125th Legislature – Action Items

First Regular Session of the 125th Legislature

LAND USE PLANNING AND COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS

L.D. 43, H.P. 36
An Act To Repeal the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. (Presented by Representative HARVELL of Farmington)  This bill repeals the laws establishing the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code and makes adjustments to certain other laws to make them consistent with law that existed prior to the enactment of Public Law 2007, chapter 699, which created the uniform code. This bill does not reenact the Maine Model Building Code or the energy efficiency building standards that were repealed by Public Law 2007, chapter 699 and replaced by the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. GrowSmart Maine will work with interested parties to address issues related to implementation of the statewide building code, and we intend to oppose repealing the code. Failed Enactment.

L.D. 49, H.P. 42
An Act To Allow Storage of Lobster Traps on Docks. (Presented by Representative McKANE of Newcastle)  This bill removes the Department of Environmental Protection's authority, under the Natural Resources Protection Act, to regulate lobster trap storage on docks. GrowSmart Maine supports this legislation, and has already sent a letter of support to the committee of jurisdiction. Signed into law 3/31/11.

L.D. 135, H.P. 117
An Act To Allow the Placement of Certain Road Signs That Advertise a Small Business. (Presented by Representative DAVIS of Sangerville)  This bill allows a person or business that employs fewer than 10 persons to place a sign on private property within one mile of the place of business without a license or permit.  GrowSmart Maine intends to oppose this legislation. Failed enactment.

L.D. 159, S.P. 52
An Act To Foster Economic Development by Improving Administration of the Laws Governing Site Location of Development and Storm Water Management. (Presented by Senator SAVIELLO of Franklin)  This bill revises the thresholds for review by the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to the laws governing site location of development by changing the definitions of "subdivision" and "structure." It ensures consistency between the laws governing site location of development and the Natural Resources Protection Act in standards pertaining to a development's effects on existing uses, scenic character and protected natural resources. The bill also provides that rules adopted by the department after January 1, 2010 pursuant to the laws governing site location of development and storm water management are major substantive rules as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2A, with certain limited exceptions in the rules governing storm water management for minor clerical corrections and technical clarifications.  GrowSmart Maine will engage in discussion related to changing the site location law to allow the Department to effectively fulfill its mission while providing greater potential for developers to meet market demand.  We anticipate advocating for a tiered-system of regulation to replace the current single “cliff” of regulation. Signed into law 6/15/11.

L.D. 220, S.P. 71
An Act Relating to Maine Farm Wineries. (Presented by Senator RECTOR of Knox)  This bill provides that the holder of a farm winery license from the Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Liquor Enforcement may sell wine at farmers’ markets, permits the licensee to display up to 25 bottles of wine in a shop window and directs the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to work with the Department of Transportation and a statewide organization representing farm wineries to develop a uniform system of signage identifying the locations of farm wineries.  GrowSmart Maine supports this legislation. Signed into law 4/25/11.

L.D. 260, H.P. 213
An Act To Extend the Historic Preservation Tax Credit. (Presented by Representative HERBIG of Belfast)  This bill extends the tax credit for rehabilitation of historic properties, currently scheduled to expire December 31, 2013, for 6 more years, until December 31, 2019. The bill also extends for the same length of time the reports that are required from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the Maine State Housing Authority.  GrowSmart Maine supports legislation pending which will eliminate the sunset provision of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, which we believe is more appropriate than the extension proposed in this bill. Read testimony submitted to Taxation Committee on March 15, 2011. Failed Enactment.

L.D. 322, H.P. 255
An Act To Repeal the Informed Growth Act . (Presented by Representative CLARK of Easton) This bill repeals the Informed Growth Act.  GrowSmart Maine intends to oppose this legislation.
Signed into law 5/17/11.

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 vali
d 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. Failed enactment.

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.  Signed into law 5/19/11.

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. Signed into law 7/8/11.

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. Failed Enactment.

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. Failed enactment.

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. Failed enactment.

