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PUBLIC LAWS OF MAINE
Second Regular Session of the 119th

CHAPTER 700
S.P. 302 - L.D. 873

An Act to Clarify Responsibilities for the Maintenance of Veterans' Grave Sites

Mandate preamble. This measure requires one or more local units of government to expand or modify activities so as to necessitate additional expenditures from local revenues but does not provide funding for at least 90% of those expenditures. Pursuant to the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, Section 21, two thirds of all of the members elected to each House have determined it necessary to enact this measure.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 13 MRSA 1101, as amended by PL 1977, c. 255, 1, is further amended to read:

1101. Maintenance and repairs; municipality

In any ancient burying ground, as referenced in Title 30-A, section 5723, or public burying ground in which any Revolutionary soldiers or sailors or soldier or sailor veterans of the Armed Forces of the United State of America who served in the United States Army, Navy or Marine Corps in any war is are buried, the town municipality in which said burying ground is located shall keep in good condition and repair, all graves, headstones, monuments or markers designating the burial place of said Revolutionary soldiers or sailors or soldier or sailor who served in the United States Army, Navy or Marine Corps veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States of America who served in any war and shall keep the grass suitably cut and trimmed on such those graves during the summer season from May 1st to September 30th of each year. Towns may raise and appropriate money for such purposes. Each said town shall be liable to a penalty of not more than $100 for neglect to keep in good condition and repair all such graves, headstones, monuments and markers or failing to keep the grass suitably cut and trimmed on said graves.

Sec. 2. 13 MRSA 1101-A to 1101-E are enacted to read:

1101-A. Definition

As used in this article, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following term has the following meaning.

1. Ancient burying ground. "Ancient burying ground" means a private cemetery established before 1880.

1101-B. Ancient burying grounds

1. Access to ancient burying grounds on privately owned land. The owner of an ancient burying ground shall provide municipalities access necessary to perform the duties pursuant to section 1101 and Title 30-A, section 2901. Any unreasonable denial to provide municipalities access may result in the owner being held responsible for any fines, court costs and attorney's fees incurred by municipalities in legally obtaining access or for failing to meet the requirements of section 1101.

2. Maintenance by landowner. A person who owns a parcel of land that contains an ancient burying ground and chooses to deny access to the municipality shall assume the duties as described in section 1101 and Title 30-A, section 2901, subsection 1. Maintenance of an ancient burying ground by the owner exempts the municipality from performing the duties as described in section 1101.

1101-C. Notice of responsibility

When a municipality fails without good reason to maintain the good condition and repair of a grave, headstone, monument or marker or fails to keep the grass suitably cut and trimmed on any such grave pursuant to section 1101 and at least one of the municipal officers has had 14 days' actual notice or knowledge of the neglected condition, a penalty of not more than $100 may be assessed on the municipality.

1101-D. Unorganized townships

If an ancient burying ground or a public burying ground as described in section 1101 is located in an unorganized township, the county in which the township is located is subject to sections 1101, 1101-B and 1101-C.

1101-E. Graves on land owned by Federal Government

Veterans' graves as described in section 1101 that are located on a site that was owned by the Federal Government as of January 1, 2000 are not subject to the requirements of section 1101.

Sec. 3. 30-A MRSA 2901, as amended by PL 1989, c. 211, is further amended to read:

2901. Decoration of veterans' graves on Memorial Day

1. Decoration of veterans' graves. Each municipality, as directed by its municipal officers, shall annually shall decorate on May 30th the day Memorial Day is observed the graves of veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States of America with an American flag and appropriate floral decorations flag holders.

2. Erection of flagpole as alternative. Municipal officers shall not be required to observe the requirements of subsection 1 in any cemetery when on May 30th an American flag is flown from a flagpole of durable material. Municipal officers shall actively encourage any group of citizens or veterans' organizations to erect suitable flagpoles in cemeteries where veterans are buried.

3. No effect on individuals' right to decorate. This section does not in any way affect the right of any friend or relative of a deceased veteran to decorate the grave.

4. Bell ringing on Veterans Day. Each municipality shall, unless it will cause the municipality to incur an additional expense, cause any public bell or clarion within its possession or control to be rung at 11:00 a.m. on Veterans Day, and the municipal officers of each municipality shall request that any other bell or clarion within the town municipality be rung voluntarily at 11:00 a.m. on Veterans Day, and shall take such steps as are necessary to properly coordinate public and volunteer events.

5. Unorganized townships. If veterans' graves as described in this section are located in an unorganized township, the county in which that unorganized township is located is subject to the provisions in this section.

6. Graves on land owned by Federal Government. Veterans' graves located on a site that was owned by the Federal Government as of January 1, 2000 are not subject to the requirements of this section.

Effective August 11, 2000, unless otherwise indicated.


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