February 14, 2011
309 Cumberland Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
CONTACT: Kimberly Ballard
Testimony of Nancy E. Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, on LD 1;
"An Act To Ensure Regulatory Fairness and Reform"
February 14, 2011
Dear Senator Courtney, Representative McKane, and distinguished members of the Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform;
I am sorry that prior commitments prevent me from testifying in person today. I do want to share our perspective at GrowSmart Maine on the issue of reforming Maine's regulatory structure.
Rebuilding Maine's economy is the most important issue of our time. It can be done while continuing to protect and enhance our natural and built environments. Maine’s history is in the asset-based economies of farming, fisheries, and forestry. This heritage, still important in today’s economy, has become “the Maine brand” and is vital to other economic sectors as diverse as tourism and information technology.
GrowSmart Maine is a statewide, membership-based non-profit organization focused on the value of Maine's quality places. Our downtowns, cities and villages; our natural and working forests, farms, and waterfront; all of these are the foundation of our communities, our economy, and of our lives. I have attached an information sheet about our organization and our past accomplishments.
GrowSmart Maine will be engaging in a variety of bills this session, related to Maine's communities, working lands, and natural landscapes. You can track all of our legislative activity at our website: www.growsmartmaine.org.
For today, I can offer several specific regulations with potential to improve the process, enabling state agencies to fulfill their mission, while also empowering Mainers to grow their businesses.
GrowSmart Maine is working towards effective implementation of MUBEC, Maine’s Uniform Building and Energy Code. Passed in 2008, and set to be phased in over several years, this coordinated set of building codes provides the consistent regulatory environment we know businesses need to succeed. Now that the first effective date has come, flaws in the plans for roll out are becoming evident. I can tell you that, as House chair of the BRED committee which worked on this legislation, it was my intention to couple both the enforcement and implementation to the effective dates outlined in the bill, allowing time for towns without building codes to come up to speed. The current status is that the MUBEC is currently in force statewide. This creates real and immediate concerns for home builders. We are committed to working with building contractors, municipalities, and other stakeholders to ensure that this consistent regulatory framework is successfully brought to Maine.
Site Location Law is under fresh scrutiny this year, and we agree that changes can be made to improve implementation of this regulation. GrowSmart Maine will be affirming the necessity of protecting our state's watersheds as development occurs. Specifically, we see the need for a tiered system of regulations, rather than the single “cliff” currently in place. Through a multi-step regulatory framework, the department can better fulfill its mission, and developers can better meet market demand for housing.
GrowSmart Maine will be supporting legislation aimed at strengthening our natural resource business sectors. Continuation of current use property tax programs is essential for those who earn their living from the land, as is addressing landowner liability for environmental violations caused by others.
GrowSmart Maine will engage in discussions on value-added opportunities for our farms and fisheries. This will include opportunities for value-added production, and we have already weighed in to support the rather obvious view that lobstermen should be able to store their traps on the docks where they work!
In closing, I offer my own expertise with GrowSmart Maine as well as having served eight years in the Maine Legislature, and decades of experience as a farmer and licensed forester. Lock Kiermaier, Policy Outreach Coordinator for GrowSmart Maine, will be available as well, and brings with him twenty five years of experience with Maine's legislative process. I hope you'll view us both as valuable resources as we all work to improve Maine's economy in a manner that honors the heritage of our natural resources and vibrant communities.
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