L.D. 742, S.P. 235
An Act To Eliminate the Sunset Date of the Maine Historic Preservation Tax Credit. (Presented by Senator RECTOR of Knox)  This bill eliminates the current sunset date for the Maine historic preservation tax credit and requires the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to report to the Legislature in 2013 and every 4 years thereafter with an analysis on the use of the credit.  The historic preservation tax credit, originally passed in 1999 and significantly improved in 2008, provides critical support for investments in our downtowns.  The original legislation includes a sunset provision, terminating the program at the close of 2013. We will be supporting efforts to remove the sunset provision, providing predictability for developers and for the tenants of these refurbished buildings. 
Read testimony submitted to Taxation Committee on March 15, 2011. Signed into law 7/8/11.

L.D. 763, H.P. 570
An Act To Allow the Sale of Locally Produced Beer and Wine at Farmers' Markets. (Presented by Representative MacDONALD of Boothbay) This bill allows in-state manufacturers of wine or malt liquor to sell their wine or malt liquor at authorized farmers' markets in the State.  GrowSmart Maine supports this legislation. Signed into law 6/9/11.

L.D. 1043, H.P. 778
An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds, and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2013. (EMERGENCY) (Governor's Bill) (Presented by Representative FLOOD of Winthrop) Part FF – eliminates the State Planning Office – Rather than eliminating the State Planning Office, GrowSmart Maine Supports L.D. 769 (see above) which calls for a thoughtful review of the current duties undertaken by the State Planning Office, with an eye towards realigning work with their core mission. Signed into law 6/30/11.

L.D. 1253, S.P. 374
An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Enforcement of Statewide Uniform Building Codes. (Presented by Senator SAVIELLO of Franklin). This bill makes several changes to the laws governing the adoption, enforcement and implementation of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code.

The bill allows a municipality to adopt Appendix G of the 2009 International Residential Code, or "IRC," which contains the safety fencing standards for swimming pools.

The bill removes an archaic and vague requirement that inspections for the purpose of issuing an occupancy permit be conducted to ensure that a building is "safe from fire." The bill also expressly authorizes a municipality to review the work of a 3rdparty inspector for accuracy. The bill clarifies that appeals may be taken to either the municipal officers or a local board of appeals and that municipal employees may not take enforcement action without authorization by the employing municipality.

The bill amends the law to allow a building official to serve as a 3rdparty inspector as long as the building official is providing that service outside of the official's geographic jurisdiction as a building official.

The bill directs the Department of Public Safety, Technical Building Codes and Standards Board to determine where in Maine and under what circumstances the radon and internal air quality building codes should be applied. This legislation offers specific and appropriate changes to the statewide building and energy code in a thoughtful manner. GrowSmart Maine fully supports these efforts. Signed into law 6/16/11.

L.D. 1258, S.P. 379
An Act To Improve Land Use Planning and Permitting in Unorganized Territories.
(Presented by Senator SHERMAN of Aroostook) Concept Draft. GrowSmart Maine is opposed. Failed Enactment.

L.D. 1328, H.P. 974
Resolve, To Create a Working Group To Study the Subdivision Laws. (Presented by Representative MORISSETTE of Winslow). This resolve requires the Department of Public Safety to convene a working group to study the subdivision laws. The department shall report its recommendations for changes to the laws to the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government by January 30, 2012. Assuming that the bill needs to be corrected to identify the Department of Environmental Protection (as opposed to the Department of Public Safety) as the lead state agency charged with convening a working group to study the subdivision laws, GrowSmart Maine sees yet another opportunity to step back and take a careful look at the complex array of current laws that have an interrelated and significant impact on both the environment and sustainable development efforts. Failed enactment.

L.D. 1330, H.P. 976
Resolve, To Expand Commuter and Passenger Rail Transportation in Maine. (Presented by Representative CHIPMAN of Portland). This resolve directs the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority to establish and convene the Maine Commuter and Passenger Rail Advisory Task Force to evaluate and prioritize investments in commuter and passenger rail service between communities in this State in order to expedite development of efficient commuter rail service as appropriate in the major economic and population centers in this State to reduce costs to the State, its municipalities and its citizens of travel to and from work, business activities and entertainment and recreation activities. The task force must develop a Maine commuter and passenger rail plan, which must include investment priorities for the establishment of commuter and passenger rail service between communities in this State. The plan must be based on existing studies and analyses that explore the markets and infrastructure and the potential to remove automobile traffic from excessively used roadways. The plan must also provide for the reduction of highway construction and maintenance costs and ways to limit the need for parking facilities as well as reducing road congestion and lessening transportation costs for citizens living in cities in this State. The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority must report the findings and the plan of the task force to the Department of Transportation and the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation no later than December 31, 2011. The Joint Standing Committee on Transportation may submit a bill to the Second Regular Session of the 125th Legislature on the subject matter of the report.
GrowSmart Maine supports this effort to focus resources on the potential for rail transportation so that investments are directed where they can have the most impact on our overall transportation infrastructure.
Failed Enactment.

