June 14, 2013
Maine has had plenty of rain recently, but as of May 20, 664 acres already had
burned across the state, more than in all of 2012. Read more.
Senate OKs ACF merger, but veto is needed
on bonded labor bill
By Executive Director Patrick Strauch
This week continued to be the typical roller coaster of legislative activity. After bills are completed in committee, then proceed to the House and Senate, but the timing of the floor debate depends on the whether the parties have caucused on the bill to attempt reaching a unified consensus or if the necessary votes are in position to ensure greater success. It is a time that drives me crazy, but our lobbyist Michele MacLean seems to thrive on the chaos of determining when a bill will reach the floor.
This week we went into triple sessions — morning, afternoon and night! — in order to deal with the backlog of work. The budget was center stage this week and it passed in the House and the Senate last night. The final votes, 102-43 in the House and 25-10 in the Senate, were just over the two-thirds majority needed to make the budget effective by July 1, the start of the next fiscal year. It remains to be seen if the governor will sign or veto the budget. He had 10 days (not including Sunday) to sign or veto it.
The Senate vote on the merger bill (LD 837) was reportedly linked to passage of the budget, so the merger was approved under the hammer (without debate) just before the budget bill was approved. The environmental community did not protest too loudly after the House vote last week (93-49) convincingly demonstrated support of the merger.
LD 1103, the bonded labor bill, finally came up Wednesday night. This, of course, was an important issue to Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), and Democrats honored his desire to wield his might in pushing through a bill that is blatantly unconstitutional. However, I was impressed with the lone dissenting voice of Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin) who stood up and spoke against the measure.
Michele agreed, saying, “Cleveland did a fantastic job on the floor debating the bill. He was very thoughtful in his approach. He clearly had spent an enormous amount of time researching this bill and the first version from the 124th Legislature. He opposed the bill because of its constitutional problems and felt compelled to speak about it on the floor.” Read more.
ReEnergy celebrates SFI certification
ReEnergy Holdings, an MFPC member and the owner of four biomass-to-energy facilities in Maine, announced June 13 that it has achieved certification to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standard, which verifies that its biomass procurement program promotes land stewardship and responsible forestry practices. ReEnergy is the first company solely devoted to electricity production to be certified by SFI. Read more.