By virtue of not vetoing it, a new law has been enacted in Maine that expands the protections consumers will have with respect to garnishments, including for the first time, funds that consumers have in their bank accounts.
This is the first time that Maine has updated its garnishment protections since the 1980s, according to a published report. A copy of the law, LD 737, is available by clicking here.
Consumers can now protect $500 per week of their wages, up from $290 a week before the new law was enacted. Consumers can also protect $160,000 of their home’s equity, up from $95,000, and $10,000 of their interest in a motor vehicle, up from $7,500. Consumers can now also protect up to $3,000 in their bank accounts. Previously, consumers were not allowed to protect any of the funds in their bank accounts.
All funds from any child tax credits are also exempt from garnishment under the law.
The law is so old that it allows consumers to protect one stove, 10 cords of wood, five tons of coal, one fishing boat — as long as it is less than 46 feet long — and any farm or logging equipment necessary to raise and harvest agricultural products and harvest and haul wood commercially.
To keep up with inflation, the law also implements an adjustment to these amounts that will occur every three years, based on changes to the Consumer Price Index.
“These protections will allow many Maine consumers to stay in their homes, retain their cars to get to work and school, and maintain a small financial cushion in a bank account for inevitable emergencies,” said Andrea Bopp Stark, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, in a statement. “The new law also protects the advanced payments of the child tax credit that so many Maine families desperately need.”