(from Maine Townsman, May 2000)
by MMA State & Federal Relations Staff: Kate Dufour, Geoff Herman, Linda Lockhart, Tina Means
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 August 11, 2000.
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 and Forestry
More so than most committees, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee focused on "sprawl" issues and requests to protect and preserve farmland, forested land and open spaces from the pressures of development. These issues were considered in depth in proposals to strengthen the Right to Farm Law, establish farmland setbacks, and educate those who purchase abutting property. Proposed changes to the Right to Farm law sought to penalize those who would file nuisance claims. Registration proposals would have required municipalities to participate in registering farmland and enforcing 250 foot setbacks on land abutting farms. Municipal tax assessors would have been required under one proposal to identify and maintain maps of all farmland, provide educational material to purchasers of property abutting farms and serve as primary contacts for educating those who purchase abutting property about what they should expect from working farms in terms of noise, odors, dust and pesticides. The Committee carefully weighed the benefits of proposals against property rights and municipal mandates, rejecting all but a scaled-back package of amendments to the Right to Farm law.
LD 2005 – (new title) Resolve, to Establish the Round Table to Study Economic and Labor Issues Relating to the Forest Products Industry (Sponsored by Rep. Volenik of Brooklin; additional cosponsors). Emergency passed; Resolves 1999, c. 124.
The Round Table established by this Resolve will have 19 members, one of which will be a municipal or county official with expertise in Tree Growth tax issues and the administration of the Tree Growth tax law. The Round Table is charged with studying forest-related economic and labor issues with the goal of keeping more value-added wood processing in the state and making logging a more respected and attractive profession.
LD 2306 – An Act to Amend the Animal Welfare Laws (Sponsored by Rep. Cowger of Hallowell). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 597.
This Act establishes the late fee for licensing a dog after January 31 at $5 in addition to the annual license fee. If the dog owner’s name appears on a municipal warrant issued after January 31 for the purpose of enforcing the licensing of their dog, the late fee is set at $10. The new law also removes from statute a provision allowing the court, as part of the penalty for animal cruelty, to order psychological or psychiatric evaluation and counseling at the defendant’s expense.
LD 2596 – (new title) An Act to Revise the Law Protecting Farmers’ Right to Farm and to Provide for Nutrient Management Plans to be Confidential (Sponsored by Rep. Pieh of Bremen) (Governor’s bill). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 723.
This Act amends the current "right to farm" law to provide that: (1) nutrient management plans are confidential and not public records despite the fact that they must be available to the commissioner upon request; (2) expands the general proscription in current law regarding nuisance suits against agricultural operations so that storage of farm nutrients in accordance with a nutrient management plan may not be considered a nuisance and so that farms that would not have been a considered a nuisance prior to a change in the land use or occupancy within one mile of the farm’s boundaries may not be considered a nuisance following the change in land use; (3) requires "good faith" in private actions filed against farmers; and (4) the failure of a farmer to apply the "best management practices" as prescribed by the Department of Agriculture could be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office with the potential penalty judgment against the farm of $1,000 plus $250 per day for every day the violation continues.
LD 2665 – An Act to Provide for Statewide Standards for Timber Harvesting in Shoreland Areas and to Modify Regulation of Stream Crossings (Reported by the Majority from the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 695.
This Act requires the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation to promulgate rules no later than January 2, 2002, that would establish performance standards for timber harvesting activities in areas adjacent to rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands and tidal waters. The rules must resolve inconsistencies in shoreland area timber harvesting standards under the Forest Practices Act, the Shoreland Zoning Act and the Natural Resources Protection Act. The rules will be "major substantive rules" that will come back for final legislative approval after being provisionally adopted by the Department of Conservation. The Commissioner of Conservation is required by the new law to submit a report describing the rationale for new standards and the public resources and values protected by each standard.
During the time the rules are being developed and approved by the Legislature, this law provides a specific exemption for road construction associated with forest management activities eligible for permit by rule, allowing the permit to be effective when the department receives notification. The exemption ends on August 1, 2002.
In addition, this law authorizes the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation to report out legislation on the subject to the second regular session of the 120th Legislature, which convenes in January, 2002.
Appropriations and Financial Affairs
LD 2343 – (new title) Resolve, to Establish the Task Force to Reduce the Burden of Home Heating Costs on Low-income Households (Sponsored by Rep. Berry of Livermore; additional cosponsors). Emergency passed; Resolves 1999, c. 132.
This Resolve creates a 16-member task force, including legislators, the Public Advocate, the Executive Director of the Maine State Housing Authority, electricity and energy fuel providers, a representative from Community Action programs, and an advocate for low-income people. The task force is charged with investigating the problems facing low-income households in the heating of their homes, including the cost of heating, energy conservation, demand-side management and the availability and reliability of federal programs of assistance in paying heating costs and reducing energy demand.
LD 2504 – An Act to Enhance the Conservation of Atlantic Salmon (Sponsored by Rep. Dugay of Cherryfield; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 1/26/00; P&SL 1999, c. 61.
This Act appropriates $750,000 to the Atlantic Salmon Commission to support local watershed councils and the implementation of their salmon restoration plans, including money for project grants, land appraisals, GIS data base, pollution reduction, lab equipment, code enforcement, etc.
LD 2510 – 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, 2000 and June 30, 2001 (Sponsored by Rep. Townsend of Portland; additional cosponsors) (Governor’s bill). Enacted; PL 200, c. 731.
This Act implements the supplemental state budget that effectively amends the biennial budget for FY 2000—2001 and determines the state’s spending priorities with respect to over $400 million of unanticipated General Fund revenue and tobacco settlement revenue that became available after the initial biennial budget was enacted in 1999. Pertinent to municipalities, the supplemental budget accomplishes the following:
Revenue Sharing II. The supplemental budget includes a one-time appropriation of $3.6 million to start-up the so-called Revenue Sharing II proposal, which is designed to move extra and unanticipated revenues in the Local Government Fund in a more targeted way toward municipalities with higher-than-average property tax burdens.
GPA. A 6% increase in base GPA is part of the budget, pushing the base from $622 million FY 2000 to just short of $660 million for FY 01. In addition to the base GPA appropriation, the supplemental budget includes a $4.3 million "hold harmless" cushion to make sure all school units, at a minimum, will receive at least the same GPA subsidy in FY 01 that they received in FY 00.
School Renovation and Construction. $27 million was appropriated to the school renovation and revolving loan program, which provides a combination of grant and loan funding to schools that need to be renovated, with a priority for environmental, health and safety, ADA and other pressing needs. In addition, the budget incorporates the substance of a separate piece of legislation (LD 870) to increase the debt service cap within the GPA appropriation for new school construction purposes from $74 million in FY 01 to $84 million in FY 05, which will allow the authorization of an additional $100 million worth of school construction projects in the near-term. (Note: A remainder of LD 870 was also enacted, and the description of that enactment is found under the Education section of this article. That enactment includes an additional appropriation of $1 million for the School Renovation and Revolving Loan Fund, which boosts the total appropriation for this year to that Fund to $28 million.)
Highway Funding. In part through this supplemental budget and in part through the supplemental budget for the Highway Fund (see LD 2534, under Transportation), the Department of Transportation’s $44 million supplemental budget is appropriated through a $33.25 million General Fund allocation, $6.6 million in Highway Fund surplus and $4.15 million from the Transportation Funding Reserve. The Transportation Funding Reserve is a General Fund account set up by the Legislature in 1999 to reduce the need for future highway bonding.
The $33.25 million General Fund revenues will fund $20.65 million in highway and bridge projects; $550,000 in ferry and dredging initiatives; $2 million for three airport projects (see below); and $11.05 million for rail maintenance on the Calais Branch and reconnection of rail links between Lewiston-Auburn and Portland.
The $20.65 million General Fund allocation for highways and bridges, combined with the $4.15 million of Transportation Funding Reserve, will fund $6 million for the state share of the Minor Collector Road program; $2.6 million for unscheduled priority highway projects; $5.6 million to accelerate rural arterial reconstruction projects; $3.6 million toward the extension of I-395; $3 million toward East-West collector roads such as Route 6 and 16; and $4 million toward the rehabilitation of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge.
Airport Funds. $2 million is appropriated in the supplemental budget for three local airports: The Bangor and Presque Isle airports will get $800,000 and $120,000, respectively, for marketing purposes, and the Oxford Airport will receive $80,000 for engineering purposes.
Comprehensive Planning. $1.7 million is in the budget, primarily to assist municipalities in their comprehensive planning/growth management efforts.
Wastewater Treatment Facilities. $2.9 million was appropriated in the budget for grant programs for specific wastewater treatment plant upgrades and DEP’s "Small Community Program" which provides direct subsidy to landowners to repair their failed septic systems.
Landfill Closure. $1.25 million was appropriated for the landfill closure program, which is estimated to close-out the 15-year old state-local effort to cap the hundreds of unlicensed landfills that were in common use in Maine from World War II through the mid-1980’s.
Recycling and Hazardous Waste Grants. The supplemental budget "allocates" $438,000 in surplus revenues from the Solid Waste Fund to provide for recycling and hazardous waste grants to be administered by the State Planning Office (SPO). The thrust of this grant program is to create the infrastructure to support the collection of hazardous wastes, such as items containing mercury and, eventually, waste oil, solvents, and other forms of commercial and household hazardous waste. The Solid Waste Fund is the repository for the special waste fees that are collected by commercial and municipal solid waste disposal facilities. The primary special waste fee that contributes to the Fund is the fee on the ash that is derived from incinerating Municipal Solid Waste. The Fund is used to financially support the state’s solid waste programs both at the DEP and the SPO.
Firefighter Training. A piece of fire fighter training legislation is included in the supplemental budget that will provide $376,000 to go primarily to the Maine Technical College System to create 3 full-time and 32 part-time positions to develop and deliver standardized firefighter training in local communities throughout the state. $52,000 of that appropriation will be used to support the newly-created 21-member Maine Fire Protection Services Commission, which is charged with comprehensively evaluating both existing and needed resources for the state’s overall fire protection system and with developing a comprehensive slate of recommendations, including how to recruit and retain volunteers, create a length-of-service program for volunteers, create a health insurance "bridge" for retired career firefighters, create a fund for death benefits for firefighters killed in the line of duty, etc.
Municipal Reimbursement for Law Enforcement Personnel. The reimbursement rate provided to municipalities when local police officers spend time in District Court assisting in the prosecution of traffic violations will be increased, as a result of the supplemental budget, from $25 per day to $50 per day.
Tobacco Use Reduction. In addition to unanticipated General Fund Revenues, the supplemental budget also appropriates the tobacco settlement revenue that will be accruing to the state at the rate of about $60 million per year as a result of an enormous settlement executed in 1999 between 41 states including Maine and the cigarette manufacturers. The tobacco tax revenue that the state receives is deposited into a special account, the Fund for a Healthy Maine. In the supplemental budget, dozens of appropriations are made from the fund to implement a variety of programs designed to reduce tobacco use, provide greater access to Medicaid, prevent substance abuse, expand child care programs and the Head Start program, expand home-visit programs to parents of newborn children, etc. Of the $74 million appropriated from the Fund for a Healthy Maine for these various programs, $8.35 million is appropriated to the Department of Human Services to provide grants to communities and schools to achieve the goal of reducing tobacco addiction and use, with a focus on those at highest risk such as youth and disadvantaged populations.
