An Act To Implement Provisions Necessary to the Health, Welfare and Safety of the Citizens of Maine in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Emergency preamble. Whereas, acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and
Whereas, the spread of the novel coronavirus disease referred to as COVID-19 has created a public health emergency; and
Whereas, COVID-19 is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease that has infected more than 138,000 people and caused more than 5,000 deaths worldwide, including more than 1,600 infected and 41 deaths in the United States; and
Whereas, in response to this widespread disease, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, the President of the United States has declared a national emergency and the Governor of Maine has declared a civil state of emergency; and
Whereas, state and federal authorities, including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Governor of Maine have recommended cancellation and postponement of gatherings during the spring of 2020; and
Whereas, the most recommended ways of avoiding infection and further spreading the virus that causes the disease are for the authorities to reduce the number of public gatherings and for people to avoid large crowds; and
Whereas, in an effort to comply with these recommendations, colleges and universities across the nation have suspended their academic years and closed their campuses; professional and collegiate sports teams have placed their seasons on an indefinite hiatus; concerts, conferences and conventions that attract large crowds have been cancelled; and the United States Congress has barred the public from the grounds of the United States Capitol; and
Whereas, municipal leaders seek to ensure public safety by acting in concert with public health guidelines by discouraging large gatherings and also recognize the likelihood of low voter turnout at meetings held, depriving voters of full participation in municipal decisions; and
Whereas, there is no procedure in Maine law to postpone a municipal secret ballot election or nomination process already in progress, and delay of municipal budget meetings will deprive municipal authorities of legal authority to spend and continue operations; and
Whereas, it is imperative that action be taken at the earliest possible moment to allow for continuity of services by municipalities despite the need to postpone meetings; and
Whereas, in addition to the assistance already being provided by the banks and credit unions in Maine, it is imperative that the State respond quickly and in an appropriate manner to the needs of its residents who have experienced a reduction in or loss of income due to the impact of COVID-19; and
Whereas, it is in the best interests of the citizens of Maine to temporarily provide authorization to the Governor to waive certain restrictions, deadlines and requirements and take other necessary measures that allow the State to react quickly, efficiently and effectively to the effects of the pandemic on the citizens of Maine; and
Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,
Sec. A-1. 37-B MRSA §742, sub-§1, ¶D is enacted to read:
(1) Waive the compulsory attendance requirements of Title 20-A, chapter 211 and any rules regarding compulsory attendance, including the minimum number of school days, or allow the compulsory attendance requirements to be met through nontraditional learning systems, including but not limited to remote access; and
(2) Continue to provide nutrition services to students when schools are closed in response to the threat posed by COVID-19.
This paragraph is repealed January 15, 2021.
Sec. B-1. 26 MRSA §1199 is enacted to read:
§ 1199. Provisions under a declared state of emergency
The provisions of this section apply for the duration of a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, and for 30 days following the termination of that state of emergency.
Sec. C-1. 32 MRSA §83, sub-§16-B, as amended by PL 2019, c. 370, §12, is further amended to read:
Sec. C-2. 32 MRSA §88, sub-§2, ¶H, as amended by PL 1991, c. 588, §16, is further amended to read:
Sec. C-3. 32 MRSA §88-B is enacted to read:
§ 88-B. Medical Direction and Practices Board; powers and duties
Sec. D-1. Failure to pass municipal budget; deemed approved; tax commitment. Notwithstanding any law or municipal charter provision to the contrary, if an annual municipal budget meeting is delayed beyond the date the annual budget is customarily submitted to the legislative body of that municipality for approval due to public health concerns arising from COVID-19, the prior year’s approved budget is deemed the budget for the ensuing year until a final budget is approved. If a final budget is not approved in a timely manner and the municipal officers determine that property taxes must be committed in a timely manner to the collector pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 36, section 709, the municipal assessor or assessors may commit property taxes on the basis of the budget deemed approved under this section.
Sec. D-2. Individual authorization of disbursements by municipal treasurer. Notwithstanding the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 30-A, section 5603, subsection 2, paragraph A or any other law or municipal charter provision or ordinance to the contrary, for the duration of a state of emergency declared by the Governor in accordance with Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and for 30 days following the termination of that state of emergency, a municipal treasurer may disburse money on the authority of a warrant drawn for that purpose seen and signed individually by a majority of the municipal officers outside of a public meeting.
Sec. D-3. Postponement of secret ballot election. Notwithstanding any law or municipal charter provision or ordinance to the contrary, during calendar year 2020, the municipal officers may postpone the date of a scheduled municipal secret ballot election when nomination papers have already been issued or filed by posting notice in a conspicuous public location at least 2 days prior to the date of the election. The notice must be signed by a majority of the municipal officers and must either:
1. State a specific date and time during which the polls will be open to complete the election; or
2. State that the date of a rescheduled election will be determined by the municipal officers.
The rescheduled election must be noticed by a warrant calling the election that is approved and posted pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 30-A, section 2523 at least 7 days prior to the date of the rescheduled election.
