Bill to give guns to Maine forest rangers awaits funding

Posted March 21, 2014, at 11:59 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that would provide for the training and arming of the state’s forest rangers was sent to the special appropriations table on Friday, where it will eventually be evaluated against other bills vying for limited state funding.

That bill, LD 297, was approved by a 24-11 Senate vote on Wednesday. It had earlier been passed by the House by a 139-7 vote.

Bills that affect state revenue or expenditures often end up on the special appropriations table, where they’ll be dealt with at the end of the session.

At that point, the Appropriations Committee, acting on committee reviews, determines which bills can be enacted and which cannot, based on the amount of general fund money available.

Funding has long been a sticking point for LD 297, and legislators have worked to lessen the financial burden as they have worked on the bill.

Originally, legislators were considering options that would cost between $142,000 and $2.1 million to implement. The amendment that will go before LePage has a price tag of just $86,819.

If LD 297 emerges successfully from the Appropriations Committee, the bill would be sent to Gov. Paul LePage.

The governor’s office has not indicated whether the chief executive would sign the bill.

“We generally don’t comment on what the governor will do with a bill until it hits his desk,” Peter Steele, director of communications for the governor’s office, said in an email to the BDN. “If we have any more information, we’ll pass it along.”

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