Microenterprise Initiative. A one-time appropriation of $850,000 is in the supplemental budget to allow the Department of Economic and Community Development to provide grants to community-based organizations so that they, in turn, can provide training and technical assistance to "microenterprises". A microenterprise is defined as a business in Maine that produces goods and services and has fewer than 10 full-time employees.
Grants to Retain Certain Employers. $345,000 is transferred under this budget from the state’s Job Retention Program to the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) for the purpose of providing grants to municipalities for the purpose of retaining "mature" or dominate employers that are presently located in the state, with a focus on manufacturing firms. Certain criteria to govern the awards of those grants are provided, which must be further fleshed out in DECD rulemaking.
CDBG. A supplemental $1 million is allocated in this budget from the Federal Block Grant Fund for Community Development Block Grant projects that will be ready to start in the present fiscal year (FY 00).
Business and Economic Development
LD 2557 – An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission to Establish a Comprehensive Internet Policy (Reported by Sen. Kontos of Cumberland County for the Joint Standing Committee on Business and Economic Development pursuant to Resolve 1999, c. 89). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 762.
This Act requires all state departments and state agencies, but not municipalities, to implement systems whereby goods, services, fines, forfeitures and other fees to be paid to the state can be paid electronically. Toward that end, all state agencies must accept credit card payments by July 1, 2001. In adopting the "Uniform Electronic Transactions Act" the law comprehensively establishes the rules governing the use and validity of electronic transactions, including provisions regarding electronic records, electronic signatures, electronic notarization, admissibility as evidence, etc.
By January 20, 2001, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Revenue Services, and Department of Professional and Financial Regulation must each submit a report concerning the impact of acceptance of credit card payments on the respective agency budgets.
LD 2560 – An Act to Amend the Acreage Requirements for a Cemetery to Contain a Columbarium (Sponsored by Rep. Sullivan of Biddeford; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 620.
Under current law, before a community mausoleum, crematory, columbarium, or other structure that holds the remains of the dead or cremation urns can be constructed within a cemetery, the cemetery must be at least 20 acres in size. The new law allows a columbarium (a structure to house cremated remains) to be constructed in a cemetery 5 acres or larger as long as the cemetery has been used for the purpose of burials for at least two years. Existing law would be unchanged with respect to mausoleums or crematories, which can only be constructed on cemeteries of at least 20 acres in size.
LD 2650 – An Act to Clarify the Enforcement Authority of the Manufactured Housing Board (Sponsored by President Lawrence of York County; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/14/00; PL 1999, c. 725.
This Act does the following: First, the preemptive law that prevents municipalities from imposing unique building codes on certified manufactured housing has been amended to expressly relieve municipal code enforcement officers, on a voluntary basis, of any duty to inspect any certified manufactured housing for compliance with any building codes, rules or regulations adopted by the Manufactured Housing Board.
Second, this Act expressly states that any certificate of occupancy for certified manufactured housing issued by a local code enforcement officer shall not constitute a representation by the municipality that the manufactured housing unit actually meets the state’s standards. This second change is intended to address the concerns by many code officers that they can’t certify what they can’t see.
Third, an existing rule adopted by the Manufactured Housing Board has been transferred into the law. That rule allows the local code officers to deny an occupancy permit regardless of the preemption whenever the code officer determines that an imminent and direct risk of serious physical injury or death would exist in the normal use of the manufactured housing.
Fourth, a complaint procedure has been created, to be administered by the Manufactured Housing Board, when a municipal code officer finds that a manufactured housing unit does not actually meet the state-adopted code. This sometimes happens even when that housing unit is certified by the manufacturer to meet the code.
Finally, a special appeal process has been set up for a person denied a certificate of occupancy for a manufactured housing unit by the local code officer for an alleged failure of the manufactured housing unit to comply with the state-adopted building code. Instead of that special appeal going to the local board of appeals and then, potentially, to Superior Court, the appeal route would be to the Manufactured Housing Board and, if necessary, to Superior Court.
Upon hearing the appeal and sorting out the issues of fact, the Manufactured Housing Board has the opportunity under this Act to issue an occupancy permit over the denial of the local code officer if the Board can answer ‘yes’ to three finding of facts:
• The manufactured housing unit was properly certified by inspectors in the manufacturing facility as being compliant with the state-adopted building code; and
• The certificate of occupancy was not denied on the grounds of imminent risk to safety and health; and
• The code violations cited by the local code officer in the written denial of the occupancy permit do not include any of the site-specific standards over which the municipality retains jurisdiction.
Municipalities did well before the Criminal Justice Committee this session, both with regard to the bills the Committee supported and the municipally-related proposals the Committee opposed. For example, the Committee unanimously opposed a bill that would have repealed a municipal official’s authority to issue concealed weapons permits. The Committee also opposed the Criminal Justice Academy’s proposed rules (LD 2628), which if enacted would have created a four-tiered training hierarchy that could have imposed significant additional costs on municipalities with only part-time law enforcement.
The Committee supported a legislative initiative that enables municipal harbor masters and shellfish conservation wardens to work under the training requirements of part-time law enforcement officials even though their income, which is often combined from several municipalities, could push them into "full time" status. Prior to the change, harbor masters and shellfish conservation wardens were classified as part-time only if they earned less than $10,000 per year. Full-time classification would have required full Criminal Justice Academy Training.
LD 546 – An Act to Exempt Certain Law Enforcement Officers from the Full Course of Training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (Sponsored by Rep. Pieh of Bremen). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 682.
This Act establishes law enforcement training requirements for harbor masters and municipal shellfish conservation wardens as the pre-service and in-service training requirements that apply to "part-time" law enforcement personnel, if the municipality intends those harbor masters and municipal shellfish wardens are to have the powers of arrest or be authorized to carry a firearm. Even if the harbor master or municipal shellfish conservation warden earns enough income in the course of a year to fall within the definition of "full-time" law enforcement officer, the training requirements would be not be elevated to the longer-course training otherwise required for full-time law enforcement personnel.
LD 637 – An Act to Amend the Law Enforcement Officer Certification Standards (Sponsored by Sen. Murray of Penobscot County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 630.
This Act retains the statutory reference to separate training standards for part-time and full-time law enforcement officers. The Act also authorizes the Criminal Justice Academy to upgrade the training programs for the part-time certification training program and the full-time law enforcement training program.
LD 678 – An Act to Require Completion of an Ambulance Operator Course (Sponsored by Rep. Bull of Freeport). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 764.
This Act requires by January 1, 2003 that any paid or volunteer personnel whose job description includes operating an ambulance in an emergency mode or transporting a patient must posses certification of successful completion of a basic ambulance vehicle operating course. Ambulance drivers mandated to obtain the certification required by this Act are authorized to apply to the Maine Emergency Medical Services Board, within the Department of Public Safety, for reimbursement for the required course. To implement this new requirement, the Act directs the Department of Public Safety to hire a consultant and establish a pilot program to train ambulance operators and develop a plan for further implementing the mandate in the outlying years. $50,000 is appropriated by the Act for that purpose. The Department must report the result of the pilot project and any necessary implementing legislation to the Criminal Justice Committee by January 1, 2001. The Criminal Justice Committee is further authorized to introduce a bill regarding ambulance operator training to the 120th Legislature.
LD 2196 – An Act Concerning the Formation of the Central Maine Regional Public Safety Communication Center (Sponsored by Rep. Colwell of Gardiner). Enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 85.
This Act establishes the Central Maine Regional Public Safety Communication Center, a regional public safety dispatch center. The Center includes the Maine State Police, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, and Gardiner, Augusta, Waterville, Winslow and Oakland. The Center is given broad corporate powers, and considered a political subdivision and a public employer. The Center is governed by a council made up of one voting member from each municipality and participating agencies. The Center is operated by a board of directors with a similar make-up plus additional members representing fire departments, police departments, emergency medical personnel, and governmental services. The board of directors is directed to appoint the Center’s Executive Director.
LD 2628 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 6: Certification of Law Enforcement Officers, a Major Substantive Rule of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (Reported by Rep. Povich of Ellsworth for the Maine Criminal Justice Academy pursuant to 5 MRSA §8072). Emergency passed 4/7/00; Resolves 1999, c. 103.
This resolve effectively repeals the Criminal Justice Academy rules regarding law enforcement training. The proposed rules would have created four levels of law enforcement, identified by job description, for which four separate levels of training would be required. As proposed, approximately 25 municipalities currently employing a single part-time police officer would have had to upgrade that employment or hire a second supervisory officer.
Education and Cultural Affairs
From the municipal perspective, the most important work of the Education Committee this biennium was the effort it put toward building an improved system of developing and adopting school budgets at the local and school district level. The Committee accomplished this task by having the foresight to ask the State Board of Education and its chairperson, Jim Rier of Machias, to put together a working group to study the root causes of the serious frictions that can develop between municipal and school officials over the school budget. Rier’s work with the School Governance Committee resulted in the enactment of LD 1346, which creates (without mandates) tremendous opportunities to structurally provide better information exchange, better dialogue, and better governance procedures with regard to school budgets.
It should also be pointed out that the Education Committee throughout the biennium has remained a strong, organized advocate within the Legislature for healthy levels of state funding for K-12 education.
LD 870 – An Act to Improve School Safety and Learning Environments (Sponsored by Sen. Lawrence of York County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. ***.
The thrust of this Act, as originally proposed, was included in the supplemental budget (LD 2510) and involved increasing the debt service cap within the GPA appropriation from $74 million to $84 million over the next four years. The remaining part of the bill that was enacted as LD 870 requires the State Board of Education and the Department of Education to conduct a study and create a plan regarding the new school facility projects that are beyond project #22 on the major capital improvement priority list. The plan must include a review of the rules related to the protected status of projects in the current two-year rating cycle. In addition, this Act appropriates an additional $1 million to further capitalize the School Renovation and Revolving Loan Fund. The supplemental budget bill (LD 2510) appropriated $27 million to that Fund.
LD 1346 – (new title) An Act to Improve the School Administrative District and Community School District Budget Development and Approval Process (Sponsored by Rep. Brooks of Winterport). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 710.
This Act implements the recommendations contained in the report of the School Governance Committee, which was established in 1999 by the State Board of Education and the Legislature’s Education Committee in response to LD 1346 and several other related legislative initiatives submitted over the past several years dealing with school budgeting process. This Act provides a number of optional changes to the existing system that governs how school budgets are developed and adopted, particularly on the school district level (SADs or CSDs). Specifically:
• All school units, whether municipal or district systems, would be encouraged to develop a policy governing the school budget development process that provides for several organized opportunities, beginning eight months or more before the school budget is finally adopted, for school officials, municipal officials, and the general public to exchange information about the programmatic and financial needs of the schools and the towns, the available revenues to fund education beyond the property tax, and the financial capacity of the taxpayers to meet the identified needs.
• For SADs or CSDs (or even municipal school systems, for that matter) that are not satisfied with the school budget format they are currently using, whether the lump sum format required by statute or a home-grown "line item" format adopted by the voters, a model cost center school budget format that breaks the school budget into six commonly recognized expenditure categories would be established in law as a preferred option.
