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House passes bill allowing hunters to wear red instead of orange

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AUGUSTA — Legislation to allow hunters to wear red if their religion prohibits them from wearing orange earned support in the Maine House on Thursday, May 11. The bipartisan vote was 120-27.

Members of the Amish community in Aroostook County spoke to Rep. David McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield, about creating an exception in the law for a person who has a religious opposition to wearing hunter orange clothing to instead wear red.

McCrea said he hopes the Senate and governor will join the House in supporting the measure.

“I feel that failure to do so will almost certainly lead to a legal confrontation between the state of Maine and this group of Amish people, a battle that is absolutely unnecessary and one that can almost certainly be resolved by my bill,” said McCrea.

Members of the Amish community testified in support of McCrea’s bill, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

“Our national church group has maintained a belief against the use of or wearing blaze orange because of its bright color,” testified Noah Yoder, a member of the Fort Fairfield/Easton Amish community. “Our local wardens have asked us to continue pushing for legislation that will allow us to wear red, rather than waiting until one of us gets cited for not wearing blaze orange.”

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife also testified in support of the legislation.

LD 426 faces further votes in both the House and the Senate.

Absentee ballots available for June bond question

AUGUSTA – Absentee ballots are now available for the Special Referendum Election on June 13, 2017, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced.

Any Maine citizen can request an absentee ballot from their municipal clerk at http://maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/munic.html , either in person, by phone, or by mail. Additionally, Maine citizens who are already registered to vote may use the online Absentee Ballot Request Service at http://www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl . Ballots will be sent to the voter by mail and must be returned to the clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day, June 13.

Any registered voter may cast an absentee ballot instead of voting in person at a voting place on Election Day. For the June 13, 2017 Special Referendum Election, the deadline to request an absentee ballot is Thursday, June 8, 2017. Some municipalities may present local issues on a separate ballot at the June election. On the state ballot, voters will decide a single bond issue:

“Do you favor a $50,000,000 bond issue to provide $45,000,000 in funds for investment in research, development and commercialization in the State to be used for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades that enable organizations to gain and hold market share, to increase revenues and to expand employment or preserve jobs for Maine people, to be awarded through a competitive process to Maine-based public and private entities, leveraging other funds in a one-to-one ratio and $5,000,000 in funds to create jobs and economic growth by lending to or investing in small businesses with the potential for significant growth and strong job creation?”

Contact the Office of the Secretary of State’s Division of Elections with any questions related to the Special Referendum Election, at 624-7650 or visit http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/ .

Law enforcement officers remembered

The annual observance at the Maine Law Enforcement Officers Memorial will take place at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 18 in Augusta. The memorial, containing the names of the 83 officers killed in the line of duty, is along State Street, adjacent to the State House. The guest speaker will be Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. No new names are being added this year. There are 15 Game Wardens and 10 State Troopers on the memorial, among others.

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