AUGUSTA, ME – Gov. Paul LePage of Maine recently vetoed a bill that proposed an under-18 tanning ban in the state. And with a modern-day twist, he announced his decision on Twitter.
Similar to New Jersey and New York, lawmakers in Maine sought to pass LD 272, an under-18 tanning ban. The bill passed in the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature, with the Senate approving it 19-16, and the House passing it 82-63. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick (D-Bangor), a physician, was backed by groups including the Maine Medical Association and American Cancer Society Action Network. It is believed that lawmakers will not be able to override LePage’s veto, given that the state’s Republicans unanimously voted against the original bill.
LePage’s actions, and his reasons behind them, echoed what many indoor tanning professionals think regarding the issues of parental control versus teen tan bans. “Maine parents can make the right decisions for their families. This is why I have vetoed LD 272,” he stated on his Twitter account. In an official message, he later commented, “This bill does one thing: it tells Maine parents that Augusta knows better than they do when it comes to their children. This is government run amok – Maine parents can make the right decisions for their families.”
Leah Timberlake is one Maine salon owner who not only voted for LePage, she also appreciates his taking a stand on this issue. Timberlake’s policy at Oasis Day Spa in Booth Bay Harbor has always required parents to be present for tanners age 14-15 and parental signatures for those aged 16-17 long before it became law in her state, and she believes it should stay that way. “I support LePage’s decision to veto not because teen tanners are a large part of my business – because they’re not,” said Leah. “I support it because I believe parents – not the government – should be allowed to make decisions regarding their children’s welfare. Also, why should the government make laws restricting teen tanning in a controlled environment when there’s absolutely nothing stopping those same teens from going to the beach and spending the day in the sun without any SPF?”
While John Overstreet, Indoor Tanning Association Executive Director, is happy about this news, it’s a cautious optimism. “The tanning industry in Maine might have dodged the proverbial bullet this time; but I don’t think this bill is going to go away completely,” said Overstreet. “It’s been our experience that bills such as these tend to return each legislative season, especially if there’s a lawmaker involved who has connections to the medical industry.” Overstreet urges all tanning salon owners in Maine to get involved by reaching out to their elected officials – Democrat and Republican – and getting to know them. “Tell your lawmakers about how your business contributes to the local economy by creating revenue and jobs, and let them get to know you and what you do for a living,” he added. “This is the best way to help politicians understand our industry.”
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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