Testimony Regarding L.D. 1: An Act to Ensure Regulatory Fairness and Reform

According to its summary, LD 1 “proposes to amend the laws to improve the business climate in the State and encourage job creation and retention and expand opportunities for Maine people.”

The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) shares the goal that job creation and sound economic recovery should be among our chief concerns, along with fairness, efficiency, and transparency. A healthy environment, strong workforce, and tough consumer protection system, however, are necessary to ensure we actually create good jobs and recover as quickly as possible. A robust environment, workforce, and consumer protection are good for Maine businesses.

Accordingly, MECEP cannot support Phase I’s sweeping repeal of bipartisan laws and regulations and put Maine people, businesses, jobs, and quality of place at risk. MECEP strongly urges this Committee not to adopt these general proposals when it considers actually drafting language for LD 1. Maine’s economic security and environmental quality are not mutually exclusive propositions, as the Administration’s proposal and accompanying rhetoric suggest. Maine people and businesses both thrive when we protect our environment.

For example, an economic analysis by University of Maine Economist Mary Davis documents at least $380 million in annual cost savings available to the State through the prevention of just four childhood diseases linked to chemical exposures. The human and economic benefits certainly outweigh the costs.

As Representative Duchesne also noted in a recent Bangor Daily News op-ed, “The effect of Maine’s environment on our economy is critical to our brand and our bottom line. The state’s forest-based manufacturing, tourism and recreation contribute $6.5 billion annually to Maine’s economy; wildlife-related recreation contributes $1.5 billion; and Maine’s fishing industry contributes $1 billion.”

The LePage Administration has suggested undertaking a cost-benefit analysis for existing and future regulations. MECEP concludes that applying a cost-benefit analysis to Phase I of the LePage Administration’s proposals would conclude that the negative consequences would far outweigh any benefits from many of these so-called reforms. 

MECEP urges you to base any regulatory reforms on facts and objective analysis, not stereotypes, anecdotes or ideology. Our regulatory system should put people, workers, the environment, and small business first, not special interests or rigid ideology. Phase I of the Administration’s proposals violates both of these vital tenets and should therefore be rejected.

Finally, much of the testimony today has focused on the rollback of environmental regulations, but MECEP also fears proposed rollbacks of necessary labor and consumer protection regulations that benefit working families and all Maine people. We urge you to reject any proposed reforms that would weaken these regulations into whatever final form LD 1 takes.

Maine’s environmental, labor, and consumer protection regulations reflect core values shared by working families and small businesses: supporting safe and healthy working families and children, protecting Maine’s quality of place, and developing livable, sustainable communities.

MECEP urges this Committee to reject Phase I of the Governor’s proposals as currently written and any similarly arbitrary labor and consumer protection regulatory reform that may be proposed in the coming weeks. 

Dan Coyne, Fiscal Policy Analyst, testifying before the Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform in opposition to LD 1, An Act To Ensure Regulatory Fairness and Reform, and the LePage Administration’s Phase I proposals to rollback existing environmental regulations.