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 23, 2006. (Note: Any legislation that was enacted by the Legislature but not yet signed by the Governor at the time this issue of the Townsman went to press was cited as PL 2005, c. xx.)
Mandate preamble. Legislation enacted with a “mandate preamble” contains the following language: “This measure requires one or more local units of government to expand or modify activities so as to necessitate additional expenditures from local revenues but does not provide funding for at least 90% of those expenditures. Pursuant to the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, Section 21, two-thirds of all of the members elected to each House have determined it necessary to enact this measure.” If the new law was enacted with a mandate preamble, it is so noted along with the Public Law citation.
Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
LD 934 – Resolve, To Direct the Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands To Lease Certain Public Reserved Lands to the Town of Allagash. (Sponsored by Rep. Jackson of Fort Kent) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 173
This Resolve authorizes the Director of Parks and Land in the Department of Conservation to lease the timber rights on four public reserved lots to the Town of Allagash.
LD 1881 – An Act Amending the Animal Welfare Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Piotti of Unity.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 510
This Act amends the animal welfare laws to: (1) redefine the terms “animal shelter” and “breeding kennel”; and (2) specify that a violation of a protection from abuse order that directs the care or custody of an animal is contempt of the court order.
Appropriations & Financial Affairs
LD 550 – An Act To Appropriate Matching Funds for the Construction of a Community Center in Oxford Hills. (Sponsored by Rep. Millett of Waterford.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act appropriates $50,000 in FY 07 for the purpose of matching privately-raised funds to construct a convention center in the Oxford Hills area.
LD 1891 – An Act To Provide Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. (Governor’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 29 (01/05/06)
This emergency Act provides $5 million to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to supplement the federal appropriation for FY 06.
LD 1909 – An Act To Make Minor Technical Changes to Maine’s Spending Growth Benchmarks. (Sponsored by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 621
This Act makes several technical and clarifying changes to the state, county and municipal spending limitations enacted as part of LD 1. Among the changes related to the local government spending limitation systems, this Act establishes: (1) the Director of the State Planning Office as the person determining the “average real total personal income growth factor”; (2) October 1 as the annual date for that determination; and (3) that the municipal “property tax levy limit” as established by LD 1 does not need to be adjusted under the “net new state funding” calculation for changes in state road subsidies provided under the Urban-Rural Initiative Program (URIP) if those changes are the result of operation of the existing statutory formulas governing those programs (see, also, LD 1965 under Taxation , below).
LD 1956 – An Act to Recapitalize the Maine Downtown Center. (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act appropriates $80,000 to recapitalize the Maine Downtown Center for fiscal year 2006-07. The Maine Downtown Center is an organization charged by statute to advocate for downtown revitalization. The State Planning Office serves on the Board of Directors of the Maine Downtown Center.
LD 1968 – 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, 2006 and June 30, 2007 (Governor’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Brannigan of Portland.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 519 (3/29/06)
This Act is the supplemental state budget for the FY 06 – FY 07 biennium which includes the following provisions of interest to municipal governments:
• The appropriation of an additional $42 million for the FY 07 state share of K-12 education, which brings the total appropriation to $914 million. $914 million is just shy of 50% of the full EPS model for FY 07, and is designed to conform to the statutory requirement that the state provide 53.86% of the EPS model at 90% of its operational costs.
• The setting of the “mill rate expectation” under school funding law at 7.6 mills for FY 07. The “mill rate expectation” for the current school year (FY 06) was 8.26 mills.
• The effective appropriation of $500,000 to fund the Fund for the Delivery of Local and Regional Services (Local Government Efficiency Fund). The voters of Maine created this Fund on June 8, 2004 and directed it to be funded at the rate of over $2 million each year, but the Legislature raided the Fund entirely for its first two years of existence. This provision would provide a level of funding for the next fiscal year at approximately 20% of what the voters established.
• The appropriation of $300,000 to capitalize the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services, which was also created by the voters on June 8, 2004 and subsequently raided and effectively repealed by the Legislature. Although statutory guidelines have been created to govern the distribution of the Local Government Efficiency Funds, the Legislature has never enacted any statutory guidelines that would govern the distributions from the Educational Efficiency Fund.
• The transfer of $15 million from the General Fund to the Highway Fund to address some of the $90 million worth of back-logged road and bridge improvement projects over this biennial transportation project period.
• The implementation of a series of amendments, clarifications and adjustments to the school funding distribution system and the Essential Programs and Services (EPS) allocation model that serves as a foundation to the distribution system, including:
– Requiring school systems to recognize “transition” funds in the calculation of the school’s overall spending benchmark;
– Requiring school systems that are proposing to appropriate more state and local resources than the 100% EPS allocation for that school system to specifically explain in the appropriate budget warrant article why the proposed budget is exceeding the benchmark;
– Implement changes in the EPS model regarding transportation costs;
– Dividing into three-year cycles the ongoing review of various components of the EPS model by the Department of Education and the Maine Education Policy Research Institute at the University of Southern Maine, with the first-year review in FY 07 focusing on: (1) student-to-staff ratios; (2) salary and benefits matricies; (3) the transportations model; (4) the so-called “small schools adjustments”; (5) labor market factors; and (6) the gifted and talented components of the EPS model.
– Allowing for approved Gifted and Talented costs and Career and Technical Education costs to be included in a school system’s EPS allocation;
– Allowing for various “transition” adjustments for certain school systems experiencing higher-than-average increases in state valuation; and
– Allowing for distribution adjustments for certain school districts when there are single municipalities within the district that are minimum subsidy receivers.
• The establishment of the Consolidated Emergency Communications Fund as an enterprise fund that accepts revenue from municipal, county and state government and authorizes the Department of Public Safety, Emergency Services Communications Bureau to establish positions to respond to and facilitate the consolidation of emergency communications systems within Kennebec County.
• The expansion of a provision of law that currently applies to firefighters to make sure it covers emergency services personnel as well. Specifically, the municipal officers under this amended law may authorize emergency services personnel to assist with public services in other municipalities whether those personnel are part of a municipal fire department or separately organized. The amendment also clarifies that when emergency services personnel assist other municipalities, they have the same privileges and immunities as when acting in their own municipalities.
• The adjustment and establishment of various periods of military conflict that trigger eligibility for the veterans’ property tax exemption (see, also, LD 1711 under Taxation, below).
LD 2120 – Resolve, To Require the Governor To Submit Legislation for Flood Damage Relief to the 123rd Legislature. (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County). Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. xx
This Resolve directs the Governor to submit emergency legislation in January 2007 to appropriate: (1) not less than $500,000 for the purpose of financing water and sewer lines and other infrastructure to assist in the building of a new downtown for the Town of Canton that will be located outside of the flood zone; (2) the balance of the 15% state share of costs associated with the flooding that occurred in the Spring of 2005; and (3) the 15% state share of costs associated with the flood damage that occurred in York County in May 2006.
Business, Research & Economic Development
LD 192 – An Act To Establish the Pine Tree Recreation Zone. (Sponsored by Rep. Moody of Manchester.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 555 (4/10/06)
This emergency Act establishes the “Pine Tree Recreation Zone” and defines the zone as land that is north and east of the Androscoggin River. It defines qualified businesses as those that are engaged in providing or supporting outdoor recreational services. Pine Tree Zone Recreation benefits will be available to projects that are located in labor market areas having a population density less than 30 people per square mile and that derive at least half of their revenue from providing accommodation, guide or equipment rental services to sustainable recreational or agricultural tourism. Pine Tree Zone Recreation Zone benefits are not defined. The Department of Economic and Community Development is charged with developing a strategic plan for Pine Tree Recreation Zones, including qualification and benefit proposals.
LD 1955 – An Act to Provide Emergency Regional Economic Development Assistance for Brunswick Naval Air Station. (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick). Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act allows a municipality to apply to the Department of Economic and Community Development to establish a military redevelopment zone, which is established as a type of Pine Tree Development zone. The Act also establishes various limitations on the size of that zone and establishes certain deadlines for those applications to be submitted.
LD 1957 – An Act To Establish a Development Authority for Brunswick Naval Air Station. (Sponsored by Rep. Richardson of Brunswick.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 599 (4/27/06)
This emergency Act establishes a redevelopment authority for the Brunswick Naval Air Station.
LD 2101 – An Act Regarding Prepaid Contracts for Heating Fuel. (Sponsored by Rep. Canavan of Waterville.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 632
This Act establishes certain minimum requirements for prepaid contracts for heating oil, kerosene or liquefied petroleum gas. Specifically, the Act requires the dealers selling those “locked-in” heating fuel contracts to have actually obtained contracts for the products the dealer is promising to provide or a surety bond or a letter of credit.
