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Action time! Next steps on LD 1168!

LD 1168 was voted “Ought to Pass” by the 127th Legislature’s Judiciary Committee by 6 – 3

LD 1168 prevents eminent domain from being used by a private entity, or in certain Public-Private Partnerships (P3) on behalf of a private entity, by amending the Public-Private-Partnership for Transportation Projects Law[1], and the law that restricts eminent domain use[2].

Video of the work session and vote for LD 1168 is located at:

http://youtu.be/-JkymA9rCmE

(thank you Eric Tuttle for videotaping and uploading!)

This was a bipartisan vote with Republicans, Democrats, and one Independent voting in favor.

 

What happens now?

Any day now, the bill will go before the Senate for possible discussion and a vote. We are encouraged that all the Senators present on the Judiciary Committee voted for the bill, which puts us on good footing going into the Senate vote. Still, please contact your Senator and encourage them to vote “ought to pass” on LD 1168. The vote could happen any day, so call your Senator right away!

If the bill passes the Senate, it will go before the House. We will need a lot of support from all of you to educate your Representatives about the importance of this bill in protecting Maine people from eminent domain takings by the State on behalf of private entities for a transportation facility. Since the bill may be voted on in the Senate anytime now, please start calling your Reps immediately! We especially need support from those of you in Southern Maine.

 

Here is contact list for all Senators and Representatives:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WBJaw1Hvmr0n0DSVVS_CBXA1ug1_lLw0-L26MbrPVdE/pubhtml?usp=gmail

LD 1168’s bill summary states, “This bill prohibits the use of the power of eminent domain for the development, operation, management, ownership, leasing or maintenance of a transportation facility as a public-private partnership project. It also prohibits the use of the power of eminent domain by a private business entity when the entity is involved in a public-private partnership.”

To view the entire bill, visit: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?snum=127&paper=SP0415&PID=0

We highly recommend watching Eric Tuttle’s video of the LD 1168 work session because the discussion that unfolded amongst the Judiciary Committee may help you talk to your Senator or Representative. Again, that link is: http://youtu.be/-JkymA9rCmE

We encourage folks to thank Senator Paul Davis, Rep. Ralph Chapman, and these members of the Judiciary Committee for their support: Senator Dave Burns, Senator Chris Johnson, Rep. Barry Hobbins, Rep. Jeff Evangelos, Rep. Phyllis Ginzler, and Rep. Charlotte Warren.

Again, here is contact list for all Senators and Representatives:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WBJaw1Hvmr0n0DSVVS_CBXA1ug1_lLw0-L26MbrPVdE/pubhtml?usp=gmail

(thank you again Eric Tuttle)

 

Here are some updated talking points

  • LD 1168 safeguards landowners’ rights. Eminent domain is an important tool for State and Local Government to have in order to promote the health, safety, and welfare of its residents; however, eminent domain is a serious power that overrides individual property rights in favor of community rights. Therefore, State and Local Government Entities should use eminent domain only as a last resort, for vetted transportation projects that can be demonstrated to be in the public’s best interest, not for corporate profit.
  • LD 1168 makes it clear that the public interest is the priority interest of concern to State and Local Government when exercising eminent domain power for transportation projects, not expanding corporate or state coffers.       Although private entities may be subcontracted by the State or Local Government Entity to fulfill a contract, no public entity should use its eminent domain power to act on behalf of a private entity’s transportation development interest, or to further the economic interests of another country that could be the primary beneficiary of the transportation infrastructure.
    • The proposed East-West Corridor, for example, would allow local territory to be used as a pass-through connecting New Brunswick and Quebec, with primary economic benefits accruing to Canada and profits accruing to foreign investors.
    • In general, since foreign investment and/or ownership is sometimes part of a private project, state and local eminent domain power should not be used to further these financial interests.
  • At this time, the P3 law enables new transportation infrastructure development by private entities using taxpayer money and access to eminent domain.   LD 1168 amends the P3 to protect farmland, water, and wildlife habitat from eminent domain takings and resulting impacts that are not based in public interest. Everyone needs good food and water to live a healthy life. The growth rate of Maine’s young farmers is much higher than anywhere else in the country, 40% versus 1.5%.[3] Maine farmers shouldn’t feel threatened by private entities to give up their livelihoods and future food security. Multi-generational farms and the next generation of farmers need as much support as possible. Transportation infrastructure increases risks to water quality, and is likely to result in fragmentation of farmland and wildlife habitat.
  • Additional protection from eminent domain for transportation projects will help maintain regional stability. When a private entity can access the power of eminent domain for a private transportation project, or unsolicited P3 for a transportation project, as we have learned through experience with the East-West Corridor proposal, many members of the public experience needless trauma, declined economic activity and real estate sales (also known as condemnation blight), and even flight from the region.
  • This bill closes previously unaddressed loopholes and shortcomings in our law that became apparent when the East-West Corridor proposal came to the table. These are lessons that stretch well beyond the East-West Corridor proposal.

To view Maine’s existing P3 law, visit: http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/23/title23sec4251.html

To view Maine’s existing eminent domain restrictions law, visit: http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/1/title1ch21.pdf

 

If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat about all this, please feel free to contact Chris Buchanan or Jane Crosen:

 

Chris Buchanan                                                                         Jane Crosen

Statewide Coordinator, STEWC                                            Eastern Outreach, STEWC

Maine Coordinator, Defending Water for Life                   jcrosenmaps(at)gmail(dot)com

chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net                                          (207) 326-4850

(207) 495-3648

[1] Maine Revised Statutes Title 23, Part 5, Chapter 410, subchapter 5, subsection 4251. Public-private partnerships; transportation projects

[2] Maine Revised Statutes Title 1, Chapter 21, subsection 816. Limitations on Eminent Domain Authority

[3] In Maine, More Hipsters Choosing Life on the Farm, Jennifer Mitchell, MPBN 12-11-14

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