AUGUSTA — The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a wide-ranging bill that’s designed to make it easier for businesses to deal with state government.

Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, and House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, sponsored L.D. 1 in response to concerns from businesses.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers spent weeks traveling the state to gather input from the public, then held a long public hearing and multiple work sessions to come to a final agreement.

The measure won unanimous approval Tuesday and will be sent to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature.

The measure makes more than a dozen changes to state law, including:

Establishing a voluntary program in the Department of Environmental Protection for businesses that self-report environmental violations. There are incentives for correcting violations, including reduced penalties for voluntary compliance.

Authorizing agencies to do cost-benefit analyses of proposed rules.

Renaming an existing state program the Business Ombudsman Program and requiring it to help resolve problems between businesses and state agencies.

Creating the Bureau of the Special Advocate in the Secretary of State’s Office, to advocate for small-business interests in the state regulatory process.

Requiring agencies to cite as many as three primary sources of information they use to propose or adopt rules.

Reducing the Board of Environmental Protection from 10 members to seven and limiting the board’s rule-making authority.

The Senate also voted unanimously to enact L.D. 1129, a compromise bill to narrow the focus of Maine’s Kid-Safe Product Act, first passed in 2008. The act developed a process for identifying and banning dangerous chemicals in products used by children, such as baby bottles and sippy cups.

L.D. 1129 is a blend of two proposals, one by a Republican and one by a Democrat, and provides a narrower definition of which consumer products are regulated and caps a chemical watch list at 70.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]