Criminal Justice & Public Safety
LD 1018 – An Act to Require a Criminal Background Check for the Initial Licensure of Emergency Medical Services. (Sponsored by Rep. Sykes of Harrison.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act establishes that the criminal background check for Emergency Services Personnel is only required for the applicant’s initial license and is not required for relicensing unless the Emergency Services employee has already been issued a license but has never been subject to a criminal background check. The Act also establishes that the criminal background information for any applicant is confidential and may not be disseminated outside the Emergency Medical Services Board.
LD 1508 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation To Conduct a Sunrise Review Regarding the Regulation of Fire Alarm Contractors. (Sponsored by Sen. Nass of York County.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 137
This Resolve directs the Commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to conduct an assessment of the regulation for fire alarm contractors. The assessment is to be reported to the Legislature by January 15, 2007.
LD 1825 – An Act To Amend the Rule-making Authority of the Commissioner of Public Safety Regarding the Construction, Installation, Maintenance and Inspection of Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances. (Sponsored by Rep. Thomas of Ripley.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 571 (4/12/06)
This emergency Act repeals the current directive to the Commissioner of Public Safety to adopt the NFPA Code #211 chimney construction rules and authorizes the Commissioner, instead, to adopt “routine technical” rules pertaining to the construction, installation, maintenance and inspection of chimneys, fireplaces, vents and solid fuel burning appliances. The Commissioner is also authorized to adopt “major substantive” rules (requiring legislative approval before final approval) pertaining to the inspection and maintenance of those structures and appliances upon their sale or transfer. The purpose of amending the current rule-making authority is to address the current standard within NFPA Code #211 that requires level II chimney inspections to be conducted upon the transfer of real estate.
LD 1831 – An Act To Allow Law Enforcement Agencies To Maintain Sex Offender Websites for Public Use. (Sponsored by Rep. Curley of Scarborough.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 545
This Act allows local law enforcement agencies to maintain their own sex offender websites and make those websites available to the public provided certain standards are met. Those standards are: (1) a notice must be prominently posted on the website stating that the website is not the official state sex offender registry and the local law enforcement agency is solely responsible for the website’s content; (2) a link must be provided to the official state sex offender registry; (3) the website must provide information only about sex offenders who are domiciled, reside, attend college or school or work within the local law enforcement agency’s jurisdiction; and (4) the information on the website must be updated no less frequently than every seven days and the website must prominently post the date of the last updating.
LD 2016 – An Act To Extend the Corrections Alternatives Advisory Committee. (Governor’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Blanchette of Bangor) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx (5/XX/06)
In the state budget bill enacted by the Legislature in June 2005, $150,000 was taken from the account that provides state financial support for county jails during this current fiscal year (FY 06) in order to fund a legislative study regarding the funding and operations of county jails. The study was to be conducted by the Corrections Alternatives Advisory Committee, which was originally scheduled to report its recommendations by January 1, 2006. This emergency Act extends the Committee’s report-back deadline to December 15, 2006.
LD 2044 – An Act To Enhance the Protection of Maine Families from Terrorism and Natural Disasters. (Reported by Sen. Strimling of Cumberland County for the Task Force to Study Maine’s Homeland Security Needs.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 634 (5/09/06)
This emergency Act implements a number of recommendations of the Task Force to Study Maine’s Homeland Security Needs. Among those recommendations, this Act: (1) directs the State Board of Education to allow the inclusion of backup energy generators within school construction projects if the school is expected to be used as a public shelter; (2) directs the Statewide Radio Network Board to develop protocols and procedures for radio frequency coordination throughout the state during major emergencies, with those protocols being developed with the participation of, among other groups, the Maine Sheriff’s Association, the Maine Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and representatives of local public works and utilities; and (3) directs the Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to study the qualifications and duties of local health officers and develop recommendations for enhancing the roles of local health officers in emergency preparedness plans.
LD 2118 – An Act Relating to the Handling of Firearms Confiscated by Law Enforcement Officers Pursuant to a Court Order. (Sponsored by Rep. Mills of Farmington). Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act directs the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, beginning on January 1, 2008, to provide training for municipal, county and state law enforcement officers regarding the proper handling, storage, safekeeping and return of firearms and firearm accessories received pursuant to a protection from abuse order. The Act also provides that a law enforcement officer who receives custody of a firearm pursuant to a protection from abuse order must exercise reasonable care to avoid loss, damage or reduction in value of such firearm and may not permanently mark the firearm or fire the firearm unless there is reasonable suspicion that the firearm has been used in the commission of a crime.
Education & Cultural Affairs
LD 1381 – An Act To Update Teachers’ Minimum Salaries. (Sponsored by Sen. Mitchell of Kennebec County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 635
This Act requires all school administrative units to pay a minimum salary of $27,000 for certified teachers for the school year starting on July 1, 2006 and a minimum salary of $30,000 for certified teachers for the school year starting on July 1, 2007 and thereafter. Although the Act suffers from seriously ambiguous wording, its apparent intentions and legal implications are as follows:
1. Regardless of any provision in any existing teachers’ contract to the contrary, no certified school teacher will be paid less than $27,000 (or the part-time equivalent) in FY 2007 and $30,000 in FY 2008 and thereafter.
2. Under the terms of the Act, the state will provide to each school administrative unit the difference between the state-mandated minimum pay level and the contracted pay level for FY 2007 when the contracted pay level is less than $27,000. The distributions to cover the differential payments are to be issued to the schools on a monthly basis.
3. The Act also establishes a “legislative intent” to similarly provide a projected $2.1 million for the same purpose of providing differential payments in FY 2008 to cover the gap between the mandated pay level of $30,000 and the contracted pay levels wherever they may be less than $30,000.
4. Beyond FY 2008, the Act establishes an intention that all school system allocations, which are based on the Essential Programs and Services school funding model (EPS), include an “adjustment” with respect to the state portion of that allocation that would continue to provide payments to cover the difference between the state-mandated minimum salary and the actual contracted salaries where the contracted salaries fall below the minimum.
5. The provisions of the Act that require the state to reimburse certain school systems for this minimum-pay mandate apply to the extent existing contracts establish lower levels of pay than the new minimums. The provisions of the Act that would require the state to cover the differential with respect to contracts executed after the effective date of this legislation will be contingent on how those contracts are written. To the extent the newly executed contracts will simply establish the new minimum salary requirements without segregating the teachers’ base pay from the “LD 1381” supplement, there will be no differential costs for the state to cover.
6. It is therefore not entirely clear how teachers’ contracts executed after the effective date of this legislation should or must be worded to reflect the impacts of this law. Apparently, interpretations of the law have been developed between the Department of Education, school administrators and the teachers’ union that will allow contracts to continue to provide for teacher salaries that are less than the minimum salaries required by the Act by separately recognizing the teachers’ base salary schedule as distinct from any “LD 1381” supplementary salary that the affected teachers may be entitled to by this Act.
7. The provisions of the Act that require the state to reimburse certain school systems for this minimum pay mandate will clearly be insufficient to cover teacher salary increases caused by, but not directly related to, the new minimum salary requirements. For example, the state will not be required to directly respond to the financial ripple effects whereby teacher pay schedules, generally, will have to expand and upwardly adjust to the new minimum pay levels.
8. The Act is clearly a state mandate, but it was not enacted as a state mandate by the Legislature presumably because the Act purports to completely cover the direct increased local expenditures that it requires. The exposure to the indirect increased costs of K-12 education caused by this Act will be shared by both state and local government.
LD 1425 – An Act To Support the Efficient Implementation of Maine’s Learning Results. (Sponsored by Rep. Cummings of Portland.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 593
This Act amends in a variety of ways the requirement for schools to administer performance assessments on their students to monitor individual and school-wide performance according to the Learning Results system. The main thrust of the Act is to establish a statewide moratorium on that assessment practice for the 2006-2007 school year.
LD 1780 – An Act Concerning Members of School Administrative Districts’ Finance Committees. (Sponsored by Sen. Bryant of Oxford County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 496
Under current law, the membership of the finance committee of a board of directors for a school administrative district (SAD) is set at three. This Act changes that number to a minimum of three directors.
LD 1903 – An Act To Restore the Cost-sharing Agreement Established by the Voters of Maine School Administrative District No. 40. (Sponsored by Rep. Miller of Somerville.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 38 (03/17/06)
This emergency Act reestablishes the cost-sharing agreement established in 1992 at a referendum election by the voters of Maine School Administrative District 40, replacing the cost-sharing system that was imposed last year as mandated by state law. The Act also preserves the right of the voters of the school district to amend that formula in the future according to the procedures to amend cost-sharing arrangements that are available under current law.
