AUGUSTA – Maine Senate Democrats voted today to reject a bill that would provide more heating options to Maine residents.
The bill, L.D. 1838, “An Act To Expand Affordable Heating Investments with Maine’s Public Resources,” would increase the amount of timber that could be sustainably harvested on public land. Under the law, the Efficiency Maine Trust would use the extra revenue from the increased harvest to help Maine residents install alternative heating systems in their homes.
Democrats who opposed the bill stated they would rather see the timber revenue used to maintain trails and boundary lines in Maine’s public forests.
Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin), the ranking Republican on the Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said the Senate today missed out on a chance to keep people warm using the state’s forest assets.
“We can safely increase the harvest and heat homes in the process,” Saviello said. “Today we decided to build trails and maintain boundary lines with extra income generated at the expense of helping the poor heat their homes. That is unfortunate.”
“Additionally, this bill would have provided jobs from cutting wood, transporting it, and using it for manufacturing,” he said. “It was a ‘win, win, win.’ And we missed out on an opportunity to heat the homes of our poorest citizens.”
Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) said, “We are just starting to recover from one of the coldest Maine winters in recent memory. People all over the state, particularly those in rural areas, are struggling to heat their homes. This was a missed opportunity to help them.”
“It seems Democrats are only interested in raising taxes to help Maine families,” said Thibodeau.
The bill now goes to the Maine House of Representatives.