Legislation of Interest

Government relations is a key membership benefit and we are engaged 12-months a year in legislative, regulatory and policy matters impacting our members. The MGFPA reviews proposed bills and will post Bills of Interest.  Each week during the session, members receive the Legislative Watch E-Newsletter.  In addition, during the session, the MGFPA Government Relations Committee meets via conference call. Be part of the discussion! Or just listen in. Email Us for the dial-in details! The 128th Maine Legislature's second session began January 3rd, 2018.

1747: Resolve, To Establish a Task Force To Examine Agricultural Issues

Category: Food Production | Status: Pending

Voted, Feb 20, 2018, Ant. Div. Rep.

This resolve establishes the Task Force To Examine Agricultural Issues to examine the barriers to economic prosperity in rural parts of the State and examine how innovation, infrastructure and technology may play a role in long-term, sustainable rural success.

Updated: February 21, 2018

1768: An Act To Reduce Impairment on the Job and Improve Workplace Safety by Amending the Laws Governing Employment Practices Concerning Substance Use Testing

Category: Marijuana | Status: Pending

Work Session Held, Feb 8, 2018, TABLED

This bill makes changes to the laws governing employment practices concerning substance abuse testing, including the following.

1. It replaces the phrases “substance abuse test” and “substance abuse testing” with “substance use test” and “substance use testing” to reflect current usage.

2. It repeals a section of law that addresses nuclear power plants since there are no operating nuclear power plants in this State.

3. It narrows the definition of “employee” and provides that a full-time employee is an employee who works at least 36 hours a week.

4. It authorizes an employer that has employees subject to a federally mandated substance use testing program to extend federal drug testing activities to its entire workforce in order to maintain a single testing program and specifies that the employer must prepare a substance use testing plan for employees who are not federally regulated, provide a copy of the plan to the employees and the Department of Labor before testing, follow federal notification and procedural protocols for such employees and annually report the results of testing to the department.

5. It streamlines the current substance use testing policy approval by requiring the Department of Labor to develop a uniform impairment and substance use testing policy applicable to all employers. Employers must certify their adoption of the policy and be approved by the Department of Labor prior to conducting substance use testing.

6. It removes the “probable cause” standard and replaces it with an “impairment detection” standard required before the employer may conduct substance use testing. For employers authorized to conduct substance use testing, only an employer or employee approved for impairment detection by the Department of Labor or a licensed physician or nurse may make an impairment detection. This detection may be based on a single work-related accident, unlike the “probable cause” standard under current law. The employer may immediately remove the employee from the workplace pending resolution of the impairment detection.

7. It adds an “impairment determination” process that may be used as an alternative or in addition to a substance use test. Under this process, an occupational health care provider conducts a medical review in order to confirm the impairment detection, which may include a substance use test that includes testing for prescription drugs. If the impairment is confirmed, the employer may take employment action including firing or disciplining the employee, subject to any limitations under the Maine Human Rights Act and any other state or federal law. If the occupational health care provider finds that the employee was not impaired or that such impairment did not pose a safety risk, the employee is entitled to full reinstatement to the employee’s position.

8. It adds a violation of an established drug-free workplace policy as grounds for employment action and provides for a treatment period of 12 weeks at the employee’s expense.

9. It eliminates the requirement that, prior to establishing a substance use testing program, an employer with over 20 full-time employees have a functioning employee assistance program and instead authorizes employers to have an employee assistance program.

10. It expands the number of establishments that may undertake companywide random substance use testing by authorizing such testing for companies with 10 or more employees instead of with 50 or more employees, as is the current standard.

11. It provides that a confirmed positive substance use test may be reported to the employee only by a medical review officer and allows an employee to provide a legitimate medical explanation for a positive test result for legally obtained medications, preventing the medical review officer from reporting a positive test for that substance to the employer.

12. It allows testing laboratories to use federal testing standards.

13. It adds a new civil violation for any employer noncompliance with the substance use testing laws, for which a fine of not more than $500 for the first violation, $750 for the 2nd violation and $1,000 for the 3rd and subsequent violations may be adjudged.

