Sec. NN-1. 12 MRSA §1802, first ¶, as enacted by PL 1997, c. 678, §13, is amended to read:
There is established within the Department of Conservation the Bureau of Parks and Lands, which shall carry out the responsibilities of State Government relating to parks, historic sites, submerged and intertidal lands, public reserved lands and nonreserved public lands. The bureau shall also carry out all the duties relating to recreation, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, the Snowmobile Trail Fund, public facilities for boats, the ATV Recreational Management Fund, the Maine Trails System , the Maine Conservation Corps, the State Environmental Resource Volunteer Effort Program and any other responsibilities of the former Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Bureau of Public Lands and Maine State Park and Recreation Commission.
Sec. NN-2. 12 MRSA c. 220, sub-c. 6-A is enacted to read:
Maine Conservation Corps
§ 1891. Maine Conservation Corps
There is established within the bureau the Maine Conservation Corps, referred to in this chapter as "the Corps," to provide job training, education and work opportunities for the economically disadvantaged, to improve public property for the increased use and enjoyment of the public, to provide conservation education, to promote and manage volunteer opportunities related to natural resources and to assist public and nonprofit organizations with projects that serve a valid public purpose and have purposes consistent with this subchapter.
§ 1891-A. Participants
The Corps shall strive to include a diversity of participants. Priority must be given to those whose family income is 150% or less of the nonfarm income official poverty line as defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget and as revised annually in accordance with the United States Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, Section 673, Subsection 2 and to those who are low-income individuals as defined by the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998, 29 United States Code, Section 2801. A person is not eligible if that person has left a secondary school for the purpose of participating in the Corps. Corps members may be jointly enrolled in any state or local job training program or human resource development program.
§ 1891-B. Projects
§ 1891-C. Limitations
Projects to be carried out by the Corps are limited to projects on publicly owned lands or, if not on public lands, under the sponsorship and supervision of a public agency or nonprofit organization.
§ 1891-D. Administration
The director shall employ a director of the Corps and may employ other personnel as are required to accomplish the purposes of this subchapter.
The director of the Corps shall work with other agencies and organizations to design the Corps to provide maximum volunteer and work opportunities, job skills training, education, improvements to publicly owned property and assistance with projects conducted by public agencies and nonprofit organizations.
The director of the Corps shall work with state and local job training agencies, including other service delivery areas and the job service, which may conduct recruitment and referral of individuals interested in participating in the Corps. Agency collaboration with the Corps is on a voluntary basis.
There is established a dedicated account for the use of the Corps. This account must be used to receive funds contributed by private and public agencies, organizations or individuals and to expend those funds to promote the purposes of this subchapter. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, state agencies may transfer money appropriated from the General Fund into this account for purposes of contributing to projects, services or volunteer stipends that benefit the contributing agency. The Corps may enter into an agreement with a private nonprofit organization designated by the director for the purpose of assisting with the management and operation of the Corps. The designated organization may accept federal and state funds and private contributions, directly or through the Corps, for the purpose of developing and operating programs of the Corps.
§ 1891-E. Corps members
Members of the Corps who are paid wages or a living allowance through the General Fund account of the Corps or through its dedicated account must receive personal liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance, and those who meet the income guidelines in section 1891-A must be compensated at least the minimum wage or an annualized living allowance of at least 75% of the minimum wage times 2,080. Notwithstanding other state laws, Corps members are not considered employees of the State for the purposes of Title 5, Part 20.
§ 1891-F. Prohibition against displacement of other employees or involvement in labor disputes
The assignment of members of the Corps may not result in the displacement of existing employees of the sponsor, including any employees who have been temporarily laid off by the sponsor. For purposes of this section, "displacement" means both total and partial displacement, including a reduction in the number of hours, wages or other benefits of employment.
Sec. NN-3. 12 MRSA c. 220, sub-c. 6-B is enacted to read:
STATE ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE VOLUNTEER EFFORT
§ 1891-K. State Environmental Resource Volunteer Effort Program created
There is established within the Corps the State Environmental Resource Volunteer Effort Program, referred to in this subchapter as "SERVE/Maine," to create, promote and manage volunteer and intern opportunities with public agencies that are responsible for protecting, developing, managing or preserving the State's natural resources.
§ 1891-L. Volunteer insurance
SERVE/Maine shall ensure that volunteers are covered by workplace injury and liability insurance.
§ 1891-M. Types of volunteer or intern services
Volunteers and interns may perform work and services that are described in section 1891-B. Volunteers and interns must be placed in federal, state or local public agencies or in nonprofit organizations and perform work or services that benefit the public. The volunteer and intern positions must be sponsored by natural resource-related agencies or organizations. Volunteers or interns may not attempt to influence legislation, engage in protests, petitions, boycotts, strikes, union organizing or political campaigning or support religious activities or engage in religious proselytizing or fund-raising for private nonprofit organizations as SERVE/Maine volunteers or interns. A sponsoring agency must contribute to a volunteer or intern position by providing all necessary supervision, supplies, equipment and plans required for the position.
§ 1891-N. Stipends
Sponsoring natural resource agencies may provide stipends to volunteers and interns not to exceed the minimum wage and may reimburse volunteers or interns for work-related expenses.
Funds for stipends must be deposited by sponsoring agencies in an account established for the Corps, as authorized by section 1891-D. The Corps will disperse stipends to volunteers and interns eligible for those payments.
§ 1891-O. Monetary contributions to the volunteer and intern program
Private organizations and individuals may donate money to SERVE/Maine for general or specific purposes. The funds must be expended to further the purposes of the program.
Sec. NN-4. 26 MRSA c. 34, as amended, is repealed.