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Maine legislature hears from public on changes to recovery homes

Opponents of LD 109 say this bill would undo work passed three years ago.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Bruce Moore has been living in a recovery home since June.

"I walked out of prison after 35 years. My whole plan was to die in prison because I knew no other thing," he said.

Instead, he entered a recovery home in Lewiston where he lives with other people who are sober.

Moore is not alone — recovery homes have played a critical role in saving the lives of many Maine people. 

The Maine State Legislature is now considering a bill, LD 109, which would require recovery homes to have things like sprinkler systems and fire doors. 

During a public hearing on Monday, opponents of the bill said they've already been down this road.

"We worked very hard to pass a bill three years ago to treat recovery homes as single-family homes under the purposes of life and safety codes," Ron Springle, executive director of the Maine Association of Recovery Residences, said.

LD 109 proposes to basically undo what was passed three years ago.

"The bill repeals that provision to require such recovery residence to meet the life safety code requirements to similar situated buildings and housing establishments," Rep. Michel Lajoie, D-Lewiston, said during the public hearing.

Other than Lajoie's presentation of the bill, the only other testimony came from the public, all of which was against the bill.

"We have found that 40 percent of our houses would close, leading to the loss of about 300 beds," Springle said.

"You take away these houses. What a mistake. What a bad mistake," Moore said.

After the public hearing, the bill will head to a work session where the committee will either vote to suggest the full legislature passes or does not pass the bill. 

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