STATEWIDE – Fingerprinting and background checks soon will become part of applying for a job in the childcare field.
That is just one of many new laws impacting Mainers in the months ahead.
Many of the bills approved by lawmakers will become law 90 days after the current special legislative session ends.
One new law aims to better protect the state’s children. Last week, legislators overturned a bill vetoed by Governor Paul LePage requiring fingerprinting and background checks of childcare workers.
“Our K to 12 peers in public schools already have this requirement. And so we are looking for this to be part of the background check requirements for teachers of young children,” Tara Williams of the Maine Association for the Education of Younger Children said.
In the initial year of the law, the state will run an estimated 5,000 background checks. When he vetoed it, the governor called the bill an example of overregulation. Legislators approved spending nearly $1 million on the program.
Another bill becoming law later this year requires that by 2025, at least 20 percent of state government food be purchased locally. Already, the University of Maine System exceeds that mandate.
“It certainly could be more than the 23 percent where we’re at. That represents about $1.5 million dollars into the food-based economy of Maine. And we want to see that number grow,” said John Rebar of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service.
Other recently passed laws include one that extends the life of the Pine Tree Development Zone tax break program, which Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson earlier this year said was responsible for keeping a Madawaska paper mill open.