L.D. 1342, H.P. 983
An Act To Amend the Washington County Development Authority. (Presented by Representative TILTON of Harrington). This bill allows the Washington County Development Authority to enter into a memorandum of understanding with a municipality to perform the function of a local development corporation. Providing the flexibility to allow the Washington County Development Authority to enter into memorandums of understanding with municipalities to perform the function of a local development corporation is an innovative proposal which maximizes the efficiency and effectiveness of an existing organization to provide additional economic development opportunities to municipalities within Washington County without the expense and complications of forming new economic development entities. Signed into law 5/25/11.

L.D. 1344, H.P. 985
An Act To Fund Commuter and Passenger Rail Transportation in Maine. (Presented by Representative CHIPMAN of Portland). This bill amends the distribution of revenue from the operation of slot machines at the casino in Oxford County. It strikes the percentage of revenue to be distributed to the Sire Stakes Fund and to supplement harness racing purses. The bill takes the 2% that would have gone to those 2 funds and dedicates it to the State Transit, Aviation and Rail Transportation Fund for the purpose of developing passenger rail service between points within the State and Oxford County. GrowSmart Maine plans to testify Neither For Nor Against. It makes sense to target some of the revenue from the Oxford casino to passenger rail service between points within the state and Oxford county, although taking funds from the two harness racing allocations will have repercussions throughout rural Maine. We encourage the committee to consider other options from within the Oxford casino funding cascade. Failed Enactment.

L.D. 1416, H.P. 1042
An Act To Provide Options to Municipalities Concerning the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. (Presented by Representative McKANE of Newcastle). Current law requires the adoption of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code by all municipalities with more than 2,000 residents by July 1, 2012, including those municipalities without a building code. An ordinance that conflicts with the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code is considered void as of December 1, 2010.

Beginning December 1, 2012, this bill requires a municipality, regardless of size, that has adopted a building code, including a building code or portion of a building code related to residential, commercial or existing structures or an energy code, as of January 1, 2011, to adopt the comparable portion of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. The municipality is required to adopt only that portion of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code that relates to the code already in place in that municipality. This bill also delays voidance of a conflicting municipal ordinance until December 1, 2012. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill. Making the MUBEC voluntary undoes the whole intent of having a statewide, consistent regulation. This in effect brings Maine back to where we were before MUBEC was implemented. Signed into law 6/24/11.

L.D. 1442, S.P. 449
An Act To Clarify Enforcement of Maine's Building Codes. (Presented by Senator BARTLETT of Cumberland). This bill:

1. Clarifies that the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code must be adopted and enforced by all municipalities with a population of more than 2,000 residents by July 1, 2012;

2. Clarifies that a municipal ordinance that is inconsistent with the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code is void in a municipality that has adopted the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. This provision applies retroactively to the date of adoption of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, which is December 1, 2010 for certain municipalities;

3. Requires the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission to provide written notice of the existence of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code to an applicant for a building permit in an unorganized or deorganized territory; and

4. Prohibits a person from serving as a 3rd party inspector for the purposes of enforcing the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code in a municipality in which that person is appointed a building official. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill which proposes clarifications to the MUBEC. We are not sure that delaying effective date for municipalities which already have a building code is necessary, and hope the committee will give this provision of the bill great thought. Failed Enactment.

