Summary of New Laws Passed By The Maine Legislature In 2010
HEALTH AND SAFETY
LD 1620 - An Act To Protect Health Care Consumers from Catastrophic Debt – First-in-the-nation legislation banning annual and lifetime caps on insurance policies, protecting those suffering from severe illness from also facing catastrophic debt often incurred during the treatment of many fatal diseases. The elimination of annual or lifetime caps would directly benefit Mainers battling cancer and fighting other chronic diseases such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
LD 1408 - An Act To Establish the Universal Childhood Immunization Program - Provides Maine children with access to a uniform set of vaccines and reduces costs of immunizations. The bill will reduce the cost of immunizations by working in conjunction with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to leverage the contract prices for vaccines at the federal rate.
LD 425 - An Act To Require Private Insurance Coverage for Certain Services for Children with Disabilities - Requires private health insurance companies to pay their fair share for coverage of children with developmental disabilities. Mandates that individual and group health insurance policies provide early intervention services for children ages birth to 36 months identified with a developmental disability or delay. The change in legislation, which is based on a successful model implemented in New Hampshire, is expected to save taxpayers about $250,000, yet only cost private insurance payers less than $2 every year.
LD 1619 - An Act To Establish the Silver Alert Program – Protects an increasing population of individuals in Maine that suffer from dementia or another cognitive impairment. The bill establishes a Silver Alert system that is modeled after the Amber Alert System for abducted children. It also establishes a mandatory orientation and training for law enforcement in cases involving missing persons with dementia, so that there is a consistent response across all local, regional and statewide law enforcement agencies. Studies show that 30,000 people in Maine have Alzheimer’s, six out of 10 individuals will wander at some point, and 50 percent of those people will die if not found with 24 hours.
LD 1773 - An Act To Improve Dental Insurance Coverage for Maine Children - Requires health insurance policies, contracts and certificates that provide dental plans to provide coverage of dependent children from birth if the policyholder elects to participate in the dependent coverage plan.
LD 1708 - An Act To Expand the Opportunity for Persons To Acquire Health Care Coverage under the State's "Mini-COBRA" Program - The bill modifies Maine's mini-COBRA law to make persons permanently laid off from their employment eligible to maintain, at their expense, coverage under their former employer's group health plan. The amendment conditions the eligibility for those permanently laid off on the availability of a subsidy pursuant to federal law.
LD 1811 - An Act To Amend the Maine Marijuana Act - Taking action on a citizen initiative passed in November by Maine voters calling for medical marijuana to be legalized, the legislature set up a framework for the dispensary and distribution system for medical marijuana. Allows up to eight dispensaries, and sets a process to establish fees for patients, caregivers and dispensaries.
LD 20 - An Act To Require Insurance Companies To Cover the Cost of Prosthetics - Requires insurance plans to cover the latest prosthetic limbs. Prior to the law, health insurance carriers were required to provide coverage for prosthetic devices, but coverage is not required for those devices containing a microprocessor, which is the latest technology.
HP 1262 - Establishing a Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform Opportunities and Implementation – Creates a legislative task force to help implement national health care reform.
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
LD 1717 - An Act To Increase the Affordability of Renewable Energy for Homeowners and Small Businesses - Enables Maine municipalities to establish a "PACE" program to finance residential, commercial and industrial weatherization, as well as other energy efficiency measures and the installation of green energy generation behind the meter.
LD 1647- An Act To Enhance Maine's Clean Energy Opportunities - Will increase electricity efficiency funding by encouraging Maine's Public Utilities Commission to direct the purchase of energy efficiency through long-term contracts, treating efficiency as a resource comparable to new electricity generation. The bill uses contracting as a tool to provide stable funding for efficiency, so Maine people can continue to benefit by saving three dollars for every one dollar invested.
LD 1535 - An Act To Create a Smart Grid Policy in the State - Encourages development of an electrical transmission system in Maine that employs state-of-the-art information technology to curb and manage energy use.
LD 1810 - An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force - Supports development of ocean wind, tidal and wave power and states a policy preference for a transition to the use of renewable ocean electric power to meet Maine's heating and transportation needs.
LD 1786 - An Act Regarding Energy Infrastructure Development – Ends a moratorium on energy corridors in order to spur energy job growth and resources. The law also opens new pathways for energy delivery across the state, while also protecting Maine’s interests in negotiating and overseeing the development of such corridors.
NATURAL RESOURCES ECONOMY AND RECREATION
LD 1607 - An Act To Regulate the Transportation of Firewood - Protects Maine’s hardwood trees from the spread of invasive species, including The Asian long horned beetle and the emerald ash borer.
