Opinion

An update from Rep. Stearns following the closure of the 128th Maine Legislature

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To the Editor;
The first regular session of the 128th Maine Legislature has finally come to a close as of Aug. 2. The state budget, with all of its trappings, was the major sticking point. The entire process was made more difficult by having to wrestle with the legal intricacies and a few unintended consequences of five citizen referendums passed by voters last November. In fact, it is likely that we will convene for a special session in October to work on the marijuana and ranked choice voting issues.

Over the last couple of decades, more and more major policy issues have been included in the budget bill and surrounding debate; resulting in a vast document containing some items that legislators, myself included, do not agree with but must vote for in order for the state to remain operational. It is certainly one of the more frustrating aspects of the job.

With hundreds and hundreds of bills being considered, it always takes a while to “unpack” the results of the legislature. The best way to check the status of specific bills, and to search results in multiple ways, is to go to the Maine legislature website (www.legislature.maine.gov). If you are a resident of House District #119, and need information or assistance with a particular issue or bill, feel free to contact me at paul.stearns@legislature.maine.gov or call me on my cell at 343-2615.

Any laws passed, unless they have an emergency preamble, will take effect Nov. 1. Here are four random bills that may be of interest:

LD 182 was a bill that requires manufacturers of furniture fabric and upholstery to eliminate cancer causing fire retardant chemicals for products sold in Maine. While the primary focus of the bill was the protection of firefighters and occupants from exposure to these toxins, the bill also had a local spin, as True Textiles, with a plant located in Guilford, is a world leader in the production of safe fabrics. Steps were taken to phase in the requirements, to assure furniture dealers that they can sell existing inventory. The changes will go unnoticed by the consumer, as reputable manufacturers of furniture have shifted to these safer materials. While it will never be safe to breath smoke from structure fires, this is certainly a step in the right direction.

LD 1139 was a bill that I sponsored that makes it clear that a right of way to a body of water in Maine does not imply a right to construct or install a dock, unless that right is specified in the language of the easement. This merely puts into statute what case law has routinely determined over time, and will serve as a protection to owners of shorefront property.

For folks that like to feed deer, there will now be set dates when it is legal to do so. From Dec. 15 to May 31 it will be legal to feed deer as a result of LD 767. It should also be noted that the penalty for hunting over bait will now involve a loss of hunting license. One year for the first offense, and lifetime for the second (LD 1081). Always check with local game wardens with any question.

“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Is a quote often attributed to Mark Twain. I will leave you with that and wish you the best as we enjoy the remainder of our Maine summer.

Maine House District #119 Rep. Paul Stearns
R-Guilford

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