L.D. 1543, H.P. 1126

Resolve, To Reform the Land Use and Planning Authority in the Unorganized Territory.  (Presented by Representative GIFFORD of Lincoln. ). This bill eliminates the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, effective July 15, 2012, and establishes the Land Use Planning in the Unorganized Territory Transition Advisory Board to advise the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry on matters relating to the transfer of authority over land use planning in the unorganized territory to the counties in which the land is located. The board is required to render its advice to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 2, 2011. The board is dissolved July 15, 2012.  GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill because we believe that there is an ongoing need for LURC to be retained in its present form and strongly oppose any effort to abolish or significantly weaken this important regulatory agency. Signed into law 7/8/11.  Read our Proposal submitted to the LURC Reform Commission on October 6, 2011.

 

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.  Signed into law 7/8/11.

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. Failed enactment.

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. Failed enactment.

LAND CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCE SECTOR VIABILITY

L.D. 1, S.P. 10
An Act To Ensure Regulatory Fairness and Reform. (Presented by President RAYE of Washington)
CONCEPT DRAFT SUMMARY : This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.
This bill proposes to amend the laws to improve the business climate in the State and encourage job creation and retention and expand opportunities for Maine people. This will be accomplished by ensuring regulatory fairness and reform among departments and agencies of State Government by reviewing aspects of the regulatory process and reforming those processes as necessary to eliminate duplicate or unnecessary regulations and to ensure transparency, fairness, effectiveness and efficiency in the development, adoption, implementation and enforcement of regulatory efforts. GrowSmart Maine intends to engage in the discussions related to this concept bill.  We believe efficiencies can be found, while still maintaining department's ability to protect our natural resources. Signed into law 6/13/11.

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. Signed into law 3/31/11.

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.
Failed Enactment.

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. Failed Enactment.

L.D. 738, S.P. 230
An Act To Require Disclosure of the Origin of Certain Products Sold at Farm Stands. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Senator SAVIELLO of Franklin. This bill defines "farm stand" and requires that any product that was not grown by the person operating the farm stand must be labelled in such a way as to identify the product's origin.  This bill provides clarity for those shopping at farm stands.  As with farmers’ markets, it is important to disclose the origin of farm products.  Farm stand owners can supplement their own products with those of other farms but this fact must be disclosed to customers.
Failed Enactment.

L.D. 922, H.P. 682
Resolve, To Streamline the Laws Governing Small Slaughterhouses. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Representative McCABE of Skowhegan) This resolve directs the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to examine the laws and rules governing small slaughterhouses with particular emphasis on obstacles that prevent small slaughterhouses from processing many different species of animals as efficiently and safely as possible. The department shall examine the process it uses to answer questions posed to it by owners and operators of small slaughterhouses and describe steps it will take to ensure that the answers it provides are in writing and timely, clear, consistent and complete. The department shall report its findings to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry no later than May 1, 2011. The Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may submit legislation to the First Regular Session of the 125th Legislature on the subject matter of the department's report. GrowSmart Maine supports this legislation. Became law without signature 6/8/11.

L.D. 1058, H.P. 793
Resolve, To Create a Mitigation Fund for Damage Caused by Unauthorized All-terrain Vehicle Use on Private Land. (Presented by Representative SHAW of Standish) This resolve requires the Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to jointly develop recommendations to establish and fund a mitigation fund for damage caused by unauthorized allterrain vehicle use on private land. The recommendations, along with any necessary implementing legislation, must be submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife by January 1, 2012. GrowSmart Maine supports efforts to alleviate tensions between Maine's landowners and responsible outdoor recreationists.  As is highlighted in the report generated by joint effort between SAM and SWOAM , the tradition of private landowners allowing public use of their lands is a key component of Maine's quality of place.  The efforts outlined in this legislation pro-actively address challenges related to unauthorized use by some ATVers.
Failed Enactment.

L.D. 1405, H.P. 1033
An Act To Amend the Laws Restricting Advertising on Public Ways. (Presented by Representative KESCHL of Belgrade). This bill amends the use of on-premises signs in the following ways.

1. It increases the distance that a sign may be erected from a principle structure of a business or point of interest from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet.

2. It provides definitions of "point of interest," "outdoor area" and "principle structure" for purposes of determining distance for placement of on-premises signs.

3. It allows on-premises signs to be placed within 20 feet of the edge of certain public ways with more than 2 travel lanes if the signs are erected using approved breakaway mounting devices.

