Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: The flower of a variety of marijuana plant that Ron Fousek calls Train Wreck. Fousek started growing medical marijuana about a year ago. He now serves five patients and works about 30 hours per week cultivating the marijuana. Photographed on Monday, January 31, 2011.
Sen. President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, has a bill that would change how the state distributes federal anti-poverty education funds to local schools.
House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, has a bill that would expand MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid health insurance program, to over 60,000 low-income Mainers through the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, is proposing pilot program that could allow Maine college students to borrow interest-free tuition money from a state fund, then pay back the fund over the next 24 years by giving a pre-determined percentage of their work wages.
Rep. Michael Devin, D-Newcastle, has a remake of Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal earlier this year mandating school boards to adopt policies that allow military recruiters on campus.
Rep. Timothy Marks, D-Pittston, has a bill that could increase the likelihood of a felony charge for repeat convictions for operating under the influence.
Other approved measures include a bill by Rep. Lori Fowle, D-Vassalboro, that would extend the Veterans Property Tax Exemption to veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The proposal exempts $6,000 of property value from the assessments of those who served during those wars. It would take effect when the veterans turn 62 or are deemed 100 percent disabled as a result of their service.
Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, won support for action on a bill to study a pilot program that would allow prospective college students to bypass traditional college loans. The so-called “pay forward, pay back” model was adopted in Oregon. It allows students to draw from a dedicated no-interest fund to pay for college. Those who do would then pay 3 percent of their salaries for the next 24 years that they work. The state would likely have to borrow to capitalize the fund, but the designers of the Oregon model believe it will eventually sustain itself.
Rep. Timothy Marks, D-Pittston, will sponsor a bill that would authorize the courts to review 15 years of a resident’s driving history to determine the penalty for a drunken driving conviction. Currently the Bureau of Motor Vehicles considers only the previous 10 years of driving history to calculate a license suspension.
Mark’s bill would also make a third drunken-driving conviction in 15 years a felony offense, rather than a misdemeanor.
The council, in a party line vote, rejected a bill by Rep. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, that would help victims of human trafficking by allowing courts “to vacate their prostitution convictions.” Volk’s bill is among those that may be appealed.
The bills will be vetted by the Legislature during the second session. The shorter session is technically reserved for emergency measures, but lawmakers have historically interpreted the term “emergency” broadly.
The Legislature considered 1,574 bills during the first session.Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @stevemistler