the Department of Environmental Protection.  (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 245

This Act makes a number of minor changes to the laws governing environmental protection and the responsibilities of the Board and the Department of Environmental Protection.  Among other changes, the Act makes the creation of a wetland compensation fee program optional rather than mandatory and specifically adds municipalities to the types of organizations that may administer a wetland compensation fee program.

LD 1549 – An Act To Fund Municipal Collection of Household Hazardous Waste.  (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor)    Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 30

This Act requires that the Department of Environmental Protection study the issue of how to fund the operational expenses for the collection of hazardous waste.  The Act provides that the current Waste Reduction and Recycling Loan Fund balance of $438,000 be transferred to Solid Waste Management Fund.  It also calls for all future principal and interest payments to the Recycling Loan Fund be transferred to the Waste Management Fund.  The summary to the bill indicates that the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), which administers the Recycling Loan Fund, estimates those payments will average $46,500 per year through 2017.  With respect to the new revenue dedicated to the Waste Management Fund, 90% must be dedicated to the state’s cost-share to municipalities for the operation of household hazardous waste collection and recycling programs.  Up to 5% of the collected revenue could be used by the Department of Environmental Protection or State Planning Office to conduct education and outreach programs, and up to 5% would be used by the Department of Agriculture to support the pesticide use minimization goal established in statute. 

LD 1570 – An Act Concerning Stormwater Management.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 318 (5/27/03)

This Act makes a few technical and minor substantive changes to the law governing storm water discharges in Maine. In addition, this Act directs the Department of Environmental Protection to prepare a report to be provided to the Natural Resource Committee by February 1, 2004 that provides recommendations for improving Maine’s law governing storm water management.  DEP is also directed to present draft rules that would regulate storm water discharges to “impaired waterbodies” both with respect to existing development and new development both during and after construction.

LD 1626 – Resolve, To Authorize the State To Purchase a Landfill in the City of Old Town.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 93

This resolve authorizes the State Planning Office to acquire, own and cause to be operated an existing generator-owned landfill in the City of Old Town.  The resolve permits the City to regulate the expansion of the facility, including any expansion of the type of waste the facility is licensed to accept.  The regulations may not exceed existing state standards. 

State & Local Government

LD 37 – An Act to Rename the Town of Westport.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hall of Lincoln County)   Emergency Enacted, PL 2003, c. 62 (4/18/03)

This Act authorizes a referendum vote in the town of Westport to change the town’s name retroactively to March 24, 2003 to Westport Island.   [Note: Voters approved the name change on March 29, 2003.]

LD 66 – An Act to Repeal the Mandate to Perambulate the Municipal Boundary Lines when there is No Boundary Dispute.  (Sponsored by Rep. Heidrich of Oxford)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 7

This Act limits the requirement that the municipal officers perambulate the municipal boundaries with their municipal neighbors to only those circumstances where there is a boundary dispute.

LD 86 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Eastport Port Authority.  (Sponsored by Rep. Goodwin of Pembroke)  Enacted, P & SL 2003, c. 4

This Act clarifies the charter of the Eastport Port Authority with regard to the directors’ residency requirements and the timing of the election to fill vacancies in those positions.

LD 139 – An Act to Authorize the Town of Medway to Sell Certain Land.  (Sponsored by Sen. Stanley of Penobscot County)  Enacted, P & SL 2003, c.3

This Act authorize the voters of the Town of Medway to approve the sale or lease of any property that the Town owns as long as any funds received from the sale of ministerial lands are used according to the purpose originally designated.

LD 278 – An Act To Eliminate the Restriction on Municipal Investment of Trust Funds.  (Sponsored by Rep. McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 8

Current law limits municipal investment of certain trust funds in two ways: (1) no more than 50% of the assets of the trust can be invested in mutual funds; and (2) no more than 5% can be invested in a single mutual fund. This Act repeals the second limitation.

