Thursday, April 17, 2014
Tan tax: It wasn't mentioned during the floor debates over a bill that would have prohibited people under age 17 from using an indoor tanning booth, but the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, assesses a 10 percent tax on tanning services.
The provision was enacted in 2010 and is one of several so-called "sin taxes" that Congress inserted in the federal health care law to help pay for it.
One other tidbit that wasn't mentioned during the debate: Only four states have laws that prohibit tanning by minors, but 29 states have introduced measures this year adding restrictions to teen tanning, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The regulatory groundswell comes amid fresh research from the American Cancer Society that reported that tanning booths produce 10 to 15 times more ultraviolet radiation than natural sunlight, thus increasing the likelihood of developing melanoma by at least 75 percent.
The legislation is also aimed at teenage girls, who the National Cancer Institute reports are more susceptible to melanoma than other age and gender groups.
It's unlikely that any of that information will persuade Republican lawmakers to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of LD 272. From their perspective, parents are in the best position to regulate teen tanning, not government.
More Michaud: U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, made some news this week when he waded into the Legislature's Medicaid expansion debate, a move that earned a response by Gov. Paul LePage.
On Friday Michaud stepped a bit further into the fray, sending a letter to legislative leaders that urges lawmakers to support increasing public-subsidized health insurance for low income Mainers.
"As a result of Maine’s long track record of ensuring access to health care, the Medicaid expansion will reward the state for its past generosity and make it easier to maintain the coverage that is already in place. Maine is one of eight states that would actually save money by participating in the expansion,” wrote Michaud. “In order to achieve these savings, however, the state has to partner with the federal government and fully implement the Affordable Care Act."
Given that Michaud has expressed some interest in running for governor in 2014 expect a response from LePage in 3, 2, 1 . . .
Budget work: Lawmakers on the budget-writing committee will hold the final public hearing on LePage's $6.3 billion two-year budet proposal on Friday.
That means lawmakers will soon begin digging into draft an alternate proposal.
Gun flood: Monday will mark the beginning of a busy and controversial week for the Criminal Justice Committee.
The panel is taking up over 20 gun-related bills. Some of the measures are gun-control bills and include proposals that would limit the size of magazines, closing the so-called gun show loophole and a repeal of a 2011 bill that allowed concealed handgun permit holders to leave their guns in their vehicles when parking on private property, including at work.
There are also bills to loosen gun regulations including a proposal by Rep. Aaron Libby, R-Waterboro, that would effectively nullify any gun control regulation enacted by the federal government. Libby's bill is identical to several measures taken up in other state houses where lawmakers are anticipating that Congress, or President Obama, will enact additional gun control measures.
Nonpolitical item: Scan to 1:10 to watch Manny Ramirez draw the best home run call west of Dodger Stadium.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.