A wide range of new laws will take effect Monday




  • In US
  • 2021-10-17 16:30:00Z
  • By Portland Press Herald, Maine

Oct. 17-The Maine Legislature was busy earlier this year, passing 520 nonemergency bills, and 408 of those were signed by the governor.

Here's a quick look of some of the most high-profile new laws going into effect on Monday.

RACIAL JUSTICE AND EQUITY

Impact statements: Maine's Legislature will now have to assess the impact of all newly proposed bills on on the state's historically disadvantaged populations, including racial minorities.

Under the new law, legislative committees would have the authority to request and receive data needed to assess potential impacts from the implementation of new legislation. The change is one of several reforms ushered through by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, the assistant majority leader in the House.

Racial profiling: Police officers in Maine will now be required to document the race of drivers they detain for traffic stops as part of an effort to determine the amount of racial profiling that occurs in the state.

The law was opposed by law enforcement, which contested it was requiring them to racial-profile and possibly guess the race of a subject in a traffic stop. The change, however, is mirrored by similar laws in dozens of other states.

History lessons: A new law requires all public schools in Maine to include lessons on Black history specific to Maine. Lessons also must include the topic of genocide.

SMOKE AND FIRE

Smoking: It will be illegal to light up in public bus shelters.

Burning: Another new law eliminates an online burn permit system in Maine, replacing it with a requirement that burn permits be issued in person.

VETERANS

Benefits: Veterans who were discharged from the military solely because of their sexual orientation or identity will now be eligible to receive benefits from the state's Bureau of Veterans Services. The law is a response to veterans who were forced to leave the the military before the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was overturned.

Taxes: Another new law eliminates the annual motor vehicle excise tax for disabled Maine vets.

BAIL REFORM

Cash bail will no longer be required for suspects of most minor crimes to be released from jail.

The law change, which will be applied to most Class E misdemeanor charges, is going on the books after several previous attempts by the Legislature. Class E crimes in Maine include disorderly conduct, theft under $1,000 and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license.

The law does not remove bail requirements for suspects charged with a Class E crime related to domestic violence or sexual assault or misconduct. The law also does not allow a suspect charged with a Class E offense for being in violation of conditions of release to go free without bail a second time. It is hoped the measure may help ease some of the issues around staffing and crowding at Maine's county jails.

NEW CRIMES

Domestic violence: A person charged with domestic violence assault can now be charged with aggravated domestic violence assault if the crime takes place in the presence of a child.

Hate crime: A new hate crime law will go on the books allowing a more serve penalty for those convicted of making a false report to law enforcement when the basis of the false report was motivated by a person's race or age.

HERBICIDES

A new law meant to protect children from exposure to toxic chemicals restricts the use of carcinogenic synthetic herbicides of glyphosate and dicamba within 75 feet of a school building.

HUNTING

Bows and arrows: Under a new law for bow hunting, archers may not discharge an arrow within 100 yards of an occupied residence without permission of a landowner. It also prohibits a person from causing an arrow from a bow to pass across the land of another person and within 100 yards of a building or residential dwelling on that land without the permission of the owner or an adult representative of the owner.

Tagging game: Another law going on the books could lead to a system of allowing Maine hunters to tag big game remotely by phoning in their kill information to a tagging station. The law requires the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to examine the practice and report its findings and recommendations for legislation back to the Legislature in January.

OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Narcan in schools: A new law allows for the administration of non-injectable naloxone, known commonly by its brand name Narcan, in public and private schools in Maine under a collaborative practice agreement with a licensed physician. The law would also allow the use of Narcan by a school nurse or other health care professional provided administration of the drug is within the health care provider's scope of practice.

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