Legislative Update, 129th Maine Legislature:

Abandoned Roads, Amendments to the Tree Growth Tax Law and a Commercial Forestry Excise Tax Credit are Leading Legislative Concerns This Session.

Read Bills and Testimonies here:

 

LD 1415 Discontinued and Abandoned Roads   |    LD 1415 Testimony

LD 1150 Amend Tree Growth Tax Law    |    LD 1150 Testimony 

LD 268 Commercial Forestry Tax Credit    |    LD 268 Testimony

Legislative Articles
 There are at least 1,850 bills this year at the Maine State Legislature, and the statutory adjournment date is June 19. Maine Woodland Owners has been actively lobbying on a number of bills that would impact woodland owners, including a Tree Growth Tax Law amendment, abandoned roads and ATV use. 

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The pace of action at the State House is picking up. While many bills have yet to be printed, a number of those of interest to woodland owners have been dealt with, or are pending. Here are some of the issues we’ve been dealing with:

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      As I write this, many of the thorniest issues the Legislature is grappling with remain unresolved.  There has been movement of a number of issues related to woodland owners, however. 

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Once each year, approximately 30 30-yard dumpsters are filled to the brim with discarded mattresses, old tires, car parts, and other items dumped on the land of woodlot owners. This enormous clean-up effort, undertaken by a host of volunteers during IF&W and DACF’s Annual Cleanup Day, only touches upon a fraction of the waste that is illegally dumped.

A bill has recently been proposed that addresses the problem in the form of a discarded mattress stewardship program. Bill Williams, Deputy Executive Director of Maine Woodland Owners, points out that it’s important to “reduce overall waste and reduce the dumping of waste on woodland owner's property,” in his testimony for the bill.  To read his full testimony, click here.

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The 127th Legislature adjourned on April 29, and is unlikely to return until a new Legislature is seated in December. Here are highlights some of bills affecting woodland owners:


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We’ve made discontinued and abandoned roads a real focus of our legislative efforts.  The laws dealing with these roads are a complete mess, and failure to deal with them in any meaningful way for 40 years has just made the problems worse.  We have two bills in play.

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We have spent a great deal of time protecting the Tree Growth Tax Law program. As I reported in previous Maine Woodland Owners newsletters, the Governor’s original budget proposal included a substantial rewrite of the law.

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This new feature by Maine Woodland Owners member Michael Maine, a licensed forester and attorney with Thomas P. Peters II & Associates, covers legal issues of particular interest to forest landowners. His presentation on discontinued and abandoned roads at the 2012 annual meeting helped spark the current legislative study.

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LD 837 which would finalize the merger between the departments of Conservation and Agriculture has received initial approval from the Legislature and seems headed for passage.  You might remember that the two departments were put together in name (the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry) during last session, but the Legislature required that a detailed plan be submitted and approved by the Legislature or the consolidated department would spilt back into two departments at the end of 2014. 

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The bill dealing with discontinued and abandoned Roads, LD 1177 “An Act to Implement the Recommendations from the Discontinued and Abandoned Roads Stakeholder Group” is being considered by the State and Local Government Committee. 

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