125th Maine State Legislature, first Session
LakeWatch summarizes bills that affect Maine lakes. It's companion LakeWatch Spreadsheet names each lake bill, lists its sponsor, committee of reference, dates of Public Hearings and Work Sessions, as well as Outcomes.
LD 1 is a wide ranging concept piece reflecting Governor LePage’s emphasis on improving the business climate by reducing “red tape.” 63 proposals containing everything and the kitchen sink have been added to this bill so far, and there will be more to come. Among the more disturbing initiatives are efforts to "re-zone" 3,000,000 acres (or 30%) of the unorganized territories for development, replacing the Land Use Regulation Commission with county governments for the purpose of land use regulation in Maine's 10,000,000 acre Unorganized Territories, and dissolving the Bureau of Environmental Protection, a Governor-appointed citizen panel that provides conflict resolution for the Department of Environmental Protection to make certain the department is isolated from special interest pressures. PUBLIC HEARING on this bill WILL TAKE PLACE ON FEBRUARY 14, AT 9 am IN ROOM 208 OF THE CROSS STATE OFFICE BUILDING IN AUGUSTA.
If you love a Maine lake, be there or send a friend.
LD 1 will be heard by the Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform, a special panel charged with streamlining business. Legislators known to be environmental supporters on the committee include Senators Justin Alfond and Seth Goodall, Representatives Bob Duchesne, Sharon Treat, Michael Carey and Linda Valentino.
LD 16 weakens a law which requires pesticide applicators to notify property owners when airplanes or air-carrier equipment will be spraying toxic chemicals near them. The issue is unintended drift of toxic chemicals to nearby sites. Property owners worried about toxic chemical drift have the right to enroll in a state registry so that they will be notified a week in advance when chemical application will take place. Current law requires applicators to notify property owners within 1,320 feet of aerial spraying, but this bill reduces that distance to 100 feet (a drop of nearly ¼ mile, 1,250 feet), and in the case of fruit tree top, and Christmas tree or non-agricultural spraying, the distance is reduced from 500 to 50 feet when airplanes or air-carrier equipment is used to spray those trees. LD 228 is a companion bill which would abolish the Pesticide Notification Registry completely.
LD 17, is one of several bills to abolish the Land Use and Regulation Commission (LURC) which oversees all regulatory development, implementation and enforcement in the unorganized territories (roughly, the northern half of Maine) - just as the Department of Environmental Protection does in our organized towns. The majority of Maine’s still-pristine, “gem” lakes lie within the unorganized territories. Maintaining LURC authority is vital for the future sustainability of these lakes. LD 17 would make Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry the oversight committee for this vast land area. The Department of Environmental Protection is not mentioned.
LD 56 would permit shorefront property owners on great ponds, rivers and streams to fish without a fishing license from their property. Fishing licenses fund fish stocking and research, which sustains fishing and tourism income. The bill is unlikely to come out of committee (the IF&W Committee).
LD 134 is a targeted, science-based bill that seeks to protect a rare species and important fishery. It will receive widespread support.
LD 156 is a Rollback of vernal pool protection. LD 156 would exempt a landowner proposing action that would impact a significant vernal pool habitat from vernal pool regulation if the vernal pool depression habitat is located on an abutting parcel. In effect, this removes the zone of protection surrounding a vernal pool depression if that protected area, but not the depression itself, is located on the parcel to be developed.
LD 159 By doubling the thresholds that define “subdivision” in Maine law, this bill exempts land developments of up to 9 lots in a parcel of 40 acres and 29 lots in a parcel of up to 60 acres from the subdivision requirements of the Site Location of Development and Stormwater Laws. This means that the Phosphorus control measures which safeguard surface waters from stormwater runoff would apply to far fewer subdivisions and much less land area. Also, where previously very large lots in the Shoreland Zone were counted as lots for the purpose of regulating Phosphorus export from subdivisions, LD 159 would no longer treat them as lots for subdivision purposes.
LD 219 SHORELAND ZONE ROLLBACK: Reduces the Maine state minimum "shoreland zone" from 250 to 75 feet from the normal high-water line or upland edge of any body of water, river or wetland.
LD 222 Provides for political appointment of Division Directors within the Department of Environmental Protection Within Land and Water Quality, Environmental Assessment, Water Quality Management, Watershed Management and Land Resource Regulation would no longer be service positions achieved by merit.
LD 228 Abolishes the laws that authorize the creation and maintenance of a Pesticide Notification Registry of residents, lessees, and property owners desiring notification in advance of pesticide applications.
LD 242 Directs the departments of Conservation and Environmental Protection to close the Songo River Locks to prevent upstream spread of aquatic invasive species.
LD 252 Extends the definition of "aquatic plant" to include nonvascular plants such as rocksnot (Didymosphenia geminata), requires the departments of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Environmental Protection to report to the legislature on the use of felt-soled waders and other control issues, and permits the Governor to appoint a person not representing a particular constituency to the Interagency Task Force on Invasive Aquatic Plants and Nuisance Species
LD 284 Prohibits waterskiing on a course on lakes of less than 100 continuous acres
LD 322 Repeals the Informed Growth Act, passed in 2007, which required municipalities to determine whether large scale retail developments (75,000 square feet and larger) would have undue economic impacts on the municipality and abutting jurisdictions and undue environmental impact on the community within which the development is planned. LD 322 also does away with the developer's permitting fee for large scale retail developments; this fee created funding for the environmental and economic impact studies required of municipalities.
LD 323 Seeks to create a state-level, coordinated policy for effective branding of Maine so as to enhance economic development. Since tourism is Maine's premium industry, the state's natural resources are its brand. They are the goose that lays the golden eggs of Maine's unique attractiveness. A secure Maine brand will rest on secure resource protections.
LD 333 Requires the Department of Environmental Protection to change its rules so as to exclude municipalities from having to meet setbacks from receiving waters (ysreams, rivers, lakes and wetlands) in the placement of snow dumps created by clearing public rights-of-way. Snowdumps contain accumulated airborne pollutants, street and soil surface material, fallout from vehicular emissions/corrosion/fluid leaks, roadway deterioration, litter, grit and chemical de-icers. Dump set-backs increase infiltration of soluble pollutants and decrease the transport of solids to receiving waters.
LD 341 Arbitrarily removes significant vernal pools and wetlands created by human activity from the protections of the Natural Resources Protection Act. A significant rollback
LD 356 Prohibits the operation of motorboats powered by internal combustion engines on Lily Pond in Deer Isle.