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Legislative Update: Sen. Matt Harrington

Mr. Harrington

Photo credit: maine.gov

By Zendelle Bouchard

In the 131st Maine Legislature, Sanford’s four state legislators have focused on priorities including taxation and health care. In this article, we profile the work of Senator Matt Harrington. Rep. Ann Fredericks is also profiled in this issue (see that story). Last week, we profiled Rep. Lucas Lanigan and Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio.

Sen. Matt Harrington (R) represents District 33, which includes Alfred, Lebanon, Sanford and Waterboro. He sits on the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety; the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology; and the Senatorial Vote Committee. He was primary sponsor on the following bills:

LD 567 – An Act to Provide for the Ethical Election of Constitutional Officers by Restricting Certain Campaign Contributions. This bill would have provided that a constitutional officer may not make campaign contributions to gubernatorial or legislative candidates unless those candidates will appear on the ballot in the district where the constitutional officer is or will be eligible to vote on election day. (Maine’s constitutional officers are the Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer of State.) The bill was taken up by the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, but after a work session in which substantive amendments were made, it received a divided report, with the majority voting Ought Not to Pass.

LD 790 – An Act to Require Disclosure for Communications Paid for Using Maine Clean Election Act Funding. This bill would have required a candidate who is certified pursuant to the Maine Clean Election Act to have a disclaimer on a communication that states that the communication was authorized by the candidate and paid for using Maine Clean Election Act funds, which are public funds. The bill was referred to the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, where it received a divided report, with the majority reporting Ought Not to Pass.

LD 894 – An Act to Preserve Heating and Energy Choice by Prohibiting a Municipality from Prohibiting a Particular Energy System or Energy Distributor. This bill would have prohibited municipalities from prohibiting an individual or entity from installing a heating or energy system for that individual’s or entity’s own heating or energy needs or engaging the services of an energy distributor of that individual’s or entity’s choice unless the prohibition is otherwise authorized by statute. The bill received a divided report in committee, with the majority recommending passage; however, the Senate voted to accept the minority Ought Not to Pass report instead, which killed the bill.

LD 1121 – An Act to Change Responsibility for Animal Control Officer Training to the Department of Public Safety. This bill would have required that the Commissioner of Public Safety develop programs to train animal control officers and certify those who successfully complete the training. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is currently responsible for training and certification. The Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry took up the bill but did not recommend passage.

LD 1216 – An Act to Create the Animal Cruelty Task Force. This bill would have established the Animal Cruelty Task Force to provide a coalition of trained professionals to assist with and enhance the enforcement of animal cruelty laws. The Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry took up the bill and did not recommend passage.

LD 1465 – An Act to Amend the Calculation of Tariff Rates and Billing Credits Under Net Energy Billing. This bill amends the law regarding the net energy billing program for commercial and institutional customers of investor-owned utilities by changing the current calculation for tariff rates to require the Public Utilities Commission to annually base the tariff rate on the forecast of wholesale energy market prices in New England and by providing that an energy credit may apply only to the supply charges of a customer’s electricity bill rather than to the entirety of the bill. The bill was carried over to the current session but received a divided report from the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology on Jan. 16, which means the Committee members were divided on whether to recommend the bill for passage.

LD 2071 – Resolve, to Fill All Vacant and Expired Seats on the Emergency Medical Services’ Board. This resolve requires the Governor to appoint members to the Emergency Medical Services’ Board to fill all vacancies and replace those members whose terms have expired within 30 days of the effective date of the resolve. It was unanimously voted Ought to Pass by the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety on Jan. 22.

LD 2193 – An Act to Improve Access to Affordable Wireless Communications by Allowing the Public Utilities Commission to Designate Eligible Telecommunications Carriers. This bill allows the Public Utilities Commission to designate any commercial mobile service provider or telecommunications company as an eligible telecommunications carrier for the limited purposes of receiving federal universal service support and offering services supported by federal universal service support mechanisms. This bill was referred to the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, and has been scheduled for a public hearing on Feb. 13.

Harrington also cosponsored LD 595, An Act to Require Major Substantive Rulemaking for the Companion Animal Sterilization Fund. The bill was replaced with An Act to Establish the Companion Animal Sterilization Program in the Maine Revised Statutes. The Sterilization Program (also known as Help Fix ME) already existed, but only as a rule, not as a statute. The amendments also allow the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to administer the program if it is unable to contract with a suitable animal welfare organization. The bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor.

Harrington said he plans to continue focusing on energy issues through legislation to reduce energy prices for Maine ratepayers and would also like to explore other forms of renewable energy based on natural resources. His other priorities for this session are mental health and substance use disorder resources, the child welfare system, accountability in the welfare system, and the availability and affordability of childcare and housing.

You can track the status of any bill by entering the LD number on this page: https://legislature.maine.gov/.

For more information, read this detailed article on the path a bill takes through Maine’s legislature: https://legislature.maine.gov/house/house/Documents/PathofLegislation.

Harrington’s Senate webpage is here: https://legislature.maine.gov/District33.

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