This Week in Augusta January 5, 2016 edition

Date: January 05, 2016

Senate & House – 10 a.m. Wednesday & Thursday


LD 1 – LD 1455 were printed by end of 2015 session

As of today LD 1456 – LD 1514 have been printed

Ideas for new legislation include:

  • Create and sustain high-quality jobs at large
    companies (LD 1480)
  • Amend unemployment benefit law regarding labor
    disputes (LD 1501)


Reduce Electric Rates for Businesses (LD 1398) – This
proposal from Gov. LePage increases the amount of Regional Greenhouse Gas
Initiative Trust Fund revenue that is to be returned to business ratepayers. Currently
15% of the funds are returned to businesses, and this bill increases it to 55%.
The bill adds loans and technical assistance to the required uses of the
allocated funds.  The Energy, Utilities
& Technology committee will hold a public hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m.,
Jan. 7, in Room 211 of the Cross State Office Building.

Tax Incentives Evaluation – Interested parties are invited
to comment Friday on parameters that will be used to evaluate four economic
development tax incentive programs (New Markets Tax Credit, Employment Tax
Increment Financing, Pine Tree Development Zones, and BNAS Jobs Increment
Financing Fund).  Comments will be heard
by the Government Oversight committee at its meeting 9 a.m., Jan. 7, in Room 220
of the Cross State Office Building.

The legislative website contains links to audio broadcasts
of committee meetings.



One citizen initiative has already qualified for the
November 2016 ballot and several others hope to qualify.

Ranked-Choice Voting – Also known as instant runoff voting,
this initiative would abandon the tradition voting for a particular candidate
and declaring the candidate with the most votes as the winner.  Instead, voters would rank their preferences
and if no candidate received a least 50% of the vote, a computer analysis of
the rankings would determine who the voters most preferred.  The intent of proponents is to increase the
electoral power of third-party or independent candidates.  Elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House,
governor, and state legislature covered by the proposal.  Some states have runoff elections if no
candidate receives a majority of the vote but Maine is the first state to hold
a referendum on the ranked-choice voting idea.
NFIB does not yet have a position on this proposal.

$12 Minimum Wage, Indexing, Tip Credit – Liberal activists
and labor unions are expected to submit over 90,000 voter signatures on
petitions that call for increasing the minimum wage to $12 by 2020, automatic
(indexed) increases starting in 2021, and phasing out the tip wage credit by
2024.  This proposal is expected to be on
the November 2016 ballot.  A national
group called “The Fairness Project” is providing significant support for the
proposal. NFIB strongly opposes this

Income Tax Relief – Governor LePage and the Maine Republican
Party are pushing a ballot initiative that trims the personal income tax to a
flat 4% by 2021 from the graduated to rate of 7.15% in current law.  The proposal gradually takes the rate to 0%
in future years but does not specify how to fully pay for elimination of the
income tax revenues (about $1.5 billion in fiscal 2016).  An expansion of the sales tax to services and
increase in the sales tax rate, along with other tax increases, is a likely
source of replacement revenues. NFIB
does not yet have a position on this measure.

Income Tax Surcharge on Wealthy – The Maine Education
Association (teachers union) is circulating petitions to get a “Stand Up for
Students” proposal on the ballot that imposes a 3% surcharge on Maine taxable
income over $200,000.  The revenues would
be used for more state funding of local K-12 education costs. Various labor unions and liberal activist
groups are supporting the proposal. NFIB
strongly opposes this measure.


A recent “Patchwork for Paychecks” report from the Alliance
for a Just Society calls for at least a $15 national minimum wage and claims a
single adult in Maine would need a full-time job paying $15.77 an hour to earn
a living wage – and a single adult with two children would need $29.08 an hour.  More than half the available jobs in Maine
pay less than a living wage, according to the report.  Other recommendations include support of
unions and collective bargaining, regulation of workplace schedules for service
jobs, more spending on federal and state social “safety net” programs, and
requiring that federal, state, and local contracts ensure payment of living

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