Updated: February 8, 2018

LD 1805: An Act To Amend the Maine Tax Laws

Category: General Business | Status: Pending

Voted, Feb 20, 2018, OTP-AM

This bill does the following:

Part A expands the provision for sellers required to register to collect and report sales taxes to include online real property rental platforms and those engaged in the facilitation of the rental of living quarters. Definitions for “room remarketer,” “transient rental platform” and “facilitation of the rental of living quarters” are added. The definition of “sale price” is amended to include as consideration receipts by room remarketers and transient rental platform operators. The definition of “taxable service” is amended to include facilitation of the rental of living quarters in a hotel, rooming house or tourist or trailer camp. It restructures and reorganizes the section of law specifying the rate of sales tax. The clarification regarding the registration requirements for the rental of living quarters takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the Second Regular Session of the 128th Legislature. The changes apply to sales occurring on or after October 1, 2018;

Part B:

1. Limits insurance premium tax refunds to the amount of tax paid within the 3-year period immediately preceding the filing of a refund claim or audit. The provision is similar to that provided with respect to income tax refund claims; and

2. Prohibits the payment of interest on an overpayment of insurance premiums tax if the overpayment is refunded by the State Tax Assessor within 60 days of the taxpayer’s filing of the claim with Maine Revenue Services. The provision is similar to that provided with respect to income tax refund claims;

Part C:

1. Allows the subtraction of pick-up contributions distributed to the taxpayer by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System in the form of a rollover from taxable income within 3 years beginning with the year of the rollover. The change applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2018; and

2. Makes the credit for homestead modifications available in the tax year during which the certification of eligibility is made. Current law ties the credit to the year during which the qualified expenditures are paid, but the credit may be claimed only once the Maine State Housing Authority certifies to the State Tax Assessor that the expenditures incurred qualify for the credit. The change applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2018;

Part D makes the following changes to the tax credit for major business headquarters expansions. It:

1. Clarifies that the information regarding revenue loss attributable to the tax credit reported by the State Tax Assessor to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over taxation matters is not confidential taxpayer information. It also corrects a numbering conflict created when 2 public laws enacted the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 36, section 191, subsection 2, paragraph DDD;

2. Clarifies that a revocation of a certificate of approval or a certificate of completion due to ceasing operations of the headquarters also applies to a certificate held by a transferee;

3. Clarifies that the credit is available only to a certified applicant who has received a certificate of completion;

4. Clarifies that the required job threshold calculation includes the tax year for which the credit is currently being claimed, in addition to the tax years for which the credit has been claimed;

5. Clarifies that the amount recovered by the State when a certificate is revoked is a tax due in the taxable year during which the certificate is revoked and is subject to the collection and enforcement provisions contained in Title 36, Part 1, including the application of applicable interest and penalties;

6. Provides that, when determining the number of employees for eligibility for the credit, employees who are shifted to a qualified applicant’s headquarters from an affiliated business in the State are not counted;

7. Removes the requirement that the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development report to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over taxation matters aggregate data on employment levels and qualified investment amounts of certified applicants for each year;

8. Delays the State Tax Assessor’s yearly reporting requirement until December 31st and clarifies that the report is for the tax year ending during the immediately preceding calendar year;

9. Defines the term “revenue loss” for the purposes of the State Tax Assessor’s yearly reporting requirement and the confidentiality exception applying to the report; and

10. Adds rule-making authority for the commissioner and the State Tax Assessor;

Part E clarifies that the amount of sales tax revenue transferred to the Multimodal Transportation Fund is calculated after a reduction for the amount transferred to the Local Government Fund is made;

Part F aligns certain parts of the Unorganized Territory Educational and Services Tax lien foreclosure process with the municipal tax lien foreclosure process retroactively to October 1, 1935. It:

1. Authorizes the State Tax Assessor to issue a discharge of a tax lien mortgage on real estate after the prior owner’s right of redemption has expired, unless the State has conveyed any interest based upon the title acquired from the affected lien;

2. Allows the State Tax Assessor to not perform certain inventory and reporting procedures with respect to real estate that is a permanent residence that has been acquired by the State through the tax lien foreclosure process; and

3. Authorizes the State Tax Assessor to convey real estate acquired by the State through the tax lien foreclosure process to the prior owner without further legislative authorization if the tax due on the real estate has been satisfied; and

Part G makes a technical clarification by repealing the provision regarding the new markets capital investment credit requiring the Commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services to enter into a memorandum of agreement. The memorandum is a nonbinding document with no substantive legal effect.

Updated: February 21, 2018

1698: An Act To Promote Innovation and Growth in Maine's Traditional Industries

Category: General Business | Status: Pending

Reported Out, Feb 16, 2018, ONTP

This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to promote innovation and growth in Maine’s traditional industries.

Updated: February 12, 2018

1718: An Act To Empower Maine's Rural Economy and Workforce

Category: Labor | Status: Pending

Not Reported Out

This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to empower Maine’s rural economy and workforce.

