AUGUSTA

Senate votes unanimously to ban BPA in kids’ products

The Maine Senate has voted unanimously to ban Bisphenol A from children’s products such as bottles and sippy cups, affirming a recent lopsided vote in the House.

BPA is suspected of causing birth defects and reproductive damage, according to most medical studies.

With Tuesday’s Senate vote, Maine joins nine other states, Canada and Europe in banning BPA from some products. Some multinational companies, such as Walmart, Toys R Us and Gerber, have also banned sales of products containing the chemical.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage opposes the ban, although his administration did not oppose the pending regulation during a public hearing.

LePage drew national attention to the issue when he joked at a news conference that, under the worst-case scenario, BPA exposure would result in women growing “little beards.”

LePage’s office declined to comment on the Republican-controlled Legislature’s approval of the ban.

The ban on BPA in some products, which would take effect Jan. 1, is the first to be approved under Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act, enacted in 2008 for identifying and regulating dangerous chemicals.

Lawmakers are now reviewing potential reforms to that legislation. 

Senate rejects bill to penalize hiring of Canadian loggers

The Senate has rejected a bill that would have denied tax breaks to woodland owners who hire Canadian workers to harvest timber.

In a 21-14 vote on Tuesday, the Senate blocked the measure seeking to prohibit landowners who use foreign loggers from using Maine’s popular Tree Growth Tax program.

Supporters of the bill contended that taxpayers’ dollars shouldn’t benefit timberland owners who export jobs and wood to Canada when Maine loggers are struggling to find work.

Opponents argued that denying tax breaks unfairly penalizes landowners who are forced to hire Canadian loggers when there’s a shortage of Maine workers.

The bill faces additional votes in the Senate before heading to the House for consideration. 

House blocks bid to extend buffer zone for sex offenders

Maine lawmakers have rejected a bill to allow towns without police departments to increase the distance between schools and the homes of registered sex offenders.

The 93-56 House vote Tuesday followed last week’s rejection of the bill by the Senate. It would have expanded the allowed distance between sex offenders’ addresses and schools from 750 to 2,500 feet.

Opponents said that the Legislature already has dealt with the issue, and that enacting a law would create a false sense of security.

– From staff and news services