- This afternoon AFA convened around the horseshoe to vote on portions of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry budget.
- The committee also voted to exempt two bills from the AFA Table.
This afternoon Appropriations voted on measures related to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee and exempted two items from the Appropriations Table.
- The committee voted to require the Director of the Bureau of Forestry to appoint no fewer than 45 and no more than 50 Forest Ranger II positions. With the understanding the the 48 Rangers currently employed will stay employed. The amendment also requires that the Director appoint no fewer than 16 Forest Rangers, classified as follows: 3 regional Rangers, 8 District Rangers, 1 Ranger Pilot Supervisor, and 4 Ranger Pilots.
- Senator Katz was the lone dissenting vote against this measure.
- The committee rejected the proposal to establish 7 Natural Law Enforcement Officers.
- The committee voted to eliminate a provision in law prohibiting the Commissioner from purchasing firearms without authorization from the Legislature. The Commissioner can now choose to arm forest rangers if the dept chooses to do so.
- The committee rejected the proposal to create a new Bureau of Conservation and reduce the overall number of bureaus from 4 to 3.
- The committee voted to limit timber harvesting on public lands to an average of 160,000 cords over a 3 year period.
- The committee also unanimously voted to exempt LD 780 from the AFA Table. LD 780, “Resolve, Authorizing the Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands To Convey the Parcel of Land in Kittery Known as John Paul Jones Memorial Park to the Town of Kittery.” sponsored by Senator Dawn Hill. The measure authorizes the State of Maine to transfer land to the Town of Kittery.
- The committee unanimously voted to exempt LD 590, “An Act To Exempt a Fee for a Paper or Plastic Single-use Carry-out Bag from Tax,” sponsored by Senator Tom Saviello. The bill exempts from sales tax any fee placed on a paper or plastic single-use carry-out bag. The exemption will reduce GF revenues by $9K in FY15, $33K in FY16 and FY17.