Good morning from Augusta, the place members of the 129th Legislature have submitted 2,041 items of proposed laws for consideration.
That complete falls consistent with the quantity current legislatures have proposed. It’s a comparatively slight uptick from the earlier Legislature, which kicked off its work by proposing about 1,800 items of laws. Nevertheless it’s far under the report of more than 2,700 bills and resolutions proposed by the 113th Legislature in 1987, and exponentially more than the first Legislature, which marked Maine statehood in 1820 by contemplating simply 32 gadgets of proposed laws.
Lots of this yr’s proposed bills handle comparable points, so they’re more likely to be mixed or in any other case streamlined. Some might be carried over till the second legislative session subsequent yr.
Right here’s an summary of the highlights and lowlights amongst this yr’s batch of proposed bills:
With an ally in the Blaine Home and management of each chambers, Democrats have a transparent path to attaining coverage objectives blocked by the earlier governor’s veto pen. Gov. Janet Mills moved final week to start implementing Medicaid enlargement, which was vetoed 5 occasions and was unimplemented by her predecessor, Republican Paul LePage. That regulation nonetheless wants long-term funding and Home Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, and Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, have proposals to try this. The textual content of Gideon’s invoice wasn’t out there Monday and Mills has stated she’ll present a funding plan in her two-year finances proposal to be launched this month.
Assistant Home Majority Chief Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, is re-filing a invoice to ban conversion remedy, a pseudoscientific remedy trying to vary somebody’s sexual orientation. An analogous invoice was vetoed by LePage final yr, with conservatives calling it overbroad. Mills criticized that veto and would signal an identical one.
Fecteau has one other invoice titled “An Act To Ensure that the Voters’ Will with Regard to Bond Issues is Carried Out.” That’s a possible reference to LePage’s stalling of a 2015 senior housing bond that the Legislature wasn’t capable of get issued throughout the former governor’s tenure.
As occurs each two years, lawmakers submitted a slew of bills targeted on how they’re elected, how they’re compensated and the way lengthy they will serve. One invoice proposed basing legislators’ and the governor’s wage on the state’s minimal wage normal, whereas one other referred to as for will increase to the governor’s wage and legislators’ expense allowances.
Sen. Michael Carpenter, D-Houlton, needs to extend Senate phrases to 4 years and set time period limits for legislators. In a blast from the previous, Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, has proposed eliminating the time period limits regulation that voters accredited in 1993, largely in response to the energy he amassed throughout a prolonged tenure as Home speaker.
Lawmakers have all types of concepts about why Maine ought to borrow cash. This yr’s listing consists of 39 potential bond questions that can be whittled right down to a more manageable package deal by spring. They cowl topics that embrace growing broadband entry, addressing sea degree rise, placing cash towards hearth stations, increasing rail service and offering scholar mortgage debt aid.
Some are focused for particular tasks, akin to proposals from Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, to borrow cash to construct a brand new fish hatchery and replace a Boothbay Harbor marine laboratory. Rep. Andrew McLean, D-Gorham, needs a bond to construct a conference middle in Portland.
Previous and future referendums will obtain a variety of consideration. Republican legislators need to scrap ranked-choice voting and “balance” minimal wage will increase authorised by voters, which gained’t possible occur beneath Democratic majorities.
Conversely, Democrats and independents suggest increasing the use of ranked-choice voting to legislative and gubernatorial elections, which might require amendments to the Maine Structure which are unlikely as a result of Republicans maintain sufficient votes to dam two-thirds majorities in every chamber.
Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, has proposed a constitutional modification to “protect voter-approved referenda.” Alongside these strains, Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, has proposed “An Act to Respect the Will of Maine Voters By Implementing a 3 Percent Income Surtax,” in response to the earlier Legislature’s repeal of a surtax from a 2016 citizen initiative designed to extend funding for public schooling.
There are assertion bills, designed to impress partisan bases at every finish of the political spectrum, provoke opponents and supply marketing campaign fodder. Amongst them this time are a name for a “Green New Deal” from Rep. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, and a proposal to stop academics from partaking in political, ideological or spiritual advocacy in the classroom from Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst.
Lockman’s invoice and others prefer it gained’t cross in the Democratic-led Legislature, in fact. Nevertheless it’s doubtless that lots of Democrats’ more formidable proposals gained’t both as the social gathering toes a superb line between getting quite a bit completed and motivating Republicans in a bid to oust them in 2020.
