As the first session of the 128th Legislature comes to a close, we are looking back at the bills our Waldo County representatives sponsored.

Second-term Rep. MaryAnne Kinney, R-Knox, represents the towns of Brooks, Burnham, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Monroe, Thorndike, Troy and Unity, and serves on the Agriculture Conservation and Forestry committee. She sponsored five bills this session. Two passed into law and three failed in committee.

Regarding the state budget, Kinney was one of 60 Republican representatives who voted against the compromise budget June 30. The budget failed to reach the required supermajority by 13 votes, resulting in a state government shutdown. Dedham Republican Rep. Karl Ward also voted against it, while fellow Republican James Gillway of Searsport voted for it. All Democrats, except two who were absent, voted to approve the proposed budget, including Stanley Paige Zeigler of Montville and House Majority Leader Erin Herbig of Belfast.

Kinney and Ward voted against it again Monday July 3, but at 1 a.m. on July 4 they both voted in favor of a new version which eliminated the lodging tax increase. That version passed with only two nay votes.  LePage signed the budget a half and hour later, ending the shutdown.

Weights and measures

Kinney’s first bill to pass into law this session was LD 1579.

The bill gave each municipality the option of either appointing a certified local sealer of weights and measures or having the state appoint one on their behalf, and updated a handbook to bring compliance testing of net contents of packaged goods to national weights and measures standards. State sealers’ duties include establishing standards of weight, measure or count and standards for the presentation of cost per unit information for any packaged commodity, and testing and approving measuring devices used by municipalities. A mandate for municipalities to appoint their own local sealer was repealed in 2013.

The Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry supported the bill. In testimony, the director of the Quality Assurance and Regulations Division, Steven Giguere, said the department had found “concerning irregularities” in formerly local sealer jurisdictions. The bill’s new requirement of certification for sealers appointed by municipalities would correct those inconsistencies, he said. It would also help relieve burden on the department, he said, adding that the state weights and measures program, with only six inspectors, cannot inspect all devices annually. He also explained that the authority to appoint sealers adds no additional cost to the municipality because the positions are paid out of device testing fees.

The bill was initially opposed by Maine Municipal Association, but as amended the association supported the measure.

In testimony for the association, Kate Dofour explained that as the bill was originally written, it appeared that the municipality, though not responsible for the employee’s pay, would take on liability for the position and responsibility for such things as worker’s compensation and travel reimbursements.

Bangor City Clerk Lisa Goodwin also testified against a provision in the bill that imposed a penalty of $10 for municipalities that opted not to appoint their own sealer and used the state weights and measures program instead.

Both of those concerns were addressed in amendments which eliminated the penalty and clearly stated associated liabilities are the responsibility of the state.

The bill received majority support in the House and Senate, without roll-call votes, and became law without the governor's signature.

Animal bedding delivery truck exemption

The second bill Kinney sponsored that became law exempts vehicles hauling animal bedding from posted road restrictions.

Trucks carrying animal bedding, necessary for the health and cleanliness of livestock, must get special permission from municipalities to travel on posted roads, Kinney said during testimony at the Transportation Committee hearing Feb. 16, and in rural areas where town offices are often closed several days a week, getting that permission within the time frame required for delivery can be difficult.

Kinney submitted the bill, LD 208, as emergency legislation because of early thawing that led to some of the roads in her hometown to be posted as early as Jan. 20 this year, she said.

Maine Municipal Association opposed the bill because it takes away the authority of the Department of Transportation, county commissioners and municipal officers to protect roads from excessive damage during mud season. The Department of Transportation opposed the bill because it already provides permits for vehicles over the weight limit to haul partial loads of special commodities, including animal bedding, on posted roads. A liaison for the department testified that over the past three years the department has received fewer than five requests for animal bedding limited-load permits.

The measure passed the House March 23 with a vote of 83-62. Herbig joined Gillway and Kinney in voting for the bill, and Zeigler voted against it. Ward was absent from the vote.

Zeigler said he voted against the bill because of the testimony he read from MMA and DOT.

“For every exemption, that takes away some local control,” he said. “If there are too many exemptions, (municipalities) will have no control over tonnage on their roads.”

The bill passed the Senate April 13 without a roll call vote, and became law without the governor’s signature April 26.

