(from Maine Townsman, July 1998)
By MMA State & Federal Relations Staff

A list was provided in the June issue of the TOWNSMAN describing the various rulemaking and working group efforts MMA’s State and Federal Relations staff has been involved with over the last several months. The following update to that list describes any new developments that have occurred over the last month. Municipal officials are encouraged to contact your SFR staff with any questions, suggestions or concerns regarding these efforts.

Department of Environmental Protection:

Chapters 400, 401, 402, 403, 405, and 409, Proposed Solid Waste Management Rules. MMA provided comments on the proposed rules April 29, 1998. The proposed rules comprehensively update the body of Maine’s solid waste management regulation, which was last promulgated in 1989. DEP staff is currently reviewing all the comments received on the proposed new rules and a revised final draft is scheduled to go before the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) for promulgation on August 27th. SFR contact: Geoff Herman.


Chapter 419, Agronomic Utilization of Residuals. MMA’s LPC provided input to this "sludge spreading" rulemaking through a survey, the results of which were described in comments on the proposed rule submitted by MMA on May 22. DEP staff is currently reviewing all the comments received on the proposed new rules and a revised final draft is scheduled to go before the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) for promulgation in August. SFR contact: Kate Dufour.

Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards:

Chapter 2, Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Employment in the Public Sector. This proposed rule seeks state adoption of the OSHA standard regarding physical qualifications and fit testing for respirators worn by firefighters and waste treatment plant operators, among others, and fire ground staffing requirements for firefighters. The Governor is forming an advisory committee to develop a reasonable rule for Maine. Brian FitzPatrick, of MMA’s Risk Management Services, and Linda Lockhart will represent MMA on the committee. SFR contact: Linda Lockhart.

Department of Health and Human Services:

Chapter 240, Appointment and Administration of Local Plumbing Inspectors (LPIs). The proposed rule deals with certification of LPIs; participation in district court procedures; appointment of local plumbing inspectors; replacement and removal of LPIs; duties and powers of plumbing inspectors; and permit, inspection fees and disbursements. MMA submitted comments on May 28 and currently awaits DHS’ response. SFR contact: Linda Lockhart.

Department of Marine Resources:

Chapter 7, Requirements for Municipalities Having Shellfish Conservation Programs. The changes proposed for this rule would provide municipalities with additional flexibility in interpreting "periods of issuance" and would eliminate the requirement that municipalities survey shellfish resources. Municipalities could rely instead upon survey results provided by clam flat harvesters or dealers. Additionally, the proposed changes would clarify municipal responsibility for allocation of licenses that remain unsold after the 90-day period of issuance. SFR contact: Geoff Herman.

Department of Professional and Financial Regulation:

Board of Boiler Rules. This proposal would double the fees now being charged by the state to issue inspection certificates for the hot water boilers located in schools and municipal buildings. The fees under the program are likely to increase in any event because of previous Board action which will now require the inspection (and fees) for certain "pressure vessels" located in municipal and school facilities. The public hearing on the fee increase was held on June 17th and MMA presented its objections to the fee increase for the primary reason that the municipalities and the schools are already paying for the inspections which are conducted by employees of their insurance companies and the state’s certification fee funds a service that provides no additional value to the process. Final action by the Board on the proposed rules has not yet been scheduled. SFR contact: Geoff Herman.

Secretary of State:

Chapter 14, Elections. As proposed, the Maine Clean Election Act rulemaking will have a financial impact on municipalities. Candidates choosing to run under the Clean Election Act are limited to receiving funds from registered voters within their districts. Due to this limit, the proposed rule requires that within five business days after the date of the request, the municipal Registrar must provide a candidate with written verification that each person making a contribution is a registered voter. As an alternative, the Registrar can elect to send the candidate, within three business days, a copy of the certified list voters’ list. Written comments on this proposal will be accepted through August 28, 1998. Written comments can be sent to William C. Hain, Commissioner on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, 135 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0135. SFR contact: Kate Dufour.

Task Forces and Working Groups:

DEP/Municipal Communication. MMA, DEP and House Majority Leader, Carol Kontos met recently to discuss communications that should take place during a DEP-related incident or event that has the potential to affect public health, such as the pollution recently discovered in North Windham. Major issues discussed included: 1) who the municipal contact should be, 2) who the DEP contact should be, and 3) at what point in the development of an incident or remediation event DEP should contact the municipality. A protocol for such communication, developed by MMA and DEP in 1987, will serve as the basis for an updated draft that DEP will offer for consideration. MMA contact: Linda Lockhart.

MMA Transportation Advisory Committee. Organized to address the Local Road Assistance Program in order to assist the Department of Transportation to develop a more comprehensive funding mechanism for local roads. SFR contact: Kate Dufour.

Nonpoint Source Pollution. Responding to the requirements of the newly enacted nonpoint source pollution reduction law (PL 1997, Ch. 748), DEP is forming two work groups that include MMA participation. The end product of these groups, due to be presented to the Legislature by January 15, 1998, will be recommendations for legislation authorizing new state programs.

1) Development Buffer Work Group. Beginning July 28th, this group will develop recommendations concerning ways to improve the use of buffer strips along water resources. The process will include consideration of changing the Shoreland Zoning Act to include zoning of "first order streams" and changing the Natural Resources Protection Act to include restrictions on the cutting of vegetation adjacent to streams. First order streams are the smallest ones, before two channels come together. Currently, shoreland zoning does not protect first order streams, but instead, begins with second order streams that exist where two perennial streams join. SFR contact: Geoff Herman.

2) Subsurface Wastewater Disposal System Inspection Program Work Group. This group will attempt to evaluate options and develop recommendations for identifying and upgrading substandard septic systems that are located in the shoreland zone. The draft program issued by DEP would require inspection of septic systems in the shoreland zone whenever ownership of the property is transferred. Systems installed prior July 1, 1974 would have to be evaluated by a Licensed Site Evaluator and systems installed after that time would be evaluated by the Local Plumbing Inspector. The group will consider the types of investigations that will be required, division of responsibility, and fees for the inspections. SFR contact: Linda Lockhart.

Solid Waste Working Group. The mission of this group is to "undertake a comprehensive review of the state’s solid waste management policies and program needs, and develop recommendations on revenue, policies, and structure that meet those needs and provide a stable funding base for the next decade." Earlier this month, MMA asked municipal officials to respond to a survey concerning solid waste issues. The survey results will be used to help form the recommendations of the Solid Waste Working Group, to assist legislators in drafting legislative proposals, and to provide data for municipal advocacy efforts. SFR Contact: Geoff Herman

Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP). This group is charged with creating inventory and protection standards for drinking water supplies. The perceived problem is that wellhead protection efforts have stalled at the stage of delineation and inventory and should now move on to management programs. SWAP is currently evaluating and ranking risk factors that threaten drinking water supplies and will attempt to provide a guide for water districts and the consuming public. Contact: SFR contact: Linda Lockhart.