With roughly a month and half remaining in the legislative session, committees are working long hours to schedule remaining public hearings and complete work on proposed legislation. Not surprisingly, it has been an unusual year in Augusta, with much of the activity taking place on-line.
Last week, the Appropriations Committee held public hearings on two bills proposing to send a bond issue to Maine voters in support of the Land for Maine’s Future Program and State Parks. Discussions about LMF and other bonds is likely to be on the backburner for the time being. First, the legislature needs to figure out how best to spend the more than $1 billion in federal funds heading to Maine that were approved by the US Congress in March. Policymakers also need to finalize the two-year budget that is set to begin on July 1.
In the meantime, the legislature is close to defeating two bills that could have negatively impacted land trust activity in Maine. One bill sought to cap public land ownership in Maine, while the other would have allowed municipalities to assess fees on tax exempt land, including properties owned by land trusts. Both bills were unanimously opposed in committee.
Lastly, legislators and the Governor are working through a handful of other conservation-related proposals including bills seeking to implement the State’s Climate Action Plan, as well as legislation related to the proposed energy corridor in Western Maine, Sunday hunting, offshore wind, eel grass restoration, and aquaculture.
If you have any questions about LMF or other bills in the legislature, please contact MCHT’s Public Policy Manager Jeff Romano.