Legislative Update #3 — Jan. 23, 2015


No 3                                                                                                                    January 23, 2015


LD 4 An Act To Promote Industrial Hemp (Sanderson-Chelsea, Hamper-Oxford, Dunphy-Embden, Goode-Bangor, O’Connor-Berwick, Parry-Arundel, Pouliot-Augusta, Shaw-Standish, Timberlake- Turner). Removes the requirement that an applicant for an initial license to grow industrial hemp for commercial purposes must submit a set of fingerprints and file with the Commissioner of DACF documentation indicating that the seeds planted were of a type and variety of hemp approved by the commissioner. It also repeals the provision that licensure is contingent upon action by the federal government.

LD 30 An Act To Exempt Fuel Used by Commercial Farmers from Sales Tax (Pierce-Dresden, Cyrway- Kennebec, Battle-South Portland, Doore-Augusta, Hickman-Winthrop, McCabe-Skowhegan, Wood- Sabattus, Baker-Sagadahoc, Katz-Kennebec, Miramant-Knox). Provides a sales tax refund or exemption for fuel used in commercial agricultural production.

LD 31 An Act To Require Horse-drawn Carraiages and Wagons To Be Equipped with Reflectors (Stanley- Medway, Collins-York, Chipman-Portland, Dion-Portland, Lajoie-Lewiston, Long-Sherman, Martin- Sinclair, Schneck-Bangor, Ward-Dedham, Gratwick-Penobscot). Clarifies that vehicles propelled or drawn by a horse and operated at night must have a rear reflector.

LD 36 An Act To Increase the Minimum Wage (Evangelelos-Friendship, Miramant-Knox, Daughtry- Brunswick, Hubbell-Bar Harbor, Jorgensen-Portland, Martin-Sinclaair, Sauchier-Presque Isle, Short- Pittsfield, Gratwick-Penobscot, Libby-Androscoggin). Increases the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour on October 1, 2015 and $10.00 per hour on October 1, 2016. Beginning October 1, 2017, the minimum wage must be adjusted for inflation on October 1st of each year.

LD 39 Resolve, To Require a Review of the Merger That Resulted in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (Edgecomb-Aroostook, Saucier-Presque Isle). Proposes a task force to review the effects of the merger with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Conservation to determine whether the merged departments has continued to provide the services formerly provided by the former departments at the same or better level while obtaining budgetary savings.

LD 68 An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Attract Business by Investing in High-speed Broadband Infrastructure (Campbell-Newfield, Saucier-Presque Isle, Woodsome-York, Beavers- South Berwick, Gilbert-Jay, Martin-Eagle Lake, Martin-Sinclair, Mastraccio-Sanford, O’Connor- Berwick, Short-Pittsfield, Dutremble-York). Provides for a $10 million bond issue to be used to expand high-speed broadband infrastructure. It also establishes the High-speed Municipal Broadband Infrastructure Fund to assist municipalities in developing and improving their broadband infrastructure.

LD 72 An Act To Increase the Minimum Wage (Hamann-South Portland, Patrick-Oxford, Bryant-Windham, Chipman-Portland, Eves-North Berwick, Herbig-Belfast, Hobbins-Saco, Martin-Eagle Lake, Alfond-Cumberland, Millett-Cumberland). Raises the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour beginning October 1, 2015. Beginning October 1, 2016 the minimum wage must be automatically adjusted for inflation on October 1st of each year.

LD 73 An Act To Increase Weight Allowance for Farm Trucks (Black-Wilton, Saviello-Franklin, Hobart-Bowdoinham, Kinney-Knox, Long-Sherman, McCabe-Skowhegan, Parry-Arundel, Saucer-Presque Isle, Timberlake-Turner, Mason-Androscoggin). Raises the maximum allowable weight for farm trucks to 100,000 lbs.


Sales and Use Tax
• The general sales and use tax rate would increase to 6.5%
• lodging taxes would remain at 8%
• tax on prepared foods would drop to 6.5%;
• service provider tax would be 6%,
• the short-term auto rentals would decrease to 8%.
The current sales tax exemptions for the following will be repealed:
• Domestic and household services – landscaping, cleaning
• Personal services – hair care
• Professional services – legal, accounting
• Additional prepared foods – potato chips, soft drinks
• Recreational and amusements – skiing, movies
• Installation, repair, and maintenance services – all property other than motor vehicles and airplanes

Income Tax
• Beginning of the 2016 tax year, the top individual income tax rate would be lowered from the current 7.95% to 5.75% for 2019.
• The ability to claim deductions – charitable contributions, mortgage interest – would be eliminated for the 2016 tax year. For 2015, deductions would be limited to $27,500 (other than medical expenses).

Estate Tax
• The estate tax exemption would be increased from $2 million to $5.5 million for 2016.
• The estate tax would be eliminated in 2017.

Property Tax
• The tree growth and open space tax programs would require additional compliance measures at both the individual and municipality level.
• Municipal revenue sharing would be funded for the fiscal year beginning July 1, but would be eliminated the following year.
• The exemption for nonprofit entities, other than churches, would be limited to the first $500,000 of value and 50% of the excess above $500,000.
• Business equipment eligible for the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program (BETR) would be transitioned to the Business Equipment Tax Exemption (BETE) program over a four-year period, with BETR fully eliminated in 2019.