Lastly, there are the much less consequential bills. There’s an environmental invoice from Rep. Allison Hepler, D-Woolwich, to manage the sale — and launch — of balloons. Rep. Maureen Terry, D-Gorham has submitted a invoice to permit barbers to make use of straight edge razors on clients, and Rep. Scott Cuddy, D-Winterport, put ahead a invoice to ease record-keeping necessities for auctioneers. Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred, proposed requiring Okay-5 college students to study cursive handwriting, and Rep. Kent Ackley, I-Monmouth needs to vary Maine’s license plate slogan from “Vacationland” to “Staycationland.”
— The brand new Democratic governor requested an out-of-state firm to not signal a contract it had negotiated together with her Republican predecessor to run a brand new psychiatric facility that’s being inbuilt Bangor. Representatives of Tennessee-based Right Care Restoration Options agreed, which means Mills will be capable of change the course of the proposed, 16-bed unit in Bangor. Union officers and former Maine chief justice Daniel Wathen, the courtmaster in control of monitoring the state’s compliance with a decades-old courtroom order that requires enhancements to its psychological well being providers system, had expressed concern about outsourcing administration of the facility to a personal agency.
— The person who has run Maine’s group school system since 2015 will depart that publish to develop into the governor’s prime authorized adviser. Mills introduced Monday that Derek Langhauser will function her chief authorized counsel. David Daigler will succeed him as president of the group school system and Linda Pistner, who has held numerous jobs in the Maine lawyer basic’s workplace since 1979, will turn into Mills’ deputy authorized counsel.
— With nobody to drive the buses, a Maine faculty needed to cancel courses Monday. Highlighting a statewide drawback, Regional Faculty Unit 71 canceled courses at an elementary faculty in Swanville as a result of a number of drivers in the Waldo County district couldn’t work Monday, directors canceled courses. District officers labored Monday to formulate plans to make sure that faculty wouldn’t be canceled if an identical state of affairs arises. If there’s a driver scarcity in the future, the district will mix bus runs with different faculties as an alternative of canceling courses at one specific faculty.
P.E means ache enhancement
I have already got a favourite invoice from amongst the 2,041 proposed by legislators this yr.
The prize goes to Rep. Dale Denno, D-Cumberland, for “An Act to Allow Secondary School Student Athletes an Exemption from Physical Education Requirements.” My solely suggestion can be to make it obligatory that athletes not be allowed to prey on their uncoordinated friends — I imply, participate in — fitness center courses.
I base this conclusion on many years of lingering psychological trauma brought on by varsity soccer and basketball gamers who turned dodgeball marauders throughout fitness center courses at my highschool. Fitness center class was dangerous sufficient for scrawny, little non-athletes like me who pulled muscular tissues tying their sneakers and suffered coronary heart palpitations just by having to vary out of nerd garments, unbutton our prime buttons and don the foolish brief shorts and T-shirts they made us put on for bodily schooling class. Sorry, however the greatest educator in human historical past couldn’t train me to be bodily. Or athletic.
Add to that the wolf-like leers of varsity gamers with arms greater than my legs as they lined me up for a short-distance howitzer throw throughout the torture that was dodgeball and the seeds of a lifetime of nightmares have been in place.
“Sorry, Coach, I keep forgetting that we are not supposed to hit them in the head. I guess that means he’s not out so I can hit him again, right?” nonetheless causes me to shudder awake from my goals all these years later.
The one factor worse than being a dodgeball goal was getting picked to be a “rabbit” in the ugly recreation referred to as Bombardment that our health club academics devised. In that throwback to the good ol’ days of Sparta, varsity athletes with huge rubber balls would type columns about 10 ft aside and the “rabbits” must run between them, striving to keep away from being knocked off their ft by the projectiles.
For the sake of the non-athletes, please exempt varsity gamers from health club courses, Maine lawmakers. Right here is your soundtrack. — Robert Lengthy
Immediately’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Alex Acquisto and Robert Lengthy. In the event you’re studying this on the BDN’s web site or have been forwarded it, click on right here to obtain Maine’s main publication on state politics by way of e mail on weekday mornings. Click on right here to subscribe to the BDN.