4. It requires the Commissioner of Transportation to manage the permitting process and to authorize the placement of signs adjacent to interstate highways larger and taller than allowed under current law.

5. It increases from 2 to 3 the number of approach signs a business or point of interest may have if that business or point of interest is not visible from or is located more than 1,000 feet from a public way intersection and permits those approach signs to be 2sided.

6. It allows changeable signs to change once per minute; current law limits the change to once every 20 minutes.

7. It allows a business or point of interest to have one changeable sign per public way that the business or point of interest abuts.

8. It allows time and temperature signs to also display the date and permits those signs to change as frequently as once every 2 seconds.

9. It allows for changeable signs to be erected adjacent to and for viewing from the interstate highway system.

10. It increases the maximum height of a freestanding sign structure statewide from 25 feet to 35 feet above grade.

11. It recognizes the value and the role of signs for disseminating information to the motoring public.

12. It allows for placement of signs by real estate brokerage agencies for the sale of real estate. GrowSmart Maine strongly opposes passage of this bill. 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. Failed Enactment.

L.D. 1446, H.P. 1060
An Act To Establish the Maine Farm and Fish to School Program. (Presented by Representative McCABE of Skowhegan). This bill establishes the Maine Farm and Fish to School Program to increase the purchasing by schools of food raised, grown or harvested by Maine farmers and fishermen. It establishes a fund to implement the program. It establishes a minimum percentage of school food budgets to be spent on food purchased from Maine producers and increases that percentage in 3 steps to 30% in the 20252026 school year. It revises the Local Produce Fund in the Department of Education to include meat and fish, removes the maximum contribution of the State set in statute and renames it the Local Food Procurement Fund.

The bill requires the Commissioner of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, the Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Health and Human Services to determine actions needed to fully implement the State’s food policy and to take steps and request resources to do so. GrowSmart supports. This is a commendable effort to enable schools of all grade levels in Maine to develop and implement procurement strategies to increase access to a broader range of Maine grown and harvested foods. Became law without signature 6/20/11.

L.D. 1522, S.P. 483
An Act To Make Technical Changes to Marine Resources Laws. (Presented by Senator SNOWE-MELLO of Androscoggin). This bill makes technical changes to a variety of existing marine resources statutes. It:

1. Adds the recently created pelagic and anadromous fishing license to the list of state-issued licenses that members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe are not required to hold;

2. Adds the limited entry scallop fishery to those fisheries that allow medical or military waivers from the yearly requirement to purchase a license in order to participate in the fishery in the future;

3. Removes the part of the nonresident lobster and crab landing permit laws that limits permit holders to Maine's trap limit and requires that they purchase Maine lobster trap tags;

4. Extends the date for submitting information to the Commissioner of Marine Resources in order to qualify for grandfathering under the established base of operations requirement;

5. Clarifies that all lobster traps and trawls must be marked by a visible buoy and that the Bureau of Marine Patrol may require more distinguishable buoy color designs in instances where family members' buoys are not distinct enough to provide adequate enforcement of current laws;

6. Specifies a process by which abandoned lobster gear may be disposed;

7. Clarifies the commercial fishing license to reflect the creation of 2 recently created specific licenses, the pelagic and anadromous fishing license and the sea cucumber harvesting license;

8. Repeals an error in the qualifying years for eligibility to hold a scallop license; and

9. Establishes in statutes the administration of the existing Maine Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program. Working waterfront is essential to Maine's economy and quality of place. This bill makes efforts ensuring that all forms of commercial fishing/shellfish harvesting can be viable.  Signed into law 6/9/11.

 

Second Regular Session of the 125th Legislature

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. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

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. Carried over to the Second Regular Session. 

