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It's a Marathon, Folks. Pace Yourself!

by Jennifer Gray

Think the session seems long? Remember it’s a marathon. Legislators this week were saying that they’re reluctant to make vacation plans for July. Pace yourself.

Property Tax

On April 12 there were hearings on LDs 1121, 1076, 727 (all of which MANP opposes) before the Taxation Committee:

  • LD 1121 would eliminate property tax exemption if a nonprofit received remuneration for incidental use. The hearing went well. We had  11 people speak in opposition. You can see the written testimony online here. Kate Dufour from Maine Municipal Association (MMA) was the only person (other than the sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Kinney) to speak in support. Quite a few committee members who serve on multiple committees were absent. Rep. Gay Grant asked some great questions. I spoke with key members of the committee on both sides of the aisle and it appears that there’s little interest in the bills. We can’t take anything for granted, though.
  • LD 727 would change the law by declaring that holding land primarily for conservation or public access purposes is not a benevolent or charitable purpose which would mean land trusts wouldn’t be eligible for the property tax exemption. Only MMA and their sponsor, Rep. Joel Stetkis, testified in support. Four organizations testified in opposition. You can see the written testimony here. This bill likely isn’t going anywhere. Rep. Bruce Bickford, the Republican House lead, pointed out to the sponsor that the bill was voted unanimous ought not to pass by the committee last year.
  • LD 1076 would require the State to reimburse municipalities or counties for lost property taxes for new Land for Maine’s Future projects. Only the sponsor spoke in support of this one with MMA opposing. This bill also is very likely not going anywhere. Go here to see the written testimony.
  • Work sessions on all three bills are next Thurs. the 20th at 1.

Action:  Rep. Grant pointed out that some municipalities contribute towards their local nonprofits and asked for more information about that. If any of you are aware of municipalities contributing towards nonprofits, let me know at jgray@NonprofitMaine.org? Having anecdotal information would be helpful.

Sales Tax Expansion

  • As reported previously, the Taxation Committee voted along party lines (Republicans for and Democrats against) on expanding the sales tax to include recreation and amusement services. The Appropriations Committee is still negotiating the budget. We don’t support the expansion but do support the YMCA Alliance’s amendment to exclude charitable organizations if the proposal moves forward.

Coming Up

  • LD 1246 (MANP is watching), sponsored by Rep. Stephen Stanley, has a public hearing on Wed. April 19 at 1 p.m. before the Taxation Committee. This bill would provide a property tax exemption for a recreational trail that crosses a parcel of land and is open to the public for recreational uses. The work session is scheduled for Thurs. April 27 at 1 p.m.
  • Proposals from the Governor and the Maine Municipal Association to get around the property tax exemption by creating service fees that are unrelated to services will be printed soon.
  • We also expect Rep. Erik Jorgensen’s bill (LR 1498) regarding transparency in the distribution of federal block grants to be printed this week.

Johnson Amendment

  • As described in previous posts, MANP opposes efforts to weaken and repeal the Johnson Amendment.
  • As a follow up to last week’s release of the national coalition letter opposing efforts to weaken and repeal the Johnson Amendment, MANP will be sharing the Maine list of letter signers with our delegation during the recess.

A Shout Out

Congratulations to Dick Brown from the Charlotte White Center, a long-time member of MANP’s Advocacy Committee,  who’s retiring this year.  The Legislature passed a sentiment this week recognizing Dick’s outstanding work and contributions to Maine.

(4-6)  Richard M. Brown, of Dover-Foxcroft, on his retirement as Chief Executive Officer of the Charlotte White Center, a comprehensive social service and health care agency serving adults and children. Mr. Brown joined the center as its director when it opened in 1979 and has overseen its growth from serving 15 individuals to serving over 1,200 individuals and families. We extend to Mr. Brown our congratulations on his retirement and offer him our best wishes;

SLS 188

Sponsored by Senator DAVIS of Piscataquis.

Cosponsored by Representative: HIGGINS of Dover-Foxcroft.

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