From hair-braiding regulations to dog training, the list of legislative bill requests is out, with lawmakers looking to do a whole host of things when they return in January.

Technically, the bills in the second session are supposed to be emergencies or related to the budget. Legislative leaders will meet later this month to decide which of the 288 will make the cut. Rank-and-file legislators will have a chance to appeal rejected bills in November.

Among the more unusual requests on the list: Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, is sponsoring “An Act to Permit Hair Braiding without a Cosmetology License.”

Goode said new immigrant families living in the Portland area are concerned about running afoul of current state law that apparently requires those who braid hair for a living to be licensed. He said he spoke with state officials who said the state could set up a separate licensing process for those who braid rather than cut and curl, but that seemed too cumbersome.

So he’s proposing to provide an exemption in the current law for those who braid.

“If I felt there was a way to solve the problem without a bill, I wouldn’t have put one in,” he said. “I’m not a person who likes to sponsor a lot of bills.”

Generally, these types of bills would be considered in the first year of the two-year session. But Goode only became aware of the problem this summer while talking to a friend from high school.

“I’m not sure it’s the best vehicle possible,” he said. “This is something new families are facing as they are trying to make a living in a new country.”

Another eye-catching bill title is “An Act to Protect Blueberry Lands from Damage from Dog Training,” sponsored by Rep. David Burns, R-Whiting.

Burns said he’s hoping to change a 1988 law that restricts bear hunters from training their dogs anywhere south of Route 9 in Washington and Hancock counties in the two months before bear hunting season.

He sponsored similar legislation earlier this year, with no success, so he’s trying to bring the interested parties together for a compromise. “We’ll see if we can come up with something reasonable,” he said.

Burns said he understands he may have to convince legislative leaders that this is an emergency.

“To put it off to next session puts an undue hindrance on (hunters),” he said.


Gov. Paul LePage delivered the opening address last week at the Maine Digital Summit, touting the importance of government transparency and the role of information technology in achieving it.

But his administration has yet to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request made on July 26 that asked for all correspondence between then-Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Norm Olsen and the governor’s office. A DMR staffer in charge of compiling the request told a reporter on Aug. 17 that the requested documents had been assembled. They would be released pending a final review by senior officials to make sure the necessary private information had been redacted, she said.

On Sept. 16, MaineToday Media was told the review was still pending. And one month later, the request has yet to be filled.


Laura Fortman, the Maine Department of Labor commissioner for seven years under Gov. John Baldacci, has a new job as executive director of the Frances Perkins Center in Newcastle.

Fortman said in a written statement that the new job will enable her to continue to work on issues she cares about, including minimum wage, worker safety and unemployment insurance.

The center, which was founded in 2008, honors the work of Perkins, who was the first woman to serve as a Cabinet member in a presidential administration and is considered the “principal architect of the New Deal,” according to the center.

As part of her new job, Fortman apparently will not have to fight with the state over whether a conference room named for Perkins will get a new moniker.

Earlier this year, as part of an effort to make the department more business-friendly, an acting commissioner asked staffers for suggestions on new names for conference rooms that had been named after labor leaders. The department has not renamed a conference room that honored Perkins, according to a spokesman there.

“The Frances Perkins Room remains the Frances Perkins Room,” said spokesman Adam Fisher.


During an interview with WGME-TV last week, Gov. LePage was asked about the state’s rainy day fund.

“On Jan. 5, when I was inaugurated, there was not enough money in the rainy day fund to buy dinner,” he said.

While the reporter did not press LePage for specifics about the dinner, it would have been quite a spread. The fund balance was $25.4 million when LePage took office, according to budget numbers posted on the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review website.

LePage also told the television station that he has increased the fund to $71.5 million today, which is correct, according to the figures.


Secretary of State Charlie Summers announced last week that he has hired Jay Martin as a small-business advocate.

The position was created by legislation passed earlier this year. Martin’s job will be to work directly with businesses that have 50 or fewer employees if the business objects to a state agency’s enforcement actions.

“The position is the first of its kind in the state and the nation, demonstrating our state’s commitment to ensuring that our small businesses take root and prosper,” according to a fact sheet distributed by the secretary of state.

Martin, of Stillwater, worked 16 years in the restaurant industry. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Maine in 1995, Martin “played an instrumental role in expanding the popular Bangor-based ‘Coffee News’ publication franchise across the U.S.,” according to Summers’ office.

If you need help from the advocate, Martin’s email is [email protected]

MaineToday Media State House Writers Susan Cover and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this column.