Court rules budworm bill and 64 others are laws
Maine’s top court has ruled against Gov. Paul LePage in his dispute with the Legislature over whether he has more time to veto 65 bills already processed into law, delivering a significant blow to a governor already engulfed in withering criticism and scrutiny seven months into his second term, according to the Press Herald. One of the bills is LD 870 An Act To Amend the Maine Spruce Budworm Management Laws.
This was not a bill that the governor opposed – in fact, his veto message expresses no criticism of LD 870. It was simply caught up in end of the session politics.
“It was a (ACF) department bill, but we worked pretty hard on it,” Executive Director Patrick Strauch said. “It sets the stage for some kind of process for dealing with a severe spruce budworm outbreak. Ultimately we collaborated with Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Sportsman’s Alliance to find out the upfront issues we wanted to clarify before we get into rulemaking. We came a long way from when we first solicited input at the KMF forum last fall.”
LD 870 was modified to reflect a modern SBW management program and to set the stage for rulemaking to design a variance procedure for harvesting in light of a severe SBW outbreak. This effort was facilitated by the actions of the SBW Task Force that initiated a dialog among diverse interests about dealing with this potential threat in a post forest practices and anti-clearcutting referendum environment.
The ENGO community was responsive and ultimately supportive of the framework to be used in rulemaking.
“In the end, the industry, MFS and the ENGO community recommended revisions to the original bill that were unanimously approved by the ACF committee and the entire Legislature,” Strauch said. “This will be a keystone effort to prepare the state and forest businesses in the event of a severe SBW infestation. More dialogue is anticipated as the process moves forward.”