Jackson introduces bill to protect loggers’ jobs

AUGUSTA, Maine — Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash introduced a bill March 20 before the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to protect Maine’s logging industry and ensure that Maine land be used to employ Maine workers.

The bill — LD 1844, “An Act To Provide the State the Right of First Refusal for the Purchase of Certain Land on Which a Subsidy Has Been Paid” — stipulates that the owner of a parcel of land must give the state first refusal before selling their land to a foreign buyer.

The proposed law applies only to landowners who benefit from state tax benefits such as the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law program and whose tract of land amounts to at least 2,500 acres. The bill further states that, should the state not purchase the land, the owner may sell the parcel of land at no less than the price offered to the state.

“The purpose of this bill is to ensure that landowners who benefit from Maine’s tax breaks give the state of Maine a fair shot at purchasing the land if they choose to sell,” said Jackson. “It is only fair. Our land should be used to benefit and employ Mainers. As a logger by trade, I am very concerned about property in our state being sold to foreign companies to benefit foreign workers.”

Testifying in favor of the bill was Jason Brochu, owner of many lumber-related companies in Maine, including Pleasant River Lumber Company and Moose River Lumber Company. In his testimony, he stressed the need to level the playing field.

“Our employees and their families are dependent upon our having fair access to logs grown in Maine,” wrote Mr. Brochu. “Ownership of Maine timberlands by foreign governments or entities supported and subsidized by foreign governments, whose stated goal is to provide below-market cost logs to sawmills in Quebec and New Brunswick, takes jobs away from Mainers.”

LD 1844 was tabled during its first work session March 22. It faces further committee action before going to the Senate and House for a vote.

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