Disabled parking fines stiffened

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AUGUSTA (AP) – Motorists who park in spaces marked for the disabled will be paying bigger fines.

Gov. John Baldacci has signed into law a bill doubling the minimum fine for parking in a disability parking space or an access aisle to $200. Maximum fines are $500.

The new law took effect immediately upon Baldacci’s signature Tuesday. It also provides that the registered owner of a vehicle illegally parked in an access aisle also commits a traffic infraction, and is also subject to a fine.

The new legislation changes the term “handicapped parking space” to “disability parking space.”

Governor OKs island’s secession

AUGUSTA (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation Wednesday allowing Chebeague Island to separate from the town of Cumberland as of July 1, 2007.

Cumberland’s town council has adopted a secession agreement with Great Chebeague and several other islands. Chebeague also will leave School Administrative District 51.

Law boosts some students’ insurance

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AUGUSTA (AP) – A new Maine law will expand protections for some dependent students.

The bill signed Tuesday by Gov. John Baldacci requires insurers that cover certain dependent children only if they are students to continue coverage for students who are unable to remain in school full-time because of a mental or physical illness or accidental injury.

The new law will allow insurers to require the student to provide written documentation from doctors about the student’s condition and from the school showing that the student is not enrolled full-time.

House enacts club smoking measure

AUGUSTA (AP) – A bill designed to simplify the procedure for clubs that decide whether to allow smoking is moving closer to final enactment.

The Maine House on Wednesday gave its final approval to a bill that would 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.

Unfair profiteering targeted in proposal

AUGUSTA (AP) – Legislation prompted by record-high gasoline prices after last year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes is on its way to final passage after being amended by Maine lawmakers.

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

The measure given final House approval Tuesday repeals and replaces the current “profiteering in necessities” statute to protect consumers from unconscionably high prices for necessities during market disruptions.

It ties such profiteering to the Maine Unfair Trade Act and authorizes court orders and big fines.

The bill faced a final Senate vote.

Environmental terrorism’ bill fails

AUGUSTA (AP) – Legislation establishing a new crime of “environmental terrorism” was dealt a setback Wednesday when a House vote to enact fell short.

Representatives’ 73-67 against approval leaves the bill’s prospects in question.

The bill seeks to create a new Class C crime of intentionally damaging, destroying or tampering with someone else’s property to cause substantial harm to the victim’s reputation or financial condition.

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