AUGUSTA, Maine — In a nearly unanimous vote, lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill meant to ensure that military and public safety personnel may wear their uniforms in Maine’s publicly funded high schools.
The bill, LD 1579, sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, was approved 138-4. In the coming days, it will be subject to a final vote in the Senate, where it is expected to be enacted, then sent to Gov. Paul LePage.
A similar bill, LD 1503, was submitted by LePage and defeated last year after bitter debate that saw opponents accused of anti-military bias.
Democrats who opposed last year’s bill said it represented an unfunded mandate by requiring that schools provide access to uniformed military recruiters. They also argued that it was a solution in search of a problem.
LePage’s bill specifically focused on military recruiters, and would have required they be given the same access as other recruiters, such as those at a college fair. Devin’s simply states that any uniformed personnel — military, police, fire, even EMTs — may not be denied entry to a school “solely because they are wearing their uniforms.”
Proponents of the measure last year said there were Maine schools that gave uniformed military recruiters the same access to students as recruiters for colleges or other postsecondary career options.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.