Last week, the Maine Legislature voted on LD 489, RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to a Healthy Environment. The proposal had been in unfinished business in the Maine House of Representatives for over a year. Because it was a constitutional amendment, LD 489 needed a two-thirds vote to pass. It did not get the necessary two-thirds vote and failed final passage in the Maine House (77-59).
LD 489 would have hurt job creation, added more burdensome regulations on Maine’s businesses, and hurt economic development. The Maine State Chamber – along with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Forest Products Council, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Rural Water Association, Maine Water Utilities Association, and the Association of General Contractors of Maine – testified in opposition to LD 489.
Maine businesses are committed to protecting our environment, and maintaining the pristine nature of our surroundings is vitally important to continuing to attract more businesses and workers. Maine has one of the most unspoiled and cleanest environments not only in our country but in the world. The State of Maine has done an excellent job in protecting our environment. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce believes the current regulatory structure in place is the correct one, and a constitutional amendment would be unnecessary and could potentially lead to unintended negative consequences for our state. We have strict permitting standards and should stand by our current regulations.
Enshrining environmental protections in the constitution and elevating them above the current statutory framework could lead to one outcome – a more litigious regulatory environment at the local and state level. This would have the potential to stop or slow the permitting process, which could result in job loss, investment loss, and have a negative impact on Maine’s economy and business community. This also goes against Gov. Janet Mills’ Maine Economic Development Strategy, 2020-2029, in which Strategy F seeks to “maintain stable business environment.”
LD 489 is vague and can be interpreted in different ways, varying among individuals. Vagueness leads to uncertainty, and uncertainty leads to litigation. Businesses and investors need a consistent and reliable regulatory process and environment. LD 489 would not provide that environment. Maine already has strict environmental laws and a strict permitting process in place. Adding this constitutional amendment would have a negative impact on Maine businesses and jobs and is unnecessary and will result in unintended consequences.
Following the vote in the Maine House, LD 489 was placed on the special appropriations table due to its fiscal note. It is expected that it will not get funded from the table, and even if it does, it will need to go back to the Senate for two-thirds vote. If it garnered the two-thirds in the Senate, LD 489 would then be in non-concurrence and would need to go back for another vote in the House where, after following the vote this week, getting two-thirds is very unlikely. It looks like LD 489 will not be moving forward this legislative session.
For additional information or questions, please contact Ben Lucas, government relations specialist, by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 111, or by emailing email@example.com.