September 27, 2013

From the Statehouse - By Thomas Tyler

Well, fall is here or at least it is after Labor Day. The legislature’s staff and committees are starting to gear up for the second regular session of the 126th Maine Legislature. My committee will have met on the 25th of this month by the time you read this article. 

Committees are doing work on the carry over bills from the first session to prepare for the shorter time frame in the second session. Most committees carry over several bills due mostly to a couple of reasons. Either the time table late in the session was too short for the group to feel comfortable regarding information on the bill, or more research was needed by members to make decisions. Some bills may have required a special study group over the summer to get much more feedback and recommendations to reach a final decision by the committee. 

One such bill on our committee (Criminal Justice and Public Safety) was LD297 “An Act to Require Forest Rangers to be Trained in Order to Allow Them to Carry Firearms.” We had a lot of discussion on this topic. The Governor has had a task force over the summer study the issue. My personal opinion is if we are going to require rangers too participate in arrests and do such tasks like searches, follow up warrants, etc. Then, yes, we arm them. If the State wants the rangers to go back 20 years to the way they used to operate as just firefighters and forest protection, firearms are not necessary. 

Other carry over bills for our group were LD662, “An Act Regarding Sexually Explicit Text Messaging by Minors”; LD111 “An Act to Restrict the Sale, Purchase and Use of Fireworks in the State” along with LD168 also on fireworks. LD111 would take us back to the pre-fireworks days when all personal use of those items were banned except sparklers. LD168 was in regarding the use of fireworks such as restricting distance from farm animals, times of use, etc. With the money generated in taxes, the very few instances of problems that have come to my attention lead me to say that I am not prepared to stop the commercial sale of fireworks at this time. Early next year the state fire marshal will have his annual report on fireworks, giving us a great deal more information to discuss. This would be his second report on the subject allowing for a broader perspective on the issue.

The second session is for carry over and emergency bills, like a supplemental budget to adjust what has happened with the State income either good or bad over the year since the close of the first session. We have four months to do the work and hopefully we can get done by the end of April. We start back in session on January 8, 2014 obviously with a lot of work to get done. 

If I can be of service to anyone or you would like to express your opinions please contact me. You can find my contact information at the legislature website. Thank you, it is my honor to serve the citizens of district 110.

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