The Maine Legislature reconvened for the Second Session of the 128th Legislature on January 3, 2018. We are actively tracking issues and working to represent the waters and lands of the midcoast in Augusta.
Garrison Beck is Midcoast Conservancy’s registered lobbyist. We also work together as part of Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition, a partnership of 35 environmental, conservation and public health organizations representing over 100,000 members who work to protect the good health, good jobs and quality of life that our environment provides.
Sea-Run Species Passage at Sheepscot Pond
Our own Sheepscot Pond in Palermo has been the subject of two bills during this legislative session which condradict each other.
LD 1667 was introduced in this Second Regular Session (2018) by Rep. Paige Zeigler. It would have placed a moratorium on the opening of the fish ladder at Sheepscot Pond for the two months of the year it is closed currently. That bill had a hearing on January 23 and work session on January 25 where the Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Committee voted unanimously Ought Not To Pass, meaning the bill is dead and will not proceed to the full legislature. Midcoast Conservancy testified in opposition to this bill.
LD 922 was introduced in the First Regular Session (2017) and carried over to 2018 with the anticipation that the Departments of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and Marine Resources would find common ground and establish an agreement for the operation of the fish ladder. This did not happen and an unusual second public hearing was held for the bill on February 7, 2018 in the Marine Resources Committee. The work session for this bill was held on February 14. Midcoast Conservancy testified in support of this bill, which would force the fish ladder to be operational year-round, whereas it is currently blocked in the spring to keep alewives and other sea-run species out of Sheepscot Pond.
Update: February 15
The Committee on Marine Resources voted LD 922 majority Ought To Pass on February 14. The final vote was 8 in favor, 3 opposed. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives.
Read Midcoast Conservancy’s explanation of the arguments surrounding this issue on our website here.
Nonpoint Source Bond Issue
LD 178 had it’s public hearing on Tuesday, January 9. With no opponents, supporters ranged from Maine Water Environment Association to the Maine Aquaculture Association to Maine’s Environmental Priority Coalition. See all the testimony here. The same hearing involved six other bond bills. While we are glad this bill finally was heard after being carried over from last session, it is unlikely any decisions will be made on funding until later this session, which is scheduled to adjourn on April 18. We will keep working to ensure it is at the top of the list of funding priorities for members of the Appropriations Committee.
Please check our Archive for materials from the 2017 legislative session.