LD 1988 – An Act To Raise the Debt Limit of the City of Brewer High School District. (Sponsored by Rep. Fisher of Brewer.) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 42
This Act amends the private and special law that established the City of Brewer High School District to increase the district’s debt limit and clarify certain property conveyance and financing authorities.
Health & Human Services
LD 1036 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Burial or Cremation of Certain Persons. (Sponsored by Sen. Mayo of Sagadahoc County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 483
This Act makes two changes to the law regarding eligibility for General Assistance benefits for burial or cremation benefits. Under current law, the funeral director must notify the General Assistance administrator within 24 hours of receiving the body that there may be a need for General Assistance benefits. This Act extends that period of time for notification to 3 business days after receiving the body. Also under current law, the General Assistance administrator has 10 days to issue a written decision regarding eligibility for burial or cremation benefits after receiving an application. This Act reduces that period of time to 8 days.
LD 1875 – Resolve, Regarding Substance Abuse Treatment Services. (Sponsored by Rep. Millett of Waterford.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 150
This Resolve directs the Department of Health and Human Services to amend its rules governing substance abuse programs for persons receiving methadone or other “opioid” treatments to: (1) require the consideration of the need for methadone treatment in the community or region when licensing such a program, using data on drug use and treatment patterns in the community and region over a number of years prior to the application for a license; and (2) provide an opportunity for public input during the process of relicensing a methadone program.
Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
LD 1695 – An Act To Authorize the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to Allow the Operation of Snowmobiles Registered Outside the State at Special Events Occurring in the State. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 465 (2/01/06)
This emergency Act resolves conflicting legislation from the previous legislative session by reasserting the authority of the Commissioner or Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to allow the operation of snowmobiles registered in other states at special snowmobile events occurring in Maine.
LD 2050 – Resolve, To Allow the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife To Convey a Part of a Parcel of Land in the Town of Fairfield. (Sponsored by Rep. Finch of Fairfield.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 179
This Resolve authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to convey a parcel of land in the Town of Fairfield.
LD 2057 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the ATV Trail Advisory Council. (Presented by Rep. Watson of Bath for the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 626
This Act increases the standard distance an ATV may travel as a matter of right on public ways, including town roads, from 300 feet to 500 feet. Current law only allows a person to travel 500 feet if crossing a bridge or culvert. The act also relaxes the laws governing the operations of All Terrain Vehicles by reducing the types of ATV operational violations for which the IF&W Commissioner must suspend licenses from seven to five and makes the suspension of licenses discretionary for the other two offenses, which are: (1) operating an ATV on a temporarily closed trail, and, (2) operating an ATV on the land of another without permission. The Act also establishes a mandatory minimum suspension period of 90-days for discretionary license suspensions. The Act also creates four, part-time positions of “Recreational Trail Coordinator” within the Department of Conservation.
LD 1203 – An Act To Amend the Laws Concerning Eminent Domain. (Sponsored by Sen. Schneider of Penobscot County.) Mandate Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act increases the amount of additional compensation a business owner may receive if the owner’s property is taken by the Department of Transportation and requires municipalities to make these additional compensation payments if a municipality takes property of a business for certain purposes. The additional compensation amounts are: (1) Up to $2,500 for expenses associated with finding a new location; (2) Up to $20,000 for actual relocation expenses; or (3) in lieu of (1) and (2), a fixed payment based upon lost earnings up to $100,000. The Act also requires municipalities to make relocation benefit payments to residential property owners who have their property taken by eminent domain.
LD 1870 – An Act To Clarify Laws Governing Eminent Domain. (Sponsored by Rep. Simpson of Auburn.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 579
This Act would provide more limited-use eminent domain power than was allowed in a recent U.S. Supreme Court case known as the “Kelo” decision. Specifically, the Act prohibits the use of eminent domain authority against land used for agriculture, fishing or forestry or land improved with homes, commercial buildings or other structures if the purpose of the taking is to benefit private retail, office, commercial, industrial or residential development. In addition, the Act prohibits the use of eminent domain primarily for the enhancement of tax revenue or to transfer property to an individual or for-profit business entity. The restriction does not apply to an area upon a finding of blight, and the restriction does not apply to utilities. The legislation clarifies that eminent domain activities not proscribed by the Act continue to be allowed.
LD 1930 – An Act Regarding Working Waterfront Covenants. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 574
This Act implements authority given to the Land for Maine’s Future Board to be a party to working waterfront covenants and provides the definitions and provisions for creation, conveyance, acceptance and duration of working waterfront covenants, along with provisions for the scope and validity of such covenants, as well as applicability provisions. The Act additionally clarifies the power of municipalities to be a party to lawsuits to enforce or nullify covenants on land within the municipal borders.
LD 2111 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Freedom of Access Advisory Committee. (Reported by Rep. Simpson of Auburn for the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 631
This Act establishes the Right to Know Advisory Committee (RKAC) as a permanent advisory committee which monitors issues related to public documents. The 15-member committee is composed primarily of representatives of government entities (state, county, municipal, school, law enforcement) and press entities (newspapers, newspaper publishers, broadcasters). The primary duties of the RKAC are: (1) serving as a information resource for the public; (2) providing information and training to government officials responsible for administering the right to know law; (3) reviewing existing exemptions to the right to know law; and (4) providing feedback to the Legislature as it reviews legislation which affects access to government records. The annual cost of the maintaining the advisory committee is estimated at $4,000.
LD 235 – An Act to Increase the Minimum Wage. (Sponsored by Rep. Tuttle of Sanford.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 578
This Act increases the minimum hourly wage to $7 per hour over a two-year period. Starting on October 1, 2006 the minimum hourly wage will be $6.75 per hour. Starting on October 1, 2007, the minimum hourly wage will increase to $7 per hour. The current minimum hourly wage is $6.50 per hour.
LD 1021 – An Act to Implement Task Force Recommendation Relating to Parity and Portability of Benefits for Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters. (reported on behalf of the Task Force by Rep. Duplessie of Westbrook), Enacted; PL 2005, c. 636
This Act creates a state subsidy for the cost of retiree health insurance for municipal and county law enforcement officers and firefighters who retire from certain Maine State Retirement System plans. To pay for the state subsidy, the Act requires a minimum contribution from the retiree equal to 1.5% of the retiree’s compensation as a public safety employee for a minimum of five years. An otherwise eligible recipient who retires without making five years worth of contributions can participate in the program by making a one-time payment of the required contribution into the fund. The amount of the payment for the retiree is based on the person’s age at the date of enrollment into the program, average final monthly salary and any payments made by the person prior to retirement.
LD 1699 – Resolve, To Direct the Department of Labor to Coordinate a Task Force to Examine and Study Issues Relating to Workplace Safety and Workplace Violence. (Sponsored by Rep. Fischer of Presque Isle.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 167
This Resolve creates a 10-person task force to study a number of issues pertaining to violence in the workplace. The task force’s report and recommendations must be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 2007.
LD 1747 - An Act To Assist Maine Military Families. (Sponsored by Sen. Schneider of Penobscot County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 523 (4/03/06)
This emergency Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to allow an employee who is the spouse, domestic partner or parent of a Maine resident who is deployed for military service for more than 180 days to take a “family military leave” upon request. The leave must be scheduled during the 15-day period before deployment or the 15-day period after deployment, or both. The leave may be unpaid.
LD 2086 – An Act To Facilitate the Regionalization of Emergency Communications Dispatching Services. (Governor’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Hanley of Gardiner.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act provides that a member of the Maine State Retirement System: (1) whose previous membership was based on employment as a public safety communications dispatcher with a participating local district (PLD); (2) whose employment with that PLD was terminated as a result of the consolidation of that dispatching center with the Department of Public Safety; and (3) who is subsequently employed as a dispatcher for the Department…may elect to include previously earned creditable service with service earned as a state employee.
Legal & Veterans Affairs
LD 1889 – An Act To Amend the Election Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Fisher of Brewer.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 568 (4/11/06)
This emergency Act makes several changes to election laws. Among those changes, the Act: (1) restores the provisions of the voter address confidentiality program, which is administered by the Secretary of State for victims of domestic violence; (2) grants authority for the municipal clerk to conduct the duties of the registrar of voters; (3) prohibits a candidate from signing candidate petitions or Maine Clean Election Act forms on behalf of voters who are unable to sign their own names; (4) clarifies that township voters may choose the most convenient municipality in which to register to vote only if the county commissioners have not provided for a voting place either in the township or in another municipality; (5) removes an inconsistent provision for the retention of voter registration documents; (6) makes a technical change to the ballot retention period; (7) changes certain requirements for reporting to the Secretary of State by qualified political parties and the municipal clerks; (8) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction of unmarked official ballots; and (9) allows for the advertising within 250 feet of the polling place of issues and candidates not on the ballot.
