Entries Filed in 'Business & Innovation'

Solar Energy bill becomes law without Gov. LePage’s signature

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Issue 40

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

A solar energy bill that passed through the legislature with overwhelming support became law without his Governor Paul LePage’s signature.

“For a decade lawmakers have worked together in a bipartisan manner to move Maine’s energy policy forward, and we continue to do so with this law,” said Democratic Senator Eloise VItelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the bill.“Maine is one of the most oil-dependent states in the country. This law will give the people in our state an opportunity to do something about that.”

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70 percent of households using it as their primary heating source. According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24 percent of Maine’s electricity.

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Sierra Peaks Corporation gets Pine Tree Zone tax benefits and sets up in Camden, Maine

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Creative Economy

Sierra Peaks Corporation, a New Mexico-based company that develops and manufactures superior acoustic miniature microphones and other communications related devices, is planning to invest more than $3,000,000 in two facilities in Camden. The investment is expected to lead to the creation of more than two dozen manufacturing jobs with the potential for more jobs down the road.

Sierra Peaks will benefit from the Pine Tree Zone tax incentive package set up under the Baldacci administration to promote job creation and even the playing field with other states by making Maine more competitive.

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Will LePage continue to hold Maine back by vetoing innovation bonds and healthcare?

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Editorials, Issue 40

Maine's capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Other New England states have recovered almost all the job losses due to the Great Recession. Maine stands alone as the only east coast state that has built back less than half the jobs caused by the economic crash. Not the kind of reputation Maine needs, and most of blame falls at the feet of Governor Paul LePage with his dangerous policies and way of governance.

He hurts the state’s reputation by putting down the people of Maine and discourages businesses owners who may be looking to Maine to locate in. He has publicly badmouthed the President, Maine lawmakers, women, students and children. A governor should be promoting the great qualities the people Maine have— their tireless work ethic, hospitality, ability to be easily trained and their community mindfulness. Not to mention the amazing natural attributes the state has from mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and a 2,000-mile long coast.

Last year the Legislature approved bonds for infrastructure improvements and the people of Maine voted for them. This year LePage used these bonds as a bargaining tool (again) by refusing to release them until he got what he demanded. Meanwhile thousands of construction workers were delayed from working. They had to wait until LePage was done using them as pawns.

This session a $50 million bond proposal passed the Legislature, of that $40 million are for an innovation/small business bond proposal was approved by the Legislature.

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Bath Iron Works of Maine awarded $57 million in contracts

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation

Bath Iron Works was awarded two Navy contracts today for work totaling just over $57 million. One contract, for $28.7 million, is for fleet maintenance work on Navy ships. The other, also for $28.7 million, is for design and engineering work on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS.) The LCS is a smaller ship designed to operate in near-shore (littoral) waters, carrying small amphibious assault forces, helicopters and equipment that allows it to perform a variety of missions, from anti-submarine warfare to mine-sweeping and intelligence work.

“Both of these contracts show how important BIW is to the Navy and to the nation’s industrial capacity,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “The experience the yard has in building and maintaining the fleet and their top-notch design and engineering skills are part of what makes BIW a world-class shipyard. It’s no wonder the Navy continues to select them for critical jobs like these.”

Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which determines funding levels for Navy programs.

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Sen. Haskell’s law protects businesses from false patent claims

April 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Issue 40

A bill sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell to make it harder for “patent trolls” to harass and extort money from Maine businesses has been signed into law by Governor Paul LePage.

“These scammers are a drain on honest businesses and the Maine economy,” said Senator Haskell. “This new law will discourage fraud while still protecting honest patent holders.”

A “patent troll” is a person or company that claims that a patent it holds is being infringed upon by a business, and then threatens to sue the business unless outrageous licensing fees are paid. Businesses are faced with the choice of paying off the troll or risking expensive and time consuming lawsuits.

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Rep. Seth Berry: Maine needs small business and innovation bond package

April 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Issue 40

The VolturnUS 1:8 first offshore floating wind turbine in the Americas started producing electricity on June 13, 2013. Maine's Innovation Bond program jump started the UMaine project.

The VolturnUS 1:8 first offshore floating wind turbine in the Americas started producing electricity on June 13, 2013. Maine’s Innovation Bond program jump started the UMaine project.

