Here you will find updates from Portland, our surrounding communities as well as our statehouse in Augusta. We work hard to represent your interests and want to ensure you are informed and up to date on what matters in your community.
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The never ending session continued last week when the legislature came in for Veto Day. The legislature took up more than just vetoes. The legislature passed a $105 million transportation bond and voted on spending bills sitting on the Special Appropriations Table.
For those procedural geeks out there this is how the veto process works: The Governor vetoes a bill. The legislature needs a 2/3 vote in both chambers to override the Governor’s veto. Depending on who originated the legislation, a State Senator or State Representative, determines which chamber the bill will start the process in. If a State Senator, the process starts in the Senate, if a State Representative it will start in the House. There is your quick briefing on Roberts Rules of Order for the week. Now what actually happened?
The legislature took up ten of eleven vetoes. The legislature sustained five of the Governor’s vetoes, overridden four and two sit in limbo. Included in the sidebar is what occurred and a link to the legislation.
LD 921 "An Act To Remove Time and Acreage Limits for Placing Land in Trust Status under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement"
LD 1043 "An Act To Promote Impartiality in the Probate Court"
LD 1567 "An Act To Amend the Archives and Records Management Law"
LD 1573 "An Act To Encourage Development in the Logging Industry by Requiring State and Local Government Agencies To Give Preference to Lumber and Solid Wood Products Harvested in the State"
LD 1259 "An Act Regarding Pay Equality"
LD 1147 "An Act To Modernize the Renewable Portfolio Standard"
LD 586 "An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund"
LD 1512 "An Act To Protect the Health and Safety of First Responders"
LD 481 "An Act To Promote Workforce Participation"
Overridden In the House No Action in the Senate
LD 1311 "An Act To Amend the Law Regarding Lien Recordings on Statutory Road Associations"
LD 1504 "An Act Regarding Solar Power for Farms and Businesses"
City Council Activity
Cold Storage: The working waterfront of Portland just got a little closer to working a whole lot more! Last week the Planning Board UNANIMOUSLY recommended a zoning change that would allow a 68-foot-tall cold storage warehouse to be built in a port development zone on the western waterfront. This is a very positive step forward though it still must go to city council for a vote.
TIF Amendments: The Economic Development Committee will be meeting Tuesday, July 25 at 5 p.m. to discuss the changes to the TIF process. This is the proposal which could debilitate economic development in Portland. We are following this issue closely. If you have questions or concerns, email us here.
Inclusionary Zoning Increase: Mayor Ethan Strimling is proposing to amend the City’s Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) ordinance to raise the required percentage to 20% and lower the income eligibility maximums. The City Council approved the current IZ ordinance in October 2015 which requires all housing developments of 10 or more units include 10% of their units as affordable at 100% of Area Median Income (AMI) if they are rentals and 120% of AMI if they are for sale. Alternatively, a developer can pay a fee-in-lieu to the City’s Housing Trust of $100,000 per unit, or provide comparable units nearby off-site.
This issue will be discussed at the City Council meeting this evening. More to come.
Falmouth - The Community Development Committee voted unanimously to approve a new 151 housing unit development in western Falmouth. Now the project will go to the Planning Board and Town Council for approval.
Scarborough - The planning board had a busy meeting last week, reviewing projects all across town, ranging from a site plan review for a small business complex on Washington Avenue to an amendment to the arts building plan at Piper Shores to a new office building on Science Park Drive to a multifamily housing development on Haigis Parkway.
Westbrook - Westbrook received $1 million federal grant to hire firefighters. This will help keep all the good families and businesses in Westbrook safe. The council will decide if they accept the grant money. The city has to decide if they are making this commitment beyond the three year grant.
Cape Elizabeth - In Cape Elizabeth the debate of the town giving up land rights is just starting to boil.
Gorham - In Gorham the town council unanimously voted to send a proposal to allow farmers in rural zones to host special events like weddings to the Ordinance Committee. The Planning Board had previously approved. This is quite the process to be able to through a party in a field.
South Portland - The South Portland City Council amended the Fairchild Semiconductor TIF last week. Fairchild Semiconductor, which set up shop in South Portland in 1962, was the beneficiary of the city’s first TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district in 1994. Under the deal, new investments in buildings and equipment at the firm’s 20-acre complex on Western Avenue are sheltered from assessment by the city. That helps to make the total value of the city seem smaller in the eyes of the state, a decided benefit which school subsidy dollars are doled out each year. In return the city returns half of the property taxes on any new development to Fairchild, a payment known as a credit enhancement agreement.
South Portland is also dabbling in inclusionary zoning, following in Portland's footsteps. You can read more about in the The Forecaster.
The 2018 Governor’s race is revving up with a slew of hopefuls jumping in. No rumors here just the folks who have signed the appropriate declaration of intent to run with the Ethics Commission. We’ve provided hyperlinks to candidates’ websites or Facebook page. In one instance, we provided an article that gave some interesting background on one hopeful. If there is no link we just couldn’t find the site or an article that had anything of value.
While you were vacationing 12 people jumped into the race:
Mary Mayhew, Former Commissioner of Health and Human Services
Deril Stubenrod, Reverend
James Boyle, former State Senator
Adam Cote, veteran and renewable energy lawyer
Patrick Eisenhart, retired CEO
Mark Eves, Former Speaker of the House
Janet Mills, Attorney General
Betsy Sweet, lobbyist and progressive activist
Terry Hayes, State Treasurer
Jay Parker Lunt Dresser
Richard Light, U.S. Army Veteran with experience and education in Business, Law Enforcement, Education, Mental Health Counseling, and Town & County Government.
This advocacy update is presented to you by Drummond Woodsum