New laws enacted by Senate Democrats take effect today
Leaders laud new environmental and consumer protections, public health infrastructure
AUGUSTA — New laws championed by Senate Democrats take effect today, November 1. Those new laws include policies to to safeguard Maine’s clean air and water, strengthen consumer protections and invest in public health, among other legislative victories for Mainers.
“Whether it was insurance companies trying to charge seniors more simply for getting older, or multinational mining companies threatening our clean air and water, or big banks trying to kick families out on the street with little warning, Senate Democrats stood up on behalf of Maine families against powerful special interests and corporate greed. And we won,” said Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson, of Allagash. “At a time when so many forces conspire to stack the deck against them, Democrats in the Maine Senate had the backs of hardworking, everyday people in Maine.”
“On issues from public health to consumer protections, workforce development to criminal justice reform, Senate Democrats led the way,” said Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Nate Libby, of Lewiston. “I’m proud of the members of our caucus, who put in countless hours and endless sweat into the job on behalf of their constituents, and I’m confident that they will continue working to address the problems Maine families face and to ensure equal access to education, health care, justice and prosperity for every Mainer.”
All nonemergency laws take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns. Laws sponsored by Senate Democrats that take effect today include:
- LD 820, “An Act to Protect Maine’s Clean Water and Taxpayers from Mining Pollution,” by Sen. Brownie Carson, D-Harpswell. This law bans the most environmentally destructive and dangerous form of mineral extraction, open pit mining, implements strict protections for water quality, and requires mining companies to provide up-front funding for the cost of any clean-up or accident.
- LD 1108, “An Act to Restore Public Health Nursing Services,” by Sen. Brownie Carson, D-Harpswell. This law reverses years of sabotage to Maine’s public health nursing system, which provides on-the-ground community health services — including home visits to vulnerable young families and seniors and crisis-response, such as during disease outbreaks. Gov. Paul LePage had gutted the program over the past six years, leaving positions vacant and jeopardizing Maine’s ability to respond to a public health crisis. The law requires Gov. LePage to hire 48 public health nurses, bringing the program back up to fighting strength.
- LD 1485, “An Act Regarding MaineCare Coverage for Telehealth Services,” by Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor. This law requires MaineCare to cover the costs of telehealth services, those provided via audio-video conferencing and remote monitoring, the same way it covers face-to-face office visits. Covering telehealth ensures that all Mainers, including rural patients and those unable to travel long distance, have equal access to high-quality health care.
- LD 803, “An Act to Improve Transparency in the Electricity Supply Market,” by Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston. Responding to court allegations of unfair business practices and overcharging in the competitive electricity supply market, Sen. Libby sponsored LD 803 to bring much-needed transparency and consumer protections to this fledgling sector of the economy. The law requires competitive electricity providers to provide cost comparisons necessary for customers to make informed decisions about their electricity costs, prevents them from automatically renewing contracts and requires they send renewal notices by mail. The state’s public advocate said the law puts Maine “on the leading edge of the country for protecting consumers and preventing abusive practices in the consumer electricity market.”
- LD 880, “An Act to Protect a Homeowner’s Equity of Redemption in a Foreclosure Action,” by Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland. This law prevents premature eviction and homelessness by ensuring families facing foreclosure are given a full 90-day grace period to find new housing before the mortgage holder begins the foreclosure sale process. The law was necessary to prevent unscrupulous mortgage holders from booting families to the curb with no time to find new living arrangements.
- LD 308, “An Act to Prohibit Charging Maine Seniors Higher Automobile Insurance Premiums Based Solely on Their Age,” by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham. Last year, the Progressive Insurance company applied for permission to charge Maine seniors higher premiums simply because of their age. After public outcry, the company rescinded its request, and Sen. Diamond submitted LD 308 to ensure no senior is ever discriminated against because of their age.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM:
- LD 654, “An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Certain Sexual Offenses,” by Sen. Mike Carpenter, D-Houlton. This law makes much-needed changes to Maine’s outdated sexual assault laws, including removing a provision that allowed offenders to escape prosecution because their victim was intoxicated. It also gives prosecutors additional tools to prosecute sexual assault. The law will provide greater access to justice for victims, and greater accountability to offenders who commit this serious crime.
- LD 1261, “An Act to Protect Minors from Sex Trafficking,” by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham. A 2016 report by Shared Hope International gave Maine a grade of “D” for its laws related to sex trafficking. In response, Sen. Diamond submitted LD 1261, which increases the severity of punishment for those who solicit minors. While soliciting a prostitute of any age is already illegal, this law guarantees stricter punishments for those criminals who attempt to engage solicit a child victim of sex trafficking.
- LD 37, “An Act to Provide a Career and Technical Education Training Option for Plumbers,” by Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth. This law addresses a skill shortage and helps vocational students enter the well-paid career path of plumbing by creating a journeyman-in-training license for graduates of Career and Technical Education schools, similar to the journeyman licenses available in the fields of masonry, welding, carpentry and culinary arts.