Updated April 14, 2023
Legislative activity has been heating up with Committee work in full swing. Below are bills/issues that we would like to highlight for our members – a full list (updated periodically) of the bills MMTA is tracking can be found at https://www.mmta.com/131st-maine-legislature-update/.
One item not on this list because it is still taking shape is an effort to have Maine adopt a Paid Family and Medical Leave program. MMTA is involved in a trade association coalition that will be engaged on this very important issue and you should expect to hear more about it in the coming weeks.
Snow and Ice Removal
LD 522, An Act to Require That Motor Vehicles Be Clear of Snow When Operated on Public Ways
The issue of removing snow and ice on vehicles, including commercial vehicles, has been debated multiple times in the legislature in Maine and across the country. Many other northern states have passed snow and ice legislation in the recent past, which includes commercial vehicles. MMTA has always been successful in defeating bills like this in Maine, because of the dangers of requiring drivers to attempt to clear commercial vehicles without proper safety equipment when not at a terminal or location where it can be done safely. Despite a strong desire to pass something in this session to deal with the snow and ice, MMTA was able to carve out commercial vehicles with a registration weight of 10,000 pounds or more. The resulting bill will require drivers of non-commercial vehicles to use due care to clear vehicles of snow and ice, or face fines of $50 for first violations if snow or ice coming off vehicles causing property damage or injury.
Allowing 18-20 year old’s to haul HAZMAT
LD 534, An Act to Allow Commercial Driver’s License Holders Who Are 18 to 20 Years of Age to Haul Hazardous Materials Intrastate
The bill sponsor, Rep. James White, is a former professional truck driver that hauled hazardous materials for his entire career. The bill is an attempt to attract and retain younger drivers in response to the workforce shortage the industry is experiencing in the hazmat industry. The Maine State Police will be opposing, expressing safety and loss of federal funding concerns should the bill pass. MMTA is aware that we have members on both sides of this bill, and will be testifying neither for nor against, and will work to help educate and inform the Transportation Committee on the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program as well as the efforts of MMTA and our members on workforce development.
CDL License Reinstatement
LD 652, An Act to Allow the Reinstatement of Certain Commercial Driver’s Licenses
This bill would allow drivers who have received a lifetime suspension of their CDL due to two convictions of Table 1 violations in 49 CFR Part 383.51. The violations in this table are considered “major violations” and include refusing to submit to a drug and alcohol test while operating a CMV, being under the influence of controlled substances while operating a CMV and other major violations. While the federal regulations allow states to have a process where a lifetime suspension can be appealed to the State after 10 years, Maine has never had such a process. MMTA testified in support of the bill, with a proper process in place to allow for a hearing. The bill would give hope to drivers who have been properly rehabilitated after 10 or more years and would also aid in workforce issues. The bill received unanimous support, including from the Secretary of State.
Eroding the exclusive remedy of Workers’ Compensation
LD 53 An Act to Ensure Accountability for Workplace Harassment and Assault by Removing Intentional Acts and Omissions from Workers’ Compensation Exemptions
In response to workplace harassment concerns from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lee’s intent is to narrowly focus on the impacts of workplace harassment where the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation preempts additional relief from resulting emotional distress injuries. However, the result of passing the bill would be to encourage litigation and increase friction in the Maine workers’ compensation system, which are both contrary to the grand bargain compromise of WC being the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries.
Incentives for Medium & Heavy Duty Vehicle ZEV’s
LD 122 An Act to Authorize the Efficiency Maine Trust to Establish a Program to Support the Uptake of Medium-duty and Heavy-duty Zero-emission Vehicles by Maine Businesses and to Establish a Medium-duty and Heavy-duty Zero-emission Vehicle-to-grid Pilot Project
Not something MMTA would normally support, one of our industry’s main concerns with Maine pushing to adopt Zero Emission Vehicle technology so quickly is the cost of such investments. The bill’s sponsor, through support from Efficiency Maine, is addressing this concern by recommending financial incentives for Medium & Heavy Duty Vehicles that are ineligible now.
