AUGUSTA — The House of Representatives enacted a bipartisan bill Tuesday ensuring that military recruiters and other public safety officials can wear their uniforms while visiting public schools.
L.D. 1579, sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, faces another vote in the Senate before going to the governor.
A similar bill last session caused a firestorm after it was defeated. It said uniformed military recruiters must have the same access as other recruiters. Devin’s bill makes no comparisons to other recruiters and just says military and all other public service recruiters can wear their uniforms at schools.
The House voted 138-4 in favor of Devin’s bill after a brief debate, in sharp contrast to the debate over the earlier bill last session.
That bill led to emotional floor speeches and accusations that critics were unpatriotic or anti-military, provoking many Democratic supporters to switch their votes to ultimately defeat the bill.
Gov. Paul LePage called the defeat a disgrace and sent angry, handwritten notes to Democratic lawmakers who voted against the bill.
At the time, officials at several schools denied that recruiters had been restricted in their access to students on campus.
Devin said he worked behind the scenes with many interested parties and members in both parties to support his bill.
Public schools are already prohibited from barring military recruiters under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The federal law makes no mention of uniforms.
Noel K Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6302 or at:firstname.lastname@example.org