Legislative Update on Maine’s Substance Abuse Testing Law

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

In legislative news, a bill that would have implemented new changes to Maine’s substance abuse testing law has died after the House and Senate failed to agree on amendments to the bill from the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.

As originally drafted, LD 1384 proposed a number of changes to the current law, including a revision to the probable cause standard that would have permitted an employer to find probable cause based on a single work-related accident that results in personal injury or significant damage to property. The current law prohibits a single work-related accident from forming the basis of probable cause to believe an employee may be under the influence of a substance of abuse.

In February, the Maine Department of Labor issued a lengthy report recommending other changes to the current statute, including the development of a uniform drug testing policy to be used by employers in the state.  The report followed a workgroup convened by the Department to study issues related to the impairment of workers due to the use of medical marijuana, opiates, prescription drugs, and other legal and illegal substances.

The Department’s report included a draft amendment to LD 1384 that was presented to the LCRED committee.  However, the amendment did not receive unanimous approval from the committee, which issued a divided report largely along party lines, and the House and Senate subsequently voted to pass competing amendments to the bill, resulting in the bill dying between houses.  This means that the Department’s recommended changes to the current law will remain just that—recommendations—for now.