• For SADs or CSDs that are interested in exploring alternative budget adoption procedures, a process would become available that begins with an open district meeting and a school budget presented to the voters in the cost center format described above. At local option, the budget adoption process could end there. Alternatively, at local option, the voters of a school district could add to that process a referendum ratification procedure, whereby the school budget adopted by the district meeting could be ratified or validated by the voters of the school district with an up-referendum vote held three business days after the district meeting. The referendum vote would be an up-or-down vote on the entire budget package adopted by the voters at the district meeting. If the voters reject the school budget at the referendum vote, the budget goes back to the school board for further development, and then back to a subsequent district meeting for adoption, and then back to a referendum vote for final validation. This process would be repeated until the referendum voters finally adopt a school budget.
LD 1725 – An Act to Allow the Towns of Wells and Ogunquit to Withdraw from Their Community School District (Sponsored by Sen. Lawrence of York County). Enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 83.
This Act amends the allocation of all costs of the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District between the two municipalities. The current allocation of costs is based entirely on municipal valuation. As amended by this Act, a new cost-share allocation formula will be phased in so that by Fiscal Year 2003 66.7% of the costs will be proportionate to the respective municipal valuations and 33.3% of the costs will be proportionate to the respective student population.
LD 2311 – (new title) An Act to Authorize School Administrative Units to Utilize Alternative Delivery Methods for a Limited Range and Number of School Construction Projects, Including the Use of an Owner’s Representative for Certain School Construction Projects (Sponsored by Sen. Pendleton of Cumberland County; additional cosponsors). Enacted with mandate preamble; P&SL 1999, c. 79.
This Act creates a 5-year pilot program that encourages the use of alternative systems to design and build new schools. The "design-build", "construction-manager-at-risk", and "construction-manager-advisor" methods of school construction are all defined by this Act, and ten potential alternative pilot construction projects are authorized. For school construction projects with total costs under $2.5 million, three "design-build" and 3 "construction-manager-advisor" projects are authorized. For school construction projects with total costs exceeding $2.5 million but less than $10 million, 2 "design-build" projects and 2 "construction-manager-advisor" or "construction-manager-at-risk" projects are authorized. An application process for schools that are interested in exploring an alternative construction method is provided. In addition, this Act requires the retention of an "owners representative" on any school construction project with total costs over $10 million, and the owner’s representative must be funded through the state-supported line of the project budget.
LD 2320 – An Act to Increase the Bonding Limit of the Trustees of the City of Brewer High School District from $2,500,000 to $5,000,000 (Sponsored by Rep. Fisher of Brewer; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 3/14/00; P&SL 1999, c. 65
This Act increases the debt limit of the City of Brewer High School District from $2,500,000 to $5,000,000 subject to approval at referendum by the voters of the City of Brewer.
LD 2327 — Resolve, to Establish a Commission to Study Teacher Recruitment and Retention. (Reported by Rep. Brennan of Portland for the Joint Standing Committee on Education). Passed; Resolves 1999, c. 130.
This Resolve creates a 14-member commission that will be charged with studying teacher recruitment issues in the K-12 setting. The specific charge to the commission is to study teacher supply and its alignment with hiring needs, hiring practices, teacher salaries and benefits, assignments of new teachers, supervisory and support systems provided new teachers and the attractiveness of the profession. One member of the commission is a representative of the Maine Municipal Association.
LD 2490 – An Act to Provide for Background Checks and Fingerprinting for School District Employees and Volunteers (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Penobscot County; additional cosponsors) Enacted; PL 1999, c. ***.
This Act amends the system to implement the required fingerprinting and criminal background checks that are now required by previously-enacted law for all public school personnel. Background checks for certified personnel are conducted at the time of certification or certification renewal. This Act creates a five-year phased-in system for non-certified personnel. The fingerprinting and background check requirement, as originally enacted several years ago, placed the costs of conducting the background check on the affected school personnel. This Act appropriates $1.45 million to cover the cost of processing the required fingerprinting and criminal background checks during this biennium. As part of that appropriation, this Act specifies that any person or school department that paid for any of the criminal background checks conducted before this enactment will be rebated for those out-of-pocket costs.
Health and Human Services
LD 2046 – An Act to Amend the Powers of Hospital Administrative District No. 1 (Sponsored by Sen. Cathcart of Penobscot County). Emergency enacted 4/14/00 with mandate preamble; P&SL 1999, c. 84.
This Act amends the powers of Hospital Administrative District No. 1, which services the residents from the towns of Mattawamkeag, Howland, Enfield, Burlington, Lowell, Lincoln, Springfield, Lee, Passadumkeag, Chester, Winn, Seboeis Plt and Webster Plt. The board of directors, either elected by popular vote or appointed by the municipal officers, is composed of two members from each town, except for Lincoln, which has three members. The Board is directed to adopt bylaws and polices, meet regularly, appoint committees as needed to address special purposes, create an executive committee and appoint members of the medical staff and a hospital administrator. The Act also develops a process for sending bond issues to the voters of the member municipalities.
LD 2654 – An Act to Amend the Laws Regarding the Board of Licensure of Water Treatment Plant Operators (Reported by Sen. Paradis of Aroostook County for the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 688.
This Act makes a number of changes to the law governing the licensing of water treatment plant operators. Among other changes, the Act modifies the definition of "operator" to parallel the federal definition, clarifies that the classification requirements apply to all community public water systems and all non-community, non-transient water systems, repeals the provision of law that grandfathers operators who operated between October 1, 1966 and October 1, 1969, and repeals the provision of law that authorizes a 13-month waiver to allow an applicant time to pass an annual exam.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Municipal regulation of surface water continues to be an important issue for the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. There is a basic conflict between state and local authority in this area based on the tradition that surface water is a state resource that may only be regulated by the State. The use of personal watercraft on lakes became the focal issue that fostered creation of a procedure for state ratification of local recommendations. This session extended the deadline for submission of municipal recommendations, provided clarifications for municipal submissions, ratified recommendations, and considered ways to finance enforcement of the resulting regulations. Funding for enforcement remains for the consideration of future legislatures, as does further extension of the deadline, allowing more municipalities to participate.
LD 2346 – An Act to Extend the Time Period for Municipalities to Make Recommendations Concerning Great Pond Surface Use Restrictions (Sponsored by Rep. Thompson of Naples; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/14/00; PL 1999, c. 701.
This Act extends the period of time a municipality may adopt recommendations regarding surface use restrictions on watercraft operating on lakes and ponds within the municipality from October 30, 1999 to December 1, 2001. With respect to any such recommendations adopted after the effective date of the Act, if the municipal legislative body is the Town Meeting (rather than a council), the recommendations can only be adopted at the annual Town Meeting (rather than special town meetings). In addition, any recommendations submitted by municipalities must be accompanied by a written explanation of the rationale for each recommendation and what issues were considered in the development of each recommendation. Finally, all recommendations submitted during 2000, must be initially submitted to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in July 2000, although supplementary materials may be submitted after July.
LD 2610 – (new title) An Act to Require Warranty Certification for Snowmobiles and All-terrain Vehicles (Sponsored by Rep. Campbell of Holden; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 692.
This Act requires that anyone applying for the registration of a new snowmobile or a new all terrain vehicle (ATV) must provide to the registrar (often a municipal clerk acting as agent of the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife) evidence that the registrant’s name has been submitted to the manufacturer of the snowmobile/ATV for warranty coverage and to receive any product recalls and safety updates.
LD 2645 – Resolve, to Create the Commission to Study Equity in the Distribution of Gas Tax Revenues Attributable to Snowmobiles, All-terrain Vehicles and Watercraft (Reported by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town for the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife). Emergency passed; Resolves 1999, c. 131.
This Resolve creates a 15-member commission to study the equity of distribution of gas tax revenues as it applies to fuel tax use of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and watercraft, all of which generally do not benefit from the use of Maine roads. Members of the commission will include 10 legislators, five from each body, representatives from the Departments of Conservation, Marine Resources, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W), Transportation and Revenue Services. The Commission is directed to collect and analyze data regarding the amount and type of fuel consumed by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and motorboats; the amount of fuel purchased in Maine and consumed out of state; the percentage of gasoline taxed collected and consumed by these recreation vehicles; and the needs of the Departments of Conservation, Marine Resources and IF&W for enforcement of existing recreational vehicle laws. The Commission is required to submit its report, along with any proposed legislation, to the First Regular Session of the 120th Legislature no later than December 6, 2000.
LD 2670 – An Act Regarding Lifetime Hunting and Fishing Licenses (Reported by Rep. Dunlap of Old Town for the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife). Emergency enacted 4/13/00; PL 1999, c. 690.
This Act makes lifetime hunting and fishing licenses available in January of 2001 for residents from 6 to 15 years of age, establishes a sliding scale fee for the existing senior lifetime licenses, and clarifies that persons 70 years of age or older remain entitled to a complimentary lifetime hunting and fishing license. The infant (under six years of age) hunting or fishing license will cost $150. The infant combination license will cost $250. The "junior" (6 to 15 years of age) hunting or fishing license will cost $300, and the junior combination license will cost $500. In addition, this Act sets 2006 as the deadline to make adult resident lifetime licenses available.
LD 2671 – An Act to Implement Municipal Recommendations Regarding Surface Water Use on Great Ponds (Reported by the Majority from the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife). Emergency enacted 4/13/00; PL 1999, c. 697.
This Act authorizes implementation of the recommendations adopted by the legislative bodies (town meetings or councils) in municipalities during 1999 that place certain limitations on the use, operation or type of watercraft on great ponds within the municipalities’ jurisdiction. The limitations range from requiring decals on rented personal watercraft to restrictions on motor horsepower and prohibitions on operation of personal watercraft. Municipalities granted authority to regulate surface water to date include: Bridgton, Camden, Harrison, Hope, Leeds, Lincolnville, Mount Desert, Mount Vernon, Naples, Northfield, Northport, Otisfield, Poland, Readfield, Stoneham, Union, Wayne, and Winthrop.
LD 2268 – (new title) An Act to Ensure that Reports Commissioned by the State are Submitted in Writing or Other Reproducible Format (Sponsored by Rep. Chick of Lebanon; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 623.
As initially proposed, LD 2268 would have required municipalities to generate written reports in certain circumstances. As enacted, this Act applies only to state agencies that enter into a contract with a non-governmental entity at a cost of $10,000 or more and the contract includes a report to the state agency. Under this Act, the report must be in writing or other "non-transitory medium" and actually submitted to the agency. In addition, the report must express all of the substantive conclusions disclosed to the agency.
LD 2582 – An Act to Correct the Inadvertent Repeal of the Abandoned Property Disposition Process for Municipalities (Sponsored by Rep. Campbell of Holden; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/11/00; PL 1999, c. 667.
This Act restores a process by which municipalities may dispose of the abandoned property that is found in and around property that is acquired for back taxes or condemned as a dangerous building. The former process to dispose of that property was inadvertently repealed in 1997. Procedurally, to dispose of this property under the terms of this Act, the municipality has to provide notice by certified mail to the last-known owner and provide that owner with an opportunity to remove the personal property within 21 days of receiving the notice. Notice by certified mail is sufficient if the certified mail card is returned with the recipient’s signature or returned as refused by the recipient. If the certified mail is not returned with a signature (or as refused by the recipient), or if the municipality cannot determine the identity or address of the last-known owner, then the notice can be provided by being published twice consecutively in a daily or weekly newspaper. After the 21-day opportunity to remove the property has expired, the municipality is authorized to sell the remaining abandoned personal property that has any commercial value and dispose of any remaining personal property that does not. Any net proceeds of the sale of that property, after covering any back taxes and all direct costs associated with disposing of the property, must be remitted to the Secretary of State pursuant to Title 33, section 1959.
