Legislative Action

The Maine Legislature is now in session and we are active!

Garrison Beck is Midcoast Conservancy’s registered lobbyist. We work together as part of the 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.

April 11, 2017

Help towns and Code Enforcement Officers enforce shoreland zoning to protect our waters!
Please support LD 1096 – An Act To Improve Shoreland Zoning Rules and Enforcement To Support Municipalities

This bill amends the laws relating to the State’s regulation of the shoreland zone as follows.

1. It requires the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of Community Development to provide both basic and advanced training to code enforcement officers in the technical and legal aspects of code enforcement. Current law only requires that the office provide basic training to code enforcement officers.

2. It increases the maximum per day civil penalty for a specific violation of a municipal land use law or ordinance from $2,500 to $5,000 and increases the maximum per day civil penalty for a specific violation of a municipal shoreland zoning ordinance occurring within an area zoned for resource protection from $5,000 to $10,000.

3. It provides that municipal shoreland zoning ordinances must require an applicant for a permit for development within the shoreland zone to provide to the municipal permitting authority preconstruction and postconstruction photographs of the shoreline vegetation and development site.

Midcoast Conservancy’s Garrison Beck helped to develop this bill. This bill will have a public hearing in the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources at 1:00pm on Wednesday, April 19. Stay tuned for more information and our testimony.

Keep the property tax exemption for land held in conservation!
Please oppose LD 727 – An Act To Protect the Tax Base of Municipalities by Removing the Property Tax Exemption for Land Held for Conservation or Public Access Purposes

This bill addresses the effect of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision in Francis Small Heritage Trust, Inc. v. Town of Limington et al., 2014 ME 102, by specifying that holding land primarily for conservation or public access purposes is not a benevolent or charitable purpose, which is a condition necessary to obtaining an exemption from property tax. The change applies to property tax years beginning on or after April 1, 2018.

Read our testimony on LD 727 here.

How YOU can help:

  • This bill will have a public hearing at 1:00pm on Wednesday, April 12 in the Committee on Taxation. You can submit written testimony to the Committee Clerk, Dianne Dubord, at Dianne.Dubord@Legislature.Maine.gov.
  • Here in Lincoln County, our State Senator Dana Dow is the Senate Chair of this Committee. Contact Dana directly to voice your concerns.

March 31, 2017

Support Environmental Jobs for Youth!
Please support LD 894 – An Act To Increase Funding for the Youth Conservation Corps

Our 2017 YCC Crew: Gabi, Brianna & Eli

Each summer we hire three youth employees for our Youth Conservation Corps program. For several weeks they work with landowners to reduce pollution going into our lakes and rivers. The program provides jobs and training in environmental fields using science and math and is made possible by our many supporters including partial funding using state funds.

The bill will refund the program by providing $40,000 to Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) programs around the state. Funds would be split between all the organizations which operate YCC crews, and is available to any organization planning to start a YCC.

Your support will make a difference!

How YOU can help:

  • Submit testimony directly to the committee without having to come to Augusta. Clearly indicate which bill you are referencing (LD 894) and that you support it. In a word document attached to your email, send the testimony to the Committee Clerk, Steven Langlin, at Steven.Langlin@Legislature.Maine.gov.
  • If you live in Palermo, Liberty, or Montville, your representative S. Paige Zeigler is on this committee. Contact him before the hearing on March 22 to tell him you support this bill and would like his support as well. Click here for Rep. Zeigler’s contact information.

Ideas for writing your letter:

Protect Maine’s Natural Resources!

Please oppose LD 1040 – An Act Regarding Permitting under the Natural Resources Protection Act

Maine’s Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) is one of the fundamental laws which gives the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) the authority to protect all of Maine’s water resources (rivers, streams, wetlands, groundwater, and lakes). All of us benefit from clean water which is part of what makes Maine special and is crucial for growingMaine’s economy in recreation and tourism.

The Legislature is considering 13 changes that would significantly weaken the Act and directly harm to Maine’s water resources. Examples include:

  • redefining what constitutes a stream, meaning fewer streams would be covered under the Act and thus be more prone to pollution.
  • eliminates language that allows DEP to look for alternative locations when an activity harms habitats and fisheries: A major principal in the Act’s successful history.

How you can help:

 

Land Conservation:

There are a number of bills this session which will seek to change how nonprofit organizations are taxed on the land they hold, whether it be land trusts, universities, or hospitals. Recently printed is LD 727, An Act To Protect the Tax Base of Municipalities by Removing the Property Tax Exemption for Land Held for Conservation or Public Access Purposes. This bill would make land held for conservation or public access purposes is not eligible for exemption from property taxes. Stay tuned!

Water Conservation:

Lots going on here. We have proposed a bill which has been sponsored by Representative Lydia Blume of York which would make many improvements to Maine’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act. An Act To Improve Shoreland Zoning Rules and Enforcement To Support Municipalities would give towns and Code Enforcement Officers more tools to help them enforce one of the primary laws which protect our lakes and rivers from pollution caused by development. No schedule yet for this bill.

Also related to water, we are supporting two bills which address the inspections of septic systems. Unchecked, septic systems are potentially an out-of-sight source of major nutrient pollution to our water ways, contributing to harmful algae blooms. Two bills sponsored by Representative Gary Hilliard of Belgrade and Representative Lydia Blume of York address these issues. Rep. Hilliard’s bill, LD 559, would require septic systems in any shoreland zone, coastal or inland, to be inspected when the property is sold. Rep. Blume’s bill, LD 372, would require any septic system in the state to be inspected when the property is sold.

See our testimony on both bills here.

2017.

Together we are a force for nature!