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Jul 15, 2017 10:44 AM

Most new laws await Maine lawmakers' official last day

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A few dozen laws have gone into effect in Maine while more than 200 pieces of legislation have months to go before taking effect.

One new law makes it easier for 14-and 15-year-olds to work, while another sets aside $1.6 million to implement the voter-approved legalization of recreational marijuana.

Most bills that lawmakers have approved will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature's official last day. Meanwhile, so-called "emergency" bills can become law immediately with the needed approval.

Lawmakers decided to extend the session to deal with the two-year budget and the full Legislature is set to return to Augusta two more days over the upcoming weeks. The leaders of the House and Senate have set July 20 as one of those days.

A look at the laws:

WORKING MINORS

A new law lets teens work in movie theaters, bowling alleys, permanent amusement parks and certain parts of bakeries and hotels.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage said the move will help young people gain experience and skills, while Commissioner of Labor John Butera said the law will help employers navigate Maine's tight labor market.

The state said it's working to turn around approved permits as soon as possible.

The law also brings Maine into compliance with federal law meant to ensure that young people are protected from hazardous conditions.
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MARIJUANA IMPLEMENTATION

As the state rolls out recreational marijuana, lawmakers set aside $1.6 million to fund rule-making. The state doesn't have to start accepting applications for retail marijuana sales until at least February.

The new law puts the Department of Administrative and Financial Services in charge of licensing retail marijuana social clubs and the sale of retail marijuana.

Lawmakers also gave $200,000 to the Legislature's joint select committee on marijuana legalization implementation for hiring consultants and travel expenses.

Another new law allows municipalities to pass ordinances banning or restricting marijuana caregivers within 500 feet of a school.
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OPIOID CRISIS

Corrections officers can now administer the opioid overdose-reversing drug Narcan under a new law that also establishes medical training protocols.

Lawmakers also made a few tweaks to the 2016 opioid law that created a strong prescription monitoring program and limits on opioid prescribing.

Chronic pain patients argued that the limits left them in agony because doctors didn't think they qualified for exceptions. A new law adds "chronic, unremitting or intractable pain" to the state's definition of serious illness, while clarifying that "palliative care" doesn't necessarily mean hospice care.

Another new law fixes a wording change in Maine statute that kept pharmacists from actually being able to dispense Narcan as lawmakers intended.
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BREWERIES, PET FOODS AND CAMPS

Some brewery owners are breathing sighs of relief after lawmakers passed a one-year moratorium on state enforcement of a law prohibiting ownership of both a brewery license and a retail liquor license.

Brandon Mazer, of the Maine Brewer's Guild, said the moratorium would provide breweries that already hold both licenses time to plan as the tourist season begins.

Lawmakers overrode vetoes from LePage on several emergency bills, including one to direct more funds from a pet food surcharge to an animal sterilization fund.

LePage criticized lawmakers for passing a bill that became law to extend Eagle Lake Sporting Camps' lease to 30 years, while also calling for rules to allow bear-baiting at certain sites.

"In addition to micromanaging the department, this bill sets a dangerous precedent by allowing the Legislature to enact laws to benefit specific businesses or entities without considering all of the pertinent information that the department uses to make these deliberate decisions," he said.

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