Updated: February 21, 2018

1775: An Act To Further Delay the Implementation of Certain Provisions of the Marijuana Legalization Act

Category: Marijuana | Status: Pending

Reported Out, Jan 26, 2018, OTP-AM

This bill further delays, until May 1, 2018, the effective date of those provisions of the Marijuana Legalization Act that were delayed until February 1, 2018 by Public Law 2017, chapter 1. (Emergency)

Updated: February 12, 2018

1786: An Act Regarding Maine's Liquor Laws

Category: Alcohol & Tobacco | Status: Pending

Voted, Feb 14, 2018, OTP-AM

This bill clarifies provisions in existing law authorizing a licensed manufacturer to hold a license for a retail establishment where liquor is consumed on the premises. The bill also repeals a provision that requires the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations to establish rules for the separation of areas where the privilege of a liquor license may be exercised from where it may not be exercised.

Updated: January 22, 2018

1723: An Act To Expand Job Opportunities for People Working in Maine

Category: General Business | Status: Pending

Work Session Held, Feb 20, 2018, TABLED

This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to expand job opportunities for people working in this State.

Updated: February 21, 2018

1612: An Act To Support Maine Families through Universal Family Care

Category: General Business | Status: Defeated

Reported Out, Jan 26, 2018, ONTP

This bill establishes the Universal Family Care Program of universal child care and in-home and community support services for all individuals and families who are eligible. Eligibility for universal child care is based on the age of the child, and eligibility for in-home and community support services is based on medical eligibility. Income is not a factor for eligibility. The bill establishes the Universal Family Care Trust Fund, which is managed by a board composed of members who represent child care providers, home care agencies, employees of child care providers and home care agencies and consumers of child care and home care services. The board employs professional staff and receives advice from an advisory committee composed of the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Labor as well as the Treasurer of State, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Base funding for universal child care is from child care funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and the federal Child Care and Development Fund block grant. Base funding for universal in-home and community support services is from federal matching funding related to home and community support services and state funding for elder services provided in the home.

To complete the funding for the Universal Family Care Program, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Revenue Services is directed to develop and submit to the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services draft legislation to establish universal family care taxes. The taxes are to be structured to include 3 elements: a tax on wages that is substantially equivalent to the federal Social Security’s Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program tax, but that applies only to earnings above the annual contribution and benefit base of the federal tax; a self-employment tax applicable to taxpayers who are subject to the federal Self-Employment Contributions Act tax that is equivalent to that tax and applies to net earnings above the annual limit subject to taxation under that federal tax; and a tax equal to the wage and self-employment taxes that is imposed on unearned annual income and that applies in a manner similar to the federal Net Investment Income Tax. The bill directs the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services to report out a bill to the Second Regular Session of the 128th Legislature to establish universal family care taxes to fully fund the Universal Family Care Program.

Updated: January 26, 2018

821: An Act To Enact the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act

Category: General Business | Status: Defeated

Reported Out, Jan 16, 2018, ONTP

This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to adopt a law that is based on the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, the text of which may be found here: http://legislature.maine.gov/uploads/originals/revised-uniform-unclaimed-property-act.pdf.

In addition to any substantive changes to the uniform act that may be adopted by the Legislature, the basic numbering system, the mechanical structure and the internal organization of the law recommended by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws will be altered to conform to the numbering, structure and organization of the Maine Revised Statutes.

Updated: January 8, 2018

1743: An Act To Modify the Number of Retail Liquor Licenses Allowed in a Jurisdiction per Person

Category: Alcohol & Tobacco | Status: Pending

Work Session Held, Jan 24, 2018, TABLED

This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to modify the number of retail liquor licenses allowed in a municipality based on the population of that municipality.

 

Updated: February 12, 2018

1703: An Act To Create Equity for Wine and Spirits Container Deposits

Category: Beverage Containers | Status: Pending

Voted, Feb 8, 2018, ANT. DIV. REP.

This bill creates a uniform refund value for all wine and spirits bottles in the laws governing returnable beverage containers.

Updated: February 12, 2018

1770: An Act To Revise Laws Regarding Unemployment That Were Amended or Affected by Recently Enacted Legislation

Category: Labor | Status: Pending

Work Session Held, Feb 14, 2018, TABLED

This bill changes the laws governing how benefits paid to an eligible individual under the Employment Security Law are charged against the experience rating record of the individual’s previous employers and applies these changes beginning January 1, 2020. The biennial budget also changed this law and applied the changes beginning January 1, 2018. The bill also provides that until January 1, 2020 the experience rating record of the most recent subject employer may not be charged with benefits paid to an eligible individual whose work record with that employer totaled 5 consecutive weeks or less.