LD 810 – An Act to Encourage Responsible Employment Practices (Sponsored by Sen. Cathcart of Penobscot County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 649.
This Act authorizes the Department of Labor to request records and other information relating to an employer’s compliance with workers compensation laws, including verification of employee or contractor status, during the course of routine research and investigative activities. The Department must report any suspected violations of employment laws to state or federal enforcing agencies.
LD 1019 – An Act to Limit Mandatory Overtime (Sponsored by Rep. Hatch of Skowhegan). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 750.
This Act prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to work more than 80 hours of overtime in any consecutive 2-week period. This prohibition does not apply to: (1) work performed in response to an emergency declared by the Governor; (2) an employee who performs essential services, such as utility service, snowplowing, road maintenance and telecommunications; (3) an employee whose work is necessary to protect the public health or safety when the excess overtime is required outside the normal course of business; (4) seasonal employees; (5) highly-paid salaried employees (6) medical interns and residents; and (7) employees who work for employers who shut down operations for annual maintenance or work performed in the construction, rebuilding, maintenance or repair of production machinery and equipment..
LD 2613 – An Act to Clarify Application of the Employment Leave Law for Victims of Violence (Sponsored by Rep. Hatch of Skowhegan; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 659.
In 1999 the Legislature enacted a law that allows an employee who is the victim of violence to take paid or unpaid time off from his or her place of employment to prepare for and attend court proceedings, receive medical treatment or obtain necessary services to remedy a crisis caused by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The way this cousin to the Family Medical Leave law was enacted, it would not apply to certain small employers (less than 15 employees) or municipalities with less than 25 employees. This Act establishes that the victim-of-violence leave law would apply to all public and private employers, regardless of the number of employees.
LD 2614 – An Act to Establish Consistent Requirements in Maine State Retirement System Plans for Minimum Creditable Service for Eligibility to Receive Retirement Benefits (Sponsored by Rep. Hatch of Skowhegan; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 756.
This Act changes the minimum creditable service for eligibility to receive retirement benefits from 10 years to 5 years for employee members of participating local districts (PLDs) and members of the state legislative retirement system and the judicial retirement systems.
Legal and Veterans Affairs
The Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee dealt with a number of issues this session affecting municipalities
LD 2293, for example, is an enactment of a helpful nature that allows the board of municipal officers to defer on the determination of the outcome of an election that turns on disputed or challenged ballots, and delegate the determination to an independent board. LD 2298 extends the length of time for a municipality to renew an on premise liquor license from 60 to 120 days if the municipality has extended the existing license in order to address an issue with the business owner. This extension enables municipal officials to work with the business owner to address the issues under review rather than denying the application for renewal.
The Committee also made the voting process easier for people who don’t want to go to the polls physically on election day by eliminating the reasons for voting by an absentee ballot. Prior to enactment, a voter had to explicitly state the reason for voting absentee. Now anyone can vote by absentee ballot for any reason. MMA’s Legislative Policy Committee has historically opposed "no-reason" absentee voting because the municipal officers tend to be traditionalists and feel that open absentee voting erodes the traditional level of community interaction that is fostered in the polling place.
The Committee also supported the only non-routine unfunded mandate enacted during the second legislative session. That mandate is found in LD 873 regarding the maintenance of veterans’ gravesites and the process of honoring veterans on Memorial Day. For the last 10-15 years, municipalities have been expressly authorized to fulfill a long-standing mandate regarding veterans’ graves on Memorial Day in one of two ways. The municipality must either cause the placement of an individual U.S. flag before each veteran’s gravesite or the municipality could install a single flagpole at the cemetery and fly a full-sized flag to honor the veterans. At least a dozen of municipalities, particularly in their largest cemeteries, elected to install the flagpole and utilize that method. With LD 873, the Legislature determined that the second method was no longer acceptable, and the individual flags would have to be placed on the individual gravesites as well. Through the unfunded mandate law, the Legislature was expressly asked to help financially with the new mandate being enacted, but it refused.
LD 873 – (new title) An Act to Clarify Responsibilities for the Maintenance of Veterans’ Grave Sites (Sponsored by Sen. Lawrence of York County). Enacted with mandate premable; PL 1999, c. 700.
This Act: (1) identifies the season that municipalities must trim the grass on the gravesites of all buried veterans of war as being from May 1 to September 30; (2) requires the owners of private cemeteries or ancient burying grounds to either give access to municipalities for the purpose of maintaining the gravesites of veterans of war or pay any fines or court costs municipalities may incur for failing to maintain those gravesites; (3) establishes a notice system similar in design to the pothole law whereby at least one municipal officer must be given 14 days’ actual notice or have 14 days personal knowledge of the municipality’s failure to adequately maintain the gravesite of a veteran of war in order to trigger liability for the $100 penalty; and (4) repeals the authority municipalities were given in the mid-1980’s to erect a single flagpole at a cemetery for the purpose of honoring the war dead and reestablishes the mandate that the municipality place individual flags in flag holders at each grave.
LD 1796 – An Act to Improve the Absentee Voting Process (Sponsored by Sen. Daggett of Kennebec County). Emergency enacted 4/10/00; PL 1999, c. 645.
This Act replaces the existing process of stating a reason for voting absentee with a no-reason absentee process. The Act also repeals Title 21-A, section 753 regarding the procedures for requesting and processing absentee ballots and replaces that section with section 753-A, which addresses procedures for requesting absentee ballots and section 753-B, which addresses procedures for processing absentee ballots. Although these changes were made to streamline the existing language, some technical changes have been made to the existing laws. One change requires the clerk to keep a by-district rather than alphabetical listing of people voting by absentee ballot. Another significant change was made to Title 21-A, section 759, subsection 8 regarding a candidate’s inspection of absentee ballots before being processed on election day. In cases where absentee ballots are processed throughout the day, the amendment requires the candidate to notify the clerk before 5 p.m. on the day before the election that the candidate wants to inspect the absentee ballots before they are processed. If the absentee ballots will be processed after the polls are closed, the candidate must notify the warden by 5 p.m. on the day of the election.
LD 2162 – RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Allow Persons with Mental Illness to Vote (Sponsored by Rep. Brennan of Portland). Passed; Constitutional Resolutions 1999, c. 3.
This resolution sends out to the voters a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would repeal a clause that prohibits persons under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting at statewide elections. The question to the voters will be "Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to end discrimination against persons under guardianship for mental illness for the purpose of voting?"
LD 2293 – An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Municipal Elections (Sponsored by Sen. Abromson of Cumberland County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 712.
Prior to enactment, the municipal officers had to decide the outcome of a local election when there are enough ballots in dispute to decide the election. This Act authorizes two alternative forums to decide the outcome of a municipal election in the circumstance of disputed or challenged ballots. In addition to the municipal officers deciding the outcome of the election, as is provided in current law, the Act allows the municipal officers to defer the question to the Superior Court or to an independent panel of three members, appointed by the municipal officers, with no member of the independent panel being a municipal officer.
LD 2298 – An Act to Clarify the Law Relating to the Renewal of Liquor Licenses (Sponsored by Sen. Daggett of Kennebec County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 589.
This Act provides that the 60-day automatic liquor license renewal does not apply to the on-premise liquor license renewal process when the license period has been extended by the municipality pending renewal. The Act further establishes that the municipal officers must take final action on the on-premise license that has been extended pending renewal within 120 days of the filing of the application.
The Natural Resources Committee worked on landmark "smart growth" or anti-sprawl legislation, much of which was ratified by the full Legislature. While complementary legislation was considered for farmland, forested land, and open space in other committees, the Natural Resources Committee took a comprehensive look at state capital investment, downtowns, and growth management.
Reduction in the amount of mercury entering the waste stream was second only to sprawl legislation in demanding the Committee’s time and efforts. Municipalities will ultimately be called on to assist in those reduction efforts through collection efforts and assisting in public education.
LD 21 – (new title) An Act Relating to MTBE (Sponsored by Rep. Tripp of Topsham). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 709.
This Act requires that all gasoline sold with a measurable quantity of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) must be clearly labeled "contains MTBE". The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will monitor shipments of gasoline into the state and compile annual reports of gasoline MTBE levels. The DEP is required by this Act to assist regional efforts to develop alternatives to the use of MTBE as a gasoline additive with a goal of eliminating MTBE by January 1, 2003. The development of alternatives must consider market constraints and must ensure the lowest possible total environmental impact.
LD 1209 – An Act Regarding Property Owners Whose Land Abuts a Solid or Special Waste Landfill (Sponsored by Rep. Tracy of Rome). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 691.
This Act requires the owner of a commercial solid waste disposal facility that accepts special waste to conduct biannual sampling of water wells on properties abutting the solid waste facility upon the request of the abutting property owner. To trigger the sampling requirement, the owner of the abutting property must have owned and resided on the property, and the drinking water well must have been situated on the property, before the development of the commercial solid waste facility. The water sampling is to be conducted under procedural rules adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection. If the water sampling uncovers degradation of public or private water supply beyond acceptable state drinking water levels, the commercial waste facility will be responsible for restoring the affected water supply.
LD 2084 – An Act to Reduce the Release of Mercury into the Environment from Consumer Products (Sponsored by Sen. Treat of Kennebec County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 779.
This Act addresses the issue of mercury in consumer products in the following ways: (1) labeling will be required for mercury-added products, including thermostats, thermometers, electrical switches, medical or scientific instruments, and lamps; (2) mercury-added lamps sold for industrial, commercial or office building use must provide information on the invoice or in a separate document that the lamps contain mercury, a hazardous substance that is regulated by federal and state law and that they may not be placed in solid waste destined for disposal; (3) after 7/15/2002 mercury-added products may not knowingly be placed in solid waste for disposal; (4) when mercury-added products are removed from service, the mercury must be reused, recycled, or otherwise managed by a person in the business of replacing or repairing mercury-added products; (5) manufacturers of thermostats must provide incentives for mercury recycling; (6) the automobile industry and DEP will work together to develop plans for labeling of automobile components, with plans to be submitted to the Natural Resources committee by January 1, 2002; (7) by July 15, 2002, DEP will work with dentists to develop a pollution prevention plan for mercury from dental procedures; (8) DEP and SPO will implement an education program relating to mercury-added products by January 1, 2001; (9) DEP and SPO will assist interested municipalities in developing collection programs for mercury-added products; (10) a Mercury Products Advisory Committee, consisting of legislators, representatives of business, the environment, municipalities, and the general public, is created (and sunset as of August 1, 2006) to provide assessment, advice and recommendations on emerging policy concerns or on adjustment to existing programs related to mercury-added products, assess the feasibility of establishing consumer education and collection programs, and report annually, beginning January 15, 2002 to the Natural Resources Committee; and (11) provides authority for SPO to award grants to municipalities, regional associations, sanitary and sewer districts for household hazardous waste collection and disposal programs. The DEP must provide a report to the Natural Resources Committee on mercury releases into the environment and mercury collection programs by January 15, 2002.
