Here is a sampling of some signature issues followed by MFPC last session. For a more complete listing of legislation worked on by the Council, click here.
Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
LD 1929, “An Act To Provide Assistance to Areas Severely Infested with Browntail Moths,” sponsored by Representative Allison Hepler, was supported by MFPC. Signed into law on May 3, this law directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to administer a program to assist with the removal of browntail moth infestations. It also funds an Entomologist I position and a Senior Entomology Technician position to support the management of forest insect pests.
Environment and Natural Resources
LD 1801, “An Act To Modify Exemptions for Certain Storm Water Discharges to Class AA and SA Waters,” sponsored by Representative Stanley Zeigler, was supported by MFPC. Daaquam Lumber Maine LLC and Seven Islands Land Company (MFPC members) both submitted written testimony in support of the bill. Signed into law on March 15, this law amended the laws governing storm water discharge exemptions for Class AA and Class SA waters, providing much-needed regulatory certainty for businesses operating in proximity to them.
LD 1875, “Resolve, To Address Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution from State-owned Solid Waste Disposal Facilities,” sponsored by Representative Stanley Zeigler, was supported by MFPC. Signed into law on May 2, this resolve directs the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of General Services to submit a report to the ENR Committee by January 15, 2023 outlining methods to treat leachate collected from State-owned landfills (Juniper Ridge in Old Town and Dolby in East Millinocket), to reduce the concentration of PFAS through the use of technologies to no more than interim drinking water standards.
LD 1964, “An Act To Update Certain Water Quality Standards and To Reclassify Certain Waters of the State,” sponsored by Senator Stacy Brenner, had sections that were opposed by MFPC. While MFPC supports improving the quality of Maine’s waterways, the process must be consistent and predictable. Signed into law on March 31, the final version of this law impacts a shorter stretch of river than was originally intended, but it is still problematic as reclassifications typically go from the head of the river to the sea, not the other way around. Under this new law, the section of the lower Androscoggin River from Worumbo Dam in Lisbon Falls to Merrymeeting Bay will be upgraded to Class B, against original recommendations by the DEP.
Energy, Utilities and Technology
LD 1202, “An Act To Establish a Wood-fired Combined Heat and Power Program,” sponsored by new MFPC Board Member Representative Nate Wadsworth, was drafted and supported by the Council. Signed into law on April 14, this new law supports a diversified forest products industry while also supporting the State’s climate goals by establishing a program to support facilities that use wood fuel (biomass derived from residuals) to generate heat and electricity (3 to 10 megawatts) to be used for industrial or space heating purposes.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
LD 1813, “An Act To Amend the Definition of “Oversized ATV” To Increase the Minimum Weight Requirement,” sponsored by President Troy Jackson, was a bill that MFPC originally opposed, but was amended to a form that we were neutral on. Signed into law on March 31, this law provides an exemption from registration for oversized ATVs operated on someone else’s land if written permission is received from the landowner or lessee of the land if the machine is utilized for business activity. This exemption does not apply to businesses involving the recreational use of oversized ATVs. The weight and size restrictions recommended by the ATV task force and approved by the legislature last session remain unchanged.
Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business
LD 1793, “An Act To Support Statewide Economic Recovery through Strategic Investments,” sponsored by Representative Tiffany Roberts, was supported by MFPC. Signed into law on March 16, this law supports investments in economic and business growth, rural manufacturing and industrial site redevelopment by leveraging state resources to match funds invested by private entities through grants, equity investments, loans and contractual agreements. To qualify for matching funds, funders must make a financial commitment of at least five years.
LD 1626, “An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act,” sponsored by Representative Rachel Talbot Ross, was opposed by MFPC due to concerns shared by Governor Mills. In a letter to the Legislature, Governor Mills summarized our shared concerns with this particular piece well, stating, “There are provisions in LD 1626 that should be carefully and deliberatively reviewed and well-understood by all people involved. These provisions include: 1) allowing the Tribes to acquire new territory - even within existing towns and cities - without gaining the consent of the municipality; and 2) removing any new lands and nearly 300,000 acres of land now held in Trust from any State or local regulation including: fish and game regulations, water quality and land use regulations, Forest Practices Act provisions, nondiscrimination laws, school funding and education requirements, subdivision laws, and health care regulations, among others.”
In place of this bill, LD 585 was negotiated between the Administration and the Tribes. This bill, signed into law on May 2, does not contain the potential for regulatory instability included in LD 1626.
Labor and Housing
LD 1724, “An Act To Create a Logging Dispute Resolution Board and To Require Proof of Ownership Documents To Be Available within 14 Days of Request,” sponsored by President Troy Jackson was opposed by MFPC. This bill, which became law without signature on April 26, is problematic for the industry because it is redundant and confusing. Independent contractors already have legal avenues to address contract violations or defaults. Additionally, Section 3 of the law contains language similar to LD 188, an unconstitutional law that passed last year and has been placed on hold with a preliminary injunction granted to MFPC. The State’s appeal of that decision is being heard in federal court.