LD 389 – An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Municipal Citizen Initiatives and Referenda (Sponsored by Rep. Suslovic of Portland)  Indefinitely Postponed

Note:  In the June 13th edition of the Legislative Bulletin it was reported that LD 389 received support in the House and Senate.  The Act would have prohibited citizen petitions on the municipal level that initiated ordinance or bylaw changes that would invalidate land use permits already granted if the municipality used a permitting process that included at least one advertised public hearing.  On its last day of the regular session the Legislature reversed its preliminary position on LD 389 and voted to “indefinitely postpone” the legislation. 

LD 416 – An Act To Amend the County Contingent Fund.  (Sponsored by Rep. McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 241

This Act amends the law governing the maximum allowable size of the contingency account in a county budget.  For all counties other than Sagadahoc, the maximum size of a county’s contingency account is 1.5% of the annual county budget or $100,000, whichever is greater.  The maximum contingency account for Sagadahoc County remains at 4% of that county’s annual budget.

LD 631 – An Act Concerning the Status of the Maine County Commissioners’ Association and the Maine Sheriffs’ Association as County Advisory Organizations.  (Sponsored by Rep. McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 75

This Act allows county government to expend funds for the support of the Maine County Commissioners’ Association and the Maine Sheriffs’ Association and formally recognizes those two organizations as “instrumentalities of the counties”.

LD 793 – An Act To Revise the Boundary between the Town of Harrison and the Town of Bridgton.  (Sponsored by Sen. Bennett of Oxford County)   Emergency Enacted, P & SL 2003, c. 5 (4/17/03)

This Act reestablishes the boundary line between the towns of Harrison and Bridgton. 

LD 1063 – An Act Concerning Municipal Firearms Discharge Ordinances.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 332

This Act makes two changes to the law governing municipal firearms discharge ordinances:  (1) it requires municipalities that are in the process of enacting or amending a firearms discharge ordinance to consult with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during the process of considering the enactment or amendment; and (2) requires the discharge prohibition area described by the firearms discharge ordinance to be described by using clearly defined physical boundaries.

LD 1199 – An Act To Establish the Lincoln and Sagadahoc Multicounty Jail Authority.  (Sponsored by Sen. Mayo of Sagadahoc County)  Emergency Enacted, PL 2003, c. 228 (5/21/03)

This  Act creates the Lincoln County and Sagadahoc County Multicounty Jail Authority as a multi-county body politic charged with oversight of the correction, equipping, operations and maintenance of a common corrections facility to serve the two counties.

LD 1226 – An Act To Clarify the Division of the Positions of Town Assessor and Selectman.  (Sponsored by Rep. McKee of Wayne)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 234

This Act allows a person serving in the Legislature as a State Representative or State Senator who is also an elected municipal selectman and assessor to resign the position of municipal assessor and serve concurrently as a state legislator and an elected selectman.  The Act also establishes that in the event a state legislator resigns the position of elected municipal assessor before performing any assessing duties, that legislator may not be deemed to have vacated the position of legislator, as might otherwise be the case under the doctrine of incompatible offices.

LD 1290 – An Act To Provide Requirements for Towns To Deorganize.  (Sponsored by Sen. Kneeland of Aroostook County)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 297

This Act establishes the following additional standards and procedures governing the process of municipal deorganization:  (1) the minimum number of registered voters signing the initial petition to proceed with the deorganization must be equal to at least 50% of the number of voters in the municipality casting a ballot in the most recent gubernatorial election (up from 10%); (2) the debt service obligations incurred by the voters of the deorganizing municipality may not be transferred to the residents of a larger geographic area unless that debt is properly reissued; (3) the deorganizing municipality must prepare a report analyzing the service and tax burden impacts of the proposed deorganization, including an assessment of the municipal services provided to the deorganizing municipality, an inventory of municipal assets and an accounting of municipal debt, the fiscal impacts of the deorganization on surrounding municipalities and the county, and alternatives to deorganization that have been considered; (4) the county in which the deorganizing municipality is located is authorized to conduct an advisory referendum within the unorganized territory of the county into which the deorganizing municipality would merge to see whether the voters within that unorganized territory favor the deorganization; and (5) if the voters of the deorganizing municipality ultimately reject their advisory referendum to proceed with the deorganization legislatively, the municipality is barred from taking up the deorganization process for a 3-year cooling off period.

