January 29, 2013

Crohn's disease and name tags? Maine lawmakers to consider everything

There were some obscure bills submitted Monday for consideration, ranging from seat-belt exemptions in antique cars to pet-related lawsuits.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When House District 137 candidates Alan Casavant and Bill Guay were greeting people outside the polls on Nov. 6, a voter asked what they were running for.

"We just looked at each other," said Casavant. By state law, they weren't even allowed to say who they were.

Rep. Casavant, D-Biddeford, is now sponsoring An Act to Allow Name Tags to Be Worn by Candidates at Polling Places, one of 1,617 bill requests released by the Legislature on Monday.

While many of the bills introduced for the 126th Maine Legislature address weighty topics that affect many Mainers, others are a bit more obscure.

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz, D-Waterville, wants to improve access to restrooms for people with Crohn's disease, a chronic bowel inflammation that can cause persistent diarrhea.

People riding in antique cars will be exempt from wearing seat belts, if a bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Collins, R-Wells, becomes a law.

And, if Rep. Barry Hobbins' proposal passes, St. Patrick's Day revelers won't have to wait until 9 a.m. to buy booze this year.

Hobbins, D-Saco, is proposing An Act to Extend the Hours of the Sale of Liquor on Sunday When St. Patrick's Day Is on a Sunday. This year, it is.

Some legislators, including Casavant, said their more unusual requests were made on behalf of constituents.

Others, like An Act to Allow a Pet Owner to Collect Noneconomic Damages for the Death of a Pet, are more personal.

Rep. Alex Willette, R-Mapleton, is the proud owner of a bulldog named Pearl.

Because pets are considered property, Willette said, if someone killed Pearl, he could be reimbursed only for her monetary worth – not for his pain and suffering.

"Under my bill, it would allow you to get an emotional claim," said Willette, who recently learned about animal law in a class at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland, where he's a student.

"I just said, 'That makes a lot of sense,'" he said.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com

 

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