New amendment presented in work session with no opportunity for comment by interested parties
On Thursday, February 3, the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation voted majority “ought to pass as amended” on LD 1337, An Act to Increase Affordable Housing and Reduce Property Taxes Through an Impact Fee on Vacant Residences, sponsored by Rep. Chris Kessler (D-South Portland). Sen. Ben Chipman (co-chair), Sen. Nate Libby, Rep. Maureen Terry (co-chair), Rep. Joe Perry, Rep. Lori Gramlich, Rep. Melanie Sachs, Rep. Benjamin Collings, and Rep. Ann Matlack voted “ought to pass as amended.” Sen. Matthew Pouliot, Rep. Bruce Bickford, Rep. Micky Carmichael, and Rep. Joel Stetkis voted “ought not to pass.”
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce opposed this legislation at the public hearing because it allows a municipality to essentially enact a local option fee / tax on vacant residential property not occupied by a permanent resident. The bill as amended would allow municipalities to enact an ordinance to impose a fee, known as a local option tax, on such property. This new fee / tax could be applied to Mainers’ camps or second homes. The so-called “fee” or local option tax is not defined in the bill, so therefore, one can only speculate the amount the fee would be. The municipality would be required to use the fees / taxes collected to increase or improve the affordability of year-round residential housing within the municipality. This new language is one more attempt at resurrecting a local option tax after failed attempts last session.
The process by which the committee dealt with LD 1337 illustrates the issue of the lack of transparency during the 130th Legislature. Amendments are often offered at work sessions with no ability by the public to review them prior, and in some cases, with no ability comment on them at all. The Maine State Chamber will continue to oppose this bill and urges employers to contact their legislators to voice their opposition. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Caprara by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 106, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.