Baldacci signs smoking, cell record


AUGUSTA (AP) – Private clubs will have new procedures to follow when they vote on whether to allow smoking.

Gov. John Baldacci on Thursday signed into law a bill that will allow club smoking policy to be decided by a majority of club members who return ballots, rather than a majority of all of a club’s members.

The new law will correct what critics saw as a flaw in the current procedure, in which smoking policy is decided by a majority of each club’s members. Critics said that poses problems because many club members are inactive or can’t be located when voted are held.

The Legislature killed a separate bill that would have banned smoking in private clubs that have paid employees.

Land-swap measure awaits governor’s signature

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Legislation that’s critical to the Katahdin Lake land swap awaits Gov. John Baldacci’s signature. Baldacci strongly supports the bill.

The Maine House and Senate on Thursday gave their final approval to the bill by wide majorities. The House’s 129-16 vote was followed by a 32-3 Senate roll call.

The bill authorizes a land deal that would add more than 6,000 acres to Baxter State Park.

The compromise bill settles a dispute over how the added land can be used by allowing hunting and snowmobiling in the northern section, but barring those types of activities in the southern end.

The final version preserves important wildlife habitats and transfers $3 million the state is to receive as part of the transaction to Maine’s open space protection fund, known as the Land for Maine’s Future fund.

The bill was the subject of lengthy negotiations among landowners, recreationists, hunters, snowmobilers and state officials.

Passage of the Katahdin Lake bill gives momentum to efforts to collect $14 million in private donations needed to finalize the deal.

Profiteering targeted in bill headed for final approval

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Price gouging and profiteering, which became big worries after last year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes sent fuel prices to record levels, are targeted in a bill signed into law by Gov. John Baldacci.

The legislation initially targeted price increases of 15 percent or more during abnormal market disruptions.

It was replaced by a measure that rewrites Maine’s current “profiteering in necessities” statute to protect consumers from unconscionably high prices for necessities during market disruptions. The new law will tie such profiteering to the Maine Unfair Trade Act and authorize court orders and big fines.

Sale of wireless phone records now outlawed

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – It’s now illegal in Maine to sell personal cell phone records.

Gov. John Baldacci has signed into law a bill making it a crime and a civil violation to sell wireless phone records. Records are lifted by people by posing as customers, hacking into wireless-company records, using spyware to get them or buying the records from unscrupulous employees.

Landline records are already protected under federal law.

The new privacy-protection law applying to cell records in Maine took effect immediately upon Baldacci’s signature Thursday. Most laws take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends.

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