Northern New England Municipal Law Blog

Preti Flaherty's Municipal Law attorneys have extensive experience representing cities and towns across New England on general and complex matters. Northern New England Municipal Law Blog provides news, discusses relevant legal issues, and highlights emerging trends in New England municipal law.

Recent Blog Posts

  • It’s A High-Flying Flag: Shurtleff v. Boston and Municipal Flag Policies Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Shurtleff v. Boston in which it ruled unanimously that the City of Boston violated the Constitution by denying a request from a religious organization to fly a Christian flag on a flagpole in front of City Hall. The Supreme Court held that Boston’s actions violated the First Amendment by restricting speech based on a religious viewpoint.... More
  • An Update on the Pending Affordable Housing Legislation (LD 2003) On March 16, after a marathon eight-hour work session, the Committee on Labor and Housing issued a divided report on LD 2003, Speaker Fecteau’s emergency affordable housing bill. The bill did many things in an effort to address Maine’s continued housing crisis; some good and some bad. On April 7, in response to extensive public comments, Speaker Fecteau introduced a significant amendment to LD... More
  • What Can the IIJA Do for Your Internet? As you may have heard, Congress has appropriated $65 billion for broadband projects within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Of that, $42 billion is being dedicated to the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Under the BEAD Program, Maine and every other state will receive at... More
  • What Do the Supreme Court's Vaccination Rulings Mean for Your Business? Reflecting the deep rift in public opinion concerning the government’s role in dictating how businesses, health care entities and public sector employers ought to act to stem the spread of COVID-19, a divided U.S. Supreme Court yesterday blocked an injunction of OSHA’s emergency rule which would have required an estimated 80 million employees to either fully vaccinate or submit to a regular... More
  • Treasury Department Expands ARPA Funding Eligibility for Broadband Development On January 6, 2022, the Treasury Department issued its final rule on the American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“SLFRF”) program and it contained good news for municipalities considering broadband infrastructure investments. In response to concerns raised by broadband advocates and recipients, Treasury has significantly broadened the scope of eligible broadband... More
  • Broadband Funding Options: Show Me the Money! The federal government’s recent largesse has made broadband infrastructure development a focus of discussion in many communities. The pleasing number of zeroes contained in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and more recent infrastructure bill may, however, distract from other available sources of broadband development funding. There are several existing state and federal loan and grant programs... More
  • FOAA Changes Now in Effect Several changes to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act quietly went into effect on October 18, 2021. Passed in the waning days of the Legislature’s special session, L.D. 1345 and 1346 expanded mandatory FOAA training requirement for municipal officials, modified the Right to Know Advisory Committee membership and responsibilities, and limited the fees that officials and agencies may charge for... More
  • Does the Delta Variant Vary the New Rules on Remote Meetings? With the Delta variant has come new recommendations suggesting that individuals once again wear masks in indoor public settings. We are getting a lot of questions regarding whether this new guidance counts as “an emergency requiring the board to meet by remote means,” such that remote participation is allowed under the new law. Because the current guidance is simply that masks should be worn... More
  • Why Getting Connected Matters More Than Ever – And How We Can Help This is likely not the first post or article you’ve read about the great broadband rush that’s sweeping the country. Working and schooling from home during the pandemic have highlighted the need to ensure that every community – no matter how rural – has access to broadband internet. The pandemic has also created economic opportunity by encouraging workers to relocate and potentially expand the... More
  • Municipalities to Resume In-Person Public Meetings After nearly a year and a half of remote proceedings, Maine municipal, county, and school boards will soon be required to reconvene in-person public meetings. On June 21, Governor Mills signed into law L.D. 32, “An Act Regarding Remote Participation in Public Proceedings.” The new law finally authorizes some remote participation in meetings – an issue that was quite divisive in pre-COVID days –... More
  • Development Projects and the Limits of Moratoria I am always struck at how vigorously some property owners oppose development projects, despite their having previously, and successfully, pursued identical projects. Do they not remember that they did the exact same thing? Is there some definition of fairness I am not aware of? Whatever the cause, it can be exasperating for the developer and detrimental to sound zoning and planning. A recent... More
  • Maine Governor Issues Executive Order Regarding the November Election Governor Mills has issued a new executive order to facilitate the November 2020 general election. The stated purpose of the order is to ensure the integrity of the ballot and to protect the public health during the COVID-19 emergency.  The order includes a limit of 50 or fewer people in each polling place and that the statutory minimum number of voting booths are not required if it would... More
  • What Is the Municipal Liquidity Facility? There is no question that COVID-19 has had a major impact on state and local governments’ revenue and expenses. To what extent it will impact any particular governmental unit will vary depending on its mix of revenue sources. In an effort to address state and local cash flow pressures and tax revenue shortfalls, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve”) and... More
  • Parties Close to Settlement of Voting Rights Case A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on July 17, 2020, against the State of Maine and the Cities of Augusta, Portland, and Bangor and the Town of Winslow, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of four visually impaired voters. The aim of the case is to cause the State and municipalities to implement a system which would allow blind voters to vote absentee... More
  • Superior Court Supports Portland’s Home Rule Argument Justice Kennedy of the Cumberland County Superior Court recently ruled in favor of the City of Portland, giving significant deference to a municipality’s interpretation of its own charter. In the case of Fair Elections Portland v. City of Portland, the Court held that in a disputed factual context the judiciary would defer to the City’s determination that a petition that had been circulated for... More