Prohibition on Employee Retention Investment Agreements
LD 741 An Act to Prohibit Training Repayment Agreements by Employers
Many MMTA members will agree to pay for additional training – whether that is for a prospective or current employee – to get an additional credential or to upgrade their skills. In return, employers seek to protect that investment by requiring the individual to stay employed with them for a period of time. This bill would prohibit such an arrangement which will discourage employers from making such investments if the employee can then use the additional training to get a job somewhere else.
LD 513, An Act Regarding Overtime Protections for Certain Maine Workers
The bill seeks to increase the threshold for considering an employee an hourly versus salaried employee. Right now in Maine, if someone makes less than $41,400 they cannot be considered salary regardless of their duties and responsibilities. By 2026, this bill wants to increase that amount to $62,100 at a minimum. Which would mean companies would have to pay anyone making less than $62,100 by the hour and overtime at time and a half for work over 40-hours – which is really what this bill is about. Making more people eligible for overtime.
LD 1190, An Act to Ensure a Fair Workweek by Requiring Notice of Work Schedules
This bill would require employers to communicate each employee’s schedule 2-weeks in advance. And if you changed the schedule within that 2-weeks, you would pay the employee a penalty… and no, there is no penalty for employees who change their schedules or call out. But there is the prospect of you having to pay a penalty to get a replacement worker in for an employee who calls out – which makes no sense.
LD 949, An Act to Protect Workers from Employer Surveillance
LD 949 would prohibit any type of workplace surveillance, including cameras in trucks and real-time incident detection like notifications for things like hard-braking that a lot of MMTA members have come to rely upon as a safety tool. The only good news with this one is that the sponsor indicated she recognized there is a highway and employee safety component for such surveillance in Commercial Vehicles and she is willing to exempt trucking, especially because the main focus is on employers monitoring their employees who work from home.
Increase Damage Limits on Wrongful Death
LD 934, An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Damages Awarded for Wrongful Death
This bill would double the limit on damages for the loss of comfort and society, companionship and emotional distress in a case of wrongful death from $750,000 to $1,500,000; increase the limit on punitive damages from $250,000 to $1,000,000; and increase the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim from 2 years to 3 years – which is just the opposite of what Florida just did. There are obvious insurance implications for this and we took the opportunity to share with them that there is a sentiment in the ambulance chasing community that trucking is seen as the “deep pockets” given our FMCSA-required increased limits.
Adoption of Sector-specific Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits
LD 1411, An Act to Require the Adoption of Sector-specific Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits
This bill does just as the title suggests. Maine has a statutory requirement to reduce GHG emission levels generally by 45% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030 and to be carbon neutral (Zero GHG emissions) by 2045. The intent of this bill is to further define the threshold goals for specific sectors, including transportation. We think it might be the predicate for adopting the CA ACT and ACF so MMTA will be fully engaged on this one as well.
As of 4/12/23, this bill has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing.
Exempt Excise Tax on CMV Trucks
LD 1486, An Act to Exempt Tractor Trailer Trucks from the Excise Tax
Sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, this bill is a constituent-requested idea to exempt excise tax on “A truck or truck tractor registered for more than 26,000 pounds”. The municipalities and the associated fiscal note make it doubtful the bill will pass.
As of 4/12/23, this bill has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing.
Concept Draft Abuse
Various bills and titles
If you look at the MMTA Bill Tracking List, you will see 18 “Concept Drafts” that look like they want to do things like “strengthen Maine’s workforce,” “amend Maine’s tax laws,” and “support Maine industry.” While all noble goals, the devil is in the details and a “concept draft” does not include anything other than the bill’s title. This makes it hard to know if MMTA needs to be involved in the bill or engage our members on an issue of importance, most times until the public hearing. So we have listed “Concept Drafts” in a separate category on the MMTA Bill Tracking site because your guess is as good as ours as to what these bills purport to accomplish… which is not a very transparent way to govern in our opinion.