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Gov. Mills vetoes bill to attract offshore wind development, citing labor requirements

Portland Press Herald|Eric Russell|June 26, 2023
MaineOffshore WindJobs and Economy

Gov. Janet Mills has vetoed her first bill of the 131st Legislature, a measure to establish visual impact standards for future offshore wind projects, which originated from her own office. In her letter to lawmakers, Mills said she vetoed L.D. 1847 because the Legislature failed to recall the bill at her request after it was amended to require that all projects have project labor agreements, which she does not support. ...But this requirement, she said, was a step too far because more than 90% of workers in Maine’s construction industry – which would compete for these jobs – are not unionized.


The bill originated from the governor's office but was amended on the Senate floor this month to include a requirement that future projects include bargaining argreements, something she opposes.

Gov. Janet Mills has vetoed her first bill of the 131st Legislature, a measure to establish visual impact standards for future offshore wind projects, which originated from her own office.

In her letter to lawmakers, Mills said she vetoed L.D. 1847 because the Legislature failed to recall the bill at her request after it was amended to require that all projects have project labor agreements, which she does not support.

“Generally speaking, I recognize the value of PLAs, or collective bargaining agreements, as a tool to lift up working men and …

... more [truncated due to possible copyright]

The bill originated from the governor's office but was amended on the Senate floor this month to include a requirement that future projects include bargaining argreements, something she opposes.

Gov. Janet Mills has vetoed her first bill of the 131st Legislature, a measure to establish visual impact standards for future offshore wind projects, which originated from her own office.

In her letter to lawmakers, Mills said she vetoed L.D. 1847 because the Legislature failed to recall the bill at her request after it was amended to require that all projects have project labor agreements, which she does not support.

“Generally speaking, I recognize the value of PLAs, or collective bargaining agreements, as a tool to lift up working men and women by ensuring that they are paid strong wages with good benefits,” she wrote.

But this requirement, she said, was a step too far because more than 90% of workers in Maine’s construction industry – which would compete for these jobs – are not unionized.

“As a result this could stifle competition, which could cut out thousands of workers and employee-owned businