AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that would have expanded the state’s authority to change rules related to the care of people with autism and other intellectual disabilities was all but killed Wednesday in a 9-1 vote of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
The bill, LD 1236, would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to make changes to support services through the routine technical rulemaking process as opposed to the more rigorous major substantive rulemaking process.
Both processes involve public input, but the latter calls for verbal testimony in front of a legislative committee and then legislative approval.
The bill was proposed by the department. Testimony at a public hearing last month leaned heavily against it on the grounds that families and caregivers of people with intellectual disabilities want as open and transparent a process as possible.
Even the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, opposed it.
“I believe these decisions should be in the hands of the Legislature,” he said.
The only vote in support of LD 1236 on the Health and Human Services Committee came from Rep. Deb Sanderson, R-Chelsea, though three members who were absent still have an opportunity to cast their votes.