Legislative Update – February 16, 2024

Next week may be February vacation week for many, but legislative committees will continue to meet to address the bills before them. There is only one public hearing of interest scheduled, and that is for LD 2205, “Resolve, to Require the PUC to Initiate a Feasibility Study to Evaluate Transmission Technologies and Siting Locations for Any Future Electric Transmission Line Proposed Pursuant to the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Development.” While MFPC has not taken a position on this bill, we are monitoring the discussion closely.

Coincidentally, the DEP recently released proposed rules for Chapter 375: No Adverse Environmental Effect Standards of the Site Location of Development Act. This draft, which was released in response to LD 1881 that passed last year, in our opinion, goes far beyond the directive of Chapter Law 448.

Under the DEP’s proposal, roughly 14.5 million acres, or 79 percent of Maine’s undeveloped forest, would be designated as a protected resource under Site Location of Development Laws for renewable energy projects under an arbitrary and overly broad new category of “large undeveloped habitat blocks.” The Department has proposed a rigid mitigation formula of 1:1 for any and all impacts to this new resource category, regardless of actual impacts to wildlife.

While the Council’s primary concern is that this new rule would result in a massive taking of development values to thousands of landowners of all sizes in every corner of the state under arbitrary new guidelines that are not based on science, this new policy would undoubtedly make transmission projects like the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Development project far more difficult, and even more costly for ratepayers, to achieve.

We hope that the proposed Ch. 375 rules are a topic of discussion during the public hearing on LD 2205 next Tuesday.

You will be hearing more from us on the Chapter 375 proposal soon, as it warrants our full throated opposition at the upcoming public hearing on March 7.


Also next week, work sessions will be held on two bills that the Council opposes. The first will occur in TAX on Tuesday for LD 1337, “An Act To Require A Corporation That Files A Tax Return In The State To File A Tax Disclosure Statement.” While it is our understanding that the version that will be voted on differs significantly from the bill as submitted, we continue to have concerns and will monitor the work session closely.


On Thursday, the State and Local Government Committee will hold another work session on LD 2101, “An Act to Strengthen Shoreland Zoning Enforcement.” As presented, the Council has significant concerns with this legislation. We will continue to make ourselves available to stakeholders to help work on an amendment.


Looking back, this week the Council testified in support of LD 2169, “An Act to Support the Development of Workforce Housing to Promote Economic Development in Maine.” We also supported LD 2191, a bill designed to establish a $50 million fund to provide relief to small businesses impacted by the severe weather events that occurred late last year. We weighed in on this bill because, while our landowners are still assessing the damage, it is clear that the storms inflicted significant damage to vital infrastructure – roads and bridges – and that the repairs needed in both western Maine and Washington County are extensive. Our testimony can be found here.


In final news, we are sad to report that our child care tax credit bill, which was designed to help employers offset the cost of child care for employees to support a strong, robust and diverse workforce, was voted down in the TAX committee. While we are disappointed with this result, we will continue to work on this issue, and other important workforce development initiatives, in future legislatures.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


Pat and Krysta

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