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Legislative Update May 3, 2013

at the legislatureBy Executive Director Patrick Strauch

I certainly appreciated the response to the call to action we put out to landowners about contacting the Criminal Justice Committee concerning LD 297, the bill to arm rangers. I think it is important that the committee  understand the concerns of landowners. We will keep you posted as this issue is debated.

  • The ACF merger was discussed further Wednesday in work session. The committee focused on the Natural Resource Network bill as modified by several legislators. In one proposed amendment, the qualifications of ACF commissioner concerned the farming community and brought acceptance of the bill into question. Rep. Peter S. Kent (D-Woolwich) and Rep. Craig V. Hickman (D-Winthrop) continue to have concerns about the proposed amendment, but have not yet provided any suggestions for change. The vote on LD 837 in committee is expected coming Wednesday (1 p.m., State House, Room 127) and we will keep you posted.
  • LD 1259: Chapter 17 rules for bonded labor have been amended to the point where rule-making is driving lawmaking, when in fact the process should work in reverse. We are working to understand Senator Troy Jackson’s concerns and provide information to the committee that is accurate.
  • We testified against LD 1391, a new electronic pesticide notification process. In line with the agricultural community, we pointed out that there already are two notification systems and an additional one is not needed.
  • The Environmental and Natural Resources Committee are trying to organize the many wind power bills. We are trying to address landowner issues in a coherent manner. LDs 385, 616,1325,1323, 1147.
  • Several mining bills were heard Monday morning that either created prohibitions on mining (LD 1059) or sought to revisit issues settled in the 125th legislative session. (LDs 1302,1324) In general we oppose these bills. Our position is to maintain the course in developing a set of rules and working to review those rules next year in a thorough process.
  • The east-west highway was thoroughly discussed in the transportation committee. We are monitoring these discussions, but not presenting a MFPC position on the issue. LDs 985, 1304, 870.

Next week:

LD 1430, An Act To Clarify the Permitted Use of Aquatic Pesticides, which is a fairly technical bill that will help us obtain a general use permit for aerial applications of pesticides. It will help to clarify our use of aerial applications as we plan for budworm management.

LD 1468, An Act To Establish the High-efficiency Biomass Pellet Boiler Rebate Program and the Home Heating Conversion Fund, poses an interesting concept. Proceeds from harvests on public lands would repay a bond used to finance conversion of homes to pellet-heating systems. Harvesting more wood off public lands in a sustainable manner makes sense, but the council is concerned about limiting this opportunity to wood pellets.

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