Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick) offered an explanation on Friday as to why he and other Democrats on the Legislature’s Executive Council voted against a bill to protect victims of human trafficking.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), would allow courts to give immunity to victims of human trafficking who have been convicted of prostitution.
From the Lewiston Sun Journal: “Lawmakers with bills rejected by the council may appeal those decisions in November and will be given an opportunity to explain why the bills are either an emergency or time sensitive, Jodi Quintero, the spokeswoman for Eves, said Friday… The prostitution immunity measure… was voted down because it didn’t meet that strict criteria for bills that would be considered in the relatively short 2014 lawmaking session, Quintero said.”
According to Quintero, as reported by the Sun Journal, Eves and other top Democrats voted against Volk’s bill because it was not an emergency or time sensitive. This explanation had earlier eluded top Democrats, as well as Quintero.
The explanation also calls into question the merits of several proposals the council did approve. Although helping victims of the human sex trade did not qualify as emergency bills, here are some bills that did:
- Eves’ bill to expand medical welfare (L.R. 2357)
- Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Portland)’s L.R. 2483: “An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Special Food and Beverage Taste-testing Event Licenses.” (a.k.a. the wine-tasting bill)
- Rep. Joan Welsh (D-Rockport)’s L.R. 2281: “An Act to Amend the Law Governing the Collection of Minor Amounts of Property Taxes”
- Rep. Lori Fowle (D-Vassalboro)’s L.R. 2321: “An Act to Allow Fishing Closer to the Fish Ladder on Webber Pond in Vassalboro”
- Sen. Patrick Flood (R-Kennebec)’s L.R. 2484: “Resolve, To Study the Ability of Dispatchers to Transfer E-9-1-1 Calls to Emergency Responders in Another State”
- Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) L.R. 2588: “An Act to Clarify Provisions of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act”
- Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook)’s L.R. 2403: “An Act to Create a Program To Provide Training for Workers”
- Sen. Jackson’s L.R. 2498: “An Act To Make Maine Mills More Competitive”
- Sen. Jackson’s L.R. 2499: “An Act To Retain Call Centers in Maine”
- Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom)’s L.R. 2355: “An Act To Ban the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides for 2 Years”
- Rep. Walter Kumiega, III (D-Deer Isle)’s L.R. 2378: “An Act To Reduce the Number of Members on the Stonington Sanitary District Board”
- Rep. Ann Peoples (D-Westbrook)’s L.R. 2525: “An Act To Amend a Provision in the Law Concerning Instruction Permits”
- Rep. Matthew Peterson (D-Rumford) L.R. 2220: “Resolve, To Establish the Blue ribbon Commission on Independent Living and Disability”
- Rep. Peterson’s L.R. 2227: “Resolve, Directing the Department of Education To Formulate and Implement a Citizenship Education component for the Public School Curriculum”
- Sen. Thomas Saviello (R-Somerset)’s L.R. 2481: “An Act To Further Ensure the Provision of Safe Medical Marijuana to Maine Patients”
- Rep. Michael A. Shaw (D-Standish)’s L.R. 2280: “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Crossbow Hunting”
- Sen. Linda Valentino (D-York)’s L.R. 2686: An Act To Relieve the Impact of Erosion Caused by Facilities Installed by the United States Government”
- Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc)’s L.R. 2618: “An Act To Support Solar Energy Development in Maine”
All of those bills met Eves’ “strict criteria” for inclusion in the second session of the 126th Legislature, but Rep. Volk’s bill did not.
Volk has said she intends to file an appeal by the Nov. 6 deadline. An appeals hearing will take place on Nov. 22.
For more information about Rep. Volk’s bill, see the Polaris Project’s 2013 report about vacating convictions for sex trafficking victims.
To see model legislation similar to Volk’s bill, see the National Conference of Commissioner on Uniform State Law’s 2013 Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking.
For more information about the problem of human trafficking in Maine, see the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s 2013 Data Break Down for the State of Maine.
Maine Wire Reporter