LD 2033 – Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine Regarding Procedures for the People’s Veto and Direct Initiative. (Reported by Sen. Gagnon of Kennebec County for the Commission To Study Alternative Voting Procedures, the Citizen Initiative Process And Minor Party Ballot Access.) Finally Passed; Constitutional Resolution, c. xx
This Resolution sends out to the voters on November 7, 2006 several proposed amendments to the Constitution as it governs the citizen petition process on the state level. Specifically, the Resolution establishes that: (1) citizen-initiated petitions be returned to the Secretary of State’s Office no later than 18 months after the petition form was furnished or approved by the Secretary (up from a one-year period currently established by statute); and (2) no signatures submitted to municipal election officials after the deadline already established in the Constitution (i.e., no later than 10 days before the petition must be submitted to the Secretary) may be certified by those local officials.
LD 2067 – Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 520: Rules Regarding Publication of Public Comments on Statewide Referenda, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. (Reported by Rep. Patrick of Rumford for the Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections and Commissions.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 180 (4/11/06)
This emergency Resolve adopts the Secretary of State’s rules regarding the publication of public comments on statewide referenda. The rules establish the procedures that individuals, corporations, political action committees or other organizations must follow in order to have comments regarding a ballot measure published in the Secretary of State’s Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election document.
LD 1697 – An Act Regarding the Appointment of Harbormasters. (Sponsored by Sen. Hastings of Oxford County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 492
This Act establishes separate standards for appointing a harbor master depending on whether the municipality abuts “territorial” (salt) waters or inland (Great Pond) waterbodies. For municipalities that abut fresh water lakes and ponds, the requirement to create a position of harbor master is discretionary under this Act. For municipalities that abut the territorial waters, a provision in current law still applies that mandates the appointment of a harbor master on the request of a single individual seeking mooring privileges.
LD 2054 – An Act To Establish Harbor Master Training Requirements. (Reported by Rep. Percy of Phippsburg for the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 525
This Act requires all appointed or reappointed municipal harbormasters in municipalities that border the “territorial” (salt) waters to complete a basic harbor master training course within one year after being appointed or reappointed. The Act provides that the person receiving the training must pay for the costs of training, but municipalities are permitted to reimburse for those costs.
LD 141 – An Act To Ensure Proper Disposal of Debris and Protection of the Environment. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 617 (5/02/06)
This emergency Act establishes that wood from construction and demolition debris may not exceed 50% of the total fuel by weight combusted in a boiler. The Act also directs: (1) the Board of Environmental Protection to adopt rules within 30 days of the effective date of the bill that are consistent with the 50% statutory limitation; (2) the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to evaluate the feasibility of requiring source separation and state-of-the-art processing in order to remove toxic materials from construction and demolition debris prior to combustion in a boiler, and to report back its findings to the Legislature by February 1, 2007; (3) the DEP to evaluate the economic and technological feasibility of requiring all boilers that burn construction and demolition debris to use the best available control technology in order to minimize toxic air emissions, and to report back those findings to the Legislature by February 1, 2007; and (4) the DEP to evaluate the effects of allowing the substitution of wood from construction and demolition debris at percentage rates greater than 50% of total fuel usage (by weight) in power-generating boilers that employ the best control technology, and to report back those findings to the Legislature by February 1, 2007.
LD 1058 – An Act To Regulate the Use of Batteries Containing Mercury. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 509
This Act directs the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a comprehensive study of the availability and cost of mercury-free button cell batteries that is designed to determine if prohibiting the sale of mercury-added button cell batteries (such as batteries that power wristwatches) in the year 2011 is practical. The DEP is to present that report to the Natural Resources Committee by January 15, 2009.
LD 1535 – An Act Making Improvements to the Laws Regarding Local Land Use Ordinances. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 597
This Act (1) requires the municipality’s “implementation program” of its comprehensive plan to include something about the municipality’s “full range of spending and borrowing powers”; (2) clarifies that “impact fees” may be charged to cover a portion of the costs associated with new development; (3) clarifies that a development moratoria can be applied to all development or only certain types of development; and (4) establishes a three-part requirement for municipal rate of growth ordinances consisting of: (i) the number of permits allowed must equal at least 105% of the ten-year average number of permits issued; (ii) there must be an additional 10% set aside for affordable housing; and (iii) the number of permits allowed must be recalculated every 3 years.
LD 1768 – An Act To Prevent Motor Fuel Spills from Aboveground Storage Tanks That Have Underground Piping. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 491
This Act requires aboveground motor fuel storage tanks that have underground piping to be registered with the Department of Environmental Protection, assessed an annual $35 registration fee and inspected annually in the same manner as is currently required for underground oil storage tanks. For systems that store most motor fuels, the requirements would become effective on January 1, 2007, but for systems that hold diesel fuel, the requirements would become effective on July 1, 2009. The Act also requires that beginning January 1, 2011, underground piping installed at an aboveground motor fuel storage facility before June 24, 1991 meet the same leak detection requirements that apply to piping installed after that date.
LD 1777 – Resolve, To Establish a Blue Ribbon Commission on Solid Waste Management. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 207 (5/04/06)
This emergency Resolve creates a Blue Ribbon Commission to study waste management issues. The 9-member Commission is composed of representatives of the State Planning Office, the Department of Environmental Protections, legislators, two members of the public with expertise in solid waste management issues appointed by legislative leadership and three other members appointed by legislative leadership whose specific interests or expertise are not defined in the Act. The Commission is directed to do a comprehensive study of solid waste management issues including: (1) importation & exportation of waste; (2) construction and demolition debris disposal issues; (3) solid waste management structure; (4) data and trends; (5) the solid waste hierarchy; (6) host community benefits; (7) solid waste incineration; and (8) recycling goals and other topics. The Commission may meet up to ten times and shall report its findings to the Legislature by January 1, 2007.
LD 1795 – An Act To Ensure the Long-term Capacity of Municipal Landfills. (Sponsored by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 612
This Act prohibits the disposal of waste that originated out of state in a solid waste facility of any kind owned by a municipality, the state or a refuse district. The prohibition is accomplished by means of redefining the term “Commercial Solid Waste Disposal Facility”. The prohibition lasts until January 1, 2007 at which time the current definitions are restored to the law. The Act also specifies that upon the sale or transfer of a municipal solid waste facility to a private entity, the license issued by the Department of Environmental Protection for that solid waste facility is terminated. The Act also creates a definition of “bypass” waste that will sunset on January 1, 2007. Bypass waste is waste that is destined for disposal at a facility but must bypass the facility because the facility cannot accommodate the waste due to malfunction or other comparable reasons.
LD 1802 – Resolve, To Give the Town of Pownal Additional Time to Comply with the Subdivision Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Edmonds of Cumberland County.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 145 (3/28/06)
This emergency Resolve allows the Town of Pownal to enforce its subdivision ordinance with a unique definition of “subdivision” until January 1, 2008. Generally, there is a common statutory definition of “subdivision” that must be used by municipalities. The Resolve also directs the State Planning Office to assist Pownal in exploring options for establishing a review process for the creation of single residential lots.
LD 1860 – An Act Concerning Certain Provisions Regarding Protection of Natural Resources Related to Activities in Coastal Areas. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 548 (4/06/06)
This emergency Act clarifies that certain emergency actions may be taken without a permit when the integrity of a seawall, bulkhead, retaining wall or similar structure in a coastal sand dune system is destroyed or threatened by specifying that protective materials may be left in place to shore up a structure for no more than 18 months and by providing that actions taken to strengthen structures must be limited to those necessary to alleviate the imminent threat. Also, the list of those persons authorized to make determinations concerning the integrity of a structure is expanded beyond the local Code Enforcement Officer to include state licensed professional engineers and geologists. The Act also establishes a “permit by rule” process for the DEP after emergency actions have taken place.
