AUGUSTA — Guns, and whether they can be stored in your vehicle at work, will once again be debated by lawmakers in the upcoming session.

Rep. Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon, is seeking to modify a controversial bill signed into law in June that allows those with a concealed firearm permit to store a gun in their vehicle at work, as long as the vehicle is locked and the firearm is not visible.

Crafts has submitted new legislation, L.D. 1603, to extend the same right to state workers as those who work in the private sector.

The bill drew intense debate in the House and Senate earlier this year because it prohibits employers from setting their own gun-in-vehicle policies. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill, and many Democrats agreed with the chamber. But Republicans argued that those who have permits should be allowed to legally store their firearms in the vehicles while they are at work.

The new bill has been referred to the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for consideration.

Stacks of new bills are coming out almost daily at the State House as things begin to gear up in advance of the Jan. 4 return of the Legislature.

Pot lobby discount

The Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine is inviting supporters to the State House on the first day of session as part of a renewed lobbying effort over the rules that will govern the state’s medical marijuana program.

To entice potential citizen lobbyists, the group is offering a $5 discount on its “I Grow Medical Marijuana” T-shirts and a $10 discount for its “Home Grown Maine” hoodies. “PLUS a complementary button.” (The email doesn’t tell us what the button says).

The group will surely be just one of many lining up in hopes of winning influence early in session while lawmakers are still fresh following their six month break.

Bipartisan spirit

After a day of tough questions in the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport, lightened the mood a bit by complimenting Democratic Rep. Mark Eves of North Berwick.

Eves had recently participated in a “Maine Watch” segment on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network to discuss the impacts of the welfare cuts proposed by Gov. Paul LePage. “Some of us have a face for radio,” Rosen said. “Some of us have a face for TV. You’re the latter.”

Russell named to honor roll

Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, recently made the Progressive Honor Roll of 2011 in The Nation magazine.

Russell was named Most Valuable State Representative in the blog written by John Nichols.

“With deep roots in Maine and a record of agitating for progressive causes, Russell battled to block a right-wing move to eliminate Maine’s election-day-registration law,” Nichols wrote. “After Republicans rammed the change through, she became a leading advocate for the referendum that restored the law.”

The magazine also mentions that Russell traveled to Wisconsin to join the labor protests there.

LePage makes Worst Person list

Liberal television commentator Keith Olbermann, who left MSNBC earlier this year to join the Al Gore- owned network Current, ranked LePage third on a recent Worst Person list.

Olbermann — who was once suspended by MSNBC for donating money to Democrats — accused LePage of lying about why Forbes magazine ranked Maine 50th on a list of Best Places to do Business. LePage told those gathered at a town hall-style public meeting that energy and welfare were reasons for the poor showing.

“The bronze goes to Paul LePage, the resident embarrassing governor of Maine,” Olbermann said.

He suggested that Forbes might add a seventh category to the list from now on. “How often the governor responds to his administration being ranked last in the country in something by lying about what it means and trying to use it as an excuse to cut welfare,” he said.

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was named “worse” by Olbermann on the same show and former rock star and conservative columnist Ted Nugent was named “worst.”

State House Reporter Susan Cover wrote this notebook.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

[email protected]

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