Here’s a progress report on the many bills that MOFGA is working on in the Maine Legislature. Please note that changes are happening still. You can check the status of bills on the Legislature’s website.
There is a LOT of good news and Governor Mills has already signed many of our bills including our top priority – LD 437 – An Act To Establish the Maine Healthy Soils Program, sponsored by our fearless MOFGA Board President, Senator Stacy Brenner. Hooray!!!
As thrilled as we are with passage of the Healthy Soils bill and many others, we are disheartened by Governor Mills’ veto of LD 125 – An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture. The bill had strong votes for enactment in the House and Senate when it went to the Governor’s desk. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not have the votes to override the Governor’s veto.
Here is the current list of our priority bills that have become law as of 7/21/21.
- LD 2 – An Act To Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process. Sponsored by Representative Rachel Talbot Ross.
- LD 99 – An Act To Require the State To Divest Itself of Assets Invested in the Fossil Fuel Industry. Sponsored by Representative Maggie O’Neil.
- LD 155 – Resolve, Directing the Board of Pesticides Control To Prohibit the Use of Certain Neonicotinoids for Outdoor Residential Use. Sponsored by Representative Nicole Grohoski.
- LD 204 – An Act To Amend the Law Regarding the Interest Rate for State Loans under the Potato Marketing Improvement Fund. Sponsored by Senator Russell Black.
- LD 264 – An Act To Prohibit Aerial Application of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). Note: Upon discovery of information that flourinated containers were the likely source of PFAS-contamination of pesticides, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) Committee changed this bill to Resolve, Directing the Board of Pesticides Control To Gather Information Relating to Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in the State. The resolve requires pesticide manufacturers and distributors to provide affidavits stating whether their pesticides have ever been stored, distributed or packaged in a fluorinated high-density polyethylene container and requires manufacturers to provide an affidavit stating whether PFAS is in the formulation of the registered pesticide. The amendment directs the Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) to report back to the ACF in January 2022 with: information on the extent of fluorinated adjuvants being used or sold in the State; a determination on how to regulate fluorinated adjuvants in the State; a plan for prohibiting pesticides with PFAS as part of the formulation; and a definition of PFAS contamination in pesticides. The ACF has the authority to create emergency legislation based on those findings.
- LD 316 – An Act To Prohibit the Use of Chlorpyrifos. Sponsored by Representative Victoria Doudera.
- LD 363 – An Act Regarding the Statute of Limitations for Injuries or Harm Resulting from Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (changes action period from within 6 years of harm or injury to within 6 years of discovery of harm). Sponsored by Representative Bill Pluecker.
- LD 437 – An Act To Establish the Maine Healthy Soils Program. Sponsored by Senator Stacy Brenner.
- LD 519 – An Act To Protect Children from Exposure to Toxic Chemicals (bans glyphosate and dicamba on school grounds). Sponsored by Representative Lori Gramlich.
- LD 558 – Resolve, Directing the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry To Study Alternative Cropping Systems for Farmers Affected by Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Contamination. Sponsored by Representative Bill Pluecker.
- LD 691 – An Act To Support Farms and Address Food Insecurity (fund to address food insecurity and provide nutrition incentives for local foods purchasing, matching contributions up to $25,000 for fiscal year 2021-22 only). Sponsored by Representative William Pluecker. The bill became law without Governor Mills’ signature.
- LD 820 – Resolve, To Convene a Working Group To Develop Plans To Protect Maine’s Agricultural Lands When Siting Solar Arrays. Sponsored by Senator Ned Claxton.
- LD 937 – Resolve, To Facilitate the Provision of Incentives for Soil Carbon Storage. Sponsored by Representative Laurie Osher.
- LD 983 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation (funding for the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Program). Sponsored by Senator Catherine Breen. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee approved $40M for LMF in the 2022-2023 biennial budget, and the Legislature enacted the budget on June 30. Governor Mills signed the budget on July 1.
- LD 1094 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Reduce Homeowner and Municipal Energy Bills through Increased Efficiency and Weatherization Projects. Sponsored by Senator Matthew Pouliot. This bill was a priority of Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition, however the need for the bill was obviated by the nearly $1 billion federal relief funding for the State government, which came to Maine through the American Rescue Plan. One of Governor Mills’ priorities in the funding allocation was energy efficiency. See LD 1733 below.
- LD 1159 – An Act To Amend the Membership Requirements of the Board of Pesticides Control (restore environmental interest credentials and no conflict of interest for two seats). Sponsored by Representative Laurie Osher.
- LD 1242 – An Act To Ensure Appropriate Oversight of Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program. Sponsored by Representative Lynne Williams. On July 1, this bill became law without Governor Mills’ signature.
- LD 1503 – An Act To Stop Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Pollution. Sponsored by Representative Lori Gramlich. Enacted by House and Senate. Became law without Governor Mills’ signature.
- LD 1541 – An Act To Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money (packaging stewardship). Sponsored by Representative Nicole Grohoski.
- LD 1572 – Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise. Sponsored by Representative Lydia Blume.
- LD 1659 – An Act To Create the Maine Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator (Green Bank – provides financing for clean energy and sustainability projects and infrastructure). Sponsored by Representative Stanley Zeigler.
- LD 1682 – An Act To Require Consideration of Climate and Equity Impacts by the Public Utilities Commission. Sponsored by Representative Victoria Doudera.
- LD 1733 – An Act To Provide Allocations for the Distribution of State Fiscal Recovery Funds. Sponsored by Senator Catherine Breen. This emergency funding bill includes $20M for food processing and food system infrastructure.
Here’s what’s still in play:
- LD 95 – RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to Food. Sponsored by Representative Billy Bob Faulkingham. The bill is finally passed in the House and Senate with 2/3 of the members in both chambers voting in support. It will go to a public vote by the people of Maine on Election Day.
