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GrowSmart Maine’s Legislative Action List

Land Use Planning and Community Investments, Innovation and Land Conservation and Natural Resource Sector Viability. These are the issues that GrowSmart Maine considers to be the priorities in protecting Maine’s quality of place and promoting sustainable prosperity in Maine.  Here we will list the specific bills that we are targeting in the 126th Legislature within these issues.  For more information on the Legislative process in general, go to http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/path/path.htm .

Targeted Bills in the 126th Legislature; Second Regular Session:

Bonds - GrowSmart Maine will continue to speak in support of a comprehensive bond package that will provide funding for important investments across the state. Two particular bonds we're supporting this year are LD 1043, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue and To Assist in the Creation of Jobs through Regional Economic Development and LD 1455, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Ensure Clean Water and Safe Communities.

LD 1365, An Act To Promote New Models of Mobility and Access to Transportation. (Sponsored by Representative Sharon Treat). This bill amends the Department of Transportation's biennial operations plan for transit process in order to promote and facilitate new models of mobility and service. The bill adds a declaration of policy to the public transportation administration law. The bill also provides components that must be included in the department's biennial operations plan for transit and describes how the department's plan for transit must be implemented. The bill eliminates the Interagency Transportation Coordinating Committee and replaces it with a larger, more comprehensive Maine Public Transit Advisory Council. The role of the council is to advise the Legislature and the department regarding strategic planning for public transportation services in the State. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Read testimony here. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

LD 1528, Resolve, To Provide for Livable, Affordable Neighborhoods.  (Sponsored by Representative Richard Campbell).  The purpose of this resolve is to encourage the preservation of and the development of livable, affordable neighborhoods. This resolve requires:1. The Department of Transportation to review recommendations for roadway projects in urban areas that apply concepts and principles in the design of urban thoroughfares that emphasize walkable communities in order to facilitate the restoration of the multiple functions of urban streets and to develop recommendations regarding the incorporation of the concepts and principles into the Sensible Transportation Act. The department is directed to submit its recommendations, together with any necessary implementing legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation by December 4, 2013; 2. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop a conservation development model designed to encourage the productive use of rural lands, provide traditional resource-based industries with opportunities for value-added business, provide rural towns with the financial ability to sustain local services and keep those who work the land free of conflicts with advancing suburban development. The department is directed to submit its recommendations, together with any necessary implementing legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 4, 2013; and 3. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop a compact village development model designed to promote relatively high residential density with mixed land uses to serve as an alternative to low-density sprawl. The department is directed to submit its recommendations, together with any necessary implementing legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 4, 2013.  GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

LD 1661, An Act To Clarify the Provisions of a Historic Preservation Tax Credit. (Sponsored by Senator Margaret Craven). Under current law, a person is entitled to a tax credit of not more than $5,000,000 for each certified rehabilitation project engaged in by that person. This bill provides that certified rehabilitation projects include rehabilitation projects involving only a portion of a certified historic structure or complex of certified historic structures when undertaken in phases or by different entities. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.

LD 1664, An Act To Encourage Charitable Contributions to Nonprofit Organizations. (Sponsored by Senator Jim Boyle). Under current income tax law, there is a cap of $27,500 on the total itemized deductions, including those for charitable donations, that a taxpayer may claim in order to reduce Maine adjusted gross income. This bill removes from the cap donations made to a nonprofit organization and applies the change retroactively to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.

 

Targeted Bills in the 126th Legislature; First Regular Session:

Bonds - GrowSmart Maine will speak in support of a comprehensive bond package that will provide funding for important investments across the state.  Maine Technology Institute is one of the best investments Mainers can make, and transportation investments are urgently needed.  In addition, investments in our working and natural landscapes through Land for Maine’s Future and in our communities with the Communities for Maine’s Future program will always be an essential component of plans to build our economy for this generation and those to come.

LD 90, An Act To Strengthen Maine's Workforce and Economic Future.  (Sponsored by President Justin Alfond). CONCEPT DRAFT SUMMARY.  This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208. The bill proposes to strengthen the State's middle class and improve the State's business climate by making targeted and strategic investments in the State's workforce, place-based economic engines and small businesses. The bill proposes to close the so-called "skills gap" between the State's workforce and the needs of the State's employers through a renewed partnership among the State's workers, educators and businesses. The bill proposes to strengthen the State's place-based economic engines, including, but not limited to, downtowns, farms, forests and waters, to facilitate and accelerate economic growth. The bill proposes to amend state laws to help improve the ability of small businesses to innovate and expand.  GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Read testimony here.

