Under the Dome: Inside The Maine State House Special Edition 1-24-13

by Pierce Atwood LLP
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Augusta, ME

National Manufacturers and Distributors:
What is in Store During the 126th Maine Legislature?

With a population of roughly 1.3 million people, Maine is a small player in national markets. At the same time, Maine legislators have attempted to have an out-sized voice in the national marketplace of legislative policy by enacting “first in the nation” (or nearly first in the nation) regulatory schemes that have national impacts. If the past is any predictor of the future, this trend may well continue during 2013.

January 18th was the deadline for legislators to submit proposed bills for the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature. In the Maine Legislature, any legislator may submit any number of bills on any subject matter during the first session of any Legislature. The Maine press has reported that over 1,750 proposals have been submitted by legislators for this year’s legislative session (this does not include bills submitted by the Governor and Executive Branch agencies). Bill titles and language are not yet available but it is very likely that we will see proposals that will affect national supply chains. Here are some educated guesses at what this legislative session might bring:

  • Extended Producer Responsibility/Product Stewardship
    Maine already regulates a number of products, requiring extended producer responsibility in some form. In fact, the Maine Legislature has enacted a framework extended producer responsibility / product stewardship law. It is possible that we will see proposals for more products to be subject to regulation under this framework law, including medical sharps or paints / coatings. In addition to designating more products for regulation, the Legislature may also revisit Maine’s underlying extended producer responsibility / product stewardship law.
  • Chemicals in Consumer Products
    Maine is at the forefront of regulating chemicals in consumer products and already has a framework law in place to allow for this regulation. Much of this effort has been focused on regulating Bisphenol-A (BPA) in consumer products. This legislative session will likely see proposals relating to BPA and other chemicals. Additionally, the underlying law authorizing this regulatory scheme will likely be revisited.
  • Affiliate Nexus / “E-Fairness” / Taxing Internet Sales
    An end-of-session attempt at enacting legislation to tax internet sales by defining “affiliate nexus” failed last year. This issue, however, was examined by a working group between legislative sessions and it will certainly be back before the Legislature this year. Maine’s Governor is a strong supporter of taxing internet sales and affiliate nexus legislation and will likely be proposed again this year.
  • Cellular Telephone Warning Labels and Other Regulations
    A proposal to require warning labels on cell phones has been percolating at the Maine Legislature for a few years, with the proposal initially passing in the House last year. This idea will likely be reconsidered by the Legislature. Additional cell phone proposals, including sharing data will law enforcement, are also likely to be considered this year.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing / Alberta Tar Sands “Message Bills”
    Last year, Vermont enacted legislation banning hydraulic fracturing. With few, if any, proposals to extract gas in that state, this may be a largely symbolic act. Maine legislators may push similar energy-related “message bills” this session. Proposals could include legislation relating to fracking as well as legislation relating to the pipeline transportation of crude oil extracted from Alberta tar sands.

At this point, we are limited to educated guesses regarding potential bills proposing to regulate national markets. We are confident, however, that there will be attempts to influence national policy through state-level legislation in Maine.

If you have any questions, would like further information or are interested in assisting us as we work to shape these types of proposals, please contact:

John Delahanty, Government Relations Practice Group Leader
207.791.1222
jdelahanty@pierceatwood.com

Andrea C. Maker, Government Relations Practice Group Member
207.629.5928
amaker@pierceatwood.com

Avery Day, Government Relations Practice Group Member
207.791.1157
aday@pierceatwood.com

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