LD 1585 - An Act To Protect Maine Farms and Nurseries – Prevents spread of late blight in tomato and potato crops by prohibiting large-scale retailers from selling annual plants on consignment unless both the large-scale retailer and the consignor comply with import and retail safeguards established for Maine’s farms and nurseries.
LD 1573 - An Act To Improve Water Quality through the Phaseout of Overboard Discharges and the Improvement of the Boat Pump-out Laws - Updates the state's policy of funding the replacement of household and business septic systems that discharge directly into the ocean or other water bodies, which significantly harms Maine's shellfish industry and other fisheries.
LD 1631 - An Act To Provide Leadership Regarding the Responsible Recycling of Consumer Products – Set a framework for the first-in-the nation program calling on manufacturers to recycle and re-use electronic waste and mercury-containing products to protect the environment.
LD 1662 - An Act To Improve Maine's Air Quality and Reduce Regional Haze at Acadia National Park and Other Federally Designated Class I Areas - Federal law requires Maine to improve air quality by reducing sulfur emissions. The bill is a compromise that puts Maine on the path of phasing in cleaner fuels in cooperation with other states in the region.
LD 1593 - An Act To Amend the Lobster Meat Laws and Expand Economic Opportunity for Maine's Lobster Industry - Helps Maine’s lobster industry compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace by allowing lobster processors more flexibility in sending innovative lobster meat products to market.
LD 1432 - An Act To Create a Saltwater Recreational Fishing Registry – Establishes a saltwater recreational fishing registry administered and operated by the state of Maine rather than the federal government. The registry is free once you purchase a freshwater fishing license. Striped Bass endorsements will cost $5 for residents who do not have freshwater licenses, and $15 for all nonresidents.
LD 1541 - An Act To Protect Consumers from Charges after a Free Trial Period- Protects consumers from unauthorized credit card charges on the expiration of free trial offers.
LD 1779 - An Act to Prohibit Surcharges on the Use of Debit Cards - Protects consumers from being assessed surcharges when they use debit cards, which are now used more often than credit cards according to the Federal Reserve Board.
LD 1256 - An Act To Prohibit Predispute Mandatory Binding Arbitration Clauses in Consumer Contracts - Protects consumers involved in mandatory arbitration contracts, by requiring arbitrators to disclose information about past arbitrations and the arbitration process on their Web sites. Mandatory arbitration clauses are often found in the fine print of many contracts for credit cards, cellular phone, and car purchases.
LD 1568 - An Act To Clarify Maine's Phaseout of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers – “Deca” bill that aggressively phases out the use of a dangerous brominated flame retardant in shipping pallets. It requires manufacturers to search for safer alternatives.
LD 1676 - An Act To Protect Maine Citizens' Credit - Prevents health care providers, or debt collectors working for those providers, from reporting certain medical debts on a consumer’s credit report as long as a minimum payment is being made to the provider of the medical treatment and if the consumer’s income is well below the federal poverty level.
LD 1546 - An Act To Improve Disclosure of Campaign Finance Information and the Operation of the Maine Clean Election Act - Clarifies gift reporting requirements for legislators and made technical changes to campaign finance disclosures to increase public transparency.
LD 1730 - An Act To Strengthen the Ballot Initiative Process- Prevents fraud and forgery in the ballot initiative process by creating a registration requirement for petition organizations that are compensated to organize, supervise or manage the circulation of petitions for a direct initiative or people's veto. In order to allow town clerks and the Secretary of State to better detect and track fraud, the bill adds a space on petition forms for a unique identifier and a sequential number representing the petitions circulated. It also requires that a petition be signed and notarized prior to being submitted to a municipal clerk for verification and directs the clerk to make copies of petitions that are suspected to be fraudulent. The bill also extends the time frame to challenge the decision of the Secretary of State to reject or certify petitions and also makes the current law consistent with the Maine constitution, which allows the for a total of 100 days for a final decision on the certification of a petition for a direct initiative or a People's Veto.
LD 1792 - An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee Concerning Public Records Exceptions – Ensures that records that should be available to the public will be available when they are requested.
The Transportation Committee primarily focused on helping to balance the budget. Despite financial constraints, the committee was able to make a few changes to the highway budget to allow for 600 additional miles of state roads to be maintained.
LD 1826 - An Act To Authorize Bond Issues for Ratification by the Voters for the June 2010 Election – Working together, the governor and members of both parties in the Legislature agreed to send a $57 million bond package to voters that will create and save more than 2,000 jobs this construction season and make important investments to strengthen Maine’s economy. The jobs bond includes $44.3 million in new borrowing proposals and reprograms $13.5 million from items that were already on the June ballot. The plan focuses heavily on roads, rails, and ports and reprioritizes bond proposals that were originally approved last year and scheduled to be on the ballot in June. The bond will be sent to voters for approval on the June ballot.
