MaineToday Media asked several State House regulars to weigh in on significant legislation tackled by the 125th Maine Legislature. Whether a bill is “good” or “bad” depends on who’s asked. For instance, a bill that the Maine State Chamber of Commerce considers good may be listed as a bad bill by the Maine State Employees Association.

Good or bad, here are some highlights of significant legislation enacted over the past two years:

* The mineral mining law, which requires the Department of Environmental Protection to update mining regulations, is cited as good by the chamber, but bad by environmentalists. Irving Corp. asked lawmakers to approve the bill so it can open a new mine in Aroostook County. The DEP has 18 months to write new rules.

* Changes to workers compensation were cited as good by the chamber, but bad by the state employees union. The change places a 10-year cap on benefits for many injured workers.

* A 30 percent cut to municipal revenue sharing made the Maine Municipal Association list of bad bills, but the group applauds efforts to let municipalities decide more issues, such as setting their own local fireworks policies.

* A bill to change the governance of the Maine State Housing Authority to make the director responsible to the board, and a bill to require forfeiture of public benefits for convicted felons, make the Senate Republican list of good bills.

* Education bills that require students to show they know the material before getting a diploma, a teacher evaluation system and anti-bullying legislation are positive steps, say House Democrats. On the negative side, they point to the removal of collective bargaining rights for some child care workers and egg farm laborers.

* Environmentalists cite new rules to phase out the toxic chemical bisphenol-A from many consumer products as a positive step. They say the dismantling of the State Planning Office was a bad move.

* A measure to reduce fraud in the unemployment insurance system and a standardized definition of independent contractor made the list of good bills compiled by the chamber.

— Susan Cover


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