Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Augustan: Rep. Driscoll Explains His Legislative Bills

(Editor's Note: Rep. Tim Driscoll, one of Westbrook's two state representatives in Augusta, has submitted four legislative bills for consideration during the current legislative session. Below, he introduces you, dear reader, to each bill and provides some context for each one.)

LD 206 Resolve, To fund the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program
The Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program was enacted in 2005 and signed by the Governor, but was not funded. This resolve asks the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services to look for possible grant money to fund the program.

The program looks to offset the cost of graduate education for nurses who are accepted into a program of education and who will become faculty in a nursing education program within the state. We have many "waitlisted" qualified entrants for nursing school in Maine, but not enough faculty to teach them. There are around 400 to 500 students in this category waiting to get into nursing school.

There have been studies done both at the federal level as well as the state level that indicate a severe nursing shortage within the next decade. Maine hospitals are currently using travelling nurses because of a lack of licensed professionals to hire within their geographic area. Larger hospitals are competitively marketing against one another to bring in help. While this is good for nurse coffers, it shows that we are now looking at a dwindling suppy of nurses and it will only get worse.

LR 1486 An Act to Allow a Municipality to Recover Emergency Response Costs From a Natural Gas Utility In Certain Cases
This bill was submited in response to a gas line explosion which took place here in Westbrook near Spring Street and William Clarke Drive. I received a letter from Mayor Chuluda asking for assistance to recoup emergency response costs associated with type type of incident. Currently, I believe the utility is required to pay a fine to the Public Utilities Commission, but is not required to pay the municipality for any costs incurred for the emergency response in such a situation, even though the utility was liable for the incident.

LR 1487 An Act to Require the Informed Consent of a Patient Before Radiological Images of that Patient Are Sent Outside the United States To Be Read
Many hospitals now use overseas radiology services, especially at night, to provide a "preliminary reading" for CT Scans, which the treating facility physician uses to make a diagnosis. Most patients are not aware that their healthcare information is being transmitted over the Internet, nor are they aware that their radiograph is being interpreted outside the hospital, or even outside the country. This bill would provide open and transparent dissemination of information to the patient.

LR 1485 An Act to Promote Independence and Employment for People Who Are Visually Impaired or Blind by Investing in An Effective Vision Rehabiliatation Program
The purpose of this bill is to decrease the ratio of visually-impaired or blind youth and adults per vision rehabilitation therapists to more appropriate levels. It also aims to improve the effectiveness of vision rehabilitation services for an increasing numbers of adults with vision loss and expand core curriculum services for transition-age youth by attracting one full-time and two half-time vision rehabilitation therapists and one full-time adjustment-to-blindness counselor to work with clients in Maine.

The bill also provides funding for a vision rehabilitation program developer to design and implement a vision rehabilitation system appropriate for the 21st century in the State of Maine. The bill also increases funding for the Audio Information and Reading Service operated by The Iris Network known as Maine AIRS in order to support expansion of the broadcast service from 8 hours per day to a 24/7 format. Finally, the bill provides funding to establish scholarships and fellowships designed to recruit students to obtain a masters level education in vision rehabilitation if they make a multi-year commitment to practice their profession in Maine.

The first bill is an LD (Legislative Document) and the other 3 are LR's (Legislative Request), which means they haven't been printed yet. The first bill (LD 206) has been drafted by the Revisor's Office, has been approved by me, has received the required co-sponsor signatures, and has been referred to Committee. The other three have not yet been referred to a committee because I have not received them from the Revisor's Office to review.

- Tim Driscoll

Related: Election '08: Introducing Tim Driscoll, Maine House of Representatives #126
Related: Election '08: Tim Driscoll's Proust Questionnaire
Related: Election '08: Tim Driscoll's Favorite Things
Related: Election '08: Tim Driscoll on the Issues

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