By House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham

We have to face some hard truths about Maine’s economy. We are struggling to shake off the effects of the recession. Others are passing us by when it comes to recovery, but Maine does have a great thing going for it when it comes to possibilities for job creation.

I have the honor of co-chairing the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. This bipartisan panel has done some really amazing work to spur job creation and move our economy forward. Just this week, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a set of bond investments created by our committee, which are targeted to help small businesses grow, and to boost high tech innovation.

Many of these are long overdue investments that support the little guy: small but promising businesses from around the state, as well as our farmers, foresters, and fishermen.

Maine needs these investments now to address our lagging job creation.

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Maine to get $600,000 to help increase value of crops grown in the state

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Issue 40, News from Washington

1044461_637727639590596_2065773848_n1Maine will get $600,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grants, a 50 percent increase over the previous year’s funding. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who serves on the Appropriations Committee that sets funding levels for the US Department of Agriculture, successfully pushed for a significant increase in funding for the program.

“This is great news for Maine and will help support the state’s farmers,” said Pingree. “Whether it’s a blueberry grower Down East or a small vegetable farm in western Maine, this grant money will help farmers increase the value of their crops through research, planning, and educational programs. Farmers can do a lot with a little bit of money and this funding will go a long way in helping grow Maine’s farm economy.

‘Specialty crops’ are really the food that most consumers eat—apples, tomatoes and carrots for example. This program provides funding for research and marketing to help raise the value of these crops. Last year Maine got $400,000 in funding and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry divided the money up for eight projects around the state.

The 2014 Farm Bill, which sets the nation’s agriculture policy every five years, was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. Pingree wrote and advocated for numerous provisions that will promote local agriculture, sustainable farming, and help young farmers.

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Lawmakers pass East Coast’s first ocean acidification bill

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Environment, Farming, Issue 40

The Legislature on Thursday passed the East Coast’s first bill to address the threat of ocean acidification as the Senate gave the measure its final approval with a vote of 33-0. The bill, LD 1602, now goes to Gov. Paul LePage.

“Maine has the opportunity to lead on this issue,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the bill’s sponsor and a marine biologist. “The overwhelming support for my bill shows that Maine understands that ocean acidification is a real problem. It poses a threat to our coastal environment and the jobs that depend on it. We must address this threat head-on.”

The measure would establish a commission to study and address the negative effects of ocean acidification on the ecosystem and major inshore shellfisheries. The committee membership would be made up of stakeholders including fishermen, aquaculturists, scientists and legislators.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use are causing changes in ocean chemistry. As carbon dioxide and seawater combine, carbonic acid forms. Carbonic acid can dissolve the shells of shellfish, an important commercial marine resource. Over the past two centuries, ocean acidity levels have increased 30 percent.

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Maine lawmakers pass $50 million job bond plan

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Economy, Issue 40

The Legislature on Thursday passed a $50 million bond plan to boost job creation by small businesses and invest in key sectors of the state’s economy and clean water infrastructure.

“Democrats and Republicans came together to make critical investments in our economy,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “This is a positive step towards boosting jobs by building on the best of Maine.”

The plan is made up of six separate measures. Each received two-thirds approval in both chambers of the Legislature on Thursday.

The largest of the six proposals would invest $12 million to recapitalize the Regional Economic Development Loan Program and the Commercial Loan Insurance Programs — proven financing programs that help promising small business on the cusp of job creation access capital.

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LePage urged to sign new law to stop multinationals from evading taxes and level field for Maine businesses

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Taxes

Maine's capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill to stop multinational corporations from dodging Maine taxes through accounting tricks. The bill now goes to Gov. Paul LePage for his John Hancock. LD 1120, An Act To Improve Maine’s Tax Laws, would level the playing field for Maine-based businesses by preventing tax evasion by multinational corporations that use tax code loopholes to make it seem as though the income was generated elsewhere.

“Democrats are calling on the governor to do the right thing for Maine businesses and taxpayers,” said Rep. Adam Goode, the bill’s sponsor. “Sign this bill, close loopholes exploited by huge multinational corporations and stop tax evasion that puts our small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.”

Under the measure, corporations would have to report income from a list of 38 known offshore tax havens.

Maine loses $10 million in each two-year budget period, according to an estimate made by the non-partisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review with help from Maine Revenue Services. This revenue could be used for priorities like revenue sharing, increased property tax fairness credits, early education, Clean Elections or helping seniors afford prescriptions.

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