LD 1357 – An Act To Encourage Economic Development in Piscataquis County.  (Sponsored by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis County)  Emergency Enacted, PL 2003, c. 179 (5/15/03)

This Act authorizes Piscataquis County to raise and appropriate money for economic development purposes and borrow for the capital component of economic development projects with the approval of county voters at referendum, provided the total number of votes cast for and against the proposed borrowing is equal to at least 50% of the total number of votes cast in the county for all candidates at the most recent gubernatorial election.  The Act further limits the aggregate level of borrowing by Piscataquis County for the purposes of economic development as defined in the law to 2% of the county’s most recent taxable valuation.

LD 1431 – An Act To Update the Requirements of Counties’ and Municipalities’ Audit Reports.  (Sponsored by Rep. McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 178

This Act modernizes the law governing the required contents of county and municipal audit reports by replacing a short list of specific required contents with the general requirement that the audits contain all financial statements and all other information required by governmental accounting and financial reporting standards.

LD 1448 – An Act To Clarify the Administration of State-municipal Revenue Sharing.  (Sponsored by Rep. Pineau of Jay)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 174

This Act establishes that three direct costs associated with administering the Local Government Fund (from which municipal revenue sharing is distributed) may be paid directly out of the Fund rather than out of the administrative budget of the State Treasurer’s Office.  The three direct, non-salary costs are:  postage, the state’s administrative cost allocation program, and computer programming costs associated with administering the revenue sharing distribution.

LD 1624 – An Act To Authorize the Deorganization of the Town of Centerville.   (Sponsored by Rep. Bunker of Kossuth Township)  Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 32

This Act authorizes the deorganization of the Town of Centerville in Washington County pending the referendum vote of the registered voters of that community supporting the deorganization. 

Taxation

LD 138 – Resolve, Directing the State Tax Assessor to Adjust the State Valuation of the Town of Ashland.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 88

This resolve directs the State Tax Assessor to reduce the 2003 state valuation of the Town of Ashland by approximately 12%, to $66.95 million.  The resolve further directs the Commissioner of Education to adjust the educational subsidy (General Purpose Aid to Education) to the Town of Ashland to reflect the revised 2003 state valuation from any savings that may accrue in adjustments to the overall GPA account if such unencumbered revenue becomes available. 

LD 184 – An Act to Clarify the Ability of the Maine Forest Service and Tax Assessors to View Private Landowners’ Forest Management Plans.  (Sponsored by Rep. Jodrey of Bethel)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 30

This Act affirms and describes the municipal assessor’s right to “review” the forest management plan that pertains to a parcel enrolled in the Tree Growth program, and further explains that “review” means to view or possess the management plan for a reasonable amount of time to verify that a plan exists or to facilitate an evaluation that the plan is appropriate and being followed, at which point the plan is to be returned to the landowner.  The underlying intention of LD 184 is to clarify that the liquidation harvesting legislation enacted last session was not intended to authorize assessors to engage in a blanket demand of the forest management plans from all Tree Growth land owners just for the sake of collecting and holding those plans.

LD 305 – An Act To Amend the Lien Procedures for Time-share Estates.  (Sponsored by Rep. Collins of Wells)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 229

This Act amends the law governing the tax lien process for time share estates.  The Act applies to any entity managing time share estates that is required by local ordinance to escrow property taxes from the time share owners for the ultimate payment of property taxes to the host municipality.  The Act requires those managing entities to pay to the municipality any deficiency between the escrowed amount and the aggregate taxes due from all the time share estates. The managing entity is then required and authorized to place a lien on those delinquent estates.  The managing entity is also required to provide to the municipality, upon request, a list of the owners of the time-share estates who are delinquent with respect to their property tax obligations.

