AUGUSTA, Maine — Secretary of State Charlie Summers announced Tuesday the appointment of Maine’s first-ever small-business advocate, whose job entails hearing regulatory concerns of small businesses and reporting back to the secretary, the governor and legislators about possible changes.
Jay Martin of Stillwater was appointed to the position that was created with the passage of LD 1, Gov. Paul LePage’s regulatory reform bill, in June.
Among other things, that new law streamlined the permitting process, established an environmental self-audit program, strengthened business assistance efforts and trimmed the size of the Board of Environmental Protection.
It also created the small-business advocate position to serve as a point person for small businesses of 50 employees or fewer that face state regulatory concerns and help them resolve any enforcement actions.
Martin began his new job last week. He will earn $50,000 a year.
“Jay will serve as an independent voice to advise and inform me of regulatory issues that create significant economic hardship for Maine’s small-business community,” Summers said in a statement Tuesday. “This is the first position of its kind for Maine and the nation, and we project very positive results.”
Martin also will staff the new Regulatory Fairness Board, led by Summers, that will hear testimony and report to the Legislature and the governor on regulatory and statutory changes necessary to enhance the state’s business climate.
The board also includes one public member appointed by the Senate president, one appointed by the speaker of the house and two appointed by the governor. Those appointments have not yet been made.
Although LD 1 received unanimous support in the Senate and near-unanimous support in the House, some of the legislation’s initial inclusions were scrubbed or amended as Republicans and Democrats worked toward compromise.
One of the things left out after concerns emerged was language that would have enabled the
small-business advocate to halt — at least temporarily — regulatory actions against businesses when enforcement could cause the business to close or lay off employees. That temporary stay was intended to give the business and agency time to work out an agreement, with the advocate’s help.
Additionally, Summers has said that the small-business advocate would steer clear of cases involving businesses accused of violations that could endanger public health or the environment.
According to information provided by the Secretary of State’s office, Martin spent much of his career in the restaurant industry, but he also expanded the Bangor-based Coffee News franchise to communities across the country.
He also spent time at Washington Hancock Community Agency and at United Cerebral Palsy of Maine, where he facilitated the agency’s acquisition of the Elizabeth Levinson Center.
Martin originally is from Bangor. His father, J. Normand Martin, is a well-known artist and sculptor who designed Bangor’s famous Paul Bunyan statue.