The Maine Senate on Thursday upheld a veto by Gov. LePage of a bill that would have supported Maine loggers by giving preference in state contracts to timber harvest in Maine by in-state contractors.
The bill —LD 1573 "An Act To Encourage Development in the Logging Industry by Requiring State and Local Government Agencies To Give Preference to Timber Harvested in the State" — was sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, a fifth-generation logger whose family still works in Maine’s forests to this day.
A 14-16 vote to override the veto fell short of the two-thirds threshold necessary to enact the law over the governor's objection.The bill is now dead.
“I’m appalled that Senate Republicans voted to uphold Gov. LePage’s veto on a bill that would have supported a traditional Maine industry and helped hardworking logging families earn a living,” said Sen. Jackson. “Families like mine who earn a living in the woods are being squeezed out by unfair international competition. The least Maine could do is pledge to support our own workers and our own sawmills when it needs wood products.”
Well-documented shocks to the pulp and paper industry have rocked the forest products industry. Those challenges have been exacerbated by international competition, specifically the heavily subsidized Canadian logging sector. Maine sawmills, pellet mills, loggers and the truckers who haul wood are at a disadvantage competing with Canadians, whose health care, labor and source material parts are subsidized by their national and provincial governments. In many instances, Canadian loggers harvest American wood to be processed in Canadian facilities and sold back to Americans.
As of 2014, logging contractors in Maine employed over 4,200 people and were responsible for the injection of $882 million into the state’s economy, according to the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.