- LD 151 – An Act To Protect Farm Workers by Allowing Them To Organize for the Purpose of Collective Bargaining. Sponsored by Representative Thom Harnett. The House and Senate have voted enacted this bill with a razor thin margin in the Senate. The bill awaits Governor Mills’ signature.
- LD 489 – RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to a Healthy Environment. Sponsored by Senator Chloe Maxmin. The Senate has finally passed the bill, however the House did not complete its voting on the bill and carried it over to the 2022 session of the Legislature.
- LD 966 – Resolve, Establishing the Commission To Study Fair, Equitable and Competitive Tax Policy for Maine’s Working Families and Small Businesses. Sponsored by Representative Denise Tepler. The bill has been finally passed in the House, and its fiscal note was approved by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee (AFA). The Senate will have final votes on this in the next session.
- LD 1475 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Targeted Food Processing Infrastructure ($5M bond for food processing infrastructure). Sponsored by Representative Rachel Talbot Ross.
- LD 1565 – An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Agriculture, Food and Forest Economy (investment fund for infrastructure, small businesses, inclusivity, advisory board). Sponsored by Representative Rachel Talbot Ross. It is important to note that federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (~$20M) will be allocated to Maine’s food and agriculture infrastructure. This will allow for important progress with capital investments as the Legislature develops long-term strategy through LD 1565 and LD 1475.
- LD 125 – An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture. Sponsored by Senator Troy Jackson. The House and Senate enacted this landmark bill, but Governor Mills sided with the plantation forest industry, primarily influenced by the foreign company J.D. Irving, and vetoed the bill on June 25. The Legislature failed to override the veto on June 30. We will continue to advocate for an end to aerial spraying of herbicides in Maine’s North Woods.
- LD 1549 – An Act To Establish the Maine Forest Advisory Board. Sponsored by Representative Margaret O’Neil. Enacted by the House and Senate. Governor Mills vetoed the bill. The House failed to override the Governor’s veto on July 19. As with LD 125, we will continue to advocate for responsible forest policies that honor the input of a broad range of stakeholders and put human and environmental health at least on par with economic health.
- LD 1708 – An Act To Create the Pine Tree Power Company, a Nonprofit Utility, To Deliver Lower Rates, Reliability and Local Control for Maine Energy Independence. Sponsored by Representative Seth Berry. Enacted by House and Senate. Governor Mills vetoed the bill on July 13, and the House failed to override the Governor’s veto on July 19. Advocates for this Consumer Owned Utility are organizing a referendum for the 2022 election.
- LD 1022 – An Act To Make Agricultural Workers and Other Workers Employees under the Wage and Hour Laws (eligible for minimum wage and overtime). Sponsored by Representative Thom Harnett. The House rejected this bill.
- LD 1319 – An Act Regarding Registered Dispensaries and Rules under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act and the Definition of “Resident” in the Marijuana Legalization Act. Sponsored by Senator Matthew Pouliot. The Senate has voted in support of this bill, however the House had possession of the bill when the Legislature adjourned so the bill is dead.
- LD 33 – An Act To Improve the Laws Governing Hemp by Bringing Them into Compliance with Federal Law. The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee changed this bill to Resolve, Directing the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry To Seek Input from Stakeholders on the State’s Hemp Program.
- LD 174 – An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Ending Hunger by 2030 Advisory Group. Sponsored by Representative William Pluecker.
- LD 1599 – An Act To Establish A Maine Pesticide Sales and Use Registry. Sponsored by Representative Laurie Osher. Maine has a policy of minimizing reliance on pesticides but it can’t begin to measure progress toward this goal because it doesn’t track sales and use. Technology should make this easy for all stakeholders at minimal expense. We anticipate that the Legislature will reassess this effort during the next legislative session.
- LD 1626 – An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act.
- LD 1639 – An Act To Protect the Health and Welfare of Maine Communities and Reduce Harmful Solid Waste. Sponsored by Senator Anne Carney.
- LD 832 – An Act To Promote Immigrant Workforce Development and Community Integration. Sponsored by Representative Michael Brennan. This sought to assist immigrants in need of housing, job training, language skills and transportation.
- LD 1029 – An Act To Amend the Marijuana Legalization Act and the Laws Governing the Taxation of Marijuana. Sponsored by Louis Luchini. This bill sought to medical marijuana caregivers to sell unlimited amounts of product (flower, trim, etc.) to adult use cultivators. Although MOFGA doesn’t have a clear indication that our growers regularly have excess product, we are aware that it does happen from time to time and we feel that this could be a good business development opportunity.
- LD 1279 – An Act To Increase the Minimum Wage. Sponsored by Representative Benjamin Collings. This bill sought to increase the minimum hourly wage, starting January 1, 2022, from its present $12.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour and by an additional $1.00 per hour each year until the minimum wage on January 1, 2025 is $16.00 per hour. Beginning January 1, 2026 and every year after, the minimum wage would rise by the increase, if any, in the cost of living.
- LD 1410 – An Act To Incentivize the Development of the Labor Force in the Green Jobs Sector through Assistance in Repaying Student Loan Debt. Sponsored by Senator Stacy Brenner. This bill sought to provide a tax credit to farmers working to pay off student loans.
- LD 1540 – An Act To Reduce Hunger and Use Food Scraps in Farming and Energy Production. Sponsored by Representative Stanley Zeigler. The bill sought to: collect edible food that would otherwise become solid waste and distribute it to hunger relief organizations for human consumption; divert excess food from the waste stream toward consumption by humans, then divert for agricultural use, including for consumption by animals, then subject the food scraps to composting or anaerobic digestion with subsequent soil application, and finally subject the food scraps to anaerobic digestion for energy production.