REPUBLICAN LEADERS “MISSED OPPORTUNITY” FOR JUMPSTARTING STATE'S ECONOMY AND SUPPORTING MAINE WORKERS
AUGUSTA – Several Democratic measures aimed to stimulate Maine’s economic climate were voted down by Republican leaders during today’s Legislative Council. The Council met to hear appeals on 60 new bill proposals for consideration by lawmakers next year when the 125th legislature reconvenes.
“While it is important to be selective when reviewing bills for next session, it is incumbent upon us to consider options that could help the people of Maine,” said Senate Democratic Leader, Barry Hobbins. “It is fair to say that any possible solutions to our lagging economy constitute emergency bill status. As lawmakers, it is our job to help strengthen Maine workers and small business during this economic climate.”
Of particular economic interest were three bill requests: “Resolve, To Create the Small Business Promotion Task Force,” sponsored by Senator Seth Goodall, “An Act to Facilitate the Growth of Small Business through Economic Gardening,” sponsored by Senator Cynthia Dill, and “An Act to Establish an Adult Education College and Career Pathways System in Maine,” sponsored by Senator John Patrick.
“Unfortunately by denying these bill proposals we are missing a real opportunity to jumpstart our state’s economy,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Justin Alfond. “We should be exploring and considering all options that could provide economic stimulus for our business community and expand education and training opportunities for Mainers.”
“Resolve, To Create the Small Business Promotion Task Force,” sponsored by Senator Seth Goodall, was designed to address concerns of small business owners that employee approximately 10 or fewer employees. The task force would have comprised of people working on the front lines of local economies and downtowns by including small business owners, local economic development directors, chamber of commerce professionals, and members of Maine downtown organizations. During the last recession, local, micro-businesses led as job creators by increasing jobs by nearly 10% despite larger companies cutting jobs by 2%.
“An Act to Facilitate the Growth of Small Business through Economic Gardening,” sponsored by Senator Cynthia Dill, aimed to reduce the red tape for small businesses that grow and produce local food. The bill would have brought a number of key stakeholders together to improve the local and regional food system infrastructure, boost income, and expand access to healthy food.
“An Act to Establish an Adult Education College and Career Pathways System in Maine,” sponsored by Senator John Patrick, would have trained new workers and help many adults who are out of work by providing a clear direction toward employment.
During a meeting last month, the Legislative Council had originally voted against allowing these measures to be heard next session. The Council which is made up of 10 Democratic and Republican leaders, must approve any new bills for the second session of the legislature, which is typically reserved for top priority or emergency measures. Senators Goodall, Dill, and Patrick each appeared in person before the Council asking for reconsideration of the Council’s decision during today’s appeals hearing.
The legislature reconvenes on January 4, 2012.