LD 2035 – An Act Regarding Storm Water Program Administration. (Reported by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 602
This Act establishes a base $300 permit fee for facilities with industrial storm water discharges. The Act also corrects an inconsistency in the law for municipalities that have received delegation by the DEP to issue certain state permits. The Act grants delegated municipalities a full year to amend local ordinances to conform to changes to state storm water laws and rules. This makes the deadline for delegated municipalities to incorporate storm water law changes consistent with the deadline to incorporate changes to other parts of state laws and rules. The Act also establishes that changes to storm water rules are “routine technical” rules rather than “major substantive” rules, which are ultimately reviewed and approved by the Legislature. The Act allows the DEP to waive the new rules to the extent they are applied retroactively to permits already issued. This waiver may only be done if the new rules can not “practicably” be complied with by the permit holder. Lastly, the Act directs the DEP to review and report back by January 1, 2009 on what types of activity not currently obligated to apply for an industrial storm water permit should be included in the program. The activities of municipal public works garages will be specifically reviewed.
LD 2037 – Resolve, Regarding Source Water Protection Recommendations. (Reported by Sen. Cowger of Kennebec County for the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 140
This Resolve directs the Drinking Water Program (Program) within the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a process to allow public comment on recommendations described in a report dated February 2006 regarding source water protection issues that was submitted to the Natural Resources Committee. The Resolve also directs the Program to submit another report regarding source water protection issues, along with any legislative recommendations and based in part on the public comments received, to the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee by February 1, 2007.
LD 2070 – Resolve, To Ensure the Availability of Public Drinking Water Supplies. (Sponsored by Sen. Watson of Waldo County.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 190
This Resolve directs the Department of Environmental Protection to work with stakeholders, including community public water systems, to develop rules related to water withdrawals that reconcile the objectives of protecting aquatic life and other designated uses and the ability of community public water systems to use their existing water supplies for the purpose of providing water service.
State & Local Government
LD 889 – Resolve, Directing the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission to Establish a Working Group To Develop a County Government Capital Improvements Revolving Loan Fund. (Sponsored by Sen. Weston of Waldo County.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 133
This Resolve directs the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission (IAC) to establish a working group to design a county government capital improvements revolving loan fund that would make available financial assistance to counties for construction and repair projects. In addition to various county officials, the working group must include representatives of the Maine Municipal Association. The IAC is required to report its recommendations to the State and Local Government Committee by February 15, 2007.
LD 1127 – Resolve, Directing State Agencies To Assist and Facilitate any Governmental Units Wishing To Work Cooperatively. (Sponsored by Sen. Andrews of York County.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 130
This Resolve directs all state agencies to establish a process by which municipalities that are involved in the joint provision of services with other units of government may fulfill statutory filing requirements by filing jointly with those units. The State Planning Office is directed to monitor the progress on establishing these filing protocols and report back to the State and Local Government so that further legislation, if necessary, can be considered in 2007.
LD 1481 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Enactment Procedures for Ordinances. (Sponsored by Sen. Bromley of Cumberland Cty.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act prohibits municipalities through their regular legislative process, and citizens through any citizen initiated process, from enacting, amending or repealing a municipal land use ordinance in a manner that would nullify or modify a land use permit that had been issued more than 75 days before the local legislative enactment. Although the Act will have the effect of requiring municipalities under various circumstances to schedule petitioned referenda votes outside of normal election schedules, and therefore constitutes a mandate, the Legislature refused to recognize the mandatory aspects of the legislation. Municipalities that find themselves in the position of being forced to schedule an election at an inappropriate time as a result of this Act should review 30-A MRSA §5685(4), which provides that a municipality would not be bound by the requirements of this legislation if it is determined by a court to be a mandate.
LD 1694 – An Act To Allow the Towns of Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman to Deposit All Tax Revenues, Grant Revenues and Other Income and Revenues into One Depository Account. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 31 (3/02/06)
This emergency Act authorizes the towns of Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman to create and maintain a common ownership depository account in the name of the three towns for the deposit of all tax revenues, grant revenues and other income and revenues received by the three towns.
LD 1713 – Resolve, To Direct the Department of Audit To Establish a Working Group To Develop a Model Chart of Accounts for All Levels of Government. (Reported by Rep. Barstow of Gorham for the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 136
This Resolve directs the Department of Audit to establish a working group to develop a model chart of accounts to be voluntarily adopted by municipalities, the counties and the State. The working group includes representatives of the State Planning Office, the Office of State Controller, the Maine Municipal Association, and the Maine County Commissioners’ Association. The working group’s recommendations are to be reported back to the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission no later than November 1, 2006.
LD 1728 – Resolve, Establishing an Apportionment Commission to Develop New Cumberland County Commissioner Districts. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. xx
This Resolve establishes an apportionment commission and directs the commission to develop two plans, one of which would expand the three-member Cumberland County Board of Commissioners to five members, and the other plan would expand the Board to seven members. The Resolve further directs the Cumberland County Commissioners to pick one of the two proposed plans to submit to the voters of Cumberland County and authorizes the Commissioners to present that plan to the County voters at a June, 2007 referendum election. If the Commissioners present the plan to the voters and if the voters approve of the plan, it must be be submitted to the Legislature in January, 2008 for enactment. If finally approved, the expanded Board of Commissioners will be elected in November 2008.
LD 1735 – An Act To Authorize Chebeague Island To Secede from the Town of Cumberland. (Sponsored by Rep. McKenney of Cumberland.) Mandate Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 47
This Act authorizes the separation of Chebeague Island and certain surrounding islands from the Town of Cumberland and their incorporation as the Town of Chebeague Island.
LD 1762 – An Act Authorizing the Deorganization of Drew Plantation. (Sponsored by Sen. Raye of Washington County.) Enacted; P&SL 2005, c. xx
This Act authorizes the deorganization of Drew Plantation in Penobscot County according to a certain plan of deorganization and provided the deorganization is ratified by the voters of Drew Plantation at a referendum election.
LD 1846 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services to Establish a Working Group to Examine Ways for Municipalities to Distribute More Heating Assistance. (Sponsored by Rep. Schatz of Blue Hill.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 146
This Resolve directs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to establish a working group to examine ways for municipalities to provide additional heating assistance to low income households through the General Assistance program during periods of “unmet need” under the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LI-HEAP). DHHS is directed to report its recommendations to the State and Local Government Committee no later than December 15, 2006.
LD 1865 – An Act To Clarify the Time Period in Which Municipalities Must File Notices of Intent with the State for Purposes of Issuing Building Permits. (Sponsored by Rep. Barstow of Gorham.) Enacted; PL 2005, C. 489
This Act clarifies that a municipality must be informed “as soon as practicable” in the design process of a state construction project or public improvement within that municipality’s boundaries. The method of notification is written notification to the municipal manager or, in the absence of a manager, the first selectman. The Act also requires a municipality that intends to review or issue permits for that project or improvement to file notice of intent within 45 days of notification of the project or improvement.
LD 1880 – An Act to Promote Youth Involvement in County and Local Government. (Sponsored by Rep. Cain or Orono.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
This Act creates the County and Local Government Internship Program, administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy at the University of Maine, which pairs college-age students with county and local governments. Students must have completed at least two years of college or have just graduated from college and must be Maine residents or out-of-state students attending college in the state.
LD 2072 – An Act To Amend the Definition of “Municipality” as It Relates to the Maine Municipal Bond Bank Act. (Sponsored by Rep. Sherman of Hodgdon.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 552 (4/06/06)
This emergency Act amends the definition of “municipality” in the Maine Municipal Bond Bank Act to include any corporation owned entirely by a municipality, special district, county plantation or municipal village corporation.
LD 791 – An Act Concerning the Taxation of Property Owned by Certain Veterans’ Organizations. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
Beginning with the April 1, 2007 tax year, this Act amends and expands the property tax exemption that applies to the veterans’ legion halls, such as posts of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Veterans, etc. Under current law, only the real and personal property of these organizations that is “used solely….for meetings, ceremonials or instruction” is eligible for a property tax exemption. This Act expands that exemption to the real and personal property of those organizations that is also used to “further the charitable activities” of the organizations. Because the Act represents the expansion of a property tax exemption, it triggers a constitutional requirement that the Legislature provide at least 50% of the property tax revenue that is lost to any municipality because of the expanded exemption.
LD 1552 – An Act to Make Owners of Cooperative Housing Eligible for the Homestead Exemption. (Sponsored by Rep. Crosby of Topsham.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
Beginning with the April 1, 2007 tax year, this Act expands the definition of “homesteads” qualifying for the Homestead property tax exemption to include cooperative housing, even though the homeowner living in cooperative housing property is not the owner of record for property tax purposes. According to the terms of the Act, it is the cooperative housing corporation that must apply for the homestead exemption, which is calculated as the valuation of property of the corporation that is occupied by qualifying shareholders. The application must include a list all qualifying shareholders and must be updated annually to reflect changes in the ownership and residency of those qualifying shareholders. Although it is unclear how this is monitored, the cooperative housing corporation that receives an aggregated homestead exemption must apportion the property tax reduction among the qualifying shareholders on a per-unit basis.
