Advocacy Update: 2018

The Second Regular Session of the 128th Maine State Legislature is well underway and GrowSmart Maine has taken an active role in securing passage of those select bills which would directly work to protect and build the future of Maine’s way of life, economy and infrastructure in a sustainable manner that benefits all Maine citizens.  Although the Second Regular Session is intended to be reserved for pressing legislation of an emergency nature, the legislature currently finds itself confronted with a wide breadth of proposed legislation that has been carried over from the First Regular Session which includes various emergency legislative proposals, crucial bonding proposals and ongoing budget determinations.
To deal with this large array of proposed legislation, GrowSmart Maine has prioritized its approach and limited resources to focus on select legislation which most directly speaks to GrowSmart Maine’s organization policy goals and objectives as well as those goals and objectives most valued by our partners and members.  Whenever possible, we strive to work with our various coalition partners, including the Maine Alliance for Smart Growth, to lead the effort for a particular bill’s passage and at other times, participate in a supportive role for legislation that we think is important.
Our advocacy work takes many different forms. Depending on the issue, we may support legislation directly with written testimony that is presented in person to the relevant legislative policy committee. At other times, we may simply submit written testimony to express our views.  Our legislative effort is aligned with our overall priorities and we constantly strive to work in concert with our many policy allies.
In particular, during this session, GrowSmart Maine has submitted written testimony to the Appropriations Committee regarding a wide range of bonding proposals that we feel are supportive of our policy goals.  A potential 2018 Bond Package will likely be taken up late in the session. Our testimony has included support for the following bond proposals:

  • LD 520 would provide $100 million in funding to provide broadband service in underserved and rural areas of the state; we are active members of the Maine Broadband Coalition in our efforts to secure and improve this vital part of Maine’s infrastructure;
  • LD 178 would provide $5 million towards cost sharing for projects that correct downstream water pollution efforts;
  • LDs 319, 955 and 1118 provide various amounts of funding for downtown revitalization, public service infrastructure, sustainable development and the acquisition of open space.  In our various written testimonies, we suggested the use of the dormant Community for Maine’s Future Fund at DECD to provide a simplified and consistent funding vehicle for these several related purposes;
  • LD 467 will provide $5 million to the Department of Marine Resources to develop and implement improved sea level prediction models- a topic of crucial importance to coastal municipalities;
  • LD 735 would provide $75 million to the Maine State Housing Authority to improve and construct energy efficient multi-family housing for low-income families in every county of the state. We testified that providing this type of housing is a goal that is compatible with our ongoing commitment to the construction and re-use of existing facilities and infrastructure in carefully planned revitalization efforts across the state; and
  • LD 1760 would provide $1 million to provide funds to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to capitalize the Historic Preservation Revolving Fund for the purpose of acquiring significant historic properties for resale and rehabilitation. This bill was introduced at the request of MASG member Maine Preservation. THIS BILL WAS WITHDRAWN BY THE SPONSOR
  • LD 1815 would provide $100 million for transportation; $80 million for roads and bridges and $20 million for water, aviation, rail, transit, bike/ped “that preserve public safety or otherwise have demonstrated high economic value.”

You can find all our testimony from the above bills posted in real time here on our blog.

In supporting these various bonding proposals, GrowSmart Maine remains cognizant of the very real fact that these and other bonding proposals far outstrip the currently available financial resources of the state.  GrowSmart Maine will offer assistance to the Appropriations Committee to encourage the use of these limited resources in a prioritized and effective manner.
Aside from these various bonding proposals, GrowSmart Maine has testified on nearly a dozen bills, including:

  • LD 1741 which will establish a Commission to Study the Economic, Environmental and Energy Benefits of Energy Storage to the Maine Electricity Industry; GrowSmart Maine voiced its strong support for this forward-thinking effort at planning for a basic energy component of Maine’s future; DIVIDED REPORT OUT OF COMMITTEE ON FEB 13
  • LD 1698 was a resolve to direct the Maine Community College System to promote innovation and growth in rural parts of the state through the support of local and traditional industries; GrowSmart Maine lauded the effort to connect innovation with Maine’s traditional industries; and THIS BILL DIED IN COMMITTEE ON FEB 14
  • LD 1798, addressing a Major Substantive Rule of the ConnectME Authority HEARD BY THE COMMITTEE ON FEB 13
  • LD 1444 addresses the long-standing controversy around the subject of net energy billing as it pertains to solar residential and industrial installations; GrowSmart Maine strongly supports a carefully construed effort to maximize the use of alternative energy systems in a financially sustainable manner which is fair to all parties. THIS BILL IS CURRENTLY TABLED IN THE SENATE.

You can find all our testimony posted in real time here on our blog.

GrowSmart Maine is continually involved in monitoring an extensive list of proposed legislation which will ultimately have a bearing on the sustainability and future of Maine’s Quality of Life.  Please be in touch for a copy of our bill tracking list. 
We welcome suggestions on our current legislative priorities and look forward to developing new working legislative relationships to accomplish our many goals for Maine’s future.