AUGUSTA, Maine — A special legislative committee tasked with reaching a consensus on a package of bills to simplify Maine’s environmental and business regulations has winnowed its way through 1,500 pages of testimony to come up with 300 recommendations.
With a self-imposed March 31 deadline looming, the panel continued Thursday to inch its way through proposals, many of which have drawn a wave of protest from environmental groups and praise from businesses.
“We’re still working our way through it. We’re moving forward,” Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney said. The Springvale Republican chairs the Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform, which held its latest work session Thursday on the bill dubbed Legislative Document 1.
Among other things, the regulatory reform committee has agreed to divide up which bills go to which committees. It will keep, for example, proposals for a small business ombudsman to help businesses navigate the bureaucracy, analyses of how new regulations affect jobs, and removal of duplicative environmental regulations.
It is parceling out to the agriculture committee a plan to revamp the Board of Pesticides Control, to the labor and commerce committee proposals addressing seasonal labor, wage rates and family medical leave. The natural resources committee will look at proposals to ease laws to keep dangerous chemicals, including bisphenol A, out of consumer products, and also relax laws protecting vernal pools and regulating snow dumping.
As the work continued, Sen. Seth Goodall of Richmond, a Democrat serving on the regulatory reform committee, said the group remains committed to the March 31 deadline to produce a consensus package.
But Goodall left open the possibility that March 31 will pass as lawmakers scrutinize the impact of changes.
“We don’t want to rush the process, because we don’t want any unintended consequences,” Goodall said.