LD 1711 – An Act To Make Minor Substantive Changes to the Tax Laws. (Sponsored by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 622
This Act makes a number of “minor substantive” changes to Maine’s tax code. With respect to municipal government, the Act increases the property tax exemption for certain paraplegic veterans from $47,500 to $50,000.
LD 1796 – Resolve, Concerning the Assessment of Property Subject to Affordable Housing Limitations and Benefits. (Sponsored by Sen. Perry of Penobscot County.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 170
This Resolve directs Maine Revenue Services (MRS) to review the factors that should be considered by municipal assessors when determining the just value of low-income housing properties that are acquired, rehabilitated or constructed through federal low-income housing laws or programs. Some of the valuational factors MRS is directed to review are contracts and agreements, legal restrictions, government subsidies, tax credits, and permits and licenses. To conduct this review, MRS is directed to consult with an advisory group that includes municipal assessors, municipal officials, and low-income housing financiers, developers and owners. MRS is further directed to present its findings and recommendations to the next Legislature by January 10, 2007, and incorporate its recommendations into its annual tax school curriculum.
LD 1799 – An Act to Exempt Snow Grooming Equipment and Machinery from the Personal Property Tax. (Sponsored by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis County). Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx
Beginning (retroactively) with this April 1, 2006 tax year, this Act exempts from property taxation snowmobile trail grooming equipment that is registered with the Department of Conservation. Because the Act creates a property tax exemption, affected municipalities are entitled to 50% of the property tax revenue they will lose because of the exemption.
LD 1857 – An Act To Clarify Municipal Valuations of Resort Property. (Sponsored by Rep. Duplessie of Westbrook.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 607
This Act authorizes municipal tax assessors to consider as a “relevant factor” the real property value of a time share estate as declared in the declaration of value as may be recorded in Real Estate Transfer Tax documents. The Act also amends the procedures to be followed when the managing entity of a time share estate condominium is collecting the taxes of all the time share estate owners and transferring those collected taxes to the municipality. Under the terms of the amended procedures, and with respect to the taxes that were due but not collected by the managing entity, the managing entity would be authorized (as it is under current law) to place a lien on the time share estate to enforce the tax collection effort. With some modification to current law, the managing entity would be further required to pay the overdue taxes to the municipality by the earlier of two deadlines: (1) within 30 days after collecting the overdue taxes or foreclosing on the lien; or (2) within 10 months from the date of commitment.
LD 1965 – An Act To Ensure the Ability of Municipalities to Provide Assistance to Their Citizens. (Sponsored by Sen. Nutting of Androscoggin County.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 515 (3/28/06)
This emergency Act establishes that a municipality’s “property tax levy limit”, as established by a formula created in LD 1, does not need to be adjusted under the “net new funding” calculation associated with that limit with respect to year-to-year variations in state reimbursement under the General Assistance program (GA) if those annual variations are merely the result of the operation of the existing statutory formula governing the GA reimbursement (see, also, LD 1909 under Appropriations and Financial Affairs, above.)
LD 1972 – An Act To Preserve Maine’s Working Waterfront. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 609
On November 8, 2005, the voters amended the state’s Constitution by adding to the list of land that may be subject to current use taxation “waterfront land that is used for or that supports commercial fishing activities”. This Act implements that constitutional amendment by establishing the following program:
General structure. The application of current use taxation to certain types of working waterfront land under this Act relies on the general structure of the Tree Growth program and the Open Space program in its administrative details. The property owner must apply to the municipal assessor in order to enroll the property in the program. A specific map of the parcel of land (or the portion of the parcel of land) that the landowner wants to enroll in the program must be provided. The penalty for withdrawing the land from the program is modeled after the Tree Growth penalty. The first tax year when the new working waterfront tax enrollment may apply is the tax year beginning on April 1, 2007.
What land qualifies? The land that qualifies for the program is described in the Act as follows:
“A parcel of land, or a portion thereof, abutting water to the head of tide or land located in the intertidal zone that is used primarily or predominantly to provide access to or support the conduct of commercial fishing activities.”
“uses of land that “support the conduct of commercial fishing activities” are: (1) the provision of access to the water or the intertidal zone to persons directly engaged in commercial fishing activities; or (2) commercial business activities that provide goods or services that directly support commercial fishing activities.”
The term “commercial fishing activities” does not include retail sale to the general public of marine organisms or their byproducts, or other products or byproducts of commercial aquaculture production or commercial fishing.
The purposes of this definition are at least fourfold.
First, qualifying land must be waterfront land adjacent to salt or tidal waters. Second, the property owner who engages in mixed uses is permitted to enroll only the portion of his or her waterfront land that qualifies. Third, the land must be used directly and primarily by persons engaged in commercial fishing activities or by commercial businesses that own waterfront land, the uses of which primarily support commercial fishing activities. Fourth, the land occupied by retail activities that sell the products of commercial fishing activities (restaurants, tourist shops selling fishing paraphernalia, etc.) does not qualify.
How should the enrolled land be valued? The application of this new program for working waterfront land borrows on a central concept in the Open Space valuation methodology. Both in the Open Space law and in this new program, the municipal assessor is provided a choice in the approach he or she may take to determine the current use value of working waterfront land.
Data-based approach. The first approach is the data-based approach, whereby the local assessor is instructed to identify and remove from the calculation of the land’s just value all the “excess valuation factors” that should not pertain to the land’s current use value, such as residential housing factors, aesthetic or recreational water-use factors, or commercial development factors that are not related to commercial fishing activities. Additionally, the assessor is instructed to consider comparable assessments of functionally equivalent commercial property that is being assessed well off the water and therefore is not affected by some of those “excess valuation factors”.
Percent-reduction method. The second approach is available to the assessor when there is insufficient data to determine the current use value of the land in the manner just described. Under the second approach, the assessor would first have to determine if the land is being used “primarily” for commercial fishing activities (which means a use that is greater than 50%) or “predominantly” for commercial fishing activities (which means a use that is greater than 90%).
If the land fits the “primarily” standard, the assessor would reduce its just value by 10% under this alternative approach. If the land fits the “predominantly” standard, the assessor would reduce its just value by 20%.
If the land is also subject to a deeded restriction that permanently limits its use to commercial fishing activities, the assessor would add a 30% reduction to whichever percentage reduction the land would otherwise qualify for. Under this cumulative approach, for example, land that is predominantly used for commercial fishing activities that is also the subject of an enforceable deed restriction would be eligible for a 50% reduction in its “just value” assessment.
Developing a data base. Finally, the Act directs Maine Revenue Services, in consultation with municipal assessors and working waterfront interests, to begin collecting the actual sales data of this type of working waterfront property that is subject to enforceable legal restrictions that prevent alternative uses. These may be zoning restrictions or privately-created deed restrictions. The purpose of the information gathering effort is so actual data on the current use valuation of this type of property can be presented to future legislatures if the 10%, 20% and cumulative 30% reductions need to be adjusted in the future.
LD 1989 – Resolve, Directing the State Board of Property Tax Review To Accept and Review the Appeal Filed by the Town of Palermo. (Sponsored by Sen. Weston of Waldo County.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 134 (3/13/06)
This emergency Resolve requires the State Board of Property Tax Review to hear the appeal filed by the Town of Palermo on December 8, 2005 regarding the 2006 valuation of the town as determined by Maine Revenue Services. Although an appeal was filed by the town, it did not contain a sworn affidavit and was sent to Maine Revenue Services instead of the State Board of Property Tax Review.
LD 2039 – An Act To Establish Municipal Cost Components for Unorganized Territory Services To Be Rendered in Fiscal Year 2006-07. (Reported by Rep. Woodbury of Yarmouth for the Department of Audit.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 624 (5/04/06)
This emergency Act: (1) establishes the property tax commitment for the unorganized territories for FY 2006-2007 in the amount of $15.5 million; and (2) establishes a “LD 1”-type property tax levy limitation for the “municipal cost component” of the county budgets that relates to the unorganized territories. Specifically, each county-level budget approval process must separately evaluate whether the “municipal cost component” for the unorganized territory in that county falls within or exceeds the growth limitation allowance for that county’s unorganized territories as calculated by Maine Revenue Services. In order for the authorized governmental body to approve the county municipal cost component in the event the municipal cost component exceeds the growth limitation allowance, there must first be the express approval to exceed or increase that growth limitation by a majority of the county budget committee or county budget advisory committee and the county commissioners. In order for the Legislature to finally approve an overall property tax commitment for the unorganized territories that includes increases for the municipal cost components over the established limits, the Legislature would have to specifically state the intent of the Legislature to exceed or increase the growth limitation.
