2011 Scorecard Bills

LD 1207: An Act To Amend the Labor Laws Relating to Certain Agricultural Employees

This bill was originally intended to remove minimum wage and overtime protections and the right of employees to bargain collectively at the DeCoster egg farm in Turner (the only facility in Maine that meets the law’s requirement of having more than 300,000 laying birds).

Employees at the DeCoster farm were originally given enhanced worker protections after a series of employee rights, workplace safety, immigration law, health, animal cruelty and environmental abuses, including the alleged raping of female employees by supervisors.

A recent feature article in Down East magazine called Jack DeCoster “quite possibly the wickedest businessman Maine has ever produced.”

Despite it being revealed that DeCoster representatives gave false testimony during the bill’s hearing, the bill eventually passed in the House, after it was amended to remove the elimination of minimum wage and overtime protections. The Senate referred it back to the Labor Committee for further study.

House roll call 155.

LD 322: An Act to Repeal the Informed Growth Act

The Informed Growth Act was the single best tool Maine people had in determining how and where big box stores will move into their towns and was the best protection Maine communities and small businesses had against development that would radically change their neighborhoods and ways of life.

Under the law, a store like WalMart could only build in a town if it first paid for an independent, comprehensive impact study to determine that there won't be "undue adverse impact" on small businesses, public safety, the environment, and tax revenue. It's the only way that towns can base their decisions on real information.

LD 322 passed as amended, meaning that any town that wants to continue to be protected has to pass a local ordinance. This will allow big box developers to pit town against town and drive a race to the bottom.

Senate roll call 47. House roll call 28.

LD 199: An Act To Strengthen Maine's Election Laws by Requiring Photograph Identification for the Purpose of Voting

This bill requires Maine voters to show current state-approved photo ID card in order to cast their ballot. Many people, especially older Mainers, don’t have current ID and this would present a new barrier and a new expense to voting. It would also cost to the state millions and create longer lines on Election Day.

Those opposed to the bill have called it a modern day poll tax.

The bill was originally passed in the House and then voted down in the Senate, but Senators reversed themselves and voted to keep the bill alive by sending it back to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.

Senate roll call 237. House roll call 124.

LD 1376: An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process

This law is an attack on Maine’s democracy. It strips away voter registration rights for Maine people on Election Day and for two business days beforehand, making it much more difficult for young people, the elderly, people with disabilities, people who have moved towns, people who have accidentally been removed from the voting rolls and others to cast their ballots.

While supporters of the law say it’s in response to voter fraud and inefficiency on Election Day, there have been only two prosecutions for voting fraud in Maine in the last 40 years and town clerks have said the law will actually make election day much more confusing and deny people the right to vote. The Maine Town and City Clerks Association opposed the same-day registration portion of the law.

MPA and a diverse coalition of ally organizations have launched a People’s Veto campaign against LD 1376 and hope to prevent it from becoming law. For more information, see the front page article.

Senate roll call 203. House roll call 160.

LD 1333: An Act To Modify Rating Practices for Individual and Small Group Health Plans and To Encourage Value-based Purchasing of Health Care Services

This deregulation law is likely the largest give-away to health insurance companies in the history of our state.

The law repeals many of Maine's basic health care consumer protections, allows out-of-state insurers to market policies in Maine without a way to enforce those policies and make sure claims are paid, and undermines access to quality affordable health care for older Mainers, rural residents, people with pre-existing conditions and small businesses through significant rate hikes based on age and where people live.

Insurers can also now make people drive from Fort Kent to Kittery for medical services, such as weekly cancer treatments.

On the other side of the equation, health insurance companies make out like bandits. They no longer have to abide by basic consumer protections, get to increase their rates up to 10% a year with no oversight, and the law creates a new tax to fund a high risk pool, meaning that Maine people instead of insurance companies will have to pay for treatment for the sickest Mainers.

The bill, which was originally only four pages, was re-written by insurance company representatives and staff of the right-wing Maine Heritage Policy Center. The new version, at 40 pages, was passed through committee and then the House and Senate with no public hearing and in violation of the House’s own rules.

Despite fast action MPA members, who flooded the halls of the capitol and flooded the inboxes of legislators, the bill passed narrowly, mostly along party lines.

Senate roll call 75. House roll call 44.

LD 412: Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 882: Designation of Bisphenol A as a Priority Chemical and Regulation of Bisphenol A in Children's Products, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection

This is a rule put forward by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection to ban Bisphenol-A (BPA), from baby bottles, sippy cups, and reusable containers, which came forward due to the Maine Kid-Safe Products Act.

After Governor LePage made a joke about BPA causing women to grow “little beards,” legislators began to distance themselves from his administration’s position against the ban. In the end, the ban passed by wide margins in both the House and Senate.

Senate roll call 33. House roll call 17.

LD 447: An Act To Raise the Minimum Wage

This bill would have raised the minimum wage in Maine from $7.50 an hour to $7.75 and then $8 in 2012. It would have helped those struggling to make ends meet, while putting money in the pockets of those people who are most likely to spend it on basic necessities, promoting needed economic growth in our struggling economy.

The bill failed, mostly on a party line vote.

Senate roll call 103. Health roll call 77.

LD 281: An Act To Create a 5-year Statute of Limitations for Environmental Violations

This law (which was amended to make the time period six years) allows polluters who are not prosecuted by state enforcement agencies within six years to get away with their environmental violations.

Despite the LePage administration’s support for this law benefiting corporate polluters, at least one individual staff member of LePage’s Department of Environmental Protection stood up to testify as a private citizen to oppose the bill. John Glowa, a water expert and 24-year veteran of the DEP testified that the bill is “a drastic change to the current law as it now stands” and “will make it more difficult for the state of Maine to enforce its environmental laws.”

After the Judiciary committee at first voted 8-1 against the law, it was later passed narrowly in botht he House and Senate. Senate roll call 230. House roll call 153.

LD 309: An Act To Make Voluntary Membership in a Public Employee Labor Organization in the State

This bill is at the center of the LePage administration’s push to dismantle collective bargaining for workers in Maine. LD 309 would have removed the “fair share” provision for public employees that makes sure that all workers that benefit from the work of a labor union in negotiating contracts pay for a portion of those services.

If LD 309 would undermine Maine workers’ ability to negotiate with their employers over wages and working conditions and make it harder for firefighters, nurses, snow plow drivers, state troopers, and other public employees to establish safe and fair working conditions.

Similar legislation has been proposed in other states with new, tea-party supported governors across the country and the bill is widely seen to be part of a national right-wing anti-labor agenda.

The bill was sent back to committee and may be reconsidered during the next session of the Legislature.

Senate roll call 114. House roll call 84.

LD 516: An Act To Amend Maine Law To Conform with Federal Law Regarding Employment Practices for Certain Minors

This bill would have repealed the laws limiting the number of hours children 16 and up may work while school is not in session and all limitations on the hours children 17 years old and older may work.

Repealing Maine’s child labor laws undermines student success and may harm their ability to succeed in their education and careers. Volumes of studies have shown that the more hours teens work the more likely it is that their grades will decline and Maine business and Maine communities need an educated workforce, not more cheap child labor.

An amended version of this bill, which increased the hours teens can be made to work instead of eliminating the protections completely, was passed in the House and Senate and signed into law. Another, even worse child labor bill was defeated.

Senate roll call 52. House roll call 59.

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