March 10, 2017

Legislative update from Rep. Patrick Corey

I have hit the ground running during this session of the 128th Maine Legislature. Between my committee assignments and sponsored legislation, I do not see a moment until after June that the pace will slow down.

This session I left the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife committee for a seat on the Joint Standing Committee for Criminal Justice and Public Safety. I was hoping to delve into more policy oriented work this term and CJPS is a great committee for that. Senator Diamond sits on the committee too and his experience is helpful. 

Last session, as a delegation, Windham’s legislators played key roles in working with the Department of Corrections and residents on the new women’s prerelease center being built on River Road; and on a bill authorizing the reconstruction of and upgrades to, the Maine Correctional Center. These will be welcome improvements for corrections staff and neighbors; along with the programming for inmates with the hope of living productive lives outside of prison. 

Maine’s opioid epidemic is overwhelming, and because of this, I took a deep dive on the issue in late 2015 in preparation for a legislative session where we would be tackling it head on. I’ve arrived at the belief that we need an all-of-the-above approach, comprised of improving: Prescribing practices, evidenced-based treatment for people suffering with substance use disorder, Naloxone availability, prevention, and the arrest and prosecution of those who are intent on selling this poison to Maine’s people. The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has oversight on several issues that address this epidemic.

With the passage of Question 1 on last November’s ballot, came the need to form the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation and a second committee assignment for me. 

Recreational marijuana presents a host of issues and challenges that the ballot measure did not address and it needs work. The committee’s work will include: Appropriate taxation and licensing fees, protecting the well-being of Mainers, preventing the diversion of cannabis to the black and gray markets, along with keeping our communities safe. I’ve sponsored three common-sense bills that relate to the passage of recreational marijuana. The first bill is an open container bill that treats marijuana like alcohol in a vehicle. If you can’t drive around with a half consumed fifth of vodka in the passenger seat, you probably shouldn’t have a joint in the ashtray. The second bill would require people who sell recreational marijuana and infused products to do so in tamper evident packaging. 

The current requirement is childproof only. The third bill would ban the purchase of recreational marijuana and infused products using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. TANF is a welfare-to-work program and last year we banned the use of these benefits for alcohol, tattoo, tobacco, jail bond, firearm, vacation, lottery ticket, and adult entertainment purchases. Most would likely agree that recreational marijuana belongs on this list.

There is a great deal of talk in Augusta about the citizen initiative process and how it can be improved. Today our ballot question campaigns have become lopsided, due to out-of-state and special interest spending. Proponents tend to outspend opponents and in some cases by margins greater than ten to one. This becomes an issue because these campaigns become the voter’s public hearing process and in some instances, they’re only effectively presented one side of these important issues. I have two bills in this session that attempt to broaden the amount of information voters have access to during the campaign process, with the hope that people will be able to make more informed decisions.

I have a bill in to ban the creation of gun owner registries that I am working on with the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. Eight other states have similar laws and this proposal is based on a current Rhode Island statute.  It would bar the State or any political subdivision thereof from keeping a registry of privately owned firearms or a list of the owners of those firearms. Of course, this would not apply to firearms that have been used in crimes dangerous to human life. For many gun owners, this is a privacy issue as an intentional or inadvertent release of this type of information could result in discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and victimization against gun owners. 

Finally, I am working with a local retired police officer on a bill that would give cops another tool when dealing with potentially dangerous people trespassing in schools. Currently an officer would have to ask them to leave, with the potential of arrest if they return. This bill would enable an officer to arrest on first contact should he or she determines that the person is up to no good.

As always, I welcome communication with my constituents, as it is good to know where they stand on the issues. I can be reached at: or: 207-749-1336.

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