If ballots have been printed for the postponed election, the municipality may use those ballots despite inclusion of the original election date. If absentee ballots have been issued and returned, the municipality shall use the ballots printed for the originally scheduled election. The municipal clerk shall safeguard and secure any absentee ballots already returned until the date of the rescheduled election and shall process them as required by Title 21-A. During the interim period between the originally scheduled election and rescheduled election, the clerk may continue to issue and accept absentee ballots and applications and allow voting in the presence of the clerk pursuant to Title 21-A.
A municipal secret ballot referendum election is subject to the same rescheduling, ballot and absentee ballot provisions as set forth in this section.
Sec. D-4. Retroactivity; repeal. This Part applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and is repealed January 15, 2021.
Sec. E-1. School budget. Notwithstanding the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 15693, subsection 2, paragraph C or any other law or municipal charter provision or ordinance to the contrary, if, due to a state of emergency declared by the Governor in accordance with Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and 30 days following the termination of that state of emergency, the level of state subsidy for the 2020-2021 school year is not finalized in accordance with Title 20-A, chapter 606-B before June 1, 2020, a school board may delay a school budget meeting otherwise required to be held before July 1, 2020 to a date on or after July 1, 2020. If a school board elects to delay a school budget meeting under this section, the meeting must be held and the budget approved within 30 days of the date the commissioner notifies the school board of the amount allocated to the school administrative unit under Title 20-A, section 15689-B or the termination of the state of emergency declared by the Governor due to COVID-19. When a school budget meeting is delayed under this section, the school administrative unit may continue operation of the unit at the same budget levels as were approved for the previous year. Continued operation under the budget for the previous year is limited to the time between July 1, 2020 and the date the new budget goes into effect. As used in this section, "state subsidy" means the total of the state contribution determined under Title 20-A, section 15688, subsection 3-A, paragraph D and any applicable adjustment under Title 20-A, section 15689.
Sec. E-2. Retroactivity; repeal. This Part applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and is repealed January 15, 2021.
Sec. F-1. Registrations issued by a municipality. This section affects certain registration and licensing performed at the municipal or county level.
1. Vehicles and trailers. Notwithstanding the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 29-A, chapter 5 or any other law or municipal charter provision or ordinance to the contrary, a registration, including a temporary registration, of a vehicle, including, without limitation, a motor vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, watercraft or snowmobile, or a trailer required to be registered in this State that expires during the period of a state of emergency declared by the Governor in accordance with Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 is deemed extended until 30 days following the termination of the state of emergency.
2. Renewal of licenses for sale of liquor. Notwithstanding Title 28-A, section 653, subsection 1 or any other law or municipal charter provision or ordinance to the contrary, during the period of a state of emergency declared by the Governor in accordance with Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and 30 days following the termination of that state of emergency, the municipal officers or, in the case of unincorporated places, the county commissioners may grant the request for a renewal of a license issued pursuant to Title 28-A, Part 3 without a hearing; this subsection does not prohibit the municipal officers or county commissioners, as applicable, from denying a renewal of a license issued pursuant to Title 28-A, Part 3 based upon a finding specified in Title 28-A, section 653, subsection 2 or 3.
3. Dog licenses. Notwithstanding Title 7, chapter 721 or any other law or municipal charter provision or ordinance to the contrary, a license of a dog required to be licensed in this State that expires during the period of a state of emergency declared by the Governor in accordance with Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 is deemed extended until 30 days following the termination of the state of emergency.
4. Registration or license fees due. The extensions granted pursuant to subsections 1 and 3 of this section do not change the registration or licensing interval for any vehicle or trailer or dog for which the registration or license period was extended, and all registration or licensing fees that would have been due but for the extension are due within 30 days of the termination of the state of emergency.
Sec. F-2. Access to online registration. The Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, during the period of a state of emergency declared by the Governor in accordance with the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, shall allow a resident of this State to renew the registration of a motor vehicle, trailer, all-terrain vehicle or watercraft online, regardless of whether the municipality in which that resident resides participates in the online registration service maintained by the bureau or department, for the duration of the state of emergency and 30 days following the termination of the state of emergency.
