Testimony on LD 1344, “An Act to Fund Commuter and Passenger Rail Transportation In Maine”

While GrowSmart Maine supports the proposal in LD 1344 which provides revenue from the operation of slot machines at the casino in Oxford County to the State Transit, Aviation and Rail Transportation Fund, we also recognize the importance of the current distribution of funds to the harness racing industry. We urge the committee to reexamine the total funding cascade with the purpose of providing both the development of passenger and commuter rail service to Oxford County and preserving much needed funding for the harness racing industry in the State of Maine. The accomplishment of both objectives will help to preserve Oxford County’s rural character and quality of life.

Testimony on LD 1109 “Resolve, To Target Job Creation in the Agricultural Sector To Improve the Stability and Economic Strength of Rural Maine”

Farming is not quaint, and it is not easy. The work is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. The challenges include the need for solid business planning and financial strategies, access to capital and to markets and inputs, and the limited opportunities for networking, support, and education. The cumulative effect can at times seem to far outweigh the benefits of a career in farming, and so it is well worth the effort to explore opportunities and solutions to the barriers Maine farmers face. When farmers are profitable, the communities in which they are located benefit as well. Local vendors, customers, neighbors, and workers all experience a better quality of life, and so I encourage this committee to work with this bill to put together the right people to identify innovative solutions, to strengthen rural Maine.

Public Hearings on Billboard Legislation

On Tuesday, April 26th, the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation held Public Hearings on two bills which propose significant changes in the current regulation of highway signage. LD 1367, sponsored by Senator Doug Thomas, includes a provision which would allow the limited leasing of property for the placement of billboards on certain highways. LD 1405, sponsored by Representative Dennis Keschl, proposes to significantly expand the current limitations on on-premise signage.

Press Release: GrowSmart Maine Testifies in Favor of LD 1446, “An Act To Establish the Maine Farm and Fish to School Program”

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which seek to grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time preserving our state’s unique character and quality of place. We believe this bill fits that description . By creating a mechanism to enable schools to purchase more local foods for students, the success is measured in several ways. Our children are able to eat food that is more healthful, our farmers and fishermen are able to market their production locally. With healthier kids and stronger local small businesses, our communities are stronger as a result.

Press Release: GrowSmart Maine Testifies on Billboards, Subdivisions and the Washington County Development Authority

As reflected in the 2006 Brookings Institute Report, “Charting Maine’s Future”, which was commissioned and paid for by GrowSmart Maine, Maine’s unique and enduring quality of place is a valuable asset in itself, as well as a powerful economic development resource. In fact, we believe that the current restrictions on advertising within public ways are extremely effective in protecting our state’s quality of place while allowing advertising and promotional efforts that are more than adequate to publicize various businesses and destinations.

GSM Testifies in Favor of LD 1058: “Resolve, To Create a Mitigation Fund for Damage Caused by Unauthorized All-terrain Vehicle Use on Private Land”

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time protecting our state’s unique character. The viability of the natural resource sector is key to both Maine’s economy and our quality of place. GrowSmart Maine strongly supports efforts to alleviate tensions between Maine’s landowners and responsible outdoor recreationists.

Communities for Maine’s Future; Public Matching Grants for Downtown Revitalization Projects

As a part of the Maine Downtown Coalition, GrowSmart Maine played a prominent role in working with the Legislature in 2009 to develop the Communities for Maine's Future program. The Communities for Maine’s Future is a $3.5 million bond initiative approved by Maine voters on June 8, 2010 to provide matching grants for downtown revitalization…

Press Release: GrowSmart Maine testifies on LD 599: “An Act To Move the Land for Maine’s Future Board to the Department of Conservation”

I understand from conversations with the sponsor that this bill is being presented with the understanding that the State Planning Office is at risk. Given that the elimination of this office is in the Governor’s budget, there is value in seeking appropriate locations for programs currently overseen by this office. We are speaking neither for nor against this legislation because we acknowledge the challenge being addressed, but we believe there is a better way.

A Viewpoint on the Public Hearing for LD 159

On Wednesday, March 30th, the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held a Public Hearing on LD 159, “An Act to Foster Economic Development of the Laws Governing Site Location of Development and Storm Water Management”, sponsored by Senator Thomas Saviello. In a well attended and sometimes heated hearing, Senator Saviello offered testimony which supported the basic elements of his bill.