January 2021 State Legislative Update

Policymakers Submit Bill Requests

In late December, the Maine Legislature released bill titles submitted by legislators and State Agencies. This is the first step in the annual bill drafting process and is a good early indication of the subjects that will be addressed by Maine legislators this session (note: not all bill titles will become bills and some future bills will surface that do not appear on the initial lists).

While there are fewer bill requests in 2021 than recent years, more than 1,600 potential legislative proposals have been submitted. In the months ahead, we will learn more details when the actual bills are printed. Those interested in conservation policy should expect some familiar topics.

Land for Maine’s Future

Senator Cathy Breen of Falmouth and Representative Patrick Corey of Windham, both of whom served on a conservation task force in 2019, are seeking to make good on one of that group’s signature recommendations.  They have each submitted bills to revitalize the Land for Maine’s Future program, with the goal of approving the first LMF bond since 2012.

Climate Action Plan

Maine legislators are proposing numerous climate-related bills this session and proposals are also expected to be submitted by Governor Mills. Much of the focus will be on implementing the state’s newly-approved Climate Action Plan, including, adapting to sea level rise, expanding the use of electric vehicles, encouraging carbon sequestration, and addressing the siting of renewable energy.

Property Taxation

Legislators this session are once again seeking changes to Maine current use property tax programs with a bill related to solar energy on lands enrolled in the Farm and Open Space law and two bills looking at outdoor recreation on properties in Tree Growth. In addition, Representative Tuell of East Machias has submitted a bill request titled “An Act to Ease the Property Tax Burden by Authorizing Municipalities to Require Payments by Nonprofit Organizations.” This has been a familiar topic in the legislature’s Taxation Committee over the past decade.

Stay Tuned

Actual bills will be printed soon and be introduced for public hearings throughout the winter and early spring. In addition to the above topics, expect proposals seeking to amend Maine’s shoreland zoning law, support the state’s working waterfronts, enhance local food production, allow Sunday hunting, and expand recreational trails, among others.