AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a bill that will shield personal information about concealed firearms permit holders from the public.
After more than an hour of debate on what was expected to be a procedural second vote on the measure, the Maine House voted 114-33 in favor of LD 345, An Act to Ensure the Confidentiality of Concealed Weapons Permit Holder Information.
Soon thereafter, the Maine Senate voted 25-8 for LD 345, sending the bill to Gov. Paul LePage, who is expected to sign it. LePage’s legal counsel, Michael Cianchette, testified in favor of the bill during a public hearing.
On Wednesday, the House voted 106-40 and the Senate voted 27-8 in favor. With more than two-thirds majorities in both chambers, the measure meets the standard to take effect immediately if LePage signs it.
Legislators considered the bill under a deadline, as a temporary moratorium on the release of personal information about concealed firearms permit holders that LePage signed in February expires on April 30.
As amended, the bill sponsored by Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, closes the records to all but law enforcement and directs Maine State Police to issue a report on permit holders including age, sex, ZIP code and municipality. State police also would determine the best way to create a statewide database of permit holders and a uniform permit design, much like a driver’s license.
State police issue about half of the estimated 30,000 permits in Maine, including about 8,000 permits for nonresidents, Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, the Judiciary Committee’s Senate chairwoman, said Wednesday during floor debate. The others are issued by local police chiefs and municipal officials.
The report on aggregate data will come back to the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in January 2014. The committee will decide whether additional legislation is needed to create a statewide database and a uniform permitting system, Valentino said.