LD 521 – An Act To Clarify That the Application Process for the Homestead Property Tax Exemption Is a One-time Process.  (Sponsored by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 13

This Act clarifies that a homestead property tax exemption continues for the property owner until the municipal assessor determines that the property is no longer eligible for the exemption, and the application is therefore a one-time process.

LD 542 – Resolve, To Reduce the State Valuation for the Town of Hermon.  (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Penobscot County)  Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 81

This resolve authorizes the Town of Hermon to apply for an administrative adjustment of its state valuation for the year 2003 without meeting the August 1, 2002 filing deadline established in current law.  The resolve further authorizes the Commissioner of Education to adjust the educational subsidy the town would receive according to its adjusted valuation using any unencumbered lapsed balances that may become available within the state’s overall General Purpose Aid to Education account. 

LD 551 – An Act To Suspend Property Tax Abatement Appeals When the Taxpayer Fails To Pay Taxes.  (Sponsored by Sen. Stanley of Penobscot County)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 72 (4/18/03)

This Act amends the provisions relating to appeals of property tax abatement requests in communities without a Board of Assessment Review with respect to property with a valuation of at least $500,000. The Act would clarify that the appeal process is suspended if the taxpayer is delinquent in paying taxes due after the year that is the subject of the abatement request being appealed when the taxes are not paid by the due date or according to a payment scheduled mutually agreed to in writing by the taxpayer and the municipal officers.

LD 572 – An Act To Restrict a School District from the Wholesale Attachment of Personal Property if a Town Defaults on Its School Commitment.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bunker of Kossuth Township)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 212

This Act replaces the existing, archaic consequence if a municipality fails to make its required payment to the School Administrative District.  Under current law, the SAD treasurer issues a warrant to the sheriff to “levy by distress and sale” the property of any of the municipal inhabitants to secure the money owed to the SAD.  This Act replaces that process with the right of the SAD to initiate a collection action in Superior Court.  The Act authorizes the court to proceed with a series of attachments of subsidy payments or reimbursements that would otherwise be issued to the defendant municipality, and if more revenue is needed to satisfy the demand, the court would be authorized to order the attachment and trustee process and sale of municipally-owned real and personal property.  The Act also establishes the way to calculate the interest that a municipality could be charged if it is delinquent in making the SAD payment.

LD 858 – An Act To Establish a Municipal Affordable Housing Development District Tax Increment Financing Program.  (Sponsored by Rep. Mills of Cornville)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 426

This Act establishes a separate sub-chapter of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) law to create a municipal authority to adopt TIF programs for residential development that contains a prescribed minimum amount of affordable housing units.  The affordable housing TIF chapter is structured very similarly to the current economic development TIF law except the TIF district must be primarily a residential development on which at least 33% of the dwelling units are affordable housing and which may be designed to be compact, walkable, include internal open space and other common open space, and include one or more small scale commercial service provider to the residents of the development.  The affordable housing development program must provide a mechanism to ensure the ongoing affordability for a period of 10 years for single-family, owner-occupied units and 30 years for rental units.  A range of possible designs of the affordable housing TIF program would be available to municipalities, including using the captured TIF tax revenues to pay for the funding of K-12 public education. 

LD 1433 – An Act To Establish Municipal Cost Components for Unorganized Territory Services To Be Rendered in Fiscal Year 03-04.  (Reported by Rep. Lemoine of Old Orchard Beach)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 22 (5/30/03)

This Act establishes the $12.8 million property tax commitment to be assessed against the unorganized territories to pay for the educational and county-based services those territories receive.

LD 1575 – An Act To Assist Brascan, the Successor to Great Northern Paper, in Paying the Property Taxes Due to the Towns of Millinocket and East Millinocket.  (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Sen. Stanley of Penobscot County)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 8 (4/25/03)

This Act advances a projected 2004 Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement (BETR) payment in the amount of $1.564 million to the successor company to Great Northern Paper Company in Millinocket and East Millinocket so that the successor company can pay the towns some outstanding property taxes in 2003.

