The last few months have been encouraging for the forest products industry. In November, industry investments totaling $818 million were announced ($400 million by LP Building Solutions and $418 million by Sappi). This month, Governor Janet Mills announced an additional $14 million in Forest Recovery Initiative grants awarded to 19 Maine forestry companies. According to Governor Mills, these grants target “forward-looking industry projects that address new market demands, provide new sustainable products or otherwise advance the long-term stability of the forestry industry.” A full list of award winners (many of which are members) are listed within the newsletter.
We appreciate the Governor’s focus on the opportunities in Maine’s forest products businesses. These public and private investments will help our industry continue to adapt, thrive and create opportunities throughout rural Maine.
Also this month, the 131st Maine Legislature convened for what is sure to be a busy session on Wednesday, December 7 in Augusta. During this one-day event, new lawmakers were sworn in and immediately began work on LD 1, a bill targeting relief for home heating fuel. Negotiations on this bill are ongoing, and will likely not be resolved until the new year. It is unprecedented for the Legislature to take up business on swearing in day, but this Legislature appears to be ready to dive right into the important matters of the day. Cloture (the last day to submit bill titles for the First Regular Session) is December 30. Committee assignments are expected to be released prior to the next legislative session, which is scheduled for January 4.
For this session, the Maine Forest Products Council has compiled a legislative guide book that breaks down some issues of importance roughly by committee structure. Covered in this report are issues like forest certification, carbon, Tree Growth Tax Law and the effects of tribal law on environmental regulations. The Council has printed hard copies of this report and will be distributing it to every legislator upon their return to Augusta this coming January.
The goal is to educate lawmakers on issues that impact our industry, and to open the lines of communication between lawmakers and our staff early on for new and returning members.
We look forward to working with the new legislature in productive and meaningful ways on behalf of our membership.
Also this month, the Portland Press Herald printed my response to a recent proforestation piece authored by two out-of-state groups. If you haven’t already, please read this piece and be sure to share it on your social media. The forest industry is a critical component to Maine’s response to climate change and sustainability, so please help spread the word!
Finally, we have revised our search for a part-time office manager. While Sue is far from replaceable, please help us identify qualified candidates so that she can finally retire!