LD 2182 – An Act to Improve Air Quality Through Market Incentives for the Purchase of Cleaner Vehicles (Sponsored by Rep. Watson of Farmingdale). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 684.
This Act creates a pilot program, the High-pollution Vehicle Retirement Pilot Program, administered by the state. Under the new program, vouchers will be distributed to people who scrap high-pollution vehicles, defined as model year 1987 or older, registered in this state for the last 24 months, and operational. A pickup truck or sport utility vehicle with a 6-cylinder engine will qualify for a $1500 voucher; a pickup truck or sport utility vehicle with an 8-cylinder engine will qualify for $2000, and any other 1987 or older model would bring a $1000 voucher. The vouchers will be used as part of the purchase price of cleaner vehicles, defined as model year 1996 or later. The vouchers will carry an expiration date of October, 2003.
During the summer months of 2000 and 2001, DEP is required to undertake a media campaign to educate the public about the pollution created by vehicles, the impact on public health and the benefits of pollution reduction. At the end of each year of the Program, DEP must report to the Legislature detailing expenditures and evaluating whether the Program should be continued. DEP is also directed to examine strategies for mobile source emission reduction that will satisfy the federal Clean Air Act requirements. The DEP must work with a stakeholders group representing relevant interests and areas of expertise and will report its recommendations and draft legislation to the Natural Resources Committee by September 15, 2000.
The Program will be funded with any available balances in the Finance Authority of Maine’s Clean Car Fund, plus a one-time appropriation of $10,000.
LD 2325 – An Act to Address Financial Inequities in Special Waste Fees (Sponsored by Rep. Duncan of Presque Isle; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 564.
In the 1999 legislative session, the special waste fees that are paid to the state when certain wastes are deposited in landfills were comprehensively amended by PL 1999, chap. 385. Although most special waste fees were set at uniform, $5 per ton levels, the fees for depositing oil-contaminated soil was held at $25 per ton to act as an incentive to recycle that material into asphalt rather than landfilling it. An exception to the $25 per ton fee was created for a municipal or regional association landfills that accepted 4,000 tons or more of oil-contaminated soil in calendar 1998. This Act provides that a municipal or regional association landfill that accepted 550 tons or more of oil-contaminated soil, gravel, brick, concrete and other aggregate in 1998 shall collect $5 per ton for that category of waste.
LD 2339 – An Act to Provide Assistance in the Cleanup of the Plymouth Waste Oil Site (Sponsored by Rep. Campbell of Holden). Emergency enacted 4/14/00; PL 1999, c. 713.
In the 1999 legislative session, a bill was enacted (PL 1999, c. 505) that provides financial assistance to the non-federal "responsible parties" to pay their share, or part of their share, of the remediation costs of a waste oil dump in the Town of Wells. The "responsible parties" include individuals, businesses, municipalities and quasi-municipal organizations, such as school or water districts, that may have contracted with the owner of the waste oil dump to deposit their used motor oil in his facility. Specifically, the funding provided by that legislation will pay the first $2,000 of financial obligation for qualified responsible parties, plus a proportional additional share to pay down the so-called orphan share of the costs.
This Act provides 0% interest loans, deferred loans, and mortgage insurance, administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), to the potentially responsible parties (PRP’s) that become financially exposed to the costs of conducting a remedial study at the Portland-Bangor Waste Oil Services Site located in Plymouth, Maine. The financial assistance provided to municipalities, school systems, and businesses under this Act will be provided in the same manner and from the same sources as provided in 1999 legislation for PRP’s financially exposed to the clean-up of a waste oil dump located in the Town of Wells.
LD 2350 – An Act to Clarify the Laws Governing Solid Waste Disposal Districts (Sponsored by Sen. Michaud of Penobscot County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 557.
Under current law regarding the governance of solid waste disposal districts, the several directors of the district are allotted weighted votes depending on the population of the municipality they represent and some municipalities may be represented by more than one director. Current law is not clear on whether the several directors representing a single municipality may vote separately or as a block. This Act allows the directors representing a single municipality to vote separately.
LD 2375 – An Act to Rid Maine’s Waters of Ocean Vessel Sewage (Sponsored by Sen. Nutting of Androscoggin County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 655.
This Act expands to non-commercial boat marinas a requirement that currently applies to commercial marinas mandating that the marina have a sanitary waste pump-out facility or contract for that service. The Act also authorizes the Commissioner of Marine Resources to provide grants to the non-commercial marinas to build the pump-out stations, providing 90% of the cost for municipal marinas and 75% of the cost for non-municipal, non-commercial marinas. The Act further provides that no marina is required to have the mandated pump-out station until the marina has been provided a grant to build the pump-out station or initiate a service arrangement by contract.
LD 2377 – An Act to Prevent Contamination from Home Heating Oil Tanks (Sponsored by Sen. Nutting of Androscoggin County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 635.
This Act extends the oil storage tank repair and replacement program that is funded from the groundwater oil clean-up fund to provide $500,000 a year to DEP in order to cause the retrofit, repair or replacement of above-ground oil storage tanks when it is determined that action is necessary to abate an imminent threat to a groundwater restoration project, a public water supply or a sensitive geologic area. Funds from this account, under this Act, can be disbursed by DEP to municipalities to pay reasonable costs actually incurred by municipalities in assisting the DEP in these efforts. Before the funds can be accessed by DEP in FY 2001, however, the department must adopt written policies to guide all its disbursements. Before the funds can be accessed by DEP in FY 2003, the department must adopt written policies that establish a means test and a deductible schedule to govern the disbursements of grants to people receiving the funds to upgrade or replace their privately-owned above-ground heating oil tanks.
LD 2437 – (new title) An Act Regarding Oil Storage Facilities and Groundwater Protection (Sponsored by Rep. Daigle of Arundel; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 714.
This Act makes a number of changes to the Ground Water Oil Clean Up Fund, which is funded by fees assessed against each barrel of gasoline and refined petroleum products stored in the state.
The Act limits actions against certified installers for tanks or equipment installed on or after September 16, 1991 in that actions must be instigated within 3 years of discovery of the violation, but not more than 15 years after the original installation.
The Act creates a task force charged with reviewing the current framework for regulating aboveground oil storage tanks and requires the task force to submit an initial report to the Legislature by March 1, 2001 and a final report by January 2, 2002. The task force will evaluate and make recommendations concerning the resources and appropriate agencies needed to properly regulate aboveground oil storage tanks and whether current requirements relating to the tanks are adequate.
DEP is directed by the Act to review insurance coverage available for cleanup of prohibited discharges of oil, including such issues as deductible amounts, funding sources, coverage, exclusions, availability of private insurance, and other alternative mechanisms for providing financial assurance. DEP is to report on the insurance issues by May 15, 2001. DEP is also directed to review the Ground Water Oil Clean-up Fund, including the use of money in the fund for department staff costs and for expenditures not directly related to the program. This issue requires a report by December 15, 2000 including findings and recommendations of how to accelerate clean-up activities and reduce the backlog of remediation projects.
LD 2442 – (new title) An Act Regarding the Requirement of Notice in the Acquisition of Solid Waste Hauling, Incineration Residue Disposal and Related Assets (Sponsored by Rep. Povich of Ellsworth). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 773.
This Act requires anyone purchasing controlling stock or the substantial assets of a solid waste-related business with more than 5 employees to give at least 30-days advance notice to the Attorney General’s Office. A civil penalty for failing to notify the Attorney General’s Office may not exceed $10,000. The notification and penalty section sunsets 90 days after adjournment of the 120th Legislature, in the summer of 2002.
The Act also establishes a Task Force to Study Market Power Issues Related to the Solid Waste Hauling and Disposal Industry. The Task Force will consists of five legislators who will study issues of market concentration, including vertical and horizontal market power; entry barriers into the solid waste hauling industry; geographic areas and markets; imbalances of supply and demand; pricing and its relationship to tipping fees; possible alterations to the current market system; and approaches taken in other states. The Task Force will consult with the Attorney General’s Office, the State Planning Office, the Public Utilities Commission, the DEP, municipal representatives, and industry representatives.
LD 2470 – (new title) An Act to Fund the Lakes Heritage Trust Fund (Sponsored by Rep. McKee of Wayne; additional cosponsors). Enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 98.
This Act appropriates $20,000 from the state’s General Fund for the purposes of providing additional revenue for the Lakes Heritage Trust Fund, administered by the Department of Environmental Protection for the purposes of monitoring and improving lake water quality in Maine.
LD 2565 – An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force to Review Solid Waste Management Policy (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Penobscot County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 736.
This Act establishes that when the State Planning Office determines that there is less than four years of landfill capacity in Maine for municipal solid waste, or when the remaining landfill capacity exists or is soon to exist within only one facility in Maine, the Office shall submit a report to the Legislature recommending construction of the state-owned, Carpenter Ridge, landfill. The report will also include a review of disposal options outside the state, the status of recycling efforts, economic analysis of the facility’s construction and operation and commitments to utilize the facility. This Act expressly authorizes the State Planning Office to provide technical assistance to a regional association that is trying to establish an approved waste facility, and if the regional association is unable to locate or site a needed demolition/bulky waste landfill, the Act authorizes the State Planning Office to submit to the Legislature a report recommending the siting and construction of such a landfill, for the Legislature’s consideration and action.
LD 2581 – (new title) An Act to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Aquatic Plants (Sponsored by Rep. Thompson of Naples; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/14/00; PL 1999, c. 722.
This Act prohibits the transportation of aquatic plants on the outside of a vehicle, boat, boat trailer, etc., over any public road. The Act also prohibits the possession, cultivation, importation or distribution of any "invasive aquatic plant" in a manner that could cause the plant to get into any state waters. Intentional violations of the law could trigger warnings for initial violations, penalties of $50 for second-offenders and subsequent penalties of $500 per violation.
In addition, the Act requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to prepare educational materials to inform the public about invasive aquatic plants, document the occurrence of those plants in the state’s water, and authorizes DEP to control invasive aquatic plants when discovered.
The Act also requires DEP to prepare a report on the subject of invasive aquatic species control and submit that report to the next Legislature, in January 2001.
LD 2597 – An Act to Improve Public Water Supply Protection (Reported by Rep. Martin for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 761.
This Act expressly requires approval by the Department of Human Services (DHS) for any construction, additions or alterations involving the source, treatment or storage of water in any public water system. The pertinent public entities will be required to maintain all records, plans and descriptions of their public water systems and provide those records to DHS upon request.
In addition, all municipalities and counties will be required to provide written notice to any public water supplier whenever any in a variety of land use applications are submitted to the municipality (or county) when those proposed land use activities involve land located within a "source water protection area." A "source water protection area" is any area, as mapped by the Maine Drinking Water Program, that contributes recharge water to a surface intake or public water supply well for a public drinking water supply. For the notice requirement to apply, the municipality (or county) must have been provided the map designating the source water protection areas by the Drinking Water Protection Program, and the activity proposed on the local level will be located in or affect the land in a source water protection area. The activities triggering the notice requirement to public water suppliers are: junkyard applications, an application for contract or conditional use rezoning, any proposed amendments to a zoning or shoreland zoning ordinance, subdivision applications, and any land use application which triggers notice to abutters pursuant to local ordinance. Written notice of the proposal by regular U.S. mail suffices as adequate notice to the public water suppliers.