Transportation

LD 12 – An Act to Enhance School Zone Safety.  (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 92

This Act authorizes municipalities to establish reduced speed limit “school zones” that exceed or deviate from the standard designation (the portion of the highway abutting school property or 300 feet on either side of the school entrance, whichever designation is greater) provided the municipality’s alternative designation is agreed to by the Department of Transportation and the Chief of the State Police and is in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices published by the Federal Highway Administration.

LD 393 – An Act Authorizing the Operation of Low-speed Vehicles on Certain Roads.   (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland) Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 397 (6/03/03) 

This Act authorizes the registration and operation of “low speed vehicles” on roads with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less.  “Low speed vehicles” are 4-wheel motor vehicles that must be able to travel at 30 mph at a minimum and 35 mph at a maximum.  “Low speed vehicles” are not All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and must be equipped with at least 15 specific elements of a complete motor vehicle.  Under the terms of this authorizing legislation, the Secretary of State may issue a registration to low speed vehicles which are authorized to operate on public roads with posted speed limits 35 mph or less in 22 municipalities beginning on June 1, 2003 and in all municipalities beginning on September 1, 2003.  Municipalities are authorized to prohibit the operation of low speed vehicles by ordinance.  The 22 municipalities where low speed vehicles are first authorized to operate are Bar Harbor, Biddeford, Boothbay Harbor, Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Damariscotta, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Kittery, Lewiston, Mt. Desert, Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach, Portland, Saco, South Portland, Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Waterville, Wells, Wiscasset, and York. 

LD 422 – An Act To Honor Purple Heart Award Recipients.  (Sponsored by Rep. Norbert of Portland)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 67

This Act exempts Purple Heart recipients from motor vehicle registration fees.

LD 424 – An Act To Increase the Availability of Handicapped Parking Spaces for People with Disabilities.  (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 117

This Act authorizes the municipal officers of any municipality to establish and enforce time limits for the use of a parking space reserved as a handicapped parking space on a public way or public parking area.

LD 463 – An Act to Enhance Integration of Transportation and Land Use Planning.  (Sponsored by Rep. McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 22

This Act directs the Department of Transportation to adopt “major substantive” rules that establish a planning process link between the Sensible Transportation Policy Act and Maine’s Growth Management Act and promote investment incentives for communities that adopt and implement land use plans that “minimize over-reliance” on the state highway network.

LD 464 – An Act To Allow Fire and Emergency Medical Services Response Vehicles To Display One Blue Light at the Rear of the Vehicle.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 78

This Act allows fire and emergency medical response vehicles to display one blue light at the rear of the vehicle.

LD 599 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force on Rail Transportation.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 498

This Act creates an advisory council with respect to Maine’s freight transportation.  The Act also directs the Taxation Committee to review statutory provisions for taxes that apply to companies operating railroads, consider the impact of those tax provisions, and make recommendations to improve the viability of railroads operating in the state.  The Committee is authorized to report out legislation resulting from that review to the Legislature in 2004.  

LD 621 – An Act To Increase the Debt Limit of the Rockland Port District.  (Sponsored by Rep. McNeil of Rockland)  Enacted, P & SL 2003, c. 7

This Act increases the debt limit of the Rockland Port District from $100,000 to $600,000.

LD 837 – An Act To Require Motorists To Use Caution When Approaching a Safety Zone.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 97

This Act establishes that the traffic infraction of imprudently passing a stationary emergency vehicle using an emergency light is a violation which carries a minimum fine of $250.

LD 1322 – An Act To Make Supplemental Highway 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.   (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Usher of Westbrook) Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 490 (6/23/03)

This is a supplemental Highway Fund budget for the FY 04-05 biennium.  Included in the supplemental budget is a $500,000 appropriation for the Transit Bonus Program.  The transit program distributes additional funds to qualifying municipalities that provide public transportation.  The Act also clarifies that a low-speed vehicle on loan to a municipality must be registered, but is exempt from the registration fees. 

LD 1324 – An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and Highway Funds and Changing 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.   (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Usher of Westbrook)  Emergency Enacted, PL 2003, c. 40 (4/11/03)

This Act is the Highway Fund budget for the FY04-05 biennium.  The budget includes appropriations of $22.5 million in FY 04 and $22.6 million in FY 05 for local road funding under the Urban/ Rural Initiative Program (URIP). 

