This week was busy with public hearings as committees work towards their goal of addressing carry over bills before the end of this month (although, a few of our high priority bills of concern that were carried over have not yet been scheduled). In addition to the committee work outlined below, we would like to bring your attention to the rulemaking process on two important issues.
The Department of Labor has announced a series of evening listening sessions regarding the new Paid Family Medical Leave program. Each session will have a designated topic, and recordings of each are expected to be available online at some point. The first session was held this week on the topic of “contributions”, aka taxes. The next meeting will be on February 1 on the topic of eligibility. More information can be found on the regulatory calendar on our website here, or here on the Maine Department of Labor’s website. While there will be a formal public comment period to follow, this is an important opportunity for HR professionals and businesses to have input into how the rules for this new entitlement program are drafted. We encourage you to forward this information to the appropriate individuals within your companies.
The Maine Office of Business Development has also announced the public comment period for rules regarding the new Dirigo Business Incentives Program. This is the program that was established last year to eventually replace Pine Tree Development Zones. Information about this program can be found here in our October newsletter and information regarding the proposed rule, and how to submit comment, can be found here. Comments are due by February 23.
On Monday, the Council will testified before the ACF Committee in opposition to LD 1349, “An Act to Review State Lands and Waterways That Have Sacred, Traditional or Other Significance to the Wabanaki People.” This bill seeks to establish a Commission to review the State’s public land and water resources, develop a process to relinquish ownership of these resources to the tribes, and identify resources to pay for these transfers.
The Council is particularly concerned with the transfer of water resources. State-owned waters include most of the land that is covered by water (coastal waters out to the three-mile territorial limit, tidal rivers, nontidal navigable rivers and streams, boundary rivers and great ponds.
The transfer of these valued resources would impact all Maine residents, and could be especially problematic for our pulp and paper mills, municipal treatment facilities and dam operations.
For more information regarding the Council’s concerns with this legislation, our testimony can be viewed here.
On Tuesday the Council testified in opposition to two bills before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, LD 2077, “An Act Regarding Customer Costs and the Environmental and Health Effects of Natural Gas” and LD 2099, “An Act to Make Changes to Certain Laws Governing Renewable Energy Projects.” Our testimony on LD 2077 can be found here, and our testimony on LD 2099 can be found here.
On Thursday, we testified in the TAX Committee in support of LD 1891, “An Act to Support Maine Businesses Through a Child Care Tax Credit and a Pass-through Entity Tax.” Like the bill we supported last session, LD 1222, this bill is designed to help Maine families cover the cost of child care so that those who are priced out of child care can hopefully afford to re-enter the workforce. Both bills are scheduled for a work session next week. Our testimony in support of LD 1891 can be found here. The Council is hopeful that the committee will support a meaningful tax incentive program to help Maine families and employers address the challenging issue of child care affordability.
No public hearings have been scheduled for bills on our watch list next week, but we will be busy monitoring a number of work sessions that are outlined below. As always, if you have any questions about these bills or any others, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Pat and Krysta