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2012 Maine Attorney General Reports and Opinions 1 (2012)

handle is hein.sag/sagme0061 and id is 1 raw text is: 2012-01        REIOwA. OmCE
BANGox. MAINE 04401
TEL. (207) 941-3070
FAX- (207) 941-3075
William J. Schneider
ATTORNEY GENERAL                                                       415 CONGRESS ST, Sm 301
TEL. (207) 820260
FAX- (207) 8Z2-0259
STATE OF MAINE                      14 AccEssHIGHwAy, STE 1
TEL: (207) 626-8800            OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL               CARIBOUMAINE,04736
TTY: 1-800-577-6690                 6 STATE HOUSE STATION                   TEL (207) 496-3792
. FAX: (207) 49&3291
AUGUSTA, MAINE 04333-0006
February 9, 2012
Beth L. Ashcroft, Director
Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability
82 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0082
Dear Ms. Ashcroft:
On behalf of the Government Oversight Committee, you have asked for an update of the
opinion issued by the Attorney General on September 4, 1996 (Op. Me. Att'y Gen. 96-11,
hereafter Op. 96-11, attached) concerning the legality of using Highway Fund money to
support certain costs of the Maine State Ferry Service. That opinion concluded that the Highway
Fund may be used for the support of ferries whose principal purpose is the transportation of
motor vehicles. Subject to the ambiguities and uncertainties discussed below, I believe that
opinion remains defensible.
The Maine Constitution and the Highway Fund
Section 19, in its entirety, reads:
All revenues derived from fees, excises and license taxes relating to registration,
operation and use of vehicles on public highways, and to fuels used for propulsion
of such vehicles shall be expended solely for cost of administration, statutory
refunds and adjustments, payment of debts and liabilities incurred in construction
and reconstruction of highways and bridges, the cost of construction,
reconstruction, maintenance.and repair ofpublic highways and bridges under the
direction and supervision of a state department having jurisdiction over such
highways and bridges and expense for state enforcement of traffic laws and shall
not be diverted for any purpose, provided that these limitations shall not apply to
revenue from an excise tax on motor vehicles imposed in lieu of personal property
Me. Const. art. 9, § 19 (emphasis added).
The legislative history of this provision is clearly summarized in this passage from the
Law Court's decision in Portland Pipe Line Corp. v. Environmental Imp. Com'n, 307 A.2d 1
(Me. 1973):


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