Meet the new laws

October 15th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

AUGUSTA – A slew of laws that were passed during the first session of the 126th Maine Legislature, or were included in the state’s $6.3 billion biennial 2013-14 spending plan, took effect on October 9. Here are some of the highlights.

Texting and driving

With the rise in crash-interrupted mobile chats, the state is imposing new, steeper penalties for texting while driving. The attention-splitting trend has been loosely prohibited for several years, first under catch-all “distracted driving” laws, then more aggressively in 2011 when a minimum fine of $100 was instituted. The new legislation brings the minimum penalty up to $250 for a first offense.

Hospitals paid, with liquor sales

A plan to repay a $484 million debt to 39 Maine hospitals is under way. Paying outstanding bills for services to patients covered by MaineCare has been a high priority for Gov. LePage. Democratic legislators unsuccessfully attempted to tie the repayment to an expansion of MaineCare. Under the final bill, the state will kick in $180 million, making it eligible for $305 million in federal matching funds. The state portion is expected to be paid through the sale of liquor revenue bond.

Homeowner and renter rebates

Maine’s “Circuit Breaker” program, which gave rebates to some low-income homeowners and renters was repealed in the current budget and replaced by the Property Tax Fairness Credit. Payments under the Circuit Breaker program were as high as $800 in some parts of the state. Under PTF, payments have been capped at $300. The new law is estimated to save the

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