LD 2056 – An Act To Replace Municipal Revenues Subject to Business Equipment Property Tax Exemption. (Sponsored by Rep. Bowles of Sanford.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 623
This Act, as described below, prospectively exempts from taxation most types of personal property and some specialty types of real estate.
What property qualifies? Most types and categories of business personal property qualify for the exemption. The specific types of personal property to which the prospective exemption will not apply are all types of personal property that do not currently qualify for the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program, including office furniture and fixtures, utility and gas pipeline property, gambling machines, and the personal property in retail stores that over 100,000 square feet in size. In addition to those exclusions, and with one categorical exception, the prospective exemption does not apply to the personal property located in all other retail sales facilities. The exception is any retail facility over 100,000 square feet in size that derives less than 30% of its total annual revenue from sales that are subject to Maine sales tax.
When does the exemption take effect? The exemption is purely prospective, and will apply to all qualifying property that is first installed in Maine after April 1, 2007, and would therefore become subject to taxation if it were not for this law on or after April 1, 2008.
What are the basic administrative tasks? In order for any personal property to be exempted from taxation under this legislation, the owner of the property will have to file a complete listing of that property with the municipal assessor by May 1 every year. The forms for this filing must be supplied by Maine Revenue Services. It is on the basis of these filings, once accepted by the municipality, that the exempt property is identified and the value of the exempt property is determined. If for any reason the owner fails to file for the exemption in a timely manner or fails to follow the statutory procedures for responding to inquiries from the municipal assessors, the property in question is not exempt from taxation for that year.
Mandate reimbursement. The legislation contains new mandated municipal functions, and the bill provides that the municipal costs associated with those new required local functions will be covered at least at the 90% actual-cost level by the state. It is unclear how Maine Revenue Services will structure this mandate reimbursement, but it may follow the pattern established by the property tax homestead exemption where a certain dollar value is provided for each application for the exemption that a municipality has to process. Unless a municipality wants to contest that its actual costs are greater than that default rate, the default rate will determine the municipality’s mandate-cost reimbursement.
Municipal reimbursements. The municipal reimbursement with respect to the lost property taxes associated with this new exemption is scheduled to be provided under one of two formulas, whichever is most beneficial to the municipality.
Basic reimbursement formula. For all municipalities in the first year after the exemption, and for a majority of the municipalities thereafter, the reimbursement would be 100% for the lost property taxes in the first tax year after the exemption takes effect (FY 2009), 90% in the second year after the exemption takes effect (FY 2010), 80% in FY 2011, 70% in 2012, 60% in 2013, and 50% in 2014 and every subsequent year. Maine’s Constitution requires a 50% reimbursement at a minimum.
Enhanced formula. Municipalities that have a total property tax base that is made up of at least 5% personal property will be eligible for an alternative reimbursement formula if it provides a higher level of reimbursement in any year than the basic reimbursement formula. Those municipalities will be eligible to receive the 50% minimum reimbursement plus 50% of their tax base percentage that is made up of personal property. For example, if a mill town’s tax base is 64% personal property, it would be eligible for a reimbursement rate of 82%, which is a combination of the minimum 50% reimbursement plus one-half of that municipality’s 64% “personal property tax factor”. Continuing with that example, in FY 2011, when the basic statewide reimbursement rate had “phased down” to 80%, this particular mill town would opt for the alternative formula at the 82% reimbursement level.
Effect on municipality’s property tax rate. For the purposes of identifying the municipality’s valuation for the purpose of determining the local property tax rate, the value of all property made exempt by this legislation in the town or city must be considered part of that municipality’s local valuation to the precise extent to which the municipality is being reimbursed for its lost property taxes by the state.
Effect on municipality’s state valuation. The value of all property made exempt by this legislation in the town or city will also be considered part of that municipality’s state valuation to the precise extent to which the municipality is being reimbursed for its lost property taxes by the state.
Securing the reimbursement. The legislation attempts to provide some additional security to the municipal reimbursement system by funding the reimbursements described above directly from state income tax receipts before those receipts are deposited into the General Fund, rather than as an annual General Fund appropriation. This so-called “over the line” funding is essentially the same way that the BETR reimbursements and Circuit Breaker rebates are funded, except that this “over the line” funding system is written in such a way that the underlying system of funding the municipal revenue sharing program (Local Government Fund) is not negatively affected.
Revenue sharing supplement. In an effort to respond to the potential tax base losses in Maine’s service center communities that rely on a relatively broad sector of personal property accounts that are not concentrated in a single industrial owner, the Committee amendment would inject a supplementary $2 million into the municipal “Revenue Sharing II” account in FY 2010, $2.5 million in FY 2011, $3 million in FY 2012, $3.5 million in FY 2013 and $4 million in FY 2014 and in all subsequent years.
LD 2075 – An Act to Create the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. (Citizen Initiative: Transmitted to the Clerk of the 122nd Maine Legislature by the Secretary of State and ordered printed.)
This bill is the citizens’ initiative that would establish the so-called “Taxpayers Bill of Rights” or “TABOR” in Maine. The bill was rejected by the Legislature and will therefore be presented to the voters as a ballot question at the general statewide election on November 7, 2006.
This particular version of TABOR is modeled after (but is significantly different from) the original version of TABOR that was adopted as a constitutional amendment in Colorado in 1992 and then suspended by the voters in Colorado in 2005. In general terms, TABOR is a “tax and expenditure limitation system” that limits the year-to-year expenditure growth of state, county, municipal, and school governments, along with those governments’ capacity to increase tax rates or fees. This unique version of TABOR being proposed for Maine is different from the Colorado version of TABOR in at least two major respects: (1) unlike the Colorado version of TABOR, the Maine version is entirely unenforceable with respect to state government; that is, the Legislature can ignore its requirements whenever it wishes to; and (2) unlike the Colorado TABOR, the Maine version would establish irrational and in many cases negative budgets restrictions for municipalities and schools systems. Also unlike the Colorado version of TABOR, the Maine version would make it very difficult to override these budget restrictions if they were not acceptable to the municipality.
The specific budget restrictions established by TABOR are as follows:
For municipalities (and counties and utility districts), the spending limitation applies to all revenue available to the local government in the previous year, adjusted by one of two possible percentages, whichever one is the lowest:
1. The percentage change in the municipality’s assessed value from the previous to the present year; or
2. The rate of inflation (Consumer Price Index), adjusted by the annual change in the municipality’s population, as determined by the State Planning Office.
For school systems, the spending limitation applies to all revenue available to the school in the previous year, adjusted by:
1. The rate of inflation (CPI), adjusted by the annual change in the school’s student enrollment.
Under TABOR, no municipality or school system could adopt a budget that exceeded the restrictions imposed by these formulas unless the town meeting or town/city council first approved the budget by at least a two-thirds vote and the entire budget was also approved by a town-wide or city-wide referendum. That same procedure (the two-thirds vote of the town meeting or town/city council followed by a town-wide or city-wide referendum) would also have to be followed to accomplish any of the following:
• Adopting a municipal budget that will have the effect of increasing the town’s mill rate, even if the budget does not exceed the restricted expenditure level;
• Establishing a fee or increasing any existing fee, no matter how small the increase may be and even if the overall budget, including the fee increase, does not exceed the restricted expenditure level;
• Approving a bond issue or other borrowing mechanism if the expenditure of the borrowed money, in combination with all other municipal expenditures, exceeds the restricted expenditure level.
If TABOR was the law today, 35% of Maine’s municipalities and 33% of Maine’s school systems would have to cut their budgets. A complete town-by-town and school-by-school impact analysis of the TABOR restrictions can be reviewed at MMA’s website (www.memun.org).
LD 2096 – Resolve, To Reduce State Valuation as a Result of the Closure of Georgia-Pacific Facilities. (Sponsored by Sen. Schneider of Penobscot County.) Emergency Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 202 (4/28/06)
This emergency Act authorizes the City of Old Town to apply for an expedited reduction in its state valuation as a result of the reduction in value of the Georgia-Pacific facility.
