Emergency Power

Though the state of emergency has expired, some of Mills’ pandemic-related executive orders remain in effect

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Though Maine’s state of emergency expired on June 30, some changes to rules and regulations instituted through executive order will remain in effect until the end of 2021.

On June 30, Gov. Mills issued Executive Order 40 FY 20/21 (EO 40), which clarified the end dates for various executive orders signed by Mills over the course of the state of emergency.

Mills issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 15, 2020. In the roughly fifteen months between the beginning of the state of emergency and its termination, Mills used her emergency powers to issue over 90 executive orders that temporarily suspended or changed many state regulations. 

Most of those executive orders expired on June 30 with the state of emergency. But others were written to be in effect beyond the end of the state of emergency, some for up to six months.

In EO 40, Mills clarified end dates for executive orders that remain in effect after the state of emergency. Rules changes to certain agencies continue to remain in effect, Mills stated, because they “need the coordination and support of limited additional time in order to facilitate a more orderly recovery from the effects of the pandemic.”

Mills issued a proclamation declaring an insurance emergency related to COVID-19 on March 12, 2020. In EO 40, she clarified that proclamation will expire at midnight on July 31. The proclamation gave the state insurance attendant unilateral power to make, amend, or rescind any rules and regulations governing health insurance carriers they determined to be in the interest of protecting insurers, the insured, or public health. Maine law gives the governor the power to declare an insurance emergency. Unlike states of emergency, which are limited in duration to 30 days, the duration of an insurance emergency is determined by the governor.

In EO 40 Mills also clarified that Executive Order 16 FY 19/20 (EO 16), which suspended certain licensing rules for healthcare professionals, will expire at midnight on August 30. Under the executive order, nurses, physicians, or physicians’ assistants whose license to practice medicine expired during the state of emergency were extended until 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency. That provision was repealed by Executive Order 33 FY 20/21, which clarified that all applicable licenses would expire on March 31, 2021, unless renewed before that date.

Other measures of EO 16 that remain in effect until August 30 include a provision that created emergency licenses for medical professionals who had retired in good standing or who hold licenses in good standing in states other than Maine. EO 16 allowed qualifying individuals to receive an emergency license, which will now expire at the end of August, to practice medicine and telemedicine in Maine. 

Mills also clarified that Executive Order 35 FY 19/20 (EO 35), which was similar to EO 16 in its suspension of certain licensing laws for some healthcare professions, will expire on August 30. Like EO 16, EO 35 created temporary emergency licenses for psychologists, social workers and counselors in various fields, physical therapists, chiropractors, pharmacists, and various medical techs who were licensed in good standing and had recently retired. It also allowed out-of-state residents licensed in good standing to receive temporary Maine licenses.

EO 40 also stipulates that anyone who obtained a temporary license under EO 35 because they were either formerly licensed in Maine or hold a license in good standing in another state can submit a complete application for full licensure to the appropriate state licensing board. So long as that application is filed before midnight August 30, their license issued under EO 35 will remain in effect until a full license is approved. 

Executive Order 20 FY 19/20 (EO 20), which suspended some rules for family child care providers, will also expire at midnight on August 30. The order suspended the Office of Child Family Services in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) rule limiting the number of children a child care provider can care for without needing to be certified. Following the expiration of EO 20, the cap on the number of children a provider can care for will return to three.

Another executive order that affected licensing rules, Executive Order 7-A FY 20/21 (EO 7-A), expired with the state of emergency on June 30. EO 7-A allowed school attendance requirements to be met through non-traditional learning systems and suspended licensing requirements for teachers if compliance hindered coping with the COVID-19 emergency.

Another executive order touching on education, Executive Order 52 FY 19/20 (E0 52), expires at midnight on August 31. EO 52 modified credentialing requirements for teachers licensed by the Department of Education and the State Board of Education. It extended by a year the date of renewal for licenses expiring during the state of emergency. Licenses that expired between February 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 would instead expire between February 1, 2021 and July 1, 2021. Renewed certificates would have an expiration date of four years from the date on which they were renewed. Fingerprinting requirements were also suspended until 30 days following the end of the state of emergency and required Praxis testing was suspended for licensure applications submitted during the emergency. The expiration date of conditional certificates issued to teachers who hadn’t completed required courseworks was also extended from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021.

Some other rules changed by Mills’ executive orders will remain in effect longer than through the end of August. 

Executive Order 46 FY 19/20, which extended the expiration date of licenses held by various law enforcement personnel, will expire at midnight on December 31, 2021. The extension applied to polygraph examiners, professional investigators, and investigative assistants. Licenses for polygraph examiners and investigators that would have expired during the state of emergency were extended until 30 days after it was terminated. Licenses for investigative assistants that would have expired during the state of emergency or prior to the 180th day following the state of emergency were extended until the 180th day following the termination of the state of emergency or for a period equal to the number of days the emergency was in effect, whichever is longer.

The order also affects training requirements for law enforcement and correction officers. For a period of 180 days following the end of the state of emergency, the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Trustees can extend the 12-month period in which full-time law enforcement and corrections officers must complete basic training.

Several other executive orders that apply to MaineCare will also not expire until the end of the year.

Executive Order 3 FY 20/21 temporarily suspended certain DHHS Office of Aging and Disability Service regulations, including caseload ratio, annual reviews and updates of personal plans, and DHS-provided training in the personal planning process. The suspension of these rules will expire at midnight on December 31.

Executive Order 48 FY 19/20 modifies procedural requirements for emergency rulemaking, allowing the state to maximize COVID-19 funds received from the federal government and to maximize federal approval of MaineCare program adjustments. It will expire six months after the end of the state of emergency.

About Katherine Revello

Katherine Revello is a reporter for The Maine Wire. She has degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Maine. Her writing has appeared in Reason, The Washington Examiner, and various other publications. Got news tips? Contact Katherine at krevello@mainepolicy.org.

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