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. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 769, H.P. 576
An Act To Review the Functions of the State Planning Office. (Presented by Representative MOULTON of York)  This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.
This bill proposes to restructure the Executive Department, State Planning Office. This bill will retain within the State Planning Office those functions that are best performed by that office, and will remove to other offices and entities those functions that will be best performed by organizations other than the State Planning Office. As part of the restructuring, the roles of the regional planning commissions established pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 30A, chapter 119 will be more clearly defined, as will the role of the State Planning Office in the review of comprehensive plans developed pursuant to Title 30A. GSM supports this effort to reaffirm the value of the state planning office as a central entity overseeing and supporting planning efforts throughout Maine.  We support the concept of refocusing SPO on these essential issues, while reallocating other work to appropriate state agencies.  We also agree that reviewing and defining the role of the regional planning commissioners is appropriate, particularly within the context of defining the most effective relationship between these commissions and the state. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 852, S.P. 255
An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support Maine's Natural Resource-based Economy. (Presented by Senator TRAHAN of Lincoln) The funds provided in this bond issue are to recapitalize the Land for Maine's Future program with $36,000,000 to continue Maine's land conservation efforts, leveraging a minimum of $36,000,000 in required matching funds. It provides $12,000,000 for natural resource industry based infrastructure improvements and enhancement related to natural resource industry and to provide capital for state park maintenance and improvements. It also gives land conservation projects that protect and enhance deer wintering habitat preference and directs the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation to pursue projects that protect and conserve deer wintering habitat.  GrowSmart Maine supports this legislation. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 1109, H.P. 821
Resolve, To Target Job Creation in the Agricultural Sector To Improve the Stability and Economic Strength of Rural Maine. (Presented by Representative McCABE of Skowhegan)
This resolve requires the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources and the Department of Labor to invite the participation of a task force to develop strategies to identify barriers to and create job growth in the agricultural sector.  GrowSmart Maine supports this open approach to seeking creative opportunities and solutions to barriers for Maine farmers. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 1187, S.P. 362
An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Revitalize Maine's Downtowns through Innovative Business Development and the Creative Economy. (Presented by Senator SULLIVAN of York). The funds provided by this bond issue, in the amount of $5,000,000, will be used as seed money to capitalize the Downtown Revitalization Fund, a revolving loan and grant fund to encourage business development in downtown areas, targeting innovative businesses, light manufacturing, trades and small businesses and space for artists and artisans. The Downtown Revitalization Fund is administered by a board consisting of public and private members and issues loans that must be matched by $1 from the recipient for every $2 received from the fund and issues grants. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. This, like other programs, encourages investments in Maine's downtowns and our local businesses. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 1367, S.P. 421
An Act To Restore Maine's Secondary Roads. (Presented by Senator THOMAS of Somerset).
This bill establishes the Secondary Roads Fund as a dedicated, nonlapsing account within the Department of Transportation for the purpose of financing capital improvements to state aid minor collector highways.

This bill provides that revenues generated from the use of land and assets, including, but not limited to, rights-of-way and other property owned by the department must be deposited into the Secondary Roads Fund. This bill also requires that any funds received by the department for damage to state property under the jurisdiction of the department must be deposited into the Secondary Roads Fund.

This bill increases the annual fee for a vanity registration plate by $10, from $25 to $35, which is to be deposited into the Secondary Roads Fund.

This bill also requires that, except as otherwise provided, all fines for traffic infractions and other violations of the motor vehicle statutes accrue to the Secondary Roads Fund. The bill requires that any balance remaining in the Law Enforcement Agency Reimbursement Fund at the end of the fiscal year must be transferred to the Secondary Roads Fund.

Current law directs that state funding for the Bureau of State Police within the Department of Public Safety be allocated as follows: 49% from the Highway Fund and 51% from the General Fund. This bill provides that, beginning in fiscal year 2012-13, the proportional split between Highway Fund allocations and General Fund appropriations to the State Police budgetary appropriation program must be as follows: 25% must be allocated from the Highway Fund and 75% must be appropriated from the General Fund. The bill also provides that an amount equal to 24% of state funding for the Bureau of State Police be allocated from the Highway Fund to the Secondary Roads Fund.

This bill directs the Department of Transportation to set aside 10% of any available federal funds to be deposited into the Secondary Roads Fund for federally eligible projects. This bill provides that federal funds may be used in lieu of local funds, except that the local share may not be less than 10% of the total project cost.

