Inside Augusta

Legislature approves sale of spirits at stadiums, indefinitely postpones inspection fee hike

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The Maine Senate on April 7 voted to indefinitely postpone a bill that would have doubled the state’s vehicle inspection fee, from $12.50 to $25.

LD 2032 was passed to be enacted by the House of Representatives on March 29 but was tabled days later by the Senate after Gov. Janet Mills indicated to the Portland Press Herald she would veto the legislation should it reach her desk. The Senate voted 32 to 0 to indefinitely postpone the bill.

The Senate also placed LD 489, a proposed constitutional amendment to create the right to a healthy environment, on the special appropriations table. If passed, the bill would have created a ballot question asking voters whether they wanted to amend the Maine Constitution to create that right. The House voted to pass the bill on March 29 but it fell short of the two-thirds majority required to pass a constitutional amendment.

A bill to allow outdoor stadiums to sell spirits also advanced in both chambers of the legislature during the April 7 session, and both chambers voted to recall LD 1744, a bill that would have increased the fee for registering animal feed products and put 60% of the money collected into the Animal Welfare Fund and 40% into the General Fund.

The House also acted on two other bills that were recalled from the governor’s desk during the legislature’s April 5 session. The House voted to table LD 1129, a bill that would prevent commercial retailers from using old, abandoned facilities to influence the valuation of new retail buildings currently in use.

LD 1758, which was also recalled from the governor’s desk, was amended on the House floor. The bill’s original language prevented the Department of Health and Human Services from requiring licensed mental health or substance use disorder treatment facilities to obtain written consent from clients during federal or state health emergencies. It clarified that facilities could instead obtain consent verbally, electronically, or in writing.

The amendment offered on the floor of the House by Rep Michele. Meyer (D-Eliot) clarifies that facilities must still obtain consent, but can do so through verbal, electronic, or written means.

The House also voted to engross a bill, sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), that creates guidelines for service center communities requiring at least 10% of housing stock developed through growth management programs to be affordable. The original language of the bill created a comprehensive permit process for affordable housing projects and would have created a state-level appeals committee with the authority to review and overturn projects that had been denied at the local level.

The House voted to table LD 1523, another of Talbot Ross’ bills. The bill creates the Trust for a Healthy Maine to receive funds the state receives from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to be used on smoking prevention. The bill originally included provisions that doubled the state’s tax on cigarettes and banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, but these were removed because other pending legislation contains similar measures.

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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