This is an election year, when politicians will do almost anything to secure votes, even at the expense of small businesses.

As Maine loggers face more challenges than ever before, it is unfortunate Democratic lawmakers in the Maine Legislature, led by Senate President Troy Jackson, are ignoring their views to advance unnecessary bills in the name of “helping loggers,” just for votes.

This disturbing trend is obvious with two bills, L.D.s 1724 and 1919, now being moved through the legislative process over the objections of the very industry they are supposed to benefit.

The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine represents more than 200 hardworking small logging and trucking businesses of every size and in every region of the state. These businesses employ more than 3,000 individuals that work in the industry and handle 80% of Maine’s annual timber harvest. They also follow events in Augusta closely, and last month their patience with lawmakers ran out.

In March, on L.D. 1724, An Act to Create a Logging Dispute Resolution Board and to Require Proof of Ownership Documents to be Available within 14 Days of Request, the Labor and Housing Committee recommended “ought to pass” on strict party lines (8 Democrats to 5 Republicans). This bill was not requested by, vetted by nor supported by anyone in the logging industry. In fact, 26 logging contractors testified against it alongside the Mills Administration. The only testimony in favor came from labor unions, which represent workers, who are not mentioned in the bill.

The bill would allow certain logging businesses to bring disputes before an open-ended dispute resolution board within the executive branch with three board members chosen by the governor: a forest landowner owning more than 50,000 acres, a logging contractor, and the Chair of the State Board of Arbitration and Conciliation.


This may sound reasonable, until you find out the logging contractor would be recommended by the AFL-CIO labor union organization. Why would loggers want to be represented by someone chosen by the AFL-CIO, which represents workers and has no involvement with logging businesses and their issues? They wouldn’t, of course.

The bottom line is the industry does not want this board and it is unnecessary because there are already mechanisms in place to resolve business disputes. The bill is a clear effort by Senator Jackson to expand the influence of organized labor in Maine’s logging industry, not a bill to benefit loggers.

The case of L.D. 1919, An Act to Encourage Job Growth in the Forest Products Sector Through Tax Incentives, is similar. In March, The Tax Committee voted 8-5 (with all Democrats for, and all Republicans opposed) “ought to pass” on an amended version of the bill, despite the PLC making it clear we do not support it and were not consulted on the final version presented to the Committee

This bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Evans, a Dover-Foxcroft Democrat, unsurprisingly became Senator Jackson’s focal point. It would give logging and trucking businesses a special state tax subsidy if they hired one new employee. There is no other program like this in Maine’s tax code and no other industry could benefit. Clearly, many other industries need help besides loggers, so why isn’t the Legislature helping them?

The PLC couldn’t support the bill as originally drafted because it’s irresponsible and would promote all out warfare for workers in a tight labor market. I doubt our friends in construction would appreciate it if a logger recruited their employees by paying them a higher wage and then charging the additional cost to the government.

This new tax policy could also proliferate the creation of more sole proprietors. Individuals could start a business, hire themselves or a family member and get the credit. Is this the type of tax policy we want in Maine? Should the government incentivize employee theft?


The PLC attempted to modify the bill to require a minimum of three new hires and an investment in new capital equipment to qualify for the credit — essentially making companies put some skin the game to receive a subsidy, consistent with other tax policy already in law. Sen. Jackson, the bill sponsor and the Democrats on the Committee rejected the industry’s ideas and moved forward anyway.

Enough is enough and an election year is no excuse to make policies that no one wants.

These bills should not make it any further through the legislative process. If they do, they should be vetoed.

Review them, the testimony, and the hearings. Then decide who really represents the interests of Maine’s professional loggers.

Dana Doran is executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.

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