Sec. G-1. 1 MRSA §403-A is enacted to read:
§ 403-A. Public proceedings through remote access during declaration of state of emergency due to COVID-19
Sec. H-1. 37-B MRSA §742, sub-§1, ¶C, as amended by PL 2011, c. 626, §2, is further amended to read:
(1) Suspend the enforcement of any statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the orders or rules of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of the statute, order or rule would in any way prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency;
(2) Utilize all available resources of the State Government and of each political subdivision of the State as reasonably necessary to cope with the disaster emergency;
(3) Transfer the direction, personnel or functions of state departments and agencies, or units thereof, for the purposes of performing or facilitating emergency services;
(4) Authorize the obtaining and acquisition of property, supplies and materials pursuant to section 821;
(5) Enlist the aid of any person to assist in the effort to control, put out or end the emergency or aid in the caring for the safety of persons;
(6) Direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the State, if the Governor determines this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response or recovery;
(7) Prescribe routes, modes of transportation and destinations in connection with evacuations;
(8) Control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area, the movement of persons within the area and the occupancy of premises therein;
(9) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing or transportation of alcoholic beverages, explosives and combustibles;
(10) Make provision for the availability and use of temporary emergency housing;
(11) Order the termination, temporary or permanent, of any process, operation, machine or device which may be causing or is understood to be the cause of the state of emergency for which this proclamation was made; and
(12) Take whatever action is necessary to abate, clean up or mitigate whatever danger may exist within the affected area . ; and
(13) During a state of emergency declared by the Governor in accordance with this section due to the outbreak of COVID-19:
(a) Reasonably adjust time frames and deadlines imposed by law for state, county and municipal governments and other entities when such an adjustment is reasonably necessary to mitigate an effect of the emergency;
(b) In consultation with the Public Utilities Commission, suspend the termination of residential electricity and water services during the period of emergency and up to 60 days after the state of emergency is terminated; and
(c) Modify or suspend the requirements for professional or occupational licensing or registration by any agency, board or commission if strict compliance with such requirements would in any way prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in dealing with the emergency.
The powers granted in divisions (a) and (c) terminate 30 days following the termination of the state of emergency.
Sec. I-1. 5 MRSA §157 is enacted to read:
§ 157. Loan Guarantee Program Fund established
Sec. I-2. 10 MRSA c. 110, sub-c. 14 is enacted to read:
LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM
§ 1100-BB. Definitions
As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
§ 1100-CC. Loan Guarantee Program established
§ 1100-DD. Eligibility of affected employees; loan terms; process
(1) The affected employee is currently living in the State;
(2) The affected employee has experienced a reduction in income likely due to circumstances related to COVID-19 and is not receiving a loan from any other credit union or financial institution pursuant to this subchapter; and
(3) The amount of unemployment compensation benefits, if any, pursuant to Title 26, chapter 13:
(a) The affected employee received per week during the period of March 15, 2020 to December 31, 2020; and
(b) The affected employee is eligible to receive per week during the period of March 15, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
(1) Require repayment during the grace period;
(2) Charge interest on the principal amount before or during the grace period or for 180 days after the grace period; or
(3) Contain a fee or penalty for the prepayment or early payment of the loan.
§ 1100-EE. Loan guarantee
A credit union or financial institution shall demonstrate, by affidavit or other documentation, to the satisfaction of the authority that the credit union or financial institution has made a good faith effort to collect the outstanding principal from the eligible affected employee substantially in accordance with the credit union's or financial institution's loan servicing and collection policies and has been unsuccessful.
§ 1100-FF. Duties and powers of authority
§ 1100-GG. Termination of program; repeal
Sec. I-3. Transfer. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the State Controller shall transfer $500,000 from the General Fund unappropriated surplus to the Loan Guarantee Program Fund established within the Office of the Treasurer of State pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 5, section 157 no later than April 1, 2020 to be used to guarantee the repayment of loans made by a credit union or financial institution to an eligible affected employee pursuant to Title 10, chapter 110, subchapter 14.
Sec. I-4. Additional transfer and allocation. The Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs may report out legislation to the 129th Legislature to address any funding needs of the Loan Guarantee Program established in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 10, chapter 110, subchapter 14.
Sec. I-5. Appropriations and allocations. The following appropriations and allocations are made.
TREASURER OF STATE, OFFICE OF
Administration - Treasury 0022
Initiative: Creates the Loan Guarantee Program Fund and provides allocations in order to guarantee repayment of loans made by credit unions and financial institutions to eligible affected employees.
|OTHER SPECIAL REVENUE FUNDS||2019-20||2020-21|
|OTHER SPECIAL REVENUE FUNDS TOTAL||$500,000||$500,000|
Sec. J-1. 38 MRSA §1611, sub-§3, ¶A, as enacted by PL 2019, c. 346, §2, is amended to read:
(1) All amounts collected pursuant to this paragraph are retained by the retail establishment and may be used for any lawful purpose.
(2) A retail establishment may not rebate or otherwise reimburse a customer any portion of the fee charged pursuant to this paragraph.
Sec. J-2. 38 MRSA §1611, sub-§5, as enacted by PL 2019, c. 346, §2, is amended to read:
Sec. K-1. 22 MRSA §822, as amended by PL 2009, c. 299, Pt. A, §3, is repealed and the following enacted in its place:
§ 822. Reporting
Sec. L-1. Facilitation of voting for June 9, 2020 elections. Only for the elections scheduled to be held on June 9, 2020, the Governor may take any reasonable administrative actions the Governor considers necessary to facilitate voting by all residents registered to vote in this State in a manner that preserves and protects public health in response to COVID-19. Pursuant to the Constitution of Maine, Article II, Section 4, these administrative actions may include, but are not limited to, issuance and receipt of absentee ballots for the June 9, 2020 elections, as long as those actions are also designed to facilitate participation by all registered voters, protect the rights of those voters and safeguard the integrity of the election.
Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this legislation takes effect when approved.