LD 120, An Act To Facilitate Regional Transit. (Sponsored by Representative Ann Peoples). CONCEPT DRAFT SUMMARY. This bill is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208. This bill proposes to enact measures designed to enable the delivery of cost-effective, sustainable and customer-focused transportation services that will meet the current and future needs of the State.  GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.  Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

LD 220, An Act To Ban the United Nations Agenda 21 in Maine. (Sponsored by Representative Ricky Long). This bill prohibits the State or any political subdivision of the State from adopting or implementing policies originating in the United Nations Agenda 21 or other international laws that restrict private property rights without due process. Because the United Nations has accredited and enlisted numerous nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies related to Agenda 21 around the world, the bill prohibits the State or any political subdivision from entering into agreements or financial arrangements with those organizations. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill. Read testimony here. This bill failed passage.

LD 403, Resolve, To Establish a Task Force on the Establishment of So-called Complete Streets Design Guidelines. (Sponsored by Representative Ann Peoples). This resolve directs the Commissioner of Transportation to establish a task force to develop so-called complete streets design guidelines to apply whenever state or federal funds are used to build or reconstruct a road or bridge and to develop a statewide policy designed to enable the delivery of cost-effective, sustainable and customer-focused transportation services that will meet the current and future needs of the State. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.  Read testimony here. This bill failed passage.

LD 413, An Act To Expand Eligible Project Costs in Development Districts. (Sponsored by Representative Drew Gattine). This bill permits tax increment financing funds to be used to fund projects approved by more than one municipality under an interlocal agreement. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.  Read testimony here. This bill failed passage.

LD 483, An Act To Promote Small Businesses by Enhancing the Use of On-premises Signs. (Sponsored by Representative Dennis Keschl).

This bill amends the use of on-premises signs in the following ways.

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

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

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

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

5. It repeals the authority of the Commissioner of Transportation to waive the prohibition on the placement of certain on-premises signs within 20 feet of the edge of the paved portion of certain public ways.

6. It increases from 2 to 3 the number of approach signs a business or point of interest may have on its lot of record 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 expands the limit of the total surface area to 100 square feet per side.

7. It allows changeable signs to change once per minute; current law limits the change to once every 20 minutes. It also removes the restriction on the percentage of a changeable sign that may be used for display.

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

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

10. It allows for changeable signs to be erected adjacent to and for viewing from the interstate highway system.
11. It increases the maximum height of a freestanding sign structure statewide from 25 feet to 35 feet above grade. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill. Read testimony here. This bill failed passage.

LD 739, Resolve, To Establish a Task Force To Study Economic Development in Rural Areas. (Sponsored by Senator Roger Sherman). CONCEPT DRAFT SUMMARY. This resolve is a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208.The purpose of this resolve is to establish a task force to study measures designed to encourage economic development and opportunity in rural areas of the State. GrowSmart Maine Supports this bill. Read testimony here. This bill failed passage.

LD 743, An Act To Extend and Improve the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit Program. (Sponsored by Senator Linda Valentino). This bill extends the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit Program, which is approaching the statutory cap on credits that can be authorized, and makes a number of improvements and clarifications. The bill makes the amount of the tax credit the same for individual investors and venture capital funds, clarifies that producers of value-added natural resource products are eligible, removes the ambiguous eligibility for businesses that "bring capital into the State" and specifies that eligible businesses must certify that the investment is necessary to allow the business to create or retain jobs in the State. The bill increases the maximum annual sales limit of $3,000,000, which has been in effect since 1997, to $5,000,000 for investments made in 2014 or after. The bill authorizes additional tax credits of $2,000,000 for investments made between June 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, $4,000,000 for investments made in calendar year 2014 and $5,000,000 each year for investments made in each subsequent year. An investor in a venture capital fund requesting a refundable tax credit may not file for a refund until the calendar year after the calendar year in which the investment is made. GrowSmart Maine Supports this bill.

