In mid-January, the Maine Legislature’s nonpartisan Revisor of Statutes’ office released the session’s list of legislative bill requests. Legislators were elected in November, sworn in the first week of December, and had until the end of the year to submit their legislative proposals. The list released in January includes more than 2,200 bills by title only. While not all of these will become formal proposals, most will surface as bills between now and late April. To date, there are just over 200 printed bills.
Although it is difficult to evaluate legislation when only the title is known, this initial list provides some clue as to which subject areas legislators are looking to address. In terms of conservation and land trust related subject matters, here is a brief snapshot of issues likely to surface over the next few months:
- MCHT is working with Senator Pierce (Cumberland County) on a bill to exempt conservation lands from municipal subdivision law.
- Renewable energy and transmission corridors, including addressing and minimizing potential negative impacts to farmland and wildlife habitats.
- Efforts to build upon Maine’s Climate Action Plan by encouraging a clean energy transition and preparing communities to be prepared for changing weather conditions.
- Farmland conservation and related issues focused on food security.
- Potential amendments to current use tax policy, such as the Open Space and Tree Growth Tax laws.
- Lithium and other types of mining proposals by legislators for and against Maine taking advantage of economic opportunities associated with this activity.
- Efforts to expand and enhance recreational trails.
- Changes to finfish aquaculture law in the wake of the controversial proposal that surfaced last year in Frenchman Bay.
- A variety of bills seeking to expand Wabanaki interests and concerns.
- Proposal to broaden Maine’s Sales Tax Exemption so that it applies to all nonprofits
This list is not at all exhaustive. Stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead for updates as actual bills are printed, evaluated for their potential impacts, and scheduled for public hearings.