The legislative session has seemingly come to a close. On May 2 — with important bills essential to supporting Maine’s wildlife still unresolved — the 128th Legislature adjourned.
Maine Audubon is deeply disappointed by this turn of events, but we’re also grateful for those legislators who worked hard to try to extend the session and make good on promises made to their constituents — including you.
Here’s a brief recap of wildlife and habitat wins and disappointments over the past session. If you’re a Maine Audubon member, keep an eye on your (snail) mailbox for a complete recap of the Second Session of the 128th Legislature in the coming weeks. (And if you’re not yet a member, that’s easy to fix.)
Wins for Wildlife
Efforts to weaken the Bottle Bill: Defeated. LD 1703 would have created a “uniform refund value” (i.e. reduced) for all wine and spirits bottles — consequently decreasing the incentive to recycle.
High standard of natural resource protection at State Parks: Sustained. A bill before the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee would have set a dangerous precedent for private management of Maine State Parks. Through our Piping Plover Project, we’ve learned first-hand that the Bureau of Parks and Lands is best equipped to thread the needle between the environmental, recreational, and historic resources parks offer the public.
Maine’s participation in RGGI: Extended. The Maine Legislature unanimously passed a bill to extend Maine’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) through 2030 and to authorize deeper cuts to pollution from power plants.
Native fish: Still blocked from historic habitat. LD 922 would have allowed the passage of anadromous (“sea-run”) fish such as Alewives, Blueback Herring, and Sea Lamprey into Sheepscot Pond in Palermo, an historic stronghold for these critical species.
Solar: Another failed veto override. Maine Audubon — alongside many allies (including many of you!) — worked diligently to pass a straightforward, common sense solar bill that would have increased access to community solar and removed a tax on solar produced and used at home. After winning veto-proof majorities in the Senate and the House, the Governor strong-armed a handful of legislators to switch their vote, and the bill ultimately failed.
Clean water bonds: No action. The Legislature adjourned prior to negotiating a bond package, which had a strong likelihood of including $55 million to support wastewater infrastructure improvements and target non-point source pollution.
Important wins aside, this legislative session missed important opportunities to do what’s right for Maine’s wildlife and habitat.
But we’re not hanging up our hat just yet — and neither should you.
Please contact your legislators today and ask that they convene for a “Special Session” to take up the clean water bonds, among other important bills. Encourage your legislators to invest in Maine’s wastewater and road infrastructure for the benefit of Maine’s wildlife and Maine people by supporting LD 178 and LD 1510. These common sense bond bills will address a significant improvements backlog and protect one of Maine’s most important resources: our clean water.
Thank you for your continued activism and for your passion and diligence this past session. Maine Audubon and our state’s wildlife and habitat owes its policy “wins” to you!