ELLSWORTH — Local lawmakers are getting down to work in the Legislature’s 129th session, which began Dec. 18 and runs through mid-June.
Only a few of the 2,000 bills submitted by legislators this month will make it out of committee, but Sen. Louie Luchini (D-Hancock County) and Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth) have so far put forward legislation dealing with issues ranging from craft breweries and presidential candidates to plastic bags and solar panels.
Luchini has put forward eight bills, including a bond proposal that would offer money to labs for infrastructure improvements (the funds would be awarded through a competitive bid process).
The money would be geared toward researchers who are focused on diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, “as they present a significant problem in Maine,” Luchini wrote in an email.
If passed, Luchini said, the bond would continue the work of another bond that then-Rep. Luchini sponsored several years ago that resulted in The Jackson Laboratory being awarded $12.5 million in funding for its expansion into Ellsworth.
The former District 132 representative also has sponsored a bill to improve broadband service in rural areas and a bond to support municipalities that want to invest in solar energy where “the state would partner on the investment to prevent a cost shift to local property tax payers,” Luchini said.
He also has put forward a bill that would assist Maine craft breweries and distilleries.
The Ellsworth High School cross-country coach also has sponsored legislation to adjust reimbursement rates for Maine veterans homes, which Luchini said would “significantly help them financially” as well as a “more technical bill” related to payments for substance use disorder treatment centers.
He also has put forward legislation that would ensure “proper oversight” of sports betting, if the state authorizes it. (The Supreme Court opened the door to legalization of sports betting in a court case last year.)
Luchini said he still has “a few others I’m working on” as well.
Grohoski also has put forward several bills, including one that would eliminate single-use plastic bags and another to join several states around the country that have agreed to award electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the overall popular vote.
But Grohoski said in an email that some of her bills will be narrowed down “in order to avoid duplication with bills that other legislators are sponsoring.
“With over 2,000 bills submitted,” Grohoski continued, “it makes sense for me to submit only unique bills and collaborate with others on their bills.”
Grohoski said the legislative proposals she is sponsoring include a resolve aimed at eventually limiting tobacco advertising to youth and young adults by directing the Attorney General’s Office to look into legal ways of doing so.
Another bill is intended to protect “firefighters and emergency medical services personnel from discrimination at work when responding to emergency calls during the work day.”
A third bill would reduce the wait time for homeowners to receive the homestead exemption (those who qualify now must have owned the property for a year and make it their permanent residence).
The text of bills is “still being drafted by staff,” Grohoski said in an email.