LD 1640 - An Act To Provide for the Safety of Maine Athletes - This bill applies rules of the road for bicyclists to roller skiers, providing added protections to athletes of the sport.
LD 1736 - An Act To Improve Safety on Maine's Primary and Secondary Roads, Reduce Road Maintenance Costs and Improve the Environment and the Economy by Allowing Certain Heavy Commercial Vehicles on the Interstate Highway System in Maine - Authorizes 6-axle combination vehicles consisting of 3-axle truck tractors with tri-axle semi-trailers of up to 100,000 pounds gross vehicle weight to operate on the Maine Interstate Highway System, for as long as a federal law exempting the State from the 80,000-pound limit is in effect, if otherwise in compliance with all other requirements of Maine law.
EDUCATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WORKING FAMILIES
LD 1658 - An Act To Increase Maine's High School Graduation Rates – Establishes the state goal of achieving an average statewide secondary school graduation rate of 90 percent by the end of the 2015-2016 school-year.
LD 1799 - An Act To Encourage the Use of Models in the Collection and Use of Student Achievement Data – Helps Maine qualify for federal Race-to-the-Top funds, possibly boosting funding for schools and potentially protecting and adding jobs for teachers. The law strikes down a legal barrier that has prevented the use of students' testing data in teachers' and principals' evaluations.
LD 1389 - An Act To Create State and Regional Quality of Place Investment Strategies for High-value Jobs, Products and Services in Maine - Creates council to advocate for ‘quality of place’ investments, based on economic development recommendations from the Brookings Institution, Establishes a 12-member Maine Quality of Place Council. The council would be charged with establishing standards and guidelines for regional quality of place investment strategies. It would also work with state agencies to identify best ways to actively promote and strengthen Maine’s quality of place assets and to encourage the agencies to fund regional quality of place projects.
LD 1418 -An Act To Preserve Home Ownership and Stabilize the Economy by Preventing Unnecessary Foreclosures – Provides protections to homeowners during the foreclosure process, including the establishment of a mandatory foreclosure mediation program and added transparency and education for homeowners throughout the foreclosure procedure.
LD 1778 - An Act To Enable the Installation of Broadband Infrastructure - This bill makes a federally supported dark fiber provider a telephone utility and authorizes it to string lines for dark fiber bringing broadband service to un-served and under-served areas. It also establishes a broadband sustainability fee that a dark fiber provider must collect from customers.
LD 1646 - An Act To Establish a Broadband Policy for Maine - The bill sets goals to expand broadband access throughout the state by establishing state policies that promote universal broadband access and the infrastructure necessary to provide that access statewide.
LD 1626 - An Act To Amend the Unemployment Compensation Laws Regarding Vacation Pay - Under current law, an individual is disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits for any week in which the individual receives, is entitled to receive or has received remuneration in the form of vacation pay. This bill removes that restriction.
LD 1545 - An Act To Protect Maine Workers – Protects Maine workers in the logging industry from being undercut by foreign bonded labor by requiring employers who hire bonded labor to provide proof of ownership, or a bona fide lease, of equipment as required by the Commissioner of Labor. The law aims to correct abuses within the system where employers may hire foreign contracting firms who have equipment, which is a violation of federal and state law. The amendment requires employers seeking bonded workers to form and participate in a recruitment clearinghouse that assists in evaluating and referring potential logging occupation workers.
LD 1558 - An Act Regarding Accidental Death Benefits for Beneficiaries of Deceased Firefighters - This bill provides an accidental death benefit to the beneficiary of a professional firefighter who dies from cardiovascular injury or disease or pulmonary disease as described in the Maine Revised Statutes.
LD 1703 - Resolve, To Implement the Recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Task Force – Reinforces the Juvenile Justice Task Force report from March that called on the state to make major changes to how it treats at-risk or troubled teenagers, proposing a list of goals aimed at keeping kids in school and out of correctional facilities.
The Taxation Committee primarily focused its work on the budget, helping to find creative solutions to the revenue shortfall. The committee was able to help restore several proposed cuts to key programs, such as the Circuit Breaker, which helps low-income families pay a portion of their property taxes, and also restored significant funding to municipal revenue sharing. It also worked to form several study committees to review future changes in the tax structure to stimulate business, evaluate tax expenditure programs, prepare for the growth of developing industries, and further assist veterans and low-income families.
LD 1449 - An Act To Expand Tax Incentives for Visual Media Productions – Establishes a small film tax credit for companies that come to Maine to make films or other visual arts.
LD 1637 - An Act To Change the Requirements for the Sales Tax Exemption for Snowmobile Trail Grooming Equipment – Allows certain snowmobile clubs to be eligible for the sales tax exemption for snowmobile trail grooming equipment.