GrowSmart Maine’s Legislative Action List, Vol II

Here is the second installment of the specific bills that we are targeting in this Legislative session. Please see here for Vol I. For a complete list of the bills we are working on, please go to our website. This list will evolve. Not all of the bills that will come before the Legislature are printed yet. As more bills are released, we will update them here. Click on the bill title to read the full text of the bill. We also plan to post the Public Hearings and Work Sessions for these bills on our calendar. For more information on the Legislative process in general, go to http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/path/path.htm .

 

LAND USE PLANNING AND COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS

L.D. 345, H.P. 271
An Act To Modernize the Functions of County Government. (Presented by Representative KRUGER of Thomaston) This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208. This bill proposes to realign the functions of state, county and municipal government to create a system of government that meets the needs of Maine citizens efficiently and effectively, reduces the overall cost of government and avoids duplication in services while protecting the health, safety and welfare of Maine residents. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill as a valid strategy for reducing the cost of delivering certain government services. We encourage further development of all concepts for better organization of government efforts. LD 344 and LD 587 also provide potential solutions.

L.D. 533, H.P. 416
An Act To Clarify the Use of Tax Increment Financing Funds for Recreational Development. (Presented by Representative CLARK of Millinocket) This bill amends the laws regarding municipal development districts to clarify that once the Department of Economic and Community Development has determined that new or existing recreational trails within a municipality have significant potential to promote economic development, the project costs for planning, design, construction, maintenance, grooming and improvements with respect to the trails, which may include bridges that are part of the trail corridor, are authorized for multiple projects or project phases related to the trails. GrowSmart Maine is supporting this bill because it provides incentives for outdoor recreation investments as economic development, putting recreation on par with other drivers of the economy.

L.D. 584, S.P. 176
An Act To Appropriate Funds for the Maine Downtown Center. (Presented by Senator MARTIN of Kennebec) This bill provides ongoing funding to support the statewide Main Street programs administered by the Maine Downtown Center. GrowSmart Maine supports on-going state appropriation as a component of the overall funding for the Maine Downtown Center because of the invaluable contribution MDC makes to creating vibrant communities throughout Maine.

L.D. 587, H.P. 445
An Act To Reduce the Cost of Delivering Certain State Services. (Presented by Representative FOSSEL of Alna) This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to have the State enter into pilot projects with one or more counties to demonstrate whether contracting with the counties would provide a savings to the taxpayers of the State. The services that could be the subject of such pilot projects include but are not limited to:

1. Rural law enforcement;

2. Regional human services delivery; and

3. Highway maintenance.

The pilot projects would rely on performance-based contracts between the State and one or more counties. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill as a valid strategy for reducing the cost of delivering certain government services. We encourage further development of all concepts for better organization of government efforts. LD 344 and LD 345 also provides potential solutions.

L.D. 644, H.P. 474
An Act To Add Transit Services to the Growth Management Program Comprehensive Plan. (Presented by Representative COTTA of China) This bill amends the laws regarding planning and land use regulation by amending the growth management program comprehensive plan elements to include transit services in the list of existing transportation systems. GrowSmart Maine supports the acknowledgement this bill provides that transportation needs are met with a mix of elements reaching beyond personal vehicles.

L.D. 673, H.P. 503
An Act To Expand Fiscally Responsible Transportation through Increased ZOOM Bus Service. (Presented by Representative MOULTON of York) This bill directs the Maine Turnpike Authority to transfer at least 3% of the authority’s operating revenues to the Department of Transportation.

This bill also directs the authority to provide new ZOOM commuter bus service between Portland and Lewiston and Auburn, expand ZOOM bus service between Portland and points in York County and provide new ZOOM bus service between Portland and Augusta. This bill also directs the authority to install wireless Internet service in the entire ZOOM bus fleet. GrowSmart Maine supports additional commuter buses as a component of Maine’s overall transportation system.

 

INNOVATION

L.D. 22, H.P. 14
An Act To Improve the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit. (Presented by Representative VALENTINO of Saco) This bill changes the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit Program for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2012 by increasing the existing credit from 40% of an eligible investment to 60% and applying it uniformly across the State rather than basing it on unemployment rates. The bill eliminates the up-front tax credit for investors in certain private venture capital funds and authorizes a refundable tax credit of 50% for investments in eligible businesses by private venture capital funds in the current amount of $30,000,000 that the Finance Authority of Maine may issue. Any income recognized on a taxpayer’s federal tax return from the refundable tax credit is subtracted from federal adjusted gross income for state income tax purposes. The bill requires the Finance Authority of Maine to report annually to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over taxation matters on activity in the program in the prior year. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill because it is one avenue to increasing investments in innovation throughout Maine.