The bill authorizes the Commissioner of Transportation to authorize, for a fee, the placement of off-premises signs within the right-of-way of an interstate highway, a state highway or a state aid highway. This bill also provides that fees collected by the department for the placement of such off-premises signs must be deposited into the Secondary Roads Fund. While we agree with many of the intentions of LD 1367 to provide more funding for state transportation purposes, GrowSmart Maine respectfully disagrees with the methods that are being proposed in this bill. In addition, we are strongly opposed to the provision which allows for the placement of off-premise signs near highways throughout the state. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 1437, S.P. 444
An Act To Implement Recommendations on Reinventing Government. (Presented by Senator WOODBURY of Cumberland). Concept Draft. This bill is a concept draft only at this time, but we support focus on this report, commissioned by GSM. Charting Maine's Future recommended finding efficiencies in governments in order to re-allocate public and private resources for investments in innovation and quality of place; both essential to sustainable economic development throughout Maine. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 1451, H.P. 1065
An Act To Create Transparency and Accountability in Economic Development Subsidies. (Presented by Representative RUSSELL of Portland). This bill enacts certain safeguards for state and local government expenditures for economic development and job creation by creating a procedure to collect, analyze and make publicly available information regarding those expenditures. It allows the governmental entity making a subsidy to recapture the subsidy if the recipient defaults on the employment, wages, health care or other benefits promised by the recipient in its application for the subsidy. While still exploring the specifics of the bill, GrowSmart Maine supports this effort to measure the impacts of economic development programs and incentives. It is important to ensure that investments of state resources achieve the intended goals, and that those receiving the benefit are following the rules as intended. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

L.D. 1470, S.P. 459
An Act To Ensure Harvesting of Timber on Land Taxed under the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law. (Presented by President RAYE of Washington). Concept Draft.  This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208. This bill proposes to ensure that future applicants for classification of land under the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law are eligible only if they are actually engaged in harvesting timber and not using the land as a property tax shelter without harvesting.
 
L.D. 1605, H.P. 1214
An Act To Promote Agricultural Activity in Maine by Limiting the Liability for Agritourism Activities. (Presented by Representative LIBBY of Waterboro).  This bill provides limited liability to landowners who open their land for agritourism activities.
 
L.D. 1613, H.P. 1222
An Act To Strengthen the Relationship between Land Users and Landowners
. (Presented by Representative CUSHING of Hampden). Concept Draft. This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.  This bill would make statutory changes that would help continue the tradition of public recreational access to private land. Specifically, it would revamp the Landowners and Sportsmen Relations Advisory Board's functions, establish a strategy for long-term funding of a landowner relations program, implement the recommendations being developed for a land user certification program and update the landowner liability laws as they relate to public use of private land.
 
L.D. 1617, S.P. 527
An Act To Ensure the Alignment of Truck Weight Limitations on the Interstate with Those Allowed under Federal Law. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Senator SCHNEIDER of Penobscot).  This bill allows the Commissioner of Transportation to adopt rules to ensure that the federal exemption allowing trucks with a maximum gross vehicle weight of 100,000 pounds on Maine's interstate system is implemented correctly. 
 
L.D. 1619, S.P. 529
An Act To Resolve Conflicts in the Implementation of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. (Presented by Senator SAVIELLO of Franklin).  This bill limits the scope and effect of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code to those municipalities that have adopted or are enforcing the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code or a portion of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. Under this bill, the requirement that a building official be certified in the enforcement of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, and the inspection of buildings and issuance of occupancy permits only upon compliance with the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, applies only in those municipalities that have adopted or are enforcing the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code or a portion of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. This bill also specifies that a municipality that adopts the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code or a portion of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code may do so by reference, as is allowed for other codes.
 
L.D. 1644, S.P. 543
An Act To Expand the Availability of Natural Gas to Maine Residents. (Presented by Senator KATZ of Kennebec).  This bill authorizes the Finance Authority of Maine to issue bonds for energy distribution system projects that expand the supply of natural gas in the State. The authority is authorized to issue a certificate of approval to an applicant for a natural gas project only if the applicant contributes at least 25% of the expected cost of the project. This bill also establishes in statute minimum and maximum capital reserve requirements for bonds that are issued for natural gas projects.
 
