Lawmakers Urged to Use Five Common Sense Guidelines to Sort through Reforms
At a State House news conference today, before a crowd of people from all corners of Maine, a group of businessmen and women endorsed a set of guiding principles that could help lawmakers sort through the raft of proposals for “regulatory reform” that have been made in recent months.
Speakers criticized the Governor’s Phase I Regulatory Reform Proposals as a threat to Maine’s environment and to the health of Maine people. The group voiced concerns that the “regulatory reform” initiative pushed by the governor was “horribly off-track,” but could be set back on a constructive course if lawmakers utilized the announced set of five “Guiding Principles for Ensuring a Strong Maine Economy, Good Jobs and a Clean and Healthy Environment.” The five guidelines are:
1) Proposals should benefit Maine people and businesses, and not the special interests of out-of-state corporations that do not employ Maine workers;
2) Proposals must have a direct relationship to strengthening Maine’s economy and creating good Maine jobs, and must not put current jobs at risk;
3) Proposals should focus on improved implementation of Maine’s laws and regulations, and not on a weakening of Maine’s environmental standards and safeguards;
4) Proposals should be founded on well-documented opportunities for process improvements, and not be based on an isolated case, single anecdote, or unsubstantiated assertion; and
5) Proposals must ensure continued protection of Maine’s air, water, land, wildlife, and the good health of Maine people.
Hundreds of people from across Maine traveled to the State House today to oppose the governor’s environmental rollback agenda. Many came to testify at a hearing on a “concept draft” piece of legislation (LD 1) intended to promote regulatory reform. At the hearing, a representative of the Governor’s Office released a 48-page document of proposed amendments to Maine law – but the legislative process remains very uncertain. It is not clear which issues will be addressed in which committees, or whether additional public hearings will be held beyond today on LD 1.
Business representatives had the following to say about the governor’s proposals and these “guiding principles”:
“I urge the Legislature to be cautious in its tinkering with Maine’s laws, and to be absolutely sure that any proposals that are enacted provide a clear benefit to Maine people and Maine businesses, and are not driven by the needs of companies that do not employ Maine workers,” said Heather Blease of Thayer Corporation. “Much of the improvement that is being sought can be achieved without legislative action. I am confident that an increased sense of partnership between regulators and businesses can go a long way to improving the business climate in Maine, and that’s not something that can be legislated.”
“Our lawmakers should only make changes in response to well documented opportunities for process improvements, they should not legislate based on anecdotes,” said Suzanne Kelly, owner of Bangor-based Kelly Realty Management.
“I firmly believe that what’s good for Maine’s environment is good for Maine’s economy,” said Jim Wellehan, owner of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes. “That’s how I run our nearly 97-year-old company, and I believe that all well-run, forward-looking companies – especially here in Maine – understand the tight connection between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Ironically, some of the proposed roll-backs will actually drive up business costs.”
“Like the old false choice that was foisted on us 40 years ago, a choice between pickerels or payrolls, these cries of alarm are hogwash – utter foolishness. In fact, the opposite is true,” said Hoddy Hildreth, CEO of Diversified Communications. “Maine’s environmental laws have protected the one single advantage that Maine has over other states in the northeast in attracting people and business, namely, our environment and quality of life.”
“I urge the Legislature to use extreme care as it considers changes to Maine’s environmental safeguards. That’s why I support these five simple guidelines that can help lawmakers sort out the good ideas from the bad and the ugly ones that have been offered at all these hearings and listening sessions,” said Jeff McEvoy, owner of Weatherby’s Maine fishing and hunting lodge in Grand Lake Stream.
Learn more about the governor’s plan to gut Maine’s environmental protections here.
Statement by NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim
Statement by Horace “Hoddy” Hildreth
Statement by Jim Wellehan
Statement by Heather Blease
Statement by Suzanne Kelly
Guiding Principles for Ensuring a Strong Maine Economy, Good Jobs and a Clean and Healthy Environment