The Act also requires: (1) the Land and Water Resource Council to develop an educational strategy for public water supply protection targeted at municipalities and the general public; and (2) DHS and DEP to jointly hire a consultant to review and develop a potential scenario for how these programs could be structured if they were moved to a different department. Those findings and recommendations will be reported back to the Legislature in 2001.
LD 2600 – An Act to Implement the Land Use Recommendations of the Task Force on State Office Building Location, Other State Growth-related Capital Investments and Patterns of Development (Reported by Sen. Treat of Kennebec County for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 776.
This Act implements the recommendations of a legislative Task Force on State Office Building Location, Other State Growth-related Capital Investments and Patterns of Development ("sprawl"). Among the many programmatic and financial strategies included in this Act, the legislation:
(1) Requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules relating to the siting of new school construction projects that receive state funding. The rulemaking process must consider a preference for new schools to be built in priority locations, such as within growth areas identified in a local comprehensive plan or, in the absence of a comprehensive plan, within the so-called "urban compact" areas of the municipality or areas served by public sewer. The State Board is also to consider criteria that define practical building sites. The rules will be major substantive rules requiring review by the Legislature no later than February 1, 2001. The State Board and the State Planning Office must submit a report to the Natural Resources Committee by February 1, 2001 with recommendations regarding land use ordinances and zoning ordinances near newly constructed schools.
(2) Creates a definition of "growth-related capital investments", as that term would then be used in the context of the state’s comprehensive planning and growth management law, and then directs the state, with certain exceptions, to make its growth-related capital investments in the priority areas (e.g., growth zones or, in the absence of a comprehensive plan, urban compact areas or areas served by sewer infrastructure, etc.);
(3) Further requires that the state develop siting criteria for state facilities that favors, in order of descending priority, "service center" downtowns, service center growth areas, non-service center downtowns, and non-service center growth areas;
(4) Establishes the "Maine Downtown Center" within the State Planning Office and charges the Center with advocating for downtown revitalization, providing training and technical assistance to communities that demonstrate their willingness and ability to revitalize their downtowns, and provide matching grants from a $100,000 appropriation to be used to revitalize downtowns;
(5) Adds school facilities to the list of local infrastructure facilities that may be taken into consideration when developing impact fee criteria for a municipal ordinance;
(6) Amends "municipal capacity" to administer site location of development permitting, so that municipal permits may be granted only when the proposed development to be permitted is located within a designated growth area as identified in a consistent comprehensive plan;
(7) Requires the Land and Water Resources Council to submit a report to the Natural Resources Committee, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and the Taxation Committee by January 15, 2001 with an evaluation of and recommendations on the use of incentives to keep land in productive farming, fishing, and forestry use;
(8) Requires the State Planning Office and DEP to promote assessment, cleanup and redevelopment grant programs for brownfield redevelopment and submit a report to the Natural Resources Committee by January 15, 2001 with an evaluation of the initiative and recommendations for expanding the redevelopment in the State of abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial or commercial property;
(9) Requires the Maine State Housing Authority to submit a report the Natural Resources Committee and the Business and Economic Development Committee by February 15, 2001 on the status of efforts to design and implement a home ownership program for service center downtowns that is modeled after the "New Neighbors" program and recommendations for making the authority’s programs for newly constructed single-family homes support anti-sprawl objectives; and
(10) Directs the State Planning Office to work with municipalities and regional planning commissions to develop model land use ordinances that support anti-sprawl objectives.
Removed from the legislation before final enactment but then adopted as Joint Order, S.P. 1090, is a provision of the original bill that creates a 16-member task force to undertake a "targeted review" of the growth management and subdivision laws, with a reporting deadline of November 1, 2000. The report submitted to the Natural Resources Committee will develop recommendations to make the growth management laws more effective in controlling sprawl. The task force will include three members representing municipal interests.
LD 2604 – (new title) Resolve, to Require the Board of Environmental Protection and the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission to Adopt Consistent Rules Regarding Cutting and Removal of Vegetation (Reported by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources). Passed; Resolves 1999, c. 116.
This Resolve requires the Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission to each adopt coordinated rules that regulate the cutting and removal of vegetation (other than timber harvesting activities) in areas adjacent to rivers, streams, brooks, ponds, wetlands and tidal waters. The rules of the two agencies are required to resolve inconsistencies between the Forest Practices Act, Shoreland Zoning law and the Natural Resources Protection Act. The rules will not regulate timber harvesting activities but will coordinate the standards related to timber harvesting activities with the standards related to the cutting and removal of vegetation. The rules will be "major substantive rules", which means they will ultimately be brought back before the Legislature before final promulgation.
LD 2639 – An Act Relating to the Cleanup of the Wells Waste Oil Disposal Site (Reported by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources). Emergency passed 3/21/00; PL 1999, c. 604.
This Act relates to the program created by the Legislature in 1999 to provide financial assistance to the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) who were exposed to monetary obligations under a settlement agreement to remediate a waste oil disposal site located in the town of Wells. Under the 1999 legislation, a subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee was charged with continuing to study the circumstances surrounding the uncontrolled hazardous waste sites in Maine and authorized to submit supplementary legislation during this second legislative session. This Act is the legislation submitted by the subcommittee, and the Act extends the date of the final disbursement of the financial assistance from the Wells Waste Oil Clean-up Fund from April 1, 2000 to June 30, 2000. The Act also clarifies that the only participants eligible to receive funds through the distribution are parties that participated in the settlement agreement.
State and Local Government
Thanks to the efforts of many of the members of the State and Local Government Committee, a proposal that was adverse to the interests of both municipal and school officials was defeated for the second time in four years. The bill was LD 529, and the issue is school construction contract "retainage". Bills seeking to further limit the already limited degree to which the "owner" of a school construction project can withhold some of the contracted payments until the project is completed have been before the Committee each year for the past four years. Although the bill was finally defeated, there remains an interest in convening the several parties to a school construction project (general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and municipal and school officials) to discuss issues and resolve problems at the local rather than state level.
The Committee also passed out some legislation on two public safety issues. The first, LD 2342, makes changes to law to enable municipalities to provide emergency medical services under the umbrella of their public safety authorities without violating antitrust laws. The change also authorizes municipalities to enter into mutual aid agreements with other municipalities for emergency medial services. The other public safety legislation (LD 2480) authorizes the police chief in one community to request and receive assistance from public safety personnel in other municipalities in the case of a "major unplanned event" even when the participating municipalities have not executed mutual aid agreements. A "major unplanned event" is defined as an extraordinary emergency necessitating the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies to protect the public from an imminent danger.
LD 448 – An Act Regarding the Maintenance of Private Roads (Sponsored by Rep. Townsend of Portland; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 552.
Although not directly related to municipal roads, municipal officials should be aware of this Act to the extent it affects camp roads. In 1998, the Legislature enacted PL 1997, chap. 682, which increased the leverage of private road associations to require financial contributions from all abutters on a private way who benefit from road maintenance conducted by a duly appointed private road commissioner. Specifically, the new law allows road associations incorporated as of March 1, 1998 to obtain court costs and reasonable attorney fees when successful in a collection action against recalcitrant abutters who do not contribute toward the maintenance of the private way.
In 1999, LD 448 was introduced. As printed, LD 448 would have provided that the term "repairs", as it is used in the law to describe the projects which can be cost-apportioned to the abutters, does not include major improvements such as paving.
As enacted, this law provides that the term "repairs" does not include paving except to repair existing pavement or in locations where limited paving is demonstrated to be a cost-effective approach to fixing an erosion problem. The Act also provides a cap on any assessment made pursuant to this law of no more than 1% of the assessed value of the abutter’s property.
LD 2261 – An Act to Make Technical Changes in the Law Authorizing the Capital Riverfront Improvement District (Sponsored by Sen. Daggett of Kennebec County). Enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 68.
This Act makes three changes to the law governing the Capital Riverfront Improvement District in Augusta, established in 1999. Instead of a single chairperson, the governing board of the district will elect co-chairs, one of whom represents the state, with the other representing the City of Augusta. The size of the governing board can be increased by the board, provided the state-local membership remains balanced. This Act also allows the boundaries of the riverfront district to be increased, if approved by both the Augusta City Council and the Augusta Planning Board.
LD 2300 – An Act to Make Minor Changes to the Community Development Definitions to Maintain Compatibility with Federal Regulations (Sponsored by Sen. Daggett of Kennebec County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 540.
This Act makes minor wording changes to the definitions governing the state’s community development program to bring that law into conformance with the parallel language in federal regulations.
LD 2309 – (new title) Resolve, Authorizing the Commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services to Transfer or Acquire Property or Interests in Property at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Oak Grove Coburn School in Vassalboro and Maine State Prison in Thomaston (Sponsored by Sen. Pendleton of Cumberland County; additional cosponsors). Passed; Resolves 1999, c. 97.
This Resolve authorizes the Commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services to transfer or acquire certain interest in property (nonfee interests such as easements or rights-of-way) at the Oak Grove Coburn School in Vassalboro, Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Waterville and the Maine State Prison in Thomaston in order to contribute to the value and efficient functioning of the facilities. This resolve is repealed three years after its effective date.
LD 2342 – An Act to Add Emergency Medical Services to the Municipal Fire Department Authority (Sponsored by Rep. Duplessie of Westbrook; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 570.
This Act expands the authority of a "municipal fire department" to include the provisions of "emergency services" if locally authorized by charter, ordinance, or bylaw. "Emergency services" is defined as responding to or managing other public safety emergencies including medical emergencies, hazardous materials incidents or disasters. The Act also authorizes municipal fire departments, as permitted by the municipal officers, to make all their available resources available to other municipalities in their mutual aid relationships.
LD 2480 – An Act to Allow Police Assistance in Emergency Situations (Sponsored by Rep. Murphy of Berwick; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 654.
This Act allows local police personnel to assist police departments in other jurisdictions even in the absence of mutual-aid and liability agreements when the police department asking for the assistance is facing a "major unplanned incident that jeopardizes health and safety". A "major unplanned incident" is further defined as an extraordinary emergency necessitating the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies to protect the public from an imminent danger. The Act establishes that in such a circumstance, each police department would assume its own liability to a third party except for liability incurred by the command or operational decisions, which would be assumed by the requesting department.
LD 2569 – (new title) Resolve, to Authorize the Waldo County Commissioners to Borrow not more than $600,000 to Build a Waldo County Communications and 9-1-1 Center (Sponsored by Rep. Lindahl of Northport; additional cosponsors). Emergency passed 4/3/00 with mandate preamble; Resolves 1999, c. 98.
This resolve authorizes the Waldo County commissioners to borrow up to $600,000 for the construction of a communications and 9-1-1 center in Waldo County, provided the voters approve the bond. The question to the voters of Waldo County will be "Do you favor authorizing the Waldo County commissioners to borrow an amount not to exceed $600,000 for construction of a communications and 9-1-1 center in Waldo County?"
LD 2655 – An Act to Amend and Clarify the Powers and Duties of the Lake Arrowhead Community, Incorporated (Sponsored by Sen. Libby of York County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 81.
