February 7, 2013

Local lawmakers' bills poised for vetting

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA -- Local lawmakers want to help veterans and a local home for the elderly with bills recently added to the legislative pipeline.

And coming next week, public hearings begin on a few other bills of local interest.

At 10 a.m. Monday, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold a public hearing on L.D. 76, "An Act to Provide Funding to the State Board of Corrections for Certain County Jail Debt." The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, calls for $9.4 million to be directed to the State Board of Corrections over the next two years to help pay off jail debt statewide.

In central Maine, Somerset County borrowed $30 million to build the county jail in East Madison in 2008. The annual service on the debt is about $2.55 million.

Then at 1 p.m. Monday, the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on L.D. 6, "An Act to Prohibit a Requirement that a Superintendent Reside in the School Administrative Unit." This bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Casavant, D-Biddeford, was prompted by problems encountered in Biddeford and Augusta, where local officials have had a hard time finding qualified superintendents who live in their respective cities.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on L.D. 46, "An Act to Protect Maine Business Names." The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Beck, D-Waterville, seeks to require the Department of Secretary of State to change the way it examines new business names to ensure they are not similar to those of existing businesses.

The bill stems from a situation in Waterville, where Bumper to Bumper Repair on Washington Street began to get calls from customers who had confused with Bumper2Bumper in Bangor.

Then at 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on L.D. 121 "An Act to Amend the Laws Governing the Operation of Tournament Games by Charitable Organizations."

Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, is sponsoring a bill that would allow charitable organizations to hire nonmembers to conduct tournament games. Those nonmembers would be allowed to be paid up to 20 percent of the gross revenue collected from entry fees. Also, the bill increases the maximum entry fee for tournament game players.

Wilson said he put in the bill at the request of a constituent who thinks groups can run more professional tournaments if they are able to hire help from outside the organization.

New bills released recently include:

* L.D. 213 "An Act to Provide Funding for Transportation of Veterans to Medical Facilities," sponsored by Rep. Lori Fowle, D-Vassalboro. The bill calls for spending $30,000 over the next two years to help pay for low-cost vans that would be driven by volunteers who would take veterans to medical appointments.

* L.D. 208 "An Act to Amend the Charter of St. Mark's Home for Women in Augusta," sponsored by Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta. The bill changes the name from the St. Mark's Home for Women to just St. Mark's Home. When it first opened in 1871, the home was called "St. Mark's Home for Poor and Indigent Women." It was changed to "St. Mark's Home for Needy Women" in 1965, and to "St. Mark's Home for Women" in 1981.

Joe Riddick, who serves as treasurer to the St. Mark's Board of Trustees, said the home wants the flexibility to change its mission in the future, although no decisions have been made.

* L.D. 174 "An Act to Prohibit the Placement of Political Signs within 25 Feet of a Cemetery or Burial Site," sponsored by Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton. Although it wasn't a problem in the last election cycle, Saviello said constituents have complained to him in the past about political signs being too close to a cemetery.

"It's just out of bounds," he said. "When I go spend time at my wife's grave, I don't want to see political signs."

Susan Cover -- 621-5643
scover@mainetoday.com

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