Takings Tops Agenda At Legislature This Week

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A controversial bill that would require the state to compensate private landowners for actions that diminish a property’s value – the so-called “takings” bill – tops the legislative agenda this week. The Judiciary Committee will work on the bill at 1 pm on Thursday (March 9).

I just waded through a 14-page report from Peggy Reinsch, Legislative Analyst for the Judiciary Committee – and that’s just the summary of the public hearing! This is a very complex issue, with vocal proponents and opponents. The original bill has significant problems, so it’s sure to be amended, if it even emerges from the committee.

An amendment offered by two thoughtful committee members, Representatives Brad Moulton and Charles Priest, a Republican and Democrat respectively, may be the right path for the committee to take on this one. It creates an on-going process so the legislature can hear about the impacts of regulations on property owners, and uses an existing mediation program to resolve disputes and collect information.

A bunch of people deserve credit for collaborating on this amendment, including Senator Tom Saviello, Representative Bob Duschene, and Pete Didisheim of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

I’m also told that the Agriculture, Conservation, and Education Committee on Wednesday afternoon will review final language on its complicated bill to reform the Land Use Regulation Commission. At last week’s work session on the bill, confusion was apparent when the chairs forced votes on a series of amendments, in order to vacate the building due to the day’s snowstorm.

I was listening to the chaotic work session from home, and had a difficult time figuring out what they were doing – but later learned that some committee members did too. It’s apparent to me that Rep. Russell Black, the sole Republican committee member to oppose the most controversial part of the bill that would allow counties to opt out of LURC’s jurisdiction, fashioned a compromise that retains the opt out option but makes it so difficult to achieve that it will never happen.

I’ll have more to say about Rep. Black’s heroic effort – and his proposal – after this week’s work session.

Wednesday will be a big day for sportsmen’s issues, as the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee completes its work on key deer and funding bills and receives a briefing from DIF&W on its reorganization plan. That all starts at 1 pm in Room 206 of the Cross House Office Building. I’ll be there to post a report.

These interesting issues will give us some respite from the constant speculation over who is running for what and who is waiting to see who else runs for what before deciding what to run for.

Consider the current situation. Three Constitutional officers are running for the U.S. Senate: Attorney General Bill Schneider, Secretary of State Charlie Summers, and Treasurer Bruce Poliquin.

All three Republican leaders in the Senate are running for either the U.S. Senate or Congress.

Most of the state’s lobbyists and legislators are helping one or more of the dozens of candidates now pursuing signatures for either the U.S. Senate or Congress. Until the filing deadline of March 15, this will be their obsession.

Good time to sneak something through at the State House, don’t you think?

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