Liability for gun-free zones

Kinney also sponsored three bills that did not pass.

LD 1469 would have made owners who prohibit firearms on their property liable for the safety and defense of individuals with concealed carry permits while on the property and while traversing to and from it with their firearm.

A person prohibited from carrying their legal firearm, the bill summary states, “who is injured, suffers bodily injury or death or incurs economic loss or expense, property damage or any other compensable loss as the result of conduct occurring on property on which a firearm is prohibited has a cause of action” against the owner.

In committee testimony, Kinney gave examples of three mass shootings that occurred in gun-free zones.

“Business owners seem to think that by banning law-abiding citizens from carrying guns they will all be safer,” she said. “This has simply not been the case. Instead they are now targets for criminals who have no respect for the law nor for human life.”

In opposing testimony, the executive director of Maine Gun Safety Coalition, Nick Wilson, countered with an FBI investigation that found that out of of 160 active shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013, only one incident was stopped by a concealed carry permit holder who was a well-trained Marine. He also took issue with the bill's vagueness.

“If a business or homeowner chooses to prohibit guns on their property, they can be sued if anything bad happens on their property such as a wild animal attack, or ‘artificial and natural hazards.’" Wilson said, “The language is written so broadly that it doesn't require proof that a gun could have made a difference.”

Elizabeth Brogan, executive director of the Workers Compensation Coordinating Council and Maine Council of Self-insurers said the bill would create an alternate remedy that falls outside the purview of the workers compensation remedy for workplace injuries and would “lessen the predictability and stability of the workers compensation system and will surely increase litigation.”

The bill did not pass out of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Drivers' permits

Another bill Kinney sponsored, LD 711, would have made changes to the rules for learner's permit holders. For those under age 21, it would have increased the amount of time they must hold the permit to 12 months from 6 months. For those under age 18, it would have prohibited them from carrying passengers other than parents and siblings, and from driving after 9 p.m., or after 10 p.m. for those who work. It would also require textbooks used in driver’s education courses to be published by automobile associations.

AAA supported the bill, testifying that a 12-month period is a realistic time from for logging the required 70 hours of practice driving with a parent. Regarding the passenger restrictions, they said, “Reducing the number of passengers in a new teen driver's car is key to reducing risk.”

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles opposed the bill. Deputy Secretary of State Patty Morneault of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles said in testimony that current learner’s permit rules satisfy federal requirements, and that extending the length of time to hold a learner’s permit could have unintended consequences, particularly for those between the ages of 18 and 21.

“The inability to obtain a credential in a reasonable amount of time could limit opportunities when seeking employment or attempting to enter the military,” she said.

She pointed out that the bill would reverse expansions that were made in the last 12 years to the allowable passengers a learner’s permit holder may carry, and as well as revisions that removed restrictions on textbooks, except that they must be approved by the secretary of state’s Technical Review Panel. She said the bill’s restrictions could impose a financial burden on instructors who had already invested in other textbooks.

The bill failed to pass out of the Transportation Committee.

Drug treatment center

Kinney also proposed LD 932, which would have established the “Commission to Study the Siting and Building of a Drug Treatment Facility in Northern Maine.”

“It is time we start doing something to help Mainers afflicted by drug addiction,” she said during testimony. “In discussing with my friends the thought of a treatment facility in beautiful Northern Maine sounded wonderful. We have beautiful wooded areas which could provide a peaceful and serene place for healing. Northern Maine, being remote, has the potential to keep alleged dealers/ suppliers away from their customers.”

Sheldon Wheeler, the director of the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services at DHHS, opposed the bill. Wheeler said it does not provide specific information about the geographical area encompassed in Northern Maine, the type of treatment to be provided or the number of individuals to be served, and pointed out that there are currently “well-established treatment services providing evidence-based substance use disorder treatments” in the five northernmost counties in Maine.

Those services include five residential treatment facilities, 19 agencies providing intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment, one Opiate Treatment Program in Calais with a capacity to serve 500 people, three opiate treatment programs in Bangor with a capacity to serve a combined 1,900 people, and 115 Suboxone providers in these counties.

This bill failed to pass out of the Health and Human Services Committee.

An earlier version went to press before the budget was voted on a second and third time July 3 and July 4. This story has been updated to include Kinney's votes on those dates.

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