Statutory changes today, 90 days after the adjournment of this year's legislative session, cover a wide range of activities in daily life.
One amends the Maine Human Rights Act to declare that a mother may breast-feed her baby anywhere she is authorized to be.
Another revises a hunting safety law, stipulating that clothing worn around a hunter's torso during open firearm season must be at least 50 percent hunter orange, and that a hunter must wear a solid-colored hunter orange hat.
Previously, a hunter was required to wear two articles of solid-colored blaze orange clothing.
A third law change allows increases in fees Mainers pay for motor vehicle inspections. Inspection stations may set their own inspection fees, capped at $12.50 for a standard inspection, $15.50 for an enhanced inspection on pre-1996 model vehicles and $18.50 for an enhanced inspection on later model vehicles.
A large number of new provisions were contained in a tax-and-spending package enacted in late June that envisions expenditures of more than $80 million over the two-year budget cycle that began July 1.
Many law changes tracked by legislative staff offices alter provisions of the criminal justice system.
One such measure requires a bail commissioner or a court to consider the possibility of new criminal conduct in deciding whether to release a defendant on personal recognizance or unsecured bail, according to an advisory compiled by the state Attorney General's Office. Another amends the crime of stalking to include communicating threats by mail or electronic means.
Added to the statutes is a Class C crime of endangering the welfare of a child, committed when a parent, foster parent, guardian or other person responsible for the care and welfare of a child under 16 knows that the child has been subject to serious bodily injury by another and fails to protect the child from further injury.
As noted by the Attorney General's Office, the existing crime of endangering the welfare of a child remains a Class D crime.
Penalties are being increased for animal cruelty, and acts of bestiality become crimes.
Another new law prohibits the operation of a sound system in a vehicle at a volume greater than is reasonable. A violation is a traffic infraction that assesses $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense and $150 for a third or subsequent offense.
Environmental law enactments are designed to restrict the disposal of dioxin-forming products and reduce the release of mercury from consumer products. Manufacturers will be required to notify Maine's Department of Environmental Protection if they intend to distribute mercury-added products.
Containers of water intended for human consumption must identify the location of the water source. Manufacturers of genetically engineered plants or seeds must provide growers with instructions on how to plant, cultivate and harvest the product to avoid contaminating other plants.
Still to come are other fruits of the legislative session.
Higher taxes on some restaurant meals and cigarettes, for instance, take effect Oct. 1.
The state tax on cigarettes will increase by 26 cents a pack to $1, while a 7 percent sales tax will be applied to food establishments that do not serve alcohol — effectively increasing the tax in such places from 5 percent.
Also effective Oct. 1 will be a 5 percent increase in welfare benefits.
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|