Senate Republicans gut ‘Buy America, Buy Maine’ bill

Posted: April 08, 2016 | Senator Libby, State and Local Government

AUGUSTA — Republicans in the Senate voted to gut a bill originally designed to support Maine and American companies.

Senate Democrats backed the original version of the bill — LD 1525, “An Act To Encourage the Purchase of Products Made in Maine and in the United States and To Give Preference to Maine Businesses When Awarding Contracts” — which requires state government to purchase Maine-made products and contract services from Maine businesses whenever possible, and American goods and businesses when Maine options are unavailable. It also creates a new procurement review board that would review all state government contracts worth $1 million or more.

The Democrats’ version of the bill won majority support in the House of Representatives on Thursday. However, Senate Republicans, in a party line 20-15 vote, backed an amended version of the bill that does not require the state to buy American or buy Maine. Their version of the bill also nixed the procurement board.

“Republicans didn’t support our Buy American, Buy Maine bill last year, and they must have felt the heat back home in their districts, because they couldn’t wait to sponsor this legislation when this session began ” said Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, the lead Senate Democrat on the State and Local Government Committee.

“Unfortunately, when push came to shove, they still couldn’t commit to supporting Maine and American businesses. Instead, they gutted the bill and opted to pass a do-nothing measure that won’t create or keep a single Maine job.”

Sen. Tom Saviello, the bill’s sponsor, has said he dramatically narrowed the scope of his bill to target its benefits toward a printing shop in his district.

With the House and Senate having passed two different versions of the bill, the measure is likely to die between the chambers.