L.D. 1648, S.P. 547
An Act To Clarify the Site Location of Development Laws Regarding Exemptions for Previously Developed Sites. (Presented by Senator SAVIELLO of Franklin).  Current law provides that developments that are in existence, authorized, licensed or under construction prior to specified dates are exempted from the laws governing site location of development. This bill specifies that any modification, change in use or addition to such a development or to a development on a military base similarly exempt does not affect the exemption.
 
L.D. 1652, S.P. 551
An Act To Ensure a Reliable Funding Stream for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. (Presented by President RAYE of Washington).  This bill authorizes the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to allow an applicant for a license or permit issued by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to make a donation to the department to be used for a wildlife management district identified by the applicant. It also directs the commissioner to seek long-term funding sources for the department and to work with the Public Utilities Commission and other entities to secure a portion of the fees paid for the use of state-owned land and assets within energy infrastructure corridors to help fund operations of the department. The commissioner must report to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over inland fisheries and wildlife matters by January 15, 2013 on funding sources identified or secured.
 
L.D. 1653, S.P. 552
An Act To Make Fisheries and Wildlife Projects Eligible for Tax Increment Financing. (Presented by President RAYE of Washington).  This bill authorizes the use of tax increment financing for fisheries and wildlife projects approved by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Projects must be undertaken for the purpose of improving public access to fisheries and wildlife resources of the State for fishing, hunting, research or observation or for conservation or improvement of the fisheries and wildlife resources of the State.
 
L.D. 1654, S.P. 553
An Act To Establish the Seafood Export Certification Program. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Senator LANGLEY of Hancock).  This bill establishes the Seafood Export Certification Program in the Department of Marine Resources to allow the department, in conjunction with the United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to inspect and certify seafood and issue certificates of compliance necessary to meet international export standards.
 
L.D. 1671, S.P. 570
An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study of an East-west Highway. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Senator THOMAS of Somerset).  This bill includes a one-time General Fund appropriation of $300,000 in fiscal year 2011-12 to the Department of Transportation to cover the costs associated with an independent feasibility study of an east-west highway.
 
L.D. 1675, S.P. 574
Resolve, To Establish the Task Force To Facilitate the Development of Unoccupied Mills. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Senator HOBBINS of York).  This resolve establishes the Task Force To Facilitate the Development of Unoccupied Mills. The purpose of the task force is to help municipalities with unoccupied mills to develop the sites and to help improve their local economies.
 
L.D. 1676, S.P. 575
An Act To Increase Energy Options. (Presented by President RAYE of Washington).  This bill grants to communities not served by consumer-owned utilities the opportunity to manage their own standard-offer electricity supply in the same manner permitted for communities served by consumer-owned utilities.
 
L.D. 1697, H.P. 1249
An Act Relating to the Calculation of Population for Purposes of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code and Public Safety Answering Point Assessments. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Representative RICHARDSON of Warren).  This bill provides that the residents of a correctional facility in a municipality are not included when calculating population for purposes of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code or in the assessment of public safety answering point fees.
 
L.D. 1730, S.P. 590
An Act To Require the Review of Proposed Tax Expenditures. (Submitted by the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 36, section 199-D.).

This bill creates a review process to be performed by the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over taxation matters prior to the enactment of legislation or approval of a legislative initiative that would result in a new tax expenditure or a change that prolongs or expands an existing tax expenditure. The bill requires that committee to consider the groups and numbers of taxpayers affected, the public policy objectives that provide justification for the proposed tax expenditure, fiscal impact projections related to the proposed tax expenditure, effects the proposed tax expenditure may have on the economy, unintended benefits or negative consequences of the proposed tax expenditure, similar tax expenditures in other states, standards of accountability or reporting requirements related to the proposed tax expenditure, methods for evaluating the proposed tax expenditure and mechanisms for recapturing the proposed tax expenditure if objectives are not fulfilled. The bill requires proposals for a new tax expenditure or a change that prolongs or expands an existing tax expenditure to include a repeal date and a review process for the tax expenditure. The bill requires the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over a proposal for a new tax expenditure or a change that prolongs or expands an existing tax expenditure to seek an advisory opinion from the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over taxation matters prior to enacting legislation or recommending a legislative initiative that would result in a new tax expenditure or a change that prolongs or expands an existing tax expenditure.