This Act amends the charter of Lake Arrowhead Community, Inc., which is a development corporation located in the towns of Limerick and Waterboro. The development corporation is currently assessing one or both towns for membership fees and other assessments with respect to properties within the development owned by the towns by virtue of tax lien foreclosure or abandonment. This Act prohibits those assessments.
LD 2677 – An Act to Revise the Salaries of Certain Kennebec County Officers (Reported by the Majority from the Committee on State and Local Government). Emergency enacted 4/10/00 with mandate preamble; PL 1999, c. 662.
This Act increases the salaries of the following Kennebec County officers and employees to the following levels: 1) chair of county commissioners ($8,283); 2) county commissioners ($7,735); 3) treasurer ($9,923); 4) sheriff ($43,450); 5) judge of probate ($22,190); 6) register of probate ($27,507); and 7) register of deeds ($29,342). The increases are applied retroactively to January 1, 2000.
LD 2678 – Resolve, for Laying of the County Taxes and Authorizing Expenditures of Kennebec County for the Year 2000 (Reported by the Majority from the Committee on State and Local Government). Emergency passed 4/10/00 with mandate preamble; Resolves 1999, c. 109.
This Resolve authorizes Kennebec County to raise $5.3 million through the assessment of the county tax to meet authorized 2000 expenditures.
Immediately preceding the second legislative session, during the late fall of 1999, it seemed as though the Taxation Committee was focused on articulating the state’s public policy regarding tax exempt property, which really hasn’t been clearly stated in Maine’s history by the Legislature. Tax exempt policy, as articulated in archaic, 180-year old statute, has been deferred to the courts, and there are no clear standards in the law defining what real-life uses of the property create the eligibility for the exemption. As the Committee’s study of the issue came to a close, however, and the time for decision-making came near, the Committee’s focus on that subject fell apart. It seems as though all the work that was done by the Committee and Maine Revenue Services to address the serious inadequacies in tax exempt law fell apart overnight and the effort came to nothing, much to the relief of the tax exempt lobby.
Therefore, for municipalities, the important work of the Taxation Committee this session was the development of Revenue Sharing II.
LD 2281 – An Act to Grant Municipalities Greater Flexibility in their Arrangements for Tax Base Sharing Agreements (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 550.
Under current law governing municipal tax base sharing agreements, the municipality where the property subject to the tax base sharing is located must remit to the other participating municipalities their respective shares of the tax receipts within 15 days of collection. This Act allows the participating municipalities to agree to a different distribution schedule.
LD 2353 – Resolve, Relating to the State Valuation for the Town of Milo (Sponsored by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis County; additional cosponsors). Passed; Resolves 1999, c. 96.
This Resolve allows the Town of Milo to apply for an expedited state valuation adjustment under the1998 law that creates a procedure to adjust a municipality’s state adjusted valuation in circumstances of a sudden and severe drop in the value of a facility of a single taxpayer. Under that 1998 law, the municipality has to suffer a drop in value that crosses a certain trigger point (5% of total municipal value). This Resolve allows Milo to apply for the expedited adjustment of state value in response to the closing of the Dexter Shoe Company even though that trigger point may not be crossed.
LD 2422 – RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Allow the Legislature to Provide for Assessment of Property Used for Commercial Fishing at Current Use (Sponsored by Rep. Etnier of Harpswell; additional cosponsors). Passed; Constitutional Resolutions 1999, c. 4.
This resolution will put the following question to the voters on 11/7/00: "Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to allow the Legislature to provide for the assessment of land used for commercial fishing activities based on the current use of that property?" If the voters approve of the question in November, 2000, the list of lands subject to "current use" assessment in the Constitution (currently including Tree Growth land and Farm and Open Space land) would be expanded to include "waterfront land used for commercial fishing activities."
LD 2445 – An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Municipal Tax Increment Financing to Encourage Downtown Investment (Sponsored by Rep. Gagnon of Waterville; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 650.
Under existing law, there are a number of conditions or limitations that apply to municipal Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, including: (1) at least 25% of TIF district must be in need of rehabilitation or redevelopment or suitable for industrial or commercial sites; (2) the total acreage of all TIF districts in the municipality cannot exceed 5% of the total municipal acreage; and (3) the base assessed value of all the TIF districts in the municipality cannot exceed 5% of the total taxable value of the municipality. Current law also limits allowable project costs under a TIF proposal so as not to include the costs of governmental facilities, such as town or city halls, police stations, court houses, etc. Under this Act, a special type of TIF district is defined as a "downtown development district," and those districts will not be counted toward the acreage and valuation limits that govern other TIF districts. In addition, project costs associated with state governmental facilities will be allowed in downtown development districts.
LD 2460 – An Act to Establish Criteria for Tax Incentive Programs (Sponsored by Rep. Gagnon of Waterville; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 768.
This Act establishes seven criteria that will apply to any proposed legislation that establishes a new program intended to encourage business expansion or retention in the state and which entails an overall state tax expenditure that exceeds $100,000 a year. The criteria are that the program: (1) has a name that accurately describes its nature; (2) has specific stated objectives; (3) specifies a method to achieve its objectives; (4) requires a certain level of reporting; (5) undergoes periodic review by the Legislature; (6) provides incentives for meeting objectives and penalties when contractually required objectives are not met; and (7) provides a cost analysis of the program based on at least a 10-year period.
This Act also directs the State Tax Assessor to withhold BETR reimbursement to companies that fail to provide certain reports that are required to be submitted pursuant to the law that established the Economic Development Incentive Commission (EDIC). As long as the required report is ultimately provided within 180 days of the date the claim for BETR reimbursement is filed, the reimbursement funds will be released by the State Tax Assessor as soon as the late-filed report is submitted. The Act also provides certain notice requirements and due-process rights for those employers who are at risk of having their reimbursement funds withheld.
LD 2537 – An Act to Promote Historic and Scenic Preservation (Sponsored by Sen. Amero of Cumberland County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 626.
This Act implements the constitutional amendment adopted by the voters in November, 1999 to provide, at local option, property tax reductions for historic properties or properties protecting scenic vista by authorizing municipalities to raise or appropriate money to reimburse taxpayers for a portion of their property taxes as long as the property owner agrees to maintain the property according to criteria established in a local ordinance which provides for maintaining the historic integrity of important structures or the providing of a scenic view.
LD 2545 – An Act to Reduce the State Tax Valuation for the Town of Standish (Sponsored by Sen. O’Gara of Cumberland County; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 90.
For the purposes of the Year 2000 State Valuation, this Act establishes the taxable value of the Portland Water District property located in Standish at slightly over $2 million for the year 2000 state valuation which is considerably less than what Standish was assessing the property for before the State Supreme Court struck down the Town’s assessment of the structural property of the water district under the holding that the structural property of out-of-district water districts is tax exempt under law. The recalculation of the town’s Year 2000 state valuation has impacts on Revenue Sharing, General Purpose Aid to Education and county assessments.
LD 2567 – An Act to Establish Municipal Cost Components for Unorganized Territory Services to be Rendered in Fiscal Year 2000-01 (Reported by Rep. Gagnon of Waterville for the Department of Audit pursuant to MRSA Title 36, section 1604). Emergency enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 91.
This Act establishes municipal cost components for state and county services provided to the unorganized territory that would be paid for by a municipality. The municipal cost components constitute the property tax for the unorganized territory. The total financial requirements of the unorganized territory for FY 01, according to this Act, is $15.4 million, $9.9 million of which represents the cost of K-12 education. After the deductions of other-source revenue, the total commitment (as it were) provided in this Act is $13,580,847.
LD 2602 – An Act to Repeal the Sales Tax on Snack Food Except Candy and Confections (Initiated bill). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 698.
This Act repeals the sales tax imposed on "snack foods" in 1991. The effective date of the repeal of the snack tax is established in the supplemental budget (LD 2510) as January 1, 2001. The fiscal impact to the state treasury of the repeal of the snack tax is approximately $7.5 million in FY 01 and $16 million in the first full year of implementation (FY 02), with a concomitant decrease to the Local Government Fund of approximately $850,000 per year.
LD 2669 – An Act to Implement the Tax Policy Recommendations of the Task Force Created to Review Smart Growth Patterns of Development (Reported by Rep. Gagnon for the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 757.
This Act creates a sales tax exemption or refund for electricity used in commercial agricultural, fishing or aquaculture with an effective date of January 1, 2001. The effect on the state treasury associated with this new exemption is approximately $250,000 per year, with a $13,500 annual reduction to the Local Government Fund.
As a result of the changes made in the first legislative session (ending in June, 1999) the Minor Collector Road program was created to enable municipalities to match additional state revenue to make improvements in the minor collector road system. According to DOT data, over the next six years municipalities have pledged to invest $17 million in local funds matching $34 million in state funds, for a total minor collector road investment of $51 million. Although the first $6 million installment of the state’s share of the Minor Collector Road Program was scheduled to be dedicated to municipalities on July 1, 2001, $6 million of the Department’s $44 million supplemental budget will be available this year for minor collector roads. The Department’s goal is to fund the program at $6 million per year over the next six years.
The Committee also worked on many other non-budget related issues, several of municipal interest. One bill in particular, LD 2381, makes changes to the role municipalities play regarding permitting of home heating fuel trucks to travel over posted roads. Prior to the change, these trucks were required to get a permit from each municipality to travel over posted roads. The problem with that system was that if the municipality did not have a process for permitting the trucks, the drivers could be fined for not have a municipal permit. The new system requires the fuel companies to obtain a Department of Transportation permit for travel over all state and local posted roads. The change explicitly states that a municipality can continue to enforce local ordinances regarding travel on posted roads, it just cannot require a permit. It is the responsibility of the fuel company to be familiar with each municipality’s ordinances.
LD 1576 – An Act to Strengthen the Motor Vehicle Laws Pertaining to Registration of Motor Vehicles (Sponsored by Rep. Lemont of Kittery). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 611.
This Act clarifies existing law that establishes who should be registering their motor vehicles in Maine. Specifically, this Act establishes as a presumption that anyone with custody of a minor child enrolled in a public school in Maine is a state resident, as is anyone who has declared, indicated or stated on any public or private document that they have a primary residence in Maine. Furthermore, any oral statement made by a person that a Maine address is that person’s primary residence shall be prima facie evidence of that person’s residence for the purpose of automobile registration.
LD 2303 – An Act to Amend Truck Weights (Sponsored by Rep. Lindahl of Northport; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 580.
Among several amendments to the laws governing the registration of multi-axle trucks in the 90,000 – 100,000 pound range, this Act allows for the registration of trucks at the 100,000 pound limit rather than requiring a special permit for registration weights between 90,000 and 100,000 pounds.
LD 2370 – An Act to Amend Certain Transportation Laws (Sponsored by Sen. Paradis of Aroostook County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 753.
This Act expands an express preemption of municipal authority to enact ordinances regulating speed limits or other motor vehicle traffic control limits that are imposed by the Department of Transportation. The original preemption was enacted in 1998 and specifically referenced DOT motor vehicle regulations adopted pursuant to Title 29-A. The Act expands the preemption to pertain to any motor vehicle limitations that are provided under Title 23, which purportedly involve restrictions on commercial vehicle traffic on state or state-aid highways. This Act also provides that when municipalities have not adopted standards governing the location, depth and height of utility installations along state or state-aid highways within urban compact areas, the standards adopted by DOT will govern.
