The Legislative Council convened Wednesday to consider roughly 400 bill requests submitted by lawmakers for consideration in the Second Session. The 10-member body, controlled by six Democrats, approved 133 total bills, 125 sponsored by Democrats and eight sponsored by Republicans.
In the second session, legislation is reserved for budgetary matters, governor’s bills, emergency bills admitted by the legislature, studies and reports initiated in the first session and citizens initiatives. Thus, it is the job of the Legislative Council to determine which “emergency bills” should be admitted.
An emergency bill, as outlined in the Maine Constitution, is one that is “immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety.” Despite this extraordinarily high threshold, a number of non-emergency bills were admitted into the second session. Here are some of the highlights:
LR 2656 Title: “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide New Facilities at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics”
LR 2959 Title: “An Act To Fund Capital Improvements to Career and Technical Education”
LR 2834 Title: “An Act Regarding the Use of Propane and Natural Gas Detectors”
LR 2913 Title: “An Act To Protect Water Quality by Prohibitng Consumer Fireworks in the Shoreland Zone”
LR 2875 Title: “An Act To Provide Funding for Capital Improvements and Equipment for Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions”
LR 2803 Title: “An Act To Provide Student Debt Forgiveness To Support Attraction and Retention of First Responders, Home Health Care Providers and Public School Teachers”
LR 2885 Title: “An Act To Strengthen Maritime Education”
LR 2676 Title: “An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding School Administrative District Reserve Funds”
LR 2777 Title: “An Act To Set a Minimum Wage for School Support Staff”
LR 2948 Title: “An Act Regarding School Discipline for Maine’s Youngest Students”
LR 2974 Title: “An Act To Promote Outdoor Recreational Opportunities for Maine Students”
LR 2925 Title: “An Act To Incentivize the Purchase of Electric Public School Buses”
LR 2896 Title: “An Act To Establish a Career Path for Adjunct Professor in Maine’s Public University and College System”
LR 2934 Title: “An Act to Rename the University of Southern Maine the University of Maine at Portland and To Codify the Establishment of Lewiston-Auburn College”
LR 2924 Title: “An Act To Authorize Separate Alternative Compliance Payment Rates for Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard”
LR 2874 Title: “An Act To Provide Funding for Broadband Internet Infrastructure in Unserved and Underserved Areas”
LR 2712 Title: “An Act To Establish a Consumer’s Right To Repair Certain Electronic Products”
LR 2765 Title: “An Act To Enact Restrictions on Electronic Smoking Devices”
LR 2942 Title: “An Act To Promote Retail Bulk Purchases”
LR 3092 Title: “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Subminimum Wage”
LR 2717 Title: “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Arbitration under Certain Public Employees Labor Relations Laws”
LR 2844 Title: “An Act To Extend to Other Public Sector Employees the Same Protections Provided to State Employees upon the Expiration of Contracts”
LR 3100 Title: “An Act To Protect Communicatiosn between Bargaining Agents and Union Members”
LR 2716 Title: “An Act Regarding State Subsidies for the Seafood Industry and to Clarify Inconsistencies in the Laws Governing Lobster Dealership Licensing”
LR 3101 Title: “An Act Regarding the Definition of ‘Public Employee’”
LR 2758 Title: “An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Municipal Conservation Commissions”
LR 2804 Title: “An Act To Require the Installation of Solar Panels on or Adjacent to State-owned Buildings”
LR 2956 Title: “Resolve, Establishing the Commission To Study Fair, Equitable and Competitive Tax Policy for Maine’s Working Families and Small Businesses”
LR 3098 Title: “An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry”
LR 3054 Title: “An Act To Provide a Sales Tax Exemption for Textbooks”
LR 2772 Title: “An Act Regarding Taxes on Energy Projects”
LR 2950 Title: “Resolve, To Reduce the Operational Costs of Ferries in the State”
LR 2667 Title: “An Act to Define the Term ‘Caucus Political Action Committee’”
LR 2747 Title: “An Act To Prohibit the Fabrication of a Deceptive Video with the Intent To Influence the Outcome of an Election”
Lawmakers also renamed a number of bridges and rejected a law that would prohibit people from using handheld electronic devices while riding a bicycle on a public way, just months after doing the same for operators of motor vehicles.
Interestingly enough, LR 2913, “An Act to Protect Water Quality by Prohibiting Consumer Fireworks in the Shoreland Zone” is an emergency, but LR 2677, “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Fireworks over Lakes and Ponds Greater than 10 Acres in Size” is not an emergency. In addition, the body decided amending arbitration laws (at the behest of public-sector unions) was an emergency, but denied LR 2828, “An Act To Conform State Labor Law with Federal Labor Law” which would protect the First Amendment rights of public employees, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, by removing provisions from state law that enable unions to require public employees to pay agency fees.
Fortunately, the council did reject a number of the more ridiculous requests, including bills to increase the statewide minimum wage, establish an official day for “Trick or Treat” in October, prohibit the confinement of egg-laying hens and investigate “loot boxes” in video games.
Sponsors of bills that were denied at Wednesday’s Legislative Council meeting will have the opportunity to appeal the decision at a meeting of the council in November.