L.D. 192, H.P. 169
An Act To Bring a Green Data Center to Maine. (Presented by Representative DILL of Cape Elizabeth) This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to create a program to encourage the development of a data center in this State that is powered by indigenous renewable energy sources, uses the new so-called "Three Ring Binder" fiber-optic infrastructure and creates jobs in the State. GrowSmart Maine supports this effort to create a sales tax break to businesses that install computers and provide energy source(s) to help create new data centers to be located in rural areas of the state.

L.D. 225, S.P. 76
An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue in the Amount of $50,000,000 To Fund Research and Development. (Presented by Senator RECTOR of Knox) The funds provided by this bond issue, in the amount of $50,000,000, will be used to provide funds for research and development for Maine-based public and private institutions for environmental and renewable energy technology, biomedical technology and biotechnology, aquaculture and marine technology, composite materials technology, advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture, information technology and precision manufacturing technology through a competitive process. GrowSmart Maine supports this effort to continue investments in research, development, and commercialization as a proven mechanism for increasing the productivity and profitability of Maine businesses.

L.D. 323, H.P. 256
An Act To Implement a Coordinated Strategy To Attract New Businesses, Expand Existing Businesses and Develop a Consistent and Recognizable Maine Brand. (Presented by Representative VOLK of Scarborough) This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to establish a public-private partnership at the state level with responsibility for the development and delivery of a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent strategy for economic development in Maine. This private-public partnership shall work with regional and local economic development councils and businesses to provide an array of services to companies seeking to locate or expand in Maine.

This bill proposes the development of a “Maine brand” to consistently promote the quality of life in Maine, the quality of Maine recreation and vacation experiences and the quality of Maine-made products.

This bill proposes to examine existing economic development programs and appropriations and allocations to each and to redirect funds to support a coherent strategy and maximize positive outcomes. GrowSmart Maine supports this initiative to improve the effectiveness of economic development and business marketing programs by encouraging collaboration within a coordinated overall strategy.

L.D. 409, H.P. 327
An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Research and Development for Technology Advancement. (Presented by Representative CAIN of Orono) The funds provided by this bond issue, in the amount of $100,000,000, will be used to provide funds for research, development and commercialization funds for targeted technology sectors, awarded after a competitive process administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development, Maine Technology Institute, and will leverage at least $100,000,000 in other funds. GrowSmart Maine supports this effort to continue investments in research, development, and commercialization as a proven mechanism for increasing the productivity and profitability of Maine businesses.

L.D. 465, H.P. 358
An Act To Provide Efficient Delivery of Economic Development Services. (Presented by Representative BENNETT of Kennebunk) This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.

This bill proposes to consolidate the administration of state programs and funding that support economic development. Services that should be centralized and consolidated include, but are not limited to, marketing, business development and development assistance provided to municipalities.

This bill seeks to coordinate the utilization of federal, state and local economic development funds to provide the most efficient and effective delivery of services. GrowSmart Maine supports the intent of this legislation, but believes consolidation and centralization will further distance decisions and action from the people “on the ground” and most impacted. We will be supporting LD 323.

 

LAND CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCE SECTOR VIABILITY

L.D. 61, S.P. 34
An Act Implementing a Fisheries Permit Banking Program. (Presented by Senator RECTOR of Knox) The purpose of this bill is to administer a permit banking program for the groundfish industry for which the State has received a federal appropriation. This bill allows the Department of Marine Resources to lease to industry members fisheries allocations from the permits owned by the State to fund the permit banking program. GrowSmart Maine supports this effort to sustain local fisheries levels and maximizes the ability of Maine fisherman to land additional catch in allowable numbers.

L.D. 363, H.P. 289
An Act To Facilitate Local Food Production. (Presented by Representative TILTON of Harrington) This bill exempts fruit and vegetable growers who process and bottle beverages for sale in this State from the laws requiring collection of a deposit on beverage containers. It also directs the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to review all state laws and rules pertaining to the production and processing of food and beverages in this State for sale in this State and to develop recommendations to exempt small-scale agricultural producers and food processors from certain laws and rules and reduce the regulatory burdens on those producers and processors. The department is directed to submit legislation to implement its recommendations to the Second Regular Session of the 125th Legislature. GrowSmart Maine supports this thoughtful initiative to find solutions to what can at times be a confusing, expensive, and frustrating licensing process. A balance must be found between consumer/public safety and empowering Maine’s food and beverage producers.

L.D. 616, S.P. 197
An Act To Clarify Landowner Liability for Environmental Damage Caused by Others. (Presented by Senator SAVIELLO of Franklin). This bill limits the responsibility for landowners for environmental violations caused by recreational or harvesting activities. GrowSmart Maine supports this effort to address a significant concern of private landowners, and acknowledges the invaluable contribution to Maine’s quality of place made by landowners who allow the public onto their lands.