Last week, the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement, and Business (IDEA) moved forward with a majority report of “ought to pass as amended” (OTP-AM) on LD 1923, An Act To Establish the Maine Space Corporation. This legislation was introduced by Sen. Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland). She also introduced the amendment that was passed in the majority report. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce testified in support of LD 1923 and remains supportive of the amended version, which passed through the IDEA committee.
There were also two other minority reports that will be reported out of the committee. Of the minority reports, one was an “ought not to pass,” and the other was “ought to pass as amended,” which keeps most of the majority OTP-AM report but adds representatives from all 16 counties to the board and adds that the launch sites and services portion of the Space Complex limit use to those launches and vehicles that are environmentally friendly.
There were two major changes in the amendment introduced by Sen. Daughtry. The first being that the corporation must work closely with the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, CTEs, and K-12 systems to support training, education, and recruitment in the field. This will help build a workforce pipeline for Maine-based talent to fill new 21st century jobs. The second change was that the corporation must prioritize Maine businesses and businesses with minimal environmental impact. The launch sites located at the two bases now managed by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and the Loring Development Authority of Maine would be restricted to commercial, research, and educational use. To highlight the other amendment in the minority report, it builds off this and wants to clarify language around the term “environmentally friendly,” to add the other 13 counties to be a part of the Board of Directors.
The Maine State Chamber is supportive of establishing the Maine Space Corporation because it will generate new investment into Maine, which is good for economic development and job creation. It will grow a new and innovative industry in Maine, which will help attract young people to Maine and keep our youth in the state.
Maine is well positioned to be a leader in aerospace technology in the global market. There are four key advantages to highlight that put us in this position. First is our eastern and northern geographic location. Second is our well-established manufacturing sector. Third is the potential workforce around STEM education that our higher education systems at the University of Maine, Maine Community College System, and the newly established Roux Institute are well positioned to develop. Lastly, Maine also has the existing infrastructure in place at Loring and Brunswick. The former military infrastructure these sites are ideal facilities to create launch pads and host the spaceport complex.
LD 1923 also supports Governor Janet Mills’ 10-Year Strategic Plan with the goal of adding 75,000 new people to the workforce. The establishment of the Maine Space Data and Advanced Analytics Center of Excellence and the Maine New Space Innovation Hub will attract people to come work in Maine. The K-12 education system in Maine will also play a critical role to promote STEM education to help meet the demands this new industry will have for jobs
In closing, the Maine State Chamber has been supportive of this concept for several years. We are happy to see this move through the committee and look forward to its vote from the full legislature. We will work hard to make sure this passes the legislature with bipartisan support and is signed into law by Governor Mills.
For additional information or questions, please contact Ben Lucas, government relations specialist, by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 111, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.