Legislative Update – April 5, 2024

Please reach out to members of the ACF Committee TODAY and urge them to vote ‘OUGHT NOT TO PASS’ on LD 1985!

While this started out as a busy week, legislative work came to a grinding halt as we all hunkered down to brace for the winter storm. Legislative sessions were canceled on Thursday and Friday. The House and Senate will resume work next Tuesday for the final push to statutory adjournment on April 17.

This week, our team engaged on two bills that are still being worked on at the committee level.

The first was a work session in Taxation on an amended version of LD 2279, “An Act To Promote Equity In The Forest Products Industry By Allowing Commercial Wood Haulers To Be Eligible For Certain Sales Tax Exemptions And Refunds.” The committee voted 8 OTP-AM/4 ONTP/1 OTP-AM.

The majority report is based on the amendment that Sen. Jackson presented at the public hearing last week. It expands those eligible for certain tax exemptions and refunds to include those who commercially haul forest products using trucks, truck tractors and trailers. It also amends the existing program to require that the person, association of persons, firm or corporation be headquartered in Maine (but only for the forest industry, not for the other natural resource industries included in the benefit).

While the Council was supportive of expanding the exemption/refund program to include haulers, we would have preferred an amendment that would not disqualify loggers that are currently utilizing the benefit because, as you all know, we need to all support loggers operating in Maine to help combat the chronic workforce shortage in this critical sector of our industry. Sen. Jackson, however, was adamant that the tax benefit should not be available to Canadian-based companies (and as a result, companies headquartered in other states), even though the administration, the Council and some committee members expressed concern that the amendment likely violates the commerce clause of the US Constitution.


Also this week, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee held a public hearing hearing on Sen. Jackson’s amended version of LD 1985, “An Act to Authorize Removal of Requirements of Forest Certification Systems from the State’s Forest Management Plans.” The Council joined Sappi North America, SFI, Seven Islands Land Company, Maine Woodland Owners and the Bureau of Public Lands in strong opposition to this amendment that weaves several unrelated provisions together.

The Council specifically testified in strong opposition to the provision of the bill that would prohibit the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry from obtaining or maintaining certification from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

Over the last three decades, independent conservation organizations have developed and implemented voluntary third-party certification programs as a tool to promote and enhance sustainable forest practices. Maine has led the way in this endeavor with 8.3 million acres of forestland certified under one of the three nationally recognized programs, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council and American Tree Farm.

Strong private and public participation in these programs has positioned Maine well as we work to attract new forest-based manufacturing businesses to our state. Notably, the State has been a leader in the certification movement, and a strong proponent of the FOR/Maine initiative, which was formed with with goals that include diversifying the state’s wood products businesses, attracting capital investments and developing greater economic prosperity for communities impacted by mill closures. 

Discouraging participation of either private or public landowners will hinder these recruitment efforts. Demand for certified fiber is driven by markets, giving Maine a competitive edge for businesses looking to expand or re-locate. It would be unwise for the state to discourage participation or exert undue influence over independent third-party programs that are utilized on a global scale.

To view our full testimony, which includes a map of lands certified under the SFI and FSC programs, and to see promotional materials created by the FOR/Maine that speak to certification, click here.


Finally, this week the House sustained Governor Mills’ veto of LD LD 1496, “An Act to Restrict Noncompete Clauses.” Notably, the motion to sustain the veto received bipartisan support. Thanks to all who contacted their lawmakers to support efforts to defeat this legislation.


At this point, no meetings are scheduled for next week on bills that we are monitoring, however, we anticipate that the ACF Committee will hold a work session on LD 1985 on Wednesday.

Please reach out to members of the ACF Committee TODAY and urge them to vote ‘OUGHT NOT TO PASS’ on LD 1985!

It is critical that committee members hear from industry members about how this legislation would negatively impact investment decisions and supply of wood that has been certified as sustainable by the SFI program (a certification that is increasingly in demand by markets and recognized by consumers).

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thank you and good luck shoveling out of the storm!

Patrick and Krysta

ACF Committee Members

Senator Henry Ingwersen – Chair

Senator Russell Black

Senator Craig Hickman

Representative Bill Pluecker – Chair

Representative Danny Costain

Representative Dean Cray

Representative Timothy Guerrette

Representative Randy Hall

Representative Allison Hepler

Representative Caldwell Jackson

Representative Rebecca Jauch

Representative Laurie Osher

Representative Kathleen Shaw

Scroll to Top