February 15, 2013

template topads templateStrauch suffers temporary setback

Pat Strauch, MFPC Executive Director
Patrick Strauch

Executive Director Patrick Strauch suffered a broken leg last Sunday. He is on the road to recovery and is keeping up with events and issues by email, but will not be back in the office until at least late next week and perhaps later.

In the meantime, Pat Sirois, SFI Director, is taking the lead on MFPC efforts, with help from Communications Director Roberta Scruggs, Office Manager Sue McCarthy and, in the Legislature, lobbyist Michelle MacClean. If you wish to contact him, he will be monitoring his email.

Hearing held on Rep. Davis’ Tree Growth Tax bill

By Michele MacClean
Council Lobbyist

The Legislature continues to move at a very slow pace getting into issues and hearing bills, however there was a little activity this week.
 The Taxation Committee held a public hearing on LD 107, a bill by Rep. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, to amend the Maine State Constitution to allow landowners a one-year period to withdraw from the Tree Growth Tax program.  There was no support for the bill and much opposition, including Maine Municipal Association, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Audubon.  SWOAM testified neither for nor against.  
The bill would require a two-thirds vote from the Legislature to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot, which will be a very difficult hurdle for the supporters. There will be no quick action on the bill by the committee, as they voted today (Feb. 15) to table the bill and discuss it when further tree-growth bills are before the Tax Committee.
Other legislative committees held hearings on bills addressing unlawful cutting and ways to limit individuals who harvest without landowner permission and ways to expand turkey hunting opportunities to address over-population.
The Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a $153 million supplemental budget plan for FY13, which closes on June 30, with cuts mostly impacting education and human services.
MFPC remains focused on the upcoming biennial budget discussion, which is coming soon, and the governor’s proposal on BETR/BETE. Again, we ask each of our members to run their individual numbers and let us know how the governor’s proposal affect’s their facility.  
Finally, the Natural Resources Network held a very productive, successful discussion with members of the ACF Committee Thursday evening (Feb. 14). It was a wonderful opportunity to introduce the network to the committee and highlight our unified concerns around the merger. The most significant message that was universally shared was the need for discussion and dialogue with all interested parties, especially going forward, a position that was supported by the ACF Committee members in attendance.

Don’t miss a chance to talk to Gov. LePage

Gov. LePage
Gov. LePage

Our members with interests in western Maine are encouraged to attend a roundtable discussion with Gov. LePage and Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Commissioner George Gervais, Department of Economic and Community Development. As you know the Governor and his staff are interested in hearing from our members about things that would strengthen our industry. The event will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the University of Maine-Farmington, North Dining Hall B and C.
The one-hour roundtable will give members a chance to talk policy initiatives with the governor. It is an opportunity for the governor to hear what helps in Augusta, and what hurts their businesses. The ACF merger would also be a topic of discussion.
This will be a very informal discussion. There will be no rigid format; it’s more of an opportunity to share their comments, concerns or ask questions. The governor’s question to the group will be, “How do we grow this industry over the next two years, what policies need to be put in place, etc.”
The meeting will be closed to the media to insure a candid conversation  between members and the administration. RSVP to Sue McCarthy.

Announcing the Woodland Steward Program

Would you like to learn the basics that every woodland owner should know?  The Wood Steward’s on-line program is aimed at helping woodland owners get the most enjoyment out of their land. To learn more, visit: www.woodland-steward.org or e-mail info@woodland-steward.org. 

Get on board for the 2013 Teachers’ Tours   

The Maine Tree Foundation and Maine Project Learning Tree have announced that their 2013 Forests of Maine Teachers’ Tours will be at AMC’s Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins July 9 – 12 and at Twin Pine Camps on Millinocket Lake near Katahdin July 23 – 26. For more details visit the Maine Tree Foundation website.