LD 2104 is a first-in-the-nation regulatory scheme that would increase the cost of doing business in Maine
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following testimony was delivered by Ben Gilman on behalf of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce in opposition to LD 2104, An Act To Support and Increase the Recycling of Packaging, at a public hearing held on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, before the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. We have reprinted it here for your review.
Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources: my name is Ben Gilman from Gorham and I represent the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, a statewide business organization made up of both large and small businesses, here to provide you with our testimony in opposition to LD 2104, An Act To Support and Increase the Recycling of Packaging.
When we survey our members – more than one thousand businesses participated in our Making Maine Work survey last year – we always find the number one thing our members value is Maine’s quality of place and the quality of our people. Our natural resources and our environment are our most precious commodities, and we support a regulatory regime that supports protecting our environment. That is why when Governor Mills asked us to participate in the Maine Climate Council, we gladly accepted. A regulatory environment that protects our environment and encourages our businesses to grow is one that we not only strive for, but we believe we have in Maine. LD 2104 takes us in the wrong direction – it is a first-in-the-nation regulatory scheme that would put Maine out of step with the rest of the nation and increase the cost of doing business in Maine. We have many businesses here in Maine who manufacture packaging material and operate not only in Maine but in the global economy.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce supports a strong recycling program that protects our environment and is driven by data. LD 2104 puts the cart before the horse. It establishes a program and fee structure on manufacturers before examining the data and seeing what works. We would encourage the committee to bring all stakeholders to the table and work on a solution that is based in sound data. We all believe in the same goal, and we believe if we sat down and worked together that we could come up with a solution that we could all support and would be best for Maine.
In addition, LD 2104 would set up a stewardship program outside of state government through an RFP process from the Department of Environmental Protection. This new entity would then have the ability to assess fees on manufacturers for packaging material of products Mainers buy. In Maine, we have a sales tax, but we exempt grocery items due to the regressive nature of the tax and higher burden on our lower income families in Maine. This fee could be placed onto products such as essential groceries through this new government entity and not by the legislature. Any fee decision, especially one that could be viewed as regressive in nature and disproportionately hit poor families, needs to be made by the legislature, which can balance the impact of that fee.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with our testimony. I would be pleased to try and answer any questions you may have.