Senate Lead on LCRED Says Democrats’ Vote on “Open for Business Zones” Sends Wrong Message to Employers
AUGUSTA – The Democrat-controlled Maine Senate last week voted to kill legislation designed to attract large employers to the State of Maine.
The bill, LD 1835, “An Act to Improve Maine’s Ability to Attract Major Private Investments,” was defeated mostly along party lines.
The legislation calls for the opening of “Open for Business Zones,” in which employers would commit to creating at least 1500 jobs and investing at least $50 million in Maine. In return, the State of Maine would extend a benefits package to allow us to be more competitive with those other states courting those companies. Included in the package would be tax incentives, employee training funds, energy rebates, and other benefits now available to existing Pine Tree Zones. It would also create “Paycheck Protection Zones.”
Senator Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot), who is the ranking Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee, said, “Today’s vote just caps my disappointment in my Democratic colleague’s actions to discourage business investment and growth in Maine. First they voted to penalize call centers that bring good-paying jobs to our state, and now they’ve voted to reject an important tool to put Maine on the radar screens of large employers. Both of these actions have denied opportunities to bring good-paying jobs to Maine’s hard-working citizens.
# # #
Democrats Put Politics Before Maine People in Rejecting Welfare Reform Bills
Republicans from the Maine House of Representatives and Senate held a news conference on the Democrats' decision to reject a series of welfare reform bills that, among other things, would have restricted the use of EBT cards out of state and required TANF recipients to look for work in order to receive benefits. Speaking, in order, were Assistant Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton, Representative Sharri MacDonald of Old Orchard Beach, Senator James Hamper of Oxford, Representative Mike Nadeau of Fort Kent, and Representative James Gillway of Searsport.
Governor LePage Orders State of Maine Flags to Half-Staff in Honor of Boston Firefighters
AUGUSTA – In honor of the two Boston firefighters who died last week, Governor Paul R. LePage has ordered the lowering of State of Maine flags on all public buildings and grounds to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Thursday, April 3.
Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr. of West Roxbury and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy of Hyde Park were killed on Wednesday, March 26 while battling a wind-stoked fire on Beacon Street in Boston.
“On behalf of all Mainers, our heartfelt prayers and condolences go out the families of Lieutenant Walsh and Firefighter Kennedy, as well as their fellow firefighters on the Boston Fire Department,” said Governor LePage. “We grieve with the families of these brave firemen and recognize those who dedicate themselves to protecting and safeguarding Americans every day.”
Senator Andre Cushing Introduces Bill to Attract Large Employers to Maine
AUGUSTA – Senator Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) today introduced a bill that is designed to attract major employers to Maine by providing financial and capital incentives.
The bill, LD 1835, “An Act to Improve Maine’s Ability to Attract Major Private Investment,” went before the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee. The bill was submitted by Governor Paul LePage and is being sponsored by Senator Cushing.
It would create two “Open for Business Zones,” one at Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, and at Loring Commerce Centre, the former Loring Air Force Base in Aroostook County.
If the bill were to become law, companies that choose to locate in the “Open for Business Zones,” invest at least $50 million, and create at least 1,500 jobs would be rewarded with corporate tax credits and sales tax exemptions. They would also be eligible for reductions in their electricity costs. Employees who work within the zones would not be required to join a union or pay union fees under the bill.
The bill also mandates that new jobs created within the zones pay at a rate that is competitive with other existing area jobs. Senator Cushing said, “This bill takes into account that businesses that qualify must offer wages that are competitive. This is not about allowing them to come here and shortchange Maine’s hardworking citizens. This is about attracting good companies that will provide a fair wage for a fair day’s work.
“This bill would provide what has been missing in Maine’s effort to recruit major employers. If we are going to go after them, we need to level the playing field with other states that are already offering these incentives and landing these jobs.
“Maine already has an outstanding workforce to offer to these potential employers. This legislation would go a long way toward creating new opportunities for them in Maine.”
# # #