LD 1159 – An Act To Promote Municipal-State Transportation Investment Partnerships. (Sponsored by Rep. Fisher of Brewer.) Enacted; PL 2005, c.xx
This Act creates two new mechanisms for financing and delivering highway improvements projects. One mechanism establishes a 50/50 state/local partnership for financing new road construction needed to spur community development initiatives. State participation is subject to the availability of state funds. The municipality assumes responsibility for project design, permitting and construction of the new road. The road must also be built to state standards and classified as a major collector or arterial highway. The other mechanism is modeled on the existing state/municipal partnership for repairing rural minor collector roads. Communities can voluntarily partner with the state to fund road improvements in developed areas. To be eligible to participate in the program, a municipality must have a DOT approved road improvement plan and have a development project that has been issued a state traffic movement permit. The cost of the project is to be funded equally between the municipality, the Highway Fund and the General Fund, or in the absence of General Fund revenue, by a private developer.
LD 1696 –An Act To Clarify the Assessment of Costs to Maintain a Private Way or Bridge. (Sponsored by Sen. Diamond of Cumberland County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 479
This Act amends the law governing how the costs of maintaining a private way controlled by a private association are assessed among all the affected property owners. Current law requires the assessment to be based on the respective property owners’ “interests”. This Act requires the assessment to be based on each property’s assessed value for the purposes of property taxation.
LD 1706 – An Act To Prohibit Parking in Access Aisles. (Sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. 528 (4/04/06)
This emergency Act establishes the fine for illegally parking in a designated disabled parking space or access aisle adjacent to a parking space as no less than $200 and no greater than $500. The Act also authorizes any person who witnesses a parking violation to report the time and location of the violation and the license plate number and description of the vehicle illegally parked to a law enforcement officer. The investigating officer may issue a summons to the registered owner of the vehicle for the parking infraction.
LD 1730 – An Act To Ensure Business Equity in Commercial Vehicle Registration. (Sponsored by Rep. Blanchard of Old Town.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 501
This Act amends the laws governing the registration of “special mobile equipment”, which is heavy road construction machinery on wheels or tracks, often trucked to the operational site on low-boy trailers. Under current law, special mobile equipment used on public ways must be registered in Maine as a motor vehicle. This Act clarifies that the obligation to register that equipment applies whether the special mobile equipment is rented from a location in Maine or outside of Maine, or whether the owner of the special mobile equipment is headquartered in Maine or outside of Maine.
LD 1750 – An Act To Amend Certain Transportation Laws. (Sponsored by Sen. Damon of Hancock County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 482
This Act makes several technical changes to the laws governing highway lighting and signage. Of particular interest to municipalities, the Act: (1) allows for an exception to the outdoor highway “luminaire” requirements if the Commissioner of Transportation determines that the lighting is related to a Department of Transportation project of state and regional significance and is supported by municipalities directly affected by the installation; (2) requires local administration of municipal ordinances regarding changeable signs; and (3) adds language to and removes requirements from the provisions of law regarding the amber lights on snow removal and sanding vehicles to reflect current technology.
LD 1974 – An Act To Make Additional Allocations from the Highway Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of State Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2006 and June 30, 2007. (Governor’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Marley of Portland.) Emergency Enacted; PL 2005, c. xx (5/xx/06)
This emergency Act is the supplemental Highway Fund budget for the FY 06-FY07 biennium.
LD 2058 – Resolve, Authorizing a Pilot Project To Allow Timber Harvesting Equipment To Be Moved During Nighttime. (Sponsored by Rep. Jackson of Allagash.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 189
This Resolve directs the Secretary of State, Department of Transportation and the State Police to conduct a pilot project to grant movement permits for the overnight transportation of timber harvesting equipment on state roads and bridges. The special permitting process is available for equipment being transported between midnight and sunrise during the months of March and April. Travel is limited to loads no wider than 11 feet, 6 inches and no longer than 75 feet and on nights when the temperature is less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Two escort vehicles must accompany all moves. The Secretary of State is required to submit a report to the Transportation Committee in February 2009 regarding the implementation of this Resolve. The Resolve is repealed 90 days after the convening of the First Session of the 124th Legislature in 2009.
Utilities & Energy
LD 635 – An Act Relating to Community Sanitary Districts. (Sponsored by Rep. Koffman of Bar Harbor.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 556
This Act amends the Sanitary District Enabling Act to allow for the creation of “decentralized community sanitary districts” which would be sanitary districts created within the growth zones established through the comprehensive planning process and designed to collect, manage, treat and dispose non-industrial sanitary waste generated in those growth zones.
LD 637 – Resolve, To Address the Telecommunications Needs of Federally Qualified Health Centers (Sponsored by Rep. Bliss of South Portland.) Finally Passed; Resolves 2005, c. 141
Under current law, telecommunications carriers are charged a fee and the revenue generated by the fee is dedicated to telecommunications projects for schools and libraries. This Resolve allows health centers to access a portion of the funds as well. The amount of money going into the fund is not increased.
LD 1708 – An Act To Allow the Buckfield Village Corporation To Be Dissolved and Combined with the Town of Buckfield. (Sponsored by Rep. Hanley of Paris.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 40 (3/22/06)
This emergency Act allows the Buckfield Village Corporation to be dissolved and combined with the Town of Buckfield.
LD 1736 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Boothbay Harbor Sewer District. (Sponsored by Rep. Bishop of Boothbay.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 34 (3/02/06)
This emergency Act amends the charter of the Boothbay Harbor Sewer District so that the district would include the Town of Boothbay. The Act also increases the district’s debt limit.
LD 1740 – An Act To Establish the Athens Standard Water District. (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County.) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 32
This Act establishes the Athens Standard Water District.
LD 1744 – An Act To Create the Washburn Water and Sewer District. (Sponsored by Sen. Martin of Aroostook County.) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 41
This Act establishes the Washburn Water and Sewer District.
LD 1833 – An Act To Change the Charter of the St. Francis Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Jackson of Fort Kent.) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 33
This Act amends the charter of the Saint Francis Water District to clarify that a town selectman may serve on the water district board.
LD 1931 – An Act To Encourage Energy Independence for Maine. (Sponsored by Sen. Bartlett of Cumberland County.) Enacted; PL 2005, c. 569
Among other directives to state agencies and changes in law related to energy conservation efforts, this Act it encourages all public school “facility managers” to complete a “building operators certification program” established and conducted under the authority of the Public Utilities Commission.
LD 1970 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Lisbon Water Department. (Sponsored by Rep. Berube of Lewiston.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 43 (3/24/06)
This emergency Act amends the charter of the Lisbon Water Department.
LD 2018 – An Act To Allow Consolidation of the Winterport Sewerage District and the Winterport Water District To Create Incentives For Consumers To Pay Water Bills. (Sponsored by Rep. Kaelin of Winterport.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 50 (4/13/06)
This emergency Act consolidates the Winterport Water District and the Winterport Sewerage District.
LD 2019 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Kennebunk Light and Power District. (Sponsored by Rep. Babbidge of Kennebunk.) Emergency Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 46 (4/03/06)
This emergency Act amends the charter of the Kennebunk Light and Power District with respect to the District’s debt limit and the procedures for future amendments of that debt limit.
LD 2078 – An Act To Establish the Island Falls Water District. (Sponsored by Rep. Joy of Crystal.) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 49
This Act establishes the Island Falls Water District.
LD 2080 – An Act To Accelerate Private Investment in Maine’s Wireless and Broadband Infrastructure. (Governor’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Pingree of North Haven.) Enacted; PL 2005, c.xx
This Act is designed to facilitate access to broadband and wireless communication services to underserved and unserved areas of the state. The Act creates a 5-member Advanced Technology Investment Authority that is authorized to: (1) collect data regarding the availability and unavailability of advanced technology services throughout the state; (2) identify and secure federal and other-source resources to deploy those services in underserved areas; (3) coordinate activities of providers and governmental entities; (4) appropriate a transfer of previously collected but unallocated revenue from the Maine Universal Service Fund to carry out the purposes of the bill; and (5) establish a “ConnectMe Fund” and apply a fee up to 0.25% on the revenues earned by communications providers in the state to be used to carry out the duties of the Authority. The Act also creates a reimbursement of sales taxes paid by telecommunication services providers who qualify by obtaining a certification from the Advanced Technology Investment Authority that the machinery and equipment purchased by the telecommunications providers is being used primarily to provide advanced communications services in a qualifying “ConnectME” zone.
LD 2100 – An Act To Amend the Charter of the Anson Water District. (Sponsored by Sen. Mills of Somerset County.) Enacted; P & SL 2005, c. 51
This Act amends the charter of the Anson Water District.