LD 825, Resolve, To Study Climate Change and Implement the Recommendations of the Department of Environmental Protection Report on Climate Change. (Sponsored by Representative William Noon). This resolve directs the Department of Environmental Protection to resume its study on climate change pursuant to Resolve 2009, chapter 16 and to submit a completed plan with necessary implementing legislation by February 27, 2015 to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over environmental and natural resources matters. The joint standing committee is authorized to submit a bill to the First Regular Session of the 127th Legislature. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Read testimony here.

LD 977, An Act To Restore Uniformity to the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. (Sponsored by Representative Anne Graham). Current law requires the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code to be enforced in a municipality that has more than 4,000 residents; a municipality with 4,000 or fewer residents that has not adopted a building code is exempt. This bill requires the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code to be enforced in all municipalities with more than 2,000 residents, beginning July 1, 2014. A municipality with 2,000 or fewer residents is exempt, but, if a building code is adopted in such a municipality, it must be the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. GrowSmart Maine Supports this bill. Read testimony here.

LD 1039, An Act To Promote Regulatory Fairness. (Sponsored by Senator Douglas Thomas). This bill establishes standards for relief when state regulation takes value from an individual property owner, as well as efficient mechanisms for pursuit of such relief. To eliminate any fiscal impact from the establishment of these new standards and mechanisms, they will apply only to burdens from regulations enacted in the future. The bill provides mechanisms designed to achieve fair results and to resolve disputes efficiently, including the ability to grant variances, which is an option consistent with general land use principles. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill.  Read testimony here.  This bill failed passage.

LD 1041, An Act To Modify the Mandatory Enforcement of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code for a Municipality without a Building Code.  (Sponsored by Senator Thomas Saviello). This bill allows a municipality of more than 4,000 residents that has not adopted a building code by August 1, 2008 and that, by a vote of the residents of that municipality, has expressly rejected the application or enforcement of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code to be exempt from the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. If that municipality does adopt a building code, however, it must be the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill. This bill failed passage.

LD 1091, An Act To Require Nonprofit Corporations To Disclose the Salaries of Their Employees.  (Sponsored by Senator Douglas Thomas). he purpose of this bill is to make publicly available the salaries of employees of nonprofit corporations. This bill provides that this salary information must be provided on a nonprofit corporation's publicly accessible website, or through other comparable means, and must be provided to any member of the public upon request. This salary information must also be provided in the nonprofit corporation's annual report to the Secretary of State. Churches are not subject to the requirements of this bill. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill. This bill failed passage.

LD 1172, An Act To Support the Maine Downtown Center.  (Sponsored by Senator Seth Goodall). This bill provides ongoing support for the Maine Downtown Center.  GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.  Read testimony here.

LD 1208, Resolve, To Establish the Commuter and Passenger Rail Advisory Task Force (EMERGENCY).  (Sponsored by Representative Arthur Verow). This resolve directs the Department of Transportation to establish and convene the 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 of 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 and 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 identify ways to limit the need for parking facilities and to reduce road congestion and lessen transportation costs for citizens living in cities in this State. The Department of Transportation must report the findings and the plan of the task force to the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation no later than February 28, 2014. The Joint Standing Committee on Transportation may submit a bill to the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature on the subject matter of the report. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Read testimony here.

LD 1275, An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Maine Economic Growth Council Regarding Prosperity. (Sponsored by Senator Richard Woodbury). Concept Draft.  GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.

LD 1365, An Act To Promote New Models of Mobility and Access to Transportation. (Sponsored by Representative Sharon Treat). This bill amends the Department of Transportation's biennial operations plan for transit process in order to promote and facilitate new models of mobility and service. The bill adds a declaration of policy to the public transportation administration law. The bill also provides components that must be included in the department's biennial operations plan for transit and describes how the department's plan for transit must be implemented. The bill eliminates the Interagency Transportation Coordinating Committee and replaces it with a larger, more comprehensive Maine Public Transit Advisory Council. The role of the council is to advise the Legislature and the department regarding strategic planning for public transportation services in the State. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Read testimony here. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

LD 1420, An Act To Return to Building Code Requirements in Effect Prior to the Adoption of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code.  (Sponsored by Representative Richard Campbell). 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 reestablishes the Maine Model Building Code, which was repealed by Public Law 2007, chapter 699 and replaced by the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. The bill has a delayed effective date of December 1, 2013. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill.