LD 1329 – Resolve, To Rename the Paddy Hill Road in Medford the Clyde Hichborn Road.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Passed, Resolves 2003, c. 19

This resolve renames a road in Medford for a former legislator, Clyde Hichborn.

LD 1379 – An Act To Make Additional Allocations From the Highway Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of State Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2003.   (Governor’s Bill) (Sponsored by Rep. Usher of Westbrook)  Emergency Enacted, PL 2003, c. 41 (4/11/03)

This Act is a supplemental Highway Fund budget designed to balance the accounts for FY 03.

LD 1414 – An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Storage of Sand and Salt and To Provide Funding for State and Municipal Storage Facilities.  (Sponsored by Rep. Usher of Westbrook)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 502

This Act provides the Department of Transportation (DOT) with certain exemptions from being found in violation of best management practices governing sand and salt storage facilities if DOT abides by reporting requirements to the Legislature with regard to the availability and the use of state funding to DOT for the construction of sand-salt facilities.  The Act also appropriates $327,000 in FY 04 to support the construction of both state and municipal sand-salt sheds.  Out of that appropriation, $202,000 will be available for municipal sand-salt facilities. 

LD 1452 – An Act To Provide Incentives for Development and To Amend Traffic Movement Permit Standards.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hatch of Somerset County)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 363

This Act revises existing incentives that guide the location of high-traffic developments generating more than 100 cars per hour and relaxes the standard for projects in municipally-designated growth areas that reuse currently developed land and buildings with no more than a 10% increase in building footprint by limiting traffic mitigation requirements to improvements to entrances and exits of a project.  This law provides development incentives only if a project provides prudent traffic demand management strategies, such as provision of appropriate on-site bus stops or train platforms.  The Department of Transportation (DOT) may not require operational support of passenger transportation systems or parking management strategies.  This Act also prohibits a municipal licensing authority from issuing a permit for a building or use for which the applicant is required to obtain a driveway, entrance, or traffic movement permit from the DOT until the applicant has obtained the DOT permit.

LD 1565 – An Act To Authorize a Pilot Project To Allow Commercial Vehicles at Canadian Weight Limits Access to the Woodland Commercial Park in Baileyville.  (Sponsored by Rep. Usher of Westbrook)  Enacted, PL 2003, c. 362

This Act establishes a pilot program that allows trucks that are properly credentialed by the Secretary of State’s Office to travel from the planned Calais – St. Stephen Bridge to the Woodland Industrial Park in Baileyville under the Canadian weight limit law rather than the Maine standards.

LD 1632 – Resolve, To Ratify the Endorsement of the Towns of Otisfield and Harrison in Renaming the Bolsters Mills Bridge.   (Sponsored by Sen. Bennett of Oxford County)  Emergency Passed; Resolves 2003, c. 94 (6/23/03)

This resolve changes the name of the Bolsters Mills Road bridge between the towns of Harrison and Otisfield that crosses the Crooked River to Kerry Grover Memorial Bridge in honor of a notable member of both communities, and the towns are authorized to erect signs indicating the new name at their own expense.  The towns are further required to work with the Department of Transportation when placing the new signs. 

Utilities & Energy

LD 7 – An Act to Address Funding of the North Jay Water District.    (Sponsored by Rep. Pineau of Jay)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 10 (5/06/03)

This Act increases the debt limit of the North Jay Water District from $500,000 to $900,000.

LD 655 – An Act To Revise the Charter of the Brunswick Sewer District.  (Sponsored by Rep. Gerzofsky of Brunswick)  Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 19

This Act authorizes a referendum vote of the voters within the Brunswick Sewer District to expand the district to include the designated growth area according to the town’s zoning map and to further authorize extensions when considered necessary by the Brunswick Town Council to abate a threat to public health, safety or welfare.  The Act also cross-references a section of general state law that requires written assurance from a municipality that a proposed sewer extension is consistent with municipal land use plans and ordinances.

