Legislative briefs

Feb 04, 2020
Sen. Erin Herbig and Rep. Scott Cuddy pose Feb. 12 at the State House with students, teachers and board members of Maine Ocean School.

LD 2020 would further extend Ocean School sunset provision

AUGUSTA — Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, introduced a bill Feb. 12 to extend a sunset provision for Maine Ocean School in Searsport, a magnet public high school that focuses on marine science, technology, transportation and engineering.

The bill, LD 2020, received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. Herbig was joined by co-sponsor Rep. Scott Cuddy, D-Winterport, as well as students, teachers and board members of Maine Ocean School.

Last summer, Maine Ocean School discovered a sunset clause in the statute that authorized its creation. To keep the school open, Herbig sponsored a bill that pushed back the sunset clause.

LD 2020 would further extend the sunset provision to 90 days after the adjournment of the 131st Legislature.

Committee approves rural internet bill

AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee on Feb. 4 approved a bill to invest in high-speed internet for rural Maine. LD 2021, which would provide $15 million to ConnectME Authority, will now go to the Senate and House for consideration.

This funding will allow ConnectME to provide competitive broadband infrastructure grants to underserved communities in Maine. An estimated 50% of roadways, or 17,660 miles, are considered underserved.

This state funding would help leverage private and federal funds to facilitate  construction of broadband infrastructure projects, essentially serving as seed money to help communities get their projects off the ground. Currently, more than 100 communities have done the planning and are waiting for a broadband infrastructure grant.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, received broad support from a variety of organizations at a public hearing last month.

Committee approves Doudera's bill to protect Mainers from nonconsensual pelvic exams

AUGUSTA — The Legislature's Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee on Feb. 4 unanimously approved a bill presented by Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, to protect Maine patients from receiving pelvic exams without their consent.

LD 1948 requires physicians to receive informed consent prior to administering or supervising a pelvic examination on an anesthetized or unconscious patient. The legislation provides that medical professionals may perform exams without consent if it is an emergency and the patient is unconscious.

The committee amended the bill to ensure that the legislation also applies to rectal and prostate exams. Additionally, the committee altered the bill to include a wider range of practitioners and a requirement for both verbal and written consent prior to the exam.

The bill now proceeds to the full Legislature for approval.

Doudera represents Camden, Islesboro and Rockport.

Cuddy presents bill to protect ed techs’ retirement benefits

AUGUSTA — Rep. Scott Cuddy, D-Winterport, presented LD 1949, An Act to Amend the Retirement Laws Pertaining to Certain Educational Technicians, to the Labor and Housing Committee Jan. 29.

The bill would fix an unintended consequence of a rules change that removed people classified as Educational Technicians I from the Social Security program.

Cuddy, a member of the Labor and Housing Committee, represents Frankfort, Searsport, Swanville and Winterport.

Committee approves bill for career, technical ed centers

AUGUSTA — A bill to invest in career and technical education centers in Maine received bipartisan committee support Feb. 12.

The Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee voted unanimously in favor of LD 2022, “An Act to Provide Funding for Capital Improvements and Equipment for Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions,” introduced by Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast.

As amended by the committee, LD 2022 would authorize the commissioner of education to expend and disburse $4 million to career and technical education (CTE) centers.

There are 27 CTE centers in Maine that serve more than 8,000 high school students and many more in adult education programs. If legislation is successful this session, it will be the first time CTE has received an increase in funds for equipment and capital improvements since 1998.

Kevin Michaud, director of Waldo County Technical Center, and Wilson Hess of Freedom, chairman of the state Board of Education, both testified in support of the bill, which now faces votes in the Senate and House.

Lawmakers visit Waldo County

Approximately 30 Maine lawmakers came to Waldo County Jan. 29 to visit local businesses and discuss economic development. The legislators were taking part in the Policy Leaders Academy, a nonpartisan educational program of the Maine Development Foundation.

The bus tour stopped at Nautilus Seafood & Grill in Belfast for lunch and a panel discussion with Zach Schmesser of Our Town Belfast, Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge, JB Turner of Front Street Shipyard, Todd French of French & Webb, Mayor Eric Sanders, and Patricia Libby of the University of Maine Hutchinson Center.

After lunch, the group toured French & Webb and Front Street Shipyard in Belfast before heading to Searsmont for a tour of Robbins Lumber.

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