This bill also provides that certain decisions made by the Commissioner of Labor are subject to review by the Department of Labor, Division of Administrative Hearings, rather than by the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission.

Updated: February 21, 2018

1769: An Act To Conform the Laws Regarding a Salaried Employee Who Is Exempt from Overtime and Minimum Wage Requirements to Federal Law

Category: Labor | Status: Pending

Voted, Feb 8, 2018, ANT. DIV. REP.

This bill amends the description of a salaried employee for the laws governing limits on mandatory overtime and the definition of “employee” in the laws governing minimum wages to conform with the federal guidelines established by the United States Department of Labor under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. It sets the minimum salary at the threshold established by the United States Department of Labor under that Act. It eliminates the requirement that the salary threshold be tied to the state minimum wage.

Updated: February 12, 2018

1757: An Act To Protect Maine's Economy by Slowing the Rate at Which the State's Minimum Wage Will Increase and Establishing a Training and Youth Wage

Category: Labor | Status: Pending

Voted, Feb 8, 2018, ANT. DIV. REP.

This bill affects the minimum wage by:

1. Reducing the minimum wage from $10 per hour to $9.50 per hour beginning June 1, 2018;

2. Reducing the amount by which the minimum hourly wage rates are scheduled to increase annually on January 1st from 2019 to 2021 from $1 per year to 50 cents per year, and decreasing from $12 to $11 the minimum hourly wage rate required to be paid in 2021;

3. Eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment to the minimum wage; and

4. Establishing a training minimum wage for employees 18 years of age or older and under 20 years of age for the first 90 days of employment and a youth minimum wage for employees under 18 years of age.

Updated: February 12, 2018

1584: An Act To Expand the Local Foods Economy by Promoting Local Foods Procurement

Category: Food Production | Status: Carry Over

Voted, Feb 13, 2018, OTP-AM

This bill requires the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to establish a good local foods procurement program to encourage the purchase and sale of foods that are produced and harvested in this State and that are healthy, safe, wholesome, nutritious, affordable, accessible and sustainably produced. The program, administered by the commissioner, must help farmers and fishermen in this State by increasing demand for and direct purchasing of their products by individuals and institutions with a goal of increasing the sale and purchase of good local foods by 20% no later than 2025 and supporting local economies, farms, fisheries, jobs, nutrition, environmental sustainability and animal welfare. The program also must improve access to good local foods.

Updated: January 30, 2018

1587: An Act To Provide Economic Security to Maine Families through the Creation of a Paid Family Medical Leave System

Category: Labor | Status: Carry Over

Not Reported Out

This bill creates a paid family medical leave program, patterned after the unpaid family medical leave program existing in current law but requiring a contribution from an eligible employee, or a self-employed person on a voluntary basis, of no more than 0.5% of the employee’s or self-employed person’s wages or earnings.

Updated: February 21, 2018

1565: An Act To Ensure the Effectiveness of Tax Increment Financing

Category: General Business | Status: Defeated

Reported Out, Jan 23, 2018, ONTP

This bill amends the criteria for adopting a development program as part of a development district by requiring that 80% of the area within the district is designated for development by an entity engaged in a qualified business activity that is directly related to financial services, manufacturing or targeted technologies.

Updated: January 22, 2018

1534: An Act To Address Hunger, Support Maine Farms and Reduce Waste

Category: Environmental | Status: Carry Over

Voted, Feb 8, 2018, OTP-AM

This bill creates the Maine food producers donation tax credit. The tax credit program allows food producers to apply for a tax credit equal to 50% of the fair market value of the donated food when they donate such food to a nonprofit food assistance organization or school. The Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Revenue Services may not authorize more than $150,000 in tax credits per fiscal year. The bill directs the bureau to adopt rules to implement the Maine food producers donation tax credit.

The bill also includes immunity from civil liability in regards to injury, illness or death due to the condition of the donated food for a charitable or nonprofit organization and its employees who distribute food without charge or at less than fair market value. The immunity also applies to a hospital or health care facility or eating establishment that donates food. The bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and publish a summary of liability protections for food donors and distributors of donated food.

The bill also creates the Maine Food Recovery Commission, consisting of 13 members, 5 of whom are Legislators. The commission must meet 4 times to review and evaluate the economic, environmental and human costs of food waste in Maine and assess current systems of food production, distribution and waste to determine where and how food is wasted in a manner inconsistent with Maine’s food recovery hierarchy as well as to develop a strategy to address any inconsistencies with the food recover hierarchy. The commission is required to submit a report by December 6, 2017 to the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources with its findings and recommendations, including suggested legislation.

