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  • Maine lawmakers unanimously pass law to issue voter-approved bonds for land conservation

    Article and photos by Ramona du Houx

    Maine lawmakers unanimously gave their approval to reauthorize $6.5 million in voter-approved Land for Maine’s Future bonds as part of a bipartisan effort to revive the expired bonds.

    “It was great to see how Land for Maine’s Future brought the Legislature together. We did important work today to ensure our state’s most important land conservation effort continues to successfully protect access for all Mainers,” said Rep. Martin Grohman, D-Biddeford.

    An amendment from Grohman stripped the original text of LD 1454 and replaced it with a 5-year reauthorization of bonds approved by voters in 2010. The bonds expired in November of 2015, when Gov. Paul LePage failed to release them.

    “We are delighted that legislators from both sides of the aisle voted unanimously to reinstate the 2010 Land for Maine's Future bonds,” said Beth Ahearn, legislative director for Maine Conservation Voters. “Already promised LMF funding can now be invested in more than 30 projects across Maine to benefit our economy and provide recreational opportunities to all.”

    The Legislature opened the second session by coming together on this issue. The House on the first day of session passed an order to recall LD 1454 from the governor’s desk, and the Senate followed suit. The cooperation prevented a veto of the bill and provided the opportunity to amend it.

    “These valuable conservation projects have waited a long time for funding that was promised, but needlessly delayed,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, the lead Senate Democrat on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “This vote will put them back on track, giving them the go-ahead to protect valuable natural resources in my community for generations.”

    Sen. Breen thanked the countless citizens of Maine who demanded the bonds be issued and the conservation projects be allowed to move forward. “They voted more than five years ago to authorize these projects, and they demanded, rightfully, that their decision be respected.”

    The bill — LD 1454, “Resolve, Reauthorizing the Balance of the 2009 Bond Issue for Land Conservation Projects” — will be sent to Gov. Paul LePage. He has 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it, or let it pass into law without his signature.