President Jackson files legislation to hold forest landowners accountable for violating the law

Posted: October 15, 2019 | Senator Jackson

AUGUSTA — Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, has filed a bill request to protect Maine wood hauling jobs and penalize forest landowners, who knowingly break the law by giving Maine wood hauling jobs to Canadians.

LR 3908, “An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry” would take away tax incentives for forest landowners that engage in this illegal practice, known as cabotage. Although it’s against the law, the lack of enforcement has led to the widespread use of this practice in the forest products industry. 

“I’m sick and tired of powerful people getting away with breaking the rules at the expense of hardworking Mainers. Cabotage in the Maine woods is just another example,” said President Jackson. “This bill is about putting an end to a practice where landowners take jobs away from taxpaying Maine residents and give them to Canadians. The Canadian government looks out for their workers, as they should. Maine workers deserve the same protection.”

Under current law, Canadian trucking companies are allowed to bring goods into the U.S. and bring goods back to their country of residence. However, the law explicitly states that Canadian trucking companies cannot transfer goods from one location in Maine to another, taking jobs away from Maine residents. Unfortunately, Canadian trucking companies will enter the state to either pick up goods or make deliveries between the two countries, but along the way, these companies will pick up and deliver goods within the state. This is cabotage and is clearly against the law. 

“If forest landowners are going to break the rules and cheat Maine taxpayers, then they don’t deserve to get tax incentives subsidized by the hardworking residents of this state,” said President Jackson.

Much like in the woods, the use of Canadian truckers to deliver goods within the state takes jobs away from Maine residents and depresses wages. Canadian labor is significantly cheaper due to the exchange rate and the Canadian National Health Care System.

Bill requests submitted for consideration during the Second Regular Session must be approved by a majority of the 10-member Legislative Council. The Council is comprised of legislative leadership in both the Senate and the House. Legislative Council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Oct. 23 to vote on bill requests.

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