 

Updated: February 12, 2018

1566: An Act To Enact the Maine Fair Chance Employment Act

Category: Labor | Status: Carry Over

Voted, Feb 6, 2018, Ant. Div. Rep.

This bill enacts the Maine Fair Chance Employment Act and adds restrictions to the use of criminal history information in the context of employment decisions by private employers and the State and its political subdivisions and of licensing decisions by licensing agencies.

Updated: January 8, 2018

1244: An Act To Support Small Manufacturers in the State

Category: Food Production | Status: Carry Over

Reported Out, Feb 1, 2018, LTW (Leave to Withdraw)

This concept draft would help small manufacturers.

Updated: January 8, 2018

1149: An Act To Provide Revenue To Fix and Rebuild Maine's Infrastructure

Category: Taxation | Status: Carry Over

Not Reported Out

It increases by $3 to $10 certain fees charged by the Secretary of State for driver’s license examinations, temporary license plates, nondriver identification cards, issuance of duplicate registrations, titles, licenses and nondriver identification cards and transfers of registrations.  It imposes a $200 surcharge, dedicated to the Highway Fund, on the registration of hybrid motor vehicles, battery-electric motor vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell motor vehicles.  It requires 10% of the sales tax imposed on transportation-related items, such as motor vehicles and the products for the repair and maintenance of motor vehicles, such as motor oil, batteries and tires, to be transferred to the Highway Fund on a monthly basis.  It increases the tax imposed on motor vehicle fuel by 7¢ per gallon, to 36.5¢ per gallon, beginning October 1, 2017.

Updated: January 8, 2018

855: An Act To Protect Children from Edible Cannabis Products

Category: Marijuana | Status: Carry Over

Not Reported Out

Would prohibit the production and sales of “edibles” packaged or shaped that would appeal to children.

Updated: January 8, 2018

781: An Act To Support the Trades through a Tax Credit for Apprenticeship Programs

Category: Taxation | Status: Carry Over

Reported Out, Jun 5, 2017, OTP-AM

This bill provides an income tax credit to employers with apprenticeship programs approved by the Department of Labor. The credit is equal to $2,500 for each registered apprentice employed by the taxpayer during the taxable year in an approved apprenticeship program.

Updated: January 8, 2018

700: An Act To Give Flexibility to Employees and Employers for Temporary Layoffs

Category: Labor | Status: Carry Over

Work Session Held, Feb 20, 2018, TABLED

This bill creates an exemption from the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits dealing with work search for an individual otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits when that individual has been temporarily laid off with a definite recall date of not more than 12 weeks from the date of the individual’s temporary layoff.

Updated: February 22, 2018

675: An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Food Processing Infrastructure in Targeted Areas of the State

Category: Food Production | Status: Carry Over

Not Reported Out

This is a $20 million bond proposal to support food production in certain regions of the State.  It would require voter approval.

Updated: January 8, 2018

LD 669: An Act To Address the Unmet Workforce Needs of Employers and To Improve the Economic Future of Workers

Category: Labor | Status: Carry Over

Voted, Jan 25, 2018, Ant. Div. Rep.

This concept draft proposes to enact a comprehensive package of proposals designed to address the unmet workforce needs of employers and to improve the economic future of workers.

Updated: January 25, 2018

660: An Act To Allow Credit and Debit Card Surcharges

Category: General Business | Status: Carry Over

Work Session Held, Jan 25, 2018, TABLED

This RAM and MGFPA initiated bill would permit retailers to impose a surcharge on a customer using a credit card or debit cards.

Updated: January 26, 2018

LD 625: An Act To Prohibit the Location of a Marijuana Facility within 2,000 Feet of a House of Public Worship or Property Associated with a House of Public Worship

Category: General Business | Status: Carry Over

Not Reported Out

This bill prohibits a retail marijuana establishment or retail marijuana social club from being located within 2,000 feet of a house of public worship or property associated with a house of public worship.

Updated: January 8, 2018

433: An Act To Allow Municipalities To Apply a Local Option Sales Tax to the Sale of Marijuana

Category: Marijuana | Status: Carry Over

Not Reported Out

This bill allows a municipality that approves the location of a retail marijuana store or a retail marijuana social club to impose a local option sales tax. Revenue from the local option sales tax after deduction for the cost of state administration is distributed to the municipality

Updated: January 8, 2018

LD 173: An Act To End Food Insecurity

Category: General Business | Status: Carry Over

Reported Out, May 4, 2017, OTP-AM

This would provide an ongoing general fund allocation of $5 million to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Updated: January 8, 2018