LD 678 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Lubec Water and Electric District.   (Sponsored by Sen. Shorey of Washington County)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 15  (5/13/03)

This Act amends the charter of the Lubec Water and Electric District to delete references to electric service and require the trustees to be elected and residents of the district, with all charter amendments subject to local referendum ratification.

LD 804 – An Act To Amend the Standard Water District Enabling Act.  (Sponsored by Sen. Hall of Lincoln County)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 147

This Act makes three changes to the Standard Water District Enabling Act:  (1) regardless of any charter provisions to the contrary, this Act would allow any water district to employ a local referendum process to increase its debt limit, but the Act would still allow those districts to seek pre-approval from the Legislature for the debt limit increase if they choose to do so; (2) the Act would create a uniform automatic foreclosure process for water districts similar to the foreclosure process to compel sanitary district rate payments; and (3) the Act removes language in current statute that dictates how the compensation for water district trustees must be calculated.

LD 967 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Madawaska Water District.  (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 16  (5/14/03)

This Act authorizes the voters within the Madawaska Water District to adopt by referendum amendments to the Water District Charter that would allow the district to assess minimum, base-fee “readiness-to-service” charges against new or improved residential or commercial properties abutting or accessible to the water line of the district after January 1, 2004.

LD 1042 – An Act To Ensure Proper Funding of the Public Utilities Commission.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bliss of South Portland)  Emergency Enacted; PL 2003, c. 272  (5/23/03)

This Act increases the maximum amount of money that can be assessed against all regulated utilities and makes other changes to support the functions of the Public Utilities Commission and the Public Advocate’s Office.

LD 1212 – An Act To Create the Bayside Utilities District.  (Sponsored by Rep. Ash of Belfast)  Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 9

This Act creates the Bayside Utilities District and allows the Northport Village Corporation to convey its water-related and sewer-related assets to the Bayside Utilities District.

LD 1252 – An Act To Authorize Water and Wastewater Districts To Lease Their Assets.  (Sponsored by Rep. McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 267

This Act authorizes all consumer-owned water utilities, sanitary districts and sewer districts to enter into a lease and leaseback transaction with respect to some or all of their real or personal property, other than land, and to take all other action necessary to effectuate the transaction, including the granting of mortgages and liens.  The Act defines the term “lease” to include a lease of any length, including leases that may be defined as “sales” for income tax purposes.

LD 1423 – An Act To Facilitate the Implementation, Maintenance and Operation of the E-9-1-1 Emergency System.  (Sponsored by Rep. Bliss of South Portland)  Enacted; PL 2003, c. 359

This Act moves the entire Emergency Services Communication Bureau that is currently part of the Department of Public Safety to the Public Utilities Commission, which will assume oversight authority of the Bureau.  The Act also directs the Bureau to seek to reduce the number of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) statewide from 49 to between 16 and 24.  The Act also removes the sunset provision that would have reverted the current 50-cent telephone line monthly surcharge. The surcharge revenue funds the Bureau’s operations.

LD 1594 – An Act Repealing the Charter of the Brewer Water District.  (Sponsored by Sen. Youngblood of Penobscot County)  Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 26

This Act amends the legislation enacted during the last legislative session that disbands the Brewer Water District and transfers the water distribution responsibilities to the City of Brewer.  Specifically, this Act makes a technical change to clarify the extent of the repeal of the law incorporating the Brewer Water District and preserves a provision from the charter of the former Brewer Water District relating to the water quality of Hatcase Pond. 

LD 1608 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Baileyville Utilities District.    (Sponsored by Rep. Perry of Calais)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 25 (6/03/03)

This Act permits the Baileyville Utilities District to contract with the Town of Baileyville for the management, oversight and billing functions related to the Town’s sewer department. 

LD 1620 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the New Portland Water District.    (Sponsored by Rep. McGlocklin of Embden)  Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2003, c. 28 (6/05/03)

This Act amends the territorial limits of the New Portland water district, subject to the referendum ratification vote of the registered voters within the district’s jurisdiction.