Sec. B-1. 10 MRSA §8001, sub-§38, ¶C, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 397, §11, is repealed.
Sec. B-2. 10 MRSA §8003, sub-§2, as amended by PL 1997, c. 210, §§1 and 2, is further amended to read:
2. Office of Licensing and Registration. There is created an Office of Licensing and Registration, referred to in this subsection as "the office," which constitutes an office within the department, to provide assistance to the commissioner and to direct the boards
and, commissions and regulatory functions within the office, as set forth in section 8001, subsection 38, in complaint procedure and investigation, disciplinary actions and enforcement, examinations and licensing and to perform those other duties as the commissioner may designate. The commissioner may appoint a Director of Licensing and Registration and those clerical and technical assistants as that are necessary to discharge the duties of the office and shall outline their duties and fix their compensation, subject to the Civil Service Law. The office has the following powers, duties and functions:
B. To prepare and administer, with the advice of the boards and commissions, budgets necessary to carry out the regulatory functions of the boards and commissions. There is one office budget that includes a separate account for each board or commission. The office has the authority to disapprove expenditures by boards and commissions that are not necessary to protect the public health and welfare or would seriously jeopardize a board's or commission's fiscal well-being;
C. To provide all staffing necessary and appropriate to assist the various boards and commissions. All clerks, technical support staff and supervisors must be assigned to the office and allocated to the various boards and commissions according to need;
D. To adopt rules establishing a uniform complaint procedure for all boards, commissions and regulatory functions within the office and to adopt rules necessary and proper to administer the regulatory functions within the office;
E. To perform licensing functions for other state agencies on a fee-for-service basis; and
F. To study jurisdictional overlap between the department's boards and commissions and other state agencies for purposes of streamlining and consolidating related legal authorities and administrative processes.
Sec. B-3. 10 MRSA §8003, sub-§4, as amended by PL 1995, c. 502, Pt. H, §10, is further amended to read:
4. Licensing periods; renewal dates.
In order that licenses may be processed and issued in a reasonably uniform manner over a fiscal year, the The commissioner may establish expiration or renewal dates and establish whether licenses are issued annually or biennially for all licenses authorized to be issued by bureaus, offices, boards and commissions within the department, notwithstanding any other provisions of law. If an expiration or renewal date established by the commissioner has the effect of shortening the term of a license currently in effect, the bureau, office, board or commission, or the department in the case of a license that it issues directly, shall credit the fee paid, on a prorated basis, for the unexpired term of the current license toward the renewal fee of the renewal license. If a license is not renewed on the new expiration or renewal date established by the commissioner, the license remains in effect through its original term, unless suspended or revoked sooner under laws or regulations of the respective bureau, office, board or commission. Should a licensee seek to renew the license at the end of the original term, the law or regulations established by the respective bureau, office, board or commission for late renewals or reregistrations apply. For the purpose of implementing and administering biennial licensing, the commissioner may permit bureaus, offices, boards and commissions within the department to issue licenses and establish renewal fees for less than a 2-year term. This section may not change the term or fee for one-time licenses, except as specifically stated.
Sec. B-4. 10 MRSA §8003, sub-§5, ¶C, as amended by PL 1997, c. 210, §3, is further amended to read:
C. The bureau, office, board or commission may:
(1) Require all applicants for license or registration renewal to have responded under oath to all inquiries set forth on renewal forms;
(2) Require applicants for license or registration renewal to present proof of satisfactory completion of continuing professional or occupational education in accordance with each bureau's, office's, board's or commission's rules. Failure to comply with the continuing education rules may, in the bureau's, office's, board's or commission's discretion, result in a decision to deny license or registration renewal or may result in a decision to enter into a consent agreement and probation setting forth terms and conditions to correct the licensee's or registrant's failure to complete continuing education. Terms and conditions of a consent agreement may include requiring completion of increased hours of continuing education, civil penalties, suspension and other terms as the bureau, office, board, commission, the licensee or registrant and the Department of the Attorney General determine appropriate. Notwithstanding any contrary provision set forth in a bureau's, office's, board's or commission's governing law, continuing education requirements may coincide with the license or registration renewal period;
(3) Refuse to renew a license or registration when the bureau, office, board or commission finds a licensee or registrant to be in noncompliance with a bureau, office, board or commission order or consent agreement
(4) Allow licensees or registrants to hold inactive status licenses or registrations in accordance with each bureau's, office's, board's or commission's rules. The fee for an inactive license or registration may not exceed the statutory fee cap established for the bureau's, office's, board's or commission's license or registration renewal set forth in its governing law; or
(5) Delegate to staff the authority to review and approve applications for licensure pursuant to procedures and criteria established by rule. Rules developed pursuant to this subparagraph are routine technical rules as described in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter II-A.
Sec. B-5. 10 MRSA §8003, sub-§5, ¶E, as enacted by PL 1997, c. 680, Pt. A, §1, is amended to read:
E. The bureau, office, board or commission may issue letters of guidance or concern to a licensee or registrant. Letters of guidance or concern may be used to educate, reinforce knowledge regarding legal or professional obligations and express concern over action or inaction by the licensee or registrant that does not rise to the level of misconduct sufficient to merit disciplinary action. The issuance of a letter of guidance or concern is not a formal proceeding and does not constitute an adverse disciplinary action of any form. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, letters of guidance or concern are not confidential. The bureau, office, board or commission may place letters of guidance or concern, together with any underlying complaint, report and investigation materials, in a licensee's or registrant's file for a specified amount of time, not to exceed 10 years. Any letters, complaints and materials placed on file may be accessed and considered by the bureau, office, board or commission in any subsequent action commenced against the licensee or registrant within the specified time frame. Complaints, reports and investigation materials placed on file are only confidential to the extent that confidentiality is required pursuant to Title 24, chapter 21, the Maine Health Security Act.
The jurisdiction to suspend occupational and professional licenses conferred by this subsection is concurrent with that of the Administrative Court. Civil penalties must be paid to the Treasurer of State.
Any nonconsensual disciplinary action taken under authority of this subsection may be imposed only after a hearing conforming to the requirements of Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter IV, and is subject to judicial review exclusively in the Administrative Court in accordance with Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter VII, substituting the term "Administrative Court" for "Superior Court," notwithstanding any other provision of law.
Sec. B-6. 10 MRSA §8003-B, sub-§1, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 173, is amended to read:
1. During investigation.
All Unless otherwise provided by Title 24, chapter 21, all complaints and investigative records of the licensing boards and commissions within or affiliated with the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation shall be are confidential during the pendency of an investigation. Those records shall become public records upon the conclusion of an investigation unless confidentiality is required by some other provision of law. For purposes of this section, an investigation is concluded when:
A. A notice of an adjudicatory hearing under Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter IV has been issued;
B. The complaint has been listed on a meeting agenda of the board or commission;
C. A consent agreement has been executed; or
D. A letter of dismissal has been issued or the investigation has otherwise been closed.
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