Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. 

Maine Home to New National Monument

Utilizing powers granted to presidents under the American Antiquities Act of 1907, President Obama has signed an Executive Order designating a new national monument named the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine. The monument was made possible due to the donation of more than 87,000 acres of land in Penobscot County, near Baxter State Park, from Roxanne Quimby to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. Monument opponents, including many in the forest products industry, have voiced concerns that include potential restrictions on traditional and forestry uses. Proponents are excited by the potential of new jobs. The monument has been a controversial issue since discussions began several years ago about the possibility of creating a national park, which would have required Congressional approval. When this path seemed unlikely, proponents’ game plan evolved to create a national monument, which is declared unilaterally by the president.

Metallic Mineral Mining Rules Under Review…Again

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is again seeking to make significant revisions to the state’s metallic mineral mining regulations. Because these rules are considered “major substantive,” legislative approval (or failure to act) is required. Proponents indicate that changes to the existing 1991 rules are necessary to remove inconsistencies with the 2012 Maine Metallic Mineral Mining Act that could impede the review of mining permit applications. Opponents continue to worry about potential environmental impacts caused by metallic mineral mining. DEP developed new metallic mining regulations in 2014 but the new rules failed to obtain legislative approval in 2014 and 2015.

Assessing Maine’s Forest Products Industry

The Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT), established by the U.S. Department of Commerce to assess Maine’s forest products industry, has begun its work. EDAT members recently visited Maine to meet with industry leaders in an effort to develop a plan aimed at growing the industry. The Maine Development Foundation is responsible for managing the implementation of the plan and tracking results. The creation of EDAT came in response to Maine’s U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King requesting assistance from the federal government. Senators Collins and King recently took part in an announcement regarding $8 million in federal grants for this struggling Maine industry.

Maine Commissioner to Advise Trump

Walt Whitcomb, Maine’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner, was recently selected to be a member of Donald Trump’s agriculture advisory committee. This committee is made up of 64 individuals and includes several governors. Whitcomb is a former Maine State Representative and a dairy farmer in Waldo County.

Update: Senate District 32 Candidate Selected

York County Republicans selected Matthew Stone of Biddeford as their candidate for the District 32 Senate race. Stone was selected during a caucus and will face off against Senator Susan Deschambault, who was seated last March after victory in a special election.