Senator Hill: Legislation to Help the Town of Kittery and Local Businesses Receives an Important First Step for the Upcoming Session

Posted: November 01, 2011 | News Items, Senator Hill, Transportation
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AUGUSTA – Senator Dawn Hill is applauding the decision of the Legislative Council to allow a bill she submitted that aims to help the town and businesses of Kittery during the Memorial Bridge closure.

Maine legislators filed over 290 bills for the upcoming session; however, the bills are not allowed to be processed before the full Legislature unless approved by the Legislative Council.  The State Constitution limits legislative business during the Second Regular Session to budgetary matters and legislation of an emergency nature. The Legislative Council is made up of leaders from both parties in the Senate and House.

One bill submitted by Senator Hill would permit signage along Interstate 95 for the Town of Kittery and local businesses and establishments. The temporary signs would provide directional guidance to locations that usually would have been easily accessed via the Memorial Bridge.

Senator Hill noted that this legislation would not allow billboard-type signage that is currently prohibited by State Law. Rather, the signs would help direct traffic to popular local destinations, similar to detour signage.

Members of the Legislative Council voted 10-0 in favor of allowing the bill to be addressed in the upcoming session.

“I appreciate the support of legislative leaders to recognize that this is important to the people and businesses of this area,” said Hill. “I look forward to discussing this issue in the upcoming session.”

Hill added, “The bridge may be closed, but the community is still open for business. This bill will help the people and businesses of Kittery during this period.”

Another bill submitted by Senator Hill did not receive the same vote.

The bill to provide immunity from tort claim lawsuits for a New Hampshire based transportation company that is looking to expand its one Maine route through Berwick to include Kittery and Eliot failed to receive support from the Legislative Council. It was voted down in a 5-5 vote.

According to legislative rules, any bill that is rejected by the Legislative Council has an opportunity for an appeals hearing. Senator Hill stated she will appeal the decision and would like to reinforce the importance of the bill with help from the business community. Hill is asking for individuals and businesses to write in support of this bill.

“I think once I am given the chance to explain the situation, there will be a clear understanding that this bill is of emergency status,” said Hill. “Input from local businesses and residents will be very helpful in garnering the support needed to move forward.”

Right now, the company does not fall under Maine’s immunity from tort claim lawsuits because it is located in New Hampshire. Without protection in Maine Law, the transit business faces insurance issues and is thus reluctant to expand its services. Maine transit organizations are protected from tort claim lawsuits.

Senator Hill can be emailed at: SenDawn.Hill@legislature.maine.gov.

A date for appeals has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Two other bills submitted by Senator Hill were also unanimously supported – An Act to Amend the Ogunquit Sewer District and An Act to Amend Provisions Limiting the Return to Work after Retirement by Teachers, School Employees, and State Employees. The Second Regular Session of the 125th Maine Legislature will convene on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.