Friday, June 11, 2021

Bill Diamond: Back working in the State House

By Senator Bill Diamond

Over the past five months, legislative committees have been hard at work, meeting virtually to debate bills and make recommendations to the full Legislature about which bills should become law. With committee work now all wrapped up, my colleagues and I are together again at the State House to cast our votes. Among the hundreds of bills up for consideration are a couple of my bills aimed at protecting Maine’s children and making our roadways a bit more family friendly. Both of these bills received bipartisan support in their respective committees, and it’s my hope and sincere belief that these two bills will make life measurably better for Maine people.

In recent months, I’ve written here about my bills that seek to protect Maine children by reforming the child protection system and funding the Computer Crimes Unit of the Maine State Police. Another one of my bills that will be voted on this month shares this same goal, by making sure that adults who participate in the sex trafficking of children are appropriately sentenced. Under current Maine law, aggravated sex trafficking, which includes the sex trafficking of a child, is a Class B crime. Class B crimes carry no minimum sentence but have a maximum sentence of 10 years. This is out of step with federal law, which mandates a minimum sentence of 10 years for this crime.

My bill will make the aggravated sex trafficking of a child 14 years of age or younger a Class A crime, meaning the new maximum sentence is 30 years. Over the past couple of decades, I have spent a lot of time talking with victims, their advocates and law enforcement professionals, and I’ve come to understand the devastating impact that sex crimes have on anyone, but especially on kids. By giving judges the opportunity to sentence perpetrators to more time when appropriate, we address the trauma done to these kids, and keep dangerous offenders off the streets. 

My second bill addresses a different problem, but one that affects our kids all the same. Maine has a fun tradition of vanity license plates, a program that began when I was Maine’s Secretary of State from 1989 to 1997. These plates have added creativity to our roads for years, but recently I – and many of you – have noticed an increasing number of vulgar and offensive plates. While I support everyone’s right to free speech – and the right to cover your car in whatever bumper stickers you want – the fact is license plates are state property. State resources should not be used to create these vulgar plates and displaying offensive language or messages on state property gives the appearance that the state endorses that language and those messages.

That’s why I’ve introduced a bill that will give Maine’s Secretary of State a narrow set of guidelines to use when deciding whether to grant the request for a vanity plate. If my bill is passed, plates that are profane or obscene, that connote genitalia or sex acts, and plates that make derogatory references to classes that are protected under the Maine Human Rights Act (including age, race, religion, physical or mental disability, among others) will no longer be allowed. If someone’s application for a plate is banned, or if their plate is recalled under these guidelines, there will be an option to appeal.

There are more than 119,000 vanity plates on Maine roadways today, and most of them are harmless fun. But the few plates that do violate these proposed guidelines make our roadways a more hostile and less family-friendly place. I know I don’t like explaining to my grandkids what some of these plates mean, and I’ve heard from many of you that you have similar concerns. By implementing some common-sense restrictions, like other states have, we can make our roads a more welcoming place for everyone.

As the Legislature finishes up our work and closes the books on a very unusual session, we’ll have discussed, debated and voted on almost 2,000 pieces of legislation that will directly impact your life and the lives of Mainers across the state. I introduced the two bills I’ve written about here after speaking with you and listening to your concerns.

If you ever have a concern you think I should hear, or if I can be of assistance to you or your family, please never hesitate to reach out to me. You can email me at or call my office at (207) 287-1515. <

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