The short session

The Maine Legislature has a two-year cycle, with a “long session” and a “short session.” The first year is the “long session,” and during this session the Legislature generally meets until mid to late June. The second year is the short session and it generally ends in mid-April.

This past year, was the long session, and the primary reason for the extra session length is that it gives the legislature time to prepare a new two-year budget. During the long session, legislators may also propose any bills they like. During the short session on the other hand, all new bills have to be approved by the Legislative Council, a group consisting of the leadership of both parties from both chambers of the legislature, and they are only supposed to approve “emergency legislation.” Consequently, far fewer bills are worked during the short session.

I recently received a list of bills submitted for approval by the Legislative Council, and I am impressed with the restraint legislators have shown this year, with only 288 bills proposed. This is a considerable decrease, as four years ago 566 bills were submitted, and two years ago there were 390. All that is available right now are the titles, but sometimes that is enough to gather the character of the bill, and I thought I’d share some of them with you.

To start with, there is some duplication. For example, there are six bills that were prompted by the Caylee Anthony case in Florida that involve increasing the penalties for not reporting a missing child in a timely fashion, and three to reinstate voter registration on election day. I only have one bill, “An Act To Rescue Children Who Are Being Sexually Abused and To Make Improvements to the Sex Offender Registry and the Computer Crimes Unit.” I put this in because there are some serious problems with the registry, and there is also a need to get secure funding for the computer crimes unit. Here are some of the other interesting titles:

An Act To Better Provide Notification to Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking When Defendants Make Bail;

Resolve, Regarding Opt-out Charges for Smart Meters;

An Act To Affirm the Right To Photograph or Videotape Public Officials in Public Places;

An Act To Provide for Economic Development with Offshore Wind Power;

An Act To Prohibit Verbal Sexual Solicitation of a Minor;

Resolve, To Establish a Task Force To Facilitate the Development of Unoccupied Mills;

Resolve, To Create the Task Force To Bolster and Expand Exports of Maine Products and Services;

An Act To Require Users of Disposable Cellular Telephones To Provide Identifying Information;

An Act To Prevent the Theft and Illegal Sale of Copper;

An Act To Protect Consumers Who Enter into Prepaid Oil Contracts;

An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Disorderly Conduct at Funerals in Order To Protect Grieving Families.

These are just a few of the titles that caught my eye. You can see the whole list online at: www.maine.gov/legis/lio/publications.htm

The Legislative Council will begin determining which bills will get in on Oct. 31. If you have any thoughts on these bills, or any questions about the process, please call my office at the State House at 287-1515 or visit my website, www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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