LD 2381 – An Act to Ensure Fuel Deliveries by Allowing Fuel Delivery Vehicles to Travel on Posted Roads (Sponsored by Sen. Harriman of Cumberland County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 600.
This Act allows any truck delivering home heating fuel and operating in accordance with a DOT permit to travel over any town or county road in Maine without a local permit to drive over posted roads. Municipalities are expressly authorized to impose additional restrictions for home heating oil trucks to operate on town roads in those circumstances, but the municipality may not require a local permit to operate according to those local restrictions.
LD 2534 – An Act to Make Supplemental Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, Highway Fund, and to Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2000 and June 30, 2001 (Sponsored by Rep. Jabar of Waterville; additional cosponsors) (Governor’s bill). Emergency enacted 4/25/00; PL 1999, c. 737.
The Department of Transportation’s $44 million supplemental budget is funded through a $33.25 million General Fund allocation, $6.6 million in Highway Fund surplus and $4.15 million from the Transportation Funding Reserve. The Transportation Funding Reserve is a General Fund account set up by the Legislature in 1999 to reduce the need for future highway bonding.
The $33.25 million General Fund revenues will fund $20.65 million in highway and bridge projects; $550,000 in ferry and dredging initiatives; $800,000 for marketing efforts at the Bangor International Airport; $80,000 for engineering cost at Oxford airport; $120,000 for marketing efforts at the Presque Isle airport; and $11.05 million for rail maintenance on the Calais Branch and reconnection of rail links between Lewiston-Auburn and Portland.
The $20.65 million General Fund allocation for highways and bridges, combined with the $4.15 million of Transportation Funding Reserve, will fund $6 million for the state share of the Minor Collector Road program; $2.6 million for unscheduled priority highway projects; $5.6 million to accelerate rural arterial reconstruction projects; $3.6 million toward the extension of I-395; $3 million toward East-West collector roads such as Route 6 and 16; and $4 million toward the rehabilitation of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge.
The remaining Highway Fund revenues fund MDOT administrative issues, provide additional funds for bridge maintenance, inflationary costs in the pavement program, winter maintenance, and other programs.
LD 2550 – An Act to Ensure Cost Effective and Safe Highways in the State (Sponsored by Sen. O’Gara of Cumberland County; additional cosponsors) (Governor’s bill). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 676.
This Act amends the permitting requirements regarding driveway cuts onto any state highway or state aid highway in the following ways: (1) all entrances to those highways need to be permitted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) if the entrance is outside the compact area of an urban compact municipality. Driveway cuts within those compact areas must be permitted by the municipality; (2) DOT must adopt rules governing the design, location and construction of highway entrances that fall within its permitting jurisdiction to adequately protect highway safety and maintain right-of-way drainage. Municipalities are authorized to adopt rules using the same criteria; (3) DOT is directed to limit the number, spacing, design, location and construction of highway access points on all arterial highways that lie outside urban compact areas; and (4) the State Planning Office and DOT are directed to work with regional council agencies to provide training, technical assistance, and information to municipalities on road planning, road maintenance, sidewalks, and neighborhood involvement to assist municipalities in addressing "smart growth."
LD 2553 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 305: Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Traffic Movement Permits, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Transportation (Reported by Rep. Jabar of Waterville for the Department of Transportation pursuant to 5 MRSA §8072). Emergency passed 3/29/00; Resolves 1999, c. 94.
This resolve permits the legislative review of the Department of Transportation’s provisionally-adopted rules pertaining to traffic movement permits that are issued under the state’s Site Location of Development Act.
LD 2649 – (new title) An Act to Allow Registration of Low-speed Vehicles on Certain Islands (Sponsored by Rep. Dudley of Portland; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 660.
This Act allows the registration and operation of low-speed vehicles on 12 island communities in Maine as long as the governing legislative body of those island communities allows that operation to occur. The Act also requires the Maine State Police to study the operation of low-speed vehicles in Maine and the 24 other states that currently allow their use.
LD 2667 – An Act to Implement Recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation Relating to the Review of the Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles under the State Government Evaluation Act. (Sponsored by Rep. Jabar of Waterville). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 680.
In apparent preparation for on-line motor vehicle registration, this Act authorizes the Secretary of State to adopt rules regarding limits on motor vehicle registration agent fees and the processes and requirements for electronically collecting and transmitting data and funds between registrars and the Bureau. The Act also authorizes the Secretary of State to adopt rules specifying those registration requirements that cannot be processed electronically, which may include proof-of-insurance requirements.
LD 2294 – An Act to Promote Competition in the Natural Gas Industry (Sponsored by Sen. Carey of Kennebec County). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 605.
This Act establishes the criteria that must be met for an interstate natural gas utility or pipeline utility to take private property by eminent domain. The criteria include a hearing on the proposed taking before the Public Utilities Commission. The lands or rights in public highways, public property, public parks or other public utilities are protected from a "taking" under this bill. Pipeline construction would be allowed under public rights of way, a public park or other public property if the method, plans and specifications for construction have been approved by the authority having jurisdiction over the maintenance of the public highway or property, and a written location permit has been issued.
LD 2317 – An Act Increasing the Authorized Indebtedness of the Veazie Sewer District (Sponsored by Rep. Campbell of Holden by request; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 3/30/00; P&SL 1999, c. 71.
This Act increases the debt limit of the Veazie Sewer District from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000. The Act also provides a process for future increases in debt limit that will use a referendum vote rather than legislation to establish the limit required.
LD 2335 – An Act to Revise the Charter of the Madawaska Water District (Sponsored by Rep. Ahearne of Madawaska; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 3/15/00; P&SL 1999, c. 66.
This Act revises the charter of the Madawaska Water District to delete references to a section MRSA Title 35-A that has been repealed and clarifies the procedures under which the district may establish a higher debt limit and issue its notes and bonds.
LD 2355 – An Act to Repeal Certain Archaic and Unenforced Laws Related to the Duties of the Secretary of State (Sponsored by Sen. Kontos of Cumberland County; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 581.
Among other changes, this Act repeals a section of municipal law that establishes in the Corporation Division of the Secretary of State’s Office a repository for all cable t.v. franchise agreements. Franchise agreements will continue to be available at the contracting public authority, the municipality.
LD 2389 – An Act to Facilitate the Implementation of the E-9-1-1 System (Sponsored by Sen. Kontos of Cumberland County; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/10/00; PL 1999, c. 651.
This Act reenacts a 32-cent per line monthly surcharge on residential and commercial telephone lines for the purpose of funding the further development of the E-911 emergency call identification system. The surcharge was in place previously, but "sunsetted" in September, 1999. This Act delays the reenactment of the surcharge for those telephone exchange carriers who mistakenly continued to bill for the surcharge after its repeal. This Act also authorizes the Utilities Committee to report out legislation regarding future E-911 funding in either the first or second session of the 120th Legislature.
LD 2427 – An Act Relating to Underground Facility Plants (Sponsored by Rep. Davidson of Brunswick). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 718.
This Act establishes that the so-called "dig safe" system must maintain adequate operations outside of normal business hours throughout the year to receive and process emergency notifications of proposed underground excavations. This Act also establishes that mechanical means of excavation may not be employed within 18 inches of any marked underground facilities until those facilities have been exposed, with certain exceptions as may be necessary for initial penetration or when non-mechanical excavation is inadequate. With respect to emergency excavations, this Act allows for excavation after reasonable steps have been taken to notify the dig safe system. Exceptions to the general rule of notification prior to excavation are provided for commercial timber harvesting and borrow pit operations. The Public Utilities Commission is authorized to impose administrative penalties for a number of listed violations of dig safe law, with a maximum of a $500 forfeiture for the first offense, which can jump to $5,000 for a second offense committed within 12 months of the first.
LD 2482 – (new title) An Act to Enhance Maine’s Historic Districts by Efficiently Installing Underground Delivery Systems (Sponsored by Rep. Lemoine of Old Orchard Beach; additional cosponsors). Enacted; PL 1999, c. 596.
This Act allows the town or city council or town meeting of a municipality that has created a historic district which is adjacent to a state highway or state aid road to give written demand to any utility company with poles, wires, or cables to provide services to the rear of the buildings within the historic zone or by placing those services underground. The costs of these alternative system delivery methods are to be entirely borne by the municipality unless another cost-sharing arrangement had been worked out with the utility. The municipality is entitled to an estimate of the cost of the alternative services delivery method before committing to the financial obligation.
LD 2525 – An Act to Amend the Charter of the Small Point Water Company (Sponsored by Rep. Etnier of Harpswell; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/10/00; P&SL 1999, c. 75.
This Act allows the Small Point Water company, a for-profit water utility, to convert to non-profit status.
LD 2529 – An Act to Amend the Charter of the Moscow Water District (Sponsored by Rep. McGlocklin of Embden; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/10/00; P&SL 1999, c. 76.
This Act increases the debt limit of the Moscow Water District from $20,000 to $1,800,000. The Act also provides a process for future increases in debt limit that will use a referendum vote rather than legislation to establish the limit required.
LD 2566 – An Act to Repeal the Fort Kent Utility District (Sponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake; additional cosponsors). Enacted; P&SL 1999, c. 73.
This Act repeals the Fort Kent Utility District.
LD 2586 – An Act to Create the Alfred Water District (Sponsored by Rep. Nass of Acton; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/10/00; P&SL 1999, c. 77.
This bill creates the Alfred Water District and authorizes the new district to acquire the property of the Alfred Water Company.
LD 2592 – An Act to Amend the Charter of the Kennebunk Sewer District (Sponsored by Rep. Murphy of Kennebunk; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/10/00; P&SL 1999, c. 74.
This Act amends the charter of the Kennebunk Sewer District by authorizing the Kennebunk Sewer District to provide sewer service outside the territory of the sewer district to school buildings and facilities owned by Maine School Administrative District No. 71 and municipal buildings and facilities owned by the Town of Kennebunk.
LD 2620 – An Act to Amend the Farmington Falls Standard Water District (Sponsored by Rep. Gooley of Farmington; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/13/00 with mandate preamble; P&SL 1999, c. 80.
This Act amends the charter of the Farmington Falls Standard Water District by changing the number of trustees from 3 to 5 and balancing the distribution of the trustees between the Town of Farmington and the Town of Chesterville.
LD 2624 – (new title) Resolve, to Improve the Services Provided by the Emergency Services Communication Bureau (Sponsored by Rep. McKee of Wayne). Passed; Resolves 1999, c. 110.
This Resolve requires the Director of Emergency Services Communication, within the Department of Safety, to develop and implement a plan for monitoring, evaluating and making appropriate adjustments to the E-911 system. The plan must include specific methods for responding to unanticipated patterns of system usage that may suggest the need for adjustments in the designation of of PSAPs. In addition, the Director of Emergency Services is required to develop and begin implementing a plan for assessing, understanding, addressing, and improving the Bureau’s relationship and communications with the providers of emergency services, community leaders, and the public.
LD 2689 – An Act to Allow the St. Agatha Sanitary District to be Dissolved and Combined with the Town of St. Agatha (Sponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake; additional cosponsors). Emergency enacted 4/25/00; P&SL 1999, c. 86.
This Act allows the St. Agatha Sanitary District to be dissolved and the Town of St. Agatha to take over the district’s duties.