AUGUSTA – A bill seeking to move public notices from newspapers to the Internet has been carried over to next year.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield, was scheduled for a floor vote but referred back to the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee Tuesday.

Rep. Christopher Barstow, D-Gorham, the committee chairman, said the bill’s backers didn’t feel they had the support they needed for the bill to pass. All committee members – even those who didn’t back this particular bill – agree that something must be done to reduce the cost of public notices, he said.

Government entities are required to take out newspaper ads to promote public meetings or hearings. Hayes estimated previously that the change to Internet publishing could net a $1.5 million savings every two years.

County commission bill amended

AUGUSTA – The House adopted an amendment Tuesday altering a bill seeking to increase the number of Androscoggin County Commissioners.

The original bill would have had the extra seats filled at the beginning of 2009 – if the sitting commissioners allowed a voter referendum.

The amendment pushes back the timeline. It allows commissioners to establish an apportionment commission, and if established, it would report back by October 2009, with a measure going to voters in November 2009.

If approved by voters, the new commissioners would be elected in 2010.

HOME fund protection sought

AUGUSTA – The Legislature gave its support Tuesday to a bill that shields the Housing Opportunities for Maine Fund from cuts or funding shifts within the state budget.

Sponsored by Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, and Rep. Mark Bryant, D-Windham, the bill follows one of the recommendations from the Brookings Institute report. It next goes to the governor’s desk.

The HOME Fund finds millions in federal matching grants for affordable housing programs such as low-interest mortgages for first-time home buyers and low-income housing tax credits.

“Protecting this funding helps the next generation of first-time home buyers, as well as people today just trying to pay the rent on a fixed income,” Bryant said.