AUGUSTA, Maine — Just a guess, but creating in law an official state sweetener (maple syrup, of course) will probably go easier than naming Maine’s official dog (Labrador retriever?).
Among the 1,514 bills proposed by lawmakers this year, there’s an attempt to make maple syrup the state sweetener, courtesy of Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, and to designate Labrador retrievers as Maine’s top dog, sponsored by Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford.
Reading through the list of bill titles submitted by Maine legislators this year is an excellent way to gauge which issues will be front-and-center at the State House during the next six months. It also is entertaining to discover the quirky (An Act to Establish a Boston Red Sox Specialty Plate, from Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta) and ridiculous (A Resolve to Study the Division of Maine into Two States, from Rep. Ricky Long, R-Sherman).
Since the majority of bills are not yet written, we have only the titles on which to judge them, but the following is a sampling of some of the more interesting titles that — because of their subject and effect on Mainers — will be in the headlines between now and June.
Given how much legislation changes as it works its way through the committee process and floor votes, it’s not fair to judge a bill by its title — which is all we have now — but here are some that stand out, grouped in broadly defined categories.
Bills that seem to be on the silly side but probably aren’t
— An Act to Prohibit the Sale of Dogs and Cats in Pet Stores, Rep. Kimberly Monaghan, D-Cape Elizabeth.
— An Act to Eliminate Cash Bail, Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn.
— An Act to Restore Access to Certain Knives, Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan.
— An Act to Allow a School Administrative Unit to Implement a Firearm Safety Education Program for Elementary School Students, Rep. John Joseph Picchiotti, R-Fairfield.
— An Act to Allow a Person to Take a 20-minute Break from Monitoring Ice Fishing Traps, Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville.
— An Act to Allow Hunters to Wear Pink Instead of Hunter Orange in October in Recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Rep. Ricky Long, R-Sherman.
— An Act to Designate the Friendship Sloop as the Official Sailing Vessel Style, Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston.
Bills in which lawmakers will be voting on their jobs
— An Act to Eliminate Retirement Benefits and Paid Health Insurance for Legislators Elected After 2016, Rep. Larry Dunphy, R-Embden.
— An Act to Increase the Salaries of Legislators and the Governor, Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston. A similar bill title was submitted by Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake.
— An Act to Eliminate Term Limits for Legislators, sponsored by Martin. Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, Dutremble and Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst, have submitted similar titles.
Bills that would fundamentally change Maine
— An Act to Provide the Death Penalty for a Person who Kills a Child Under 14 Years of Age Under Certain Conditions, Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham.
— A Resolve to Require School Administrators to Complete 50 Hours of Direct Student Instruction to be Recertified, Sen. Linda Baker, R-Topsham.
— An Act to Allow Certain Businesses to be Open on Easter Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, Rep. Peter Lyford, R-Eddington.
— An Act to Create the Crime of Fatigued Driving, Rep. Stacey Guerin, R-Glenburn.
— An Act to Exempt the Sale of the United States Flag from the Sales Tax, Rep. Stanley Short, D-Pittsfield. Rep. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship, has a similar bill.
Bills in the ‘obvious’ category
— An Act to Allow Teachers to Teach and Students to Learn, Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough.
— An Act to Improve the Lives of Maine Workers, Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford.
— An Act to Inform the Public of Election Laws, Baker.
Bills that should probably be enacted before any of these other bills
— An Act to Increase the Effectiveness of the Legislature, Rep. Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.