AUGUSTA — After hours of sifting through testimony and crafting language, a legislative committee this week is expected to vote on L.D. 1, a regulatory reform package that traveled a lengthy road from its controversial origins.

The measure, which aims to make Maine more business friendly, attracted widespread support last week during its final public hearing.

“It’s the first step of a culture change,” said Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney, R-Sanford. “It’s a culture change in all of state government where our focus is on creating an environment where people can create jobs.”

Republicans and Democrats on the Regulatory Fairness and Reform Committee identified two areas of potential disagreement, but both sides said they were satisfied with the overall product.

“(Lawmakers) worked in a bipartisan way, worked through the rhetoric to come up with some really good solutions,” Courtney said. “I think there’s obviously, everybody would like things a little bit differently and I think that’s part of the process.”

State Rep. Bob Duchesne, D-Hudson, said Democrats were still skeptical of a plan to have a small-business advocate in the Secretary of State’s office.


“There’s still a whole lot of heartburn from us — just the idea that someone who is a construct of the (Maine) Constitution who is chosen on a partisan basis by the legislative branch can now stick his nose in the governor’s business and say, ‘you’re doing something wrong,'” he said.

That proposal was watered down from an earlier version, which would have allowed the advocate to halt regulatory actions taken by the executive branch for a short time if businesses disputed them.

Courtney said some Republicans still feel more should be done to reform the Board of Environmental Protection. The 10-member panel would be reduced to seven and have a more limited role under L.D. 1.

The initial proposal by Republican Gov. Paul LePage would have eliminated the board completely and replaced it with a three-judge panel.

“Some people don’t think that the reform of the BEP goes far enough, so there’s two areas and I guess that’s kind of what happens,” said Courtney, who also served as the Senate committee chair. “Both extremes may be a little unhappy, but I think you end up somewhere in the middle.”

LePage, who hosted a lunchtime reception at the Blaine House last week for about 100 business leaders in the state, praised the reform effort during remarks he made with the media present.


“We had red-tape audits around the state between the farm bureau and the chambers of commerce, we had 25 of them — over 1,000 people attended and gave us suggestions and those suggestions are what we incorporated into L.D. 1,” he said. “It was these fine people here, Maine people, who create jobs who sign the front of the check that are looking for relief. They’re looking for streamlining.”

Months ago, LePage’s office offered an extensive list of suggested reforms to lawmakers. But environment and health advocates strongly opposed eliminating the proposed ban on bisphenol-A in plastic containers, Maine’s electronic waste law and other environmental regulations.

Most of those proposals were not included in L.D. 1, although some of the initiatives are in bills currently before other legislative committees.

LePage’s office has acknowledged that Ann Robinson, a partner at the law firm Preti Flaherty and a registered lobbyist, was in charge of supervising and drafting the regulatory reform list. But last week the governor insisted all the suggestions came from Maine business leaders.

“I didn’t do a damn thing on L.D. 1, except send it to the reviser,” he said last week. “They wrote it up, we looked at it to make sure the spelling was right.”

The reform measure will face votes by the full Legislature following this week’s expected committee vote.

Rebekah Metzler — 620-7016

[email protected]

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