When I first ran for office, one of my top priorities was helping the local businesses and farmers in our state. I wanted to make sure they have every opportunity possible to thrive and grow their businesses. That is why I am so pleased that recently the Maine Legislature passed a bill to exempt commercial farmers and loggers from paying sales tax on off-road fuel.

In my House district, Clinton has a number of dairy farms. These locally owned and operated farms bring revenue into our area and provide the opportunity for all of us to purchase homemade products from our neighbors. Exempting them from this sales tax will greatly help their businesses by freeing up money that could be invested elsewhere. They have such a slim profit margin, and we need to be doing everything we can to ensure that they can invest in technology, equipment and employing workers.

This bill also helps to level the playing field for the forest products industry. According to the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont do not tax diesel fuel and petroleum products used off-highway. We need to help the logging industry, which has provided good-paying jobs in our state for generations, remain profitable and sustainable. With the closure of mills and other manufacturers in our state, we need to do everything we can to help our forest products industry remain competitive.

I support efforts that encourage economic development in our state, especially when we have been losing so many jobs in this area. I believe this is a strong step towards helping Maine farmers and loggers. I am hopeful that the Legislature will override the governor’s veto of this bill.

Rep. Stanley B. Short Jr.

D-Pittsfield