AUGUSTA — State House leaders will take a second look at nearly 80 bills that they rejected earlier this year when they meet Friday to continue preparations for the legislative session that begins in January.

The bills being heard on appeal touch on a range of issues, such as authorizing as much as $50 million in additional state borrowing for renovation and expansion of the state prison in Windham, adding new labeling requirements for marijuana, and rewriting the standards for teacher certification in Maine.

Also on the docket for reconsideration are less sweeping measures – such as one affecting hearses that stems from a 2017 accident that killed the driver of a van carrying a body for a funeral home.

Sponsors of the bills will make their case to the Legislative Council, which includes four Republicans and six Democrats, during a 10 a.m. meeting. To be included during the session, the bills will need at least six votes of support from the panel, which includes the Senate president, the speaker of the House and the majority and minority caucus leaders from both the House and the Senate.

On public safety issues, the bills include a proposal by Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, that would study the state of Maine’s emergency medical services system, as well as a measure offered by Rep. Kent Ackley, an independent from Monmouth, that seeks to establish a pension system for volunteer firefighters.

The bill to approve more borrowing for improvements at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham follows up on previous state action. In 2016, then-Gov. Paul LePage signed off on state borrowing of up to $150 million for renovations at the facility. The original Department of Corrections plan for upgrades in Windham called for $173 million, but that figure was whittled down by lawmakers at the time.


Another bill before the council, sponsored by Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta, looks to waive certain standardized assessment requirements for teacher certification in Maine. The bill is an attempt to ease a teacher shortage in Maine by allowing alternative pathways for teaching certifications for people who complete bachelor’s degrees and teacher preparation and mentoring programs.

Lawmakers will also take a second look at a bill that aims to help Maine’s emerging hemp industry by allowing for the transportation of hemp across state and international borders.

But another bill, offered by an opponent to Maine’s recreational marijuana laws, seeks new labeling for medical and recreational marijuana products. Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Albion, wants to “require all medical and adult-use marijuana products to have a label warning of the possibility of psychosis from use of the product,” according to a brief description of the bill.

The bill affecting funeral home vehicles is sponsored by Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, in response to a fatal accident.

In November 2017, Richard Charest, 59, of Winthrop was killed after the Ford Flex passenger van he was using to transport a body was rear-ended by a Hummer in a crash on Route 202 in Greene, according to Maine State Police accident records.

Bellows said the casket and body Charest was transporting launched forward into the front seat when the collision occurred. The accident report shows that the van Charest was driving continued forward several hundred feet before going off the road and into a clump of trees.

Bellows’ bill would require caskets to be secured and set other standards for work done to convert vehicles for use by funeral homes.

Carol Gay, a staff member at the Maine Funeral Directors Association, said the association would not be taking a position on the bill.

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