AUGUSTA (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci has signed a bill aimed at ensuring law-enforcement agencies observe Maine’s Freedom of Access law, while a related bill awaits final Senate action.

The bills surfaced following a statewide audit last fall that showed many public agencies were not complying with the law that’s designed to ensure that people have access to government records.

The bill, signed by Baldacci on Friday, requires chief administrators from each municipal, county and state law enforcement agency to certify that it has a written policy on how to deal with Freedom of Access requests.

Annual certification must be provided to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

House OKs

3-stage licensing

AUGUSTA (AP) – The Maine House gave its final approval Monday to a bill that establishes a three-step, graduated licensing system for new drivers under 21 years old, replacing the current two-stage process.

The graduated licensing system consists of a supervised instruction permit, an intermediate license and an unrestricted license.

Under the system proposed by state motor vehicle officials, certain restrictions, such as the hours when driving is allowed, are imposed at the first two levels.

An amendment bars drivers with an instruction permit or an intermediate driver’s license from driving while using a mobile telephone.

The bill faces a final Senate vote before it can be sent to Gov. John Baldacci.

Young riders will need helmets

AUGUSTA (AP) – Young snowmobile operators and riders will face fines of $100 or more if they are caught riding without helmets on some Maine trails.

Gov. John Baldacci has signed a bill requiring anyone under 18 years old to wear a helmet while riding on a trail funded by Maine’s Snowmobile Trail Fund.

Fines can range from $100 to $500.

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