Legislative Update: Gov. Mills vetoes LD 125

Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Janet Mills vetoed LD 125, a bill to ban aerial spraying. Now we all need to urge our legislators — ASAP! — to sustain her veto when the Legislature reconvenes at 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 30. Find your legislators by entering your address here.

“We appreciate Gov. Mills veto very much. She clearly understood the issues and our concerns, about the effect on Maine’s forest economy,” said MFPC Executive Director Patrick Strauch. “We encourage Maine’s legislators to sustain her veto.”

The majority of the ACF Committee agreed to turn the bill into a resolve to establish more setback standards for aerial application of herbicides, but Sen. Jackson, D-Aroostook, used the power of the Senate President’s office to support the minority report and ban aerial spraying for forestry.

In Gov. Mills veto message she wrote: “Spraying for site preparation is conducted once or twice over the course of a 40- to 60-year rotation of a forest stand. It is applied with careful thought, planning, and consideration.

“It is applied under strict adherence to practices that account for weather conditions, wind direction and speed, rate of application, and the location of streams, brooks, and other water bodies. Banning aerial application, however, would force landowners to conduct ground application, which is manually intensive, has a potential for greater site disturbance and soil compaction, and may require multiple applications with higher and more dangerous concentrations levels to achieve the same level of effectiveness.

“The environmental concerns associated with aerial application need to be balanced with the goal of decarbonization and the legitimate needs of silviculture enterprises. This bill, the minority report of the Committee, fails to achieve that balance.”

When the Legislature adjourned June 17, it expected to deal with a flood of vetoes even though Gov. Mills had only issued 10 vetoes in her first two years in office. As of today, she has vetoed a total of 11 this week, including another bill MFPC opposed.

LD 194 An Act To Prohibit Contributions, Expenditures and Participation by Foreign Government-owned Entities To Influence Referenda. Excerpt from Gov. Mills’ veto message: “As an initial matter, L.D. 194’s definition of those entities subject to its prohibitions is broad, and would reach dozens of businesses that we regard as very much part of the fabric of the Maine community. Entities with direct foreign investment employ thousands of Mainers.They include Stratton Lumber, Woodland Pulp and Paper, Backyard Farms, McCain Foods, and Sprague Energy, to name just a few. Legislation that could bar these entities from any form of participation in a referendum is offensive to the democratic process, which depends on a free and unfettered exchange of ideas, information, and opinion. Such limitations on what the Supreme Court has called “core political speech” are also highly suspect as a constitutional matter.” Click here to see all her vetoes.

Unfortunately, LD 188 An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry, which MFPC opposed, became public law without Gov. Mills signature. Although the federal government has authority of immigration law, this bill created a state law violation for landowners and contractors who hire nonresident truckers who are lawfully working in the U.S. (specifically H-2A workers). We hope to work with federal authorities for guidance on how to proceed.

The Legislature has processed more than 1,700 bills this session and has about 30 left to vote on, according to the Portland Press Herald.

To see the status (as of today) of all the bills that MFPC is tracking click here.

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