It’s 2012 and the Maine Legislature is in the house.
As the second regular session of the 125th Legislature gets underway, I wanted to reach out and share with you the issues we will focus on, and to encourage you to do your part on the issues that matter to you. It is always a challenge to focus GrowSmart Maine’s limited time and energy on the issues with the greatest impact, for better or worse, for core components of our mission; economic development based on investments in innovation and quality places, and protecting those places through strategic land conservation and downtown revitalization across the state.
With this in mind, most of the issues we are following in 2012 are follow-up to legislation first raised in the 2011 legislative session. A few of our highest priorities include:
- Ensuring an appropriate role for the land use planning office currently housed within the State Planning Office.
- Advocating for adoption of an effective re-configured LURC, to ensure the environmental and economic significance of the unorganized territories will be well-managed.
- Supporting passage of bond issues for land conservation, transportation infrastructure and innovation (R&D).
- Monitoring debate on the Supplemental Budgets and the “zero-based budget” process for all agencies, advocating for effective implementation of key functions in state government.
- In addition, there are several bills related to economic development based on Maine’s quality places, as well as the cost and sources of energy in Maine.
Outside of the legislative process, GrowSmart Maine is also concerned with current deliberations at MaineHousing, as questions of the effectiveness of affordable housing in awarding funds to projects across the state is key to how our communities grow.
Now that the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code is only required for towns in excess of 4,000 residents, we are part of a coalition actively engaging with smaller towns to empower those who wish to “opt in” to the statewide code as a way to ensure consistent construction standards that make work easier for builders and ensures minimum safety and energy conservation standards.
Finally, we will also be monitoring efforts to improve the efficiency of Maine government. This was a key goal outlined in Charting Maine’s Future in order to free up public and private resources to then invest in Maine’s economy and quality places. As sponsor of the report Re-Inventing Maine Government, released in 2010, GrowSmart Maine appreciates the need to ensure that government at all levels is relevant, effective, and timely. The relevance and importance of the mission of state agencies cannot be ignored while seeking efficiency and lower costs.
The context for our engagement in these issues is that of finding the appropriate balance, the sweet spot so to speak, of our real and immediate need to strengthen the economy and increase per capital incomes, in ways that conserve and even build on those places that define Maine.
However, we can't do this alone. Your Legislators need to hear from you. As opportunities arise when your voice can be particularly crucial, we'll let you know with our Advocacy Alerts. In the meantime, feel free to contact your Senator or Representative, introduce yourself and let them know the issues that are important to you. After all, you elected them to represent you in Augusta! Here's how to get started:
To find contact information for all elected officials:
For bill status or text, enter its LD# here: http://www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/search.asp. We will post the Public Hearings and Work Sessions for the bills we are working on on our calendar. As the bills travel to the House and Senate Chambers, you can check out each day's calendar here: http://www.maine.gov/legis/schedules.htm . The entire Legislative calendar can be found here:http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/calendar/.
For more information on the Legislative process in general, go to http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/path/path.htm .