LD 1427, An Act To Establish a Resource and Development Coordinating Council. (Sponsored by Senator James Boyle). This bill establishes the Resource and Development Coordinating Council to promote interagency coordination of the State's activities regarding natural resource management, land use and development and to identify and coordinate the resolution of policy and program conflicts among government agencies. The council submits a report every 2 years to the Governor and the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over natural resources matters. GrowSmart Maine supports this bill.

LD 1450, An Act To Connect the Citizens of the State to the State's Natural Resources by Establishing Standards for Relief from Regulatory Burdens. (Sponsored by Senator Ronald Collins).  This bill establishes standards for relief when state regulation imposes an inordinate burden on an individual property owner, as well as efficient mechanisms for pursuit of such relief. The bill provides that, if a property owner's right to use, divide, sell, occupy or possess real property is reduced by the enactment or application of a government regulation, the property owner may seek and obtain relief. Under the provisions of the bill, prior to filing an action, the property owner must pursue relief under a land use mediation program. GrowSmart Maine opposes this bill.  Read testimony here.

LD 1496, An Act To Modernize and Simplify the Tax Code. (Sponsored by Representative L. Knight).  Concept Draft.  GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Read testimony here.

LD 1528, Resolve, To Provide for Livable, Affordable Neighborhoods.  (Sponsored by Representative Richard Campbell).  The purpose of this resolve is to encourage the preservation of and the development of livable, affordable neighborhoods. This resolve requires:1. The Department of Transportation to review recommendations for roadway projects in urban areas that apply concepts and principles in the design of urban thoroughfares that emphasize walkable communities in order to facilitate the restoration of the multiple functions of urban streets and to develop recommendations regarding the incorporation of the concepts and principles into the Sensible Transportation Act. The department is directed to submit its recommendations, together with any necessary implementing legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation by December 4, 2013; 2. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop a conservation development model designed to encourage the productive use of rural lands, provide traditional resource-based industries with opportunities for value-added business, provide rural towns with the financial ability to sustain local services and keep those who work the land free of conflicts with advancing suburban development. The department is directed to submit its recommendations, together with any necessary implementing legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 4, 2013; and 3. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop a compact village development model designed to promote relatively high residential density with mixed land uses to serve as an alternative to low-density sprawl. The department is directed to submit its recommendations, together with any necessary implementing legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 4, 2013.  GrowSmart Maine supports this bill. Carried over to the Second Regular Session.

Contact your Legislator

Now that the 126th Maine Legislature has been determined, now is the perfect time to call and introduce yourself to your State Representative and State Senator.  As a former legislator, I can tell you that one individual really can make a difference, if you choose to engage with your elected officials.

Start by calling your Representative and Senator, and simply introduce yourself; who you are, where you live, and maybe a bit about your background.  And then suggest a meeting to follow up.  In Maine, we have a citizen's legislature, designed with the intention of having those who are elected be approachable by their constituents.  There are not many states where official state business cards including the home address and phone number, but that's how we do it here!

Now is the time to develop a relationship with your elected officials.  Let them know what issues you care about, in what areas you have expertise and experience that might be helpful to them.  Consider offering to be a resource for issues that matter to you.  Legislators are bombarded with information from so many sources, it's sometimes difficult to determine which are credible.  If you are up for it, most elected officials will be most appreciative of your interest and energy.

Finally, now is the time to let your elected officials know on which issues they might expect to hear from you.  It may be premature to ask them to vote a certain way; issues are complex and legislation can change dramatically through the course of public hearings, work sessions, and even amendments offered in the House or Senate.  Just let your legislators know which components of an issue are most important, and offer your expertise throughout the process.

Here is the link where you can find contact information for all elected officials: 
http://www.maine.gov/portal/government/edemocracy/lookup_voter_info.php

I encourage you to start today, with a brief phone call or email leaving your contact information and your offer to connect. 

As the year progresses, GrowSmart Maine will help keep you up to date on legislation and other actions relevant to protecting Maine's special places and growing our economy to create sustainable prosperity for all Mainers.

Grassroots support makes it possible

All of us at GrowSmart Maine want to thank you for your ongoing support and participation. Your Legislators need to hear from Maine people, businesses, organizations and communities around the state.  They are elected by the people to serve the people and are your voice in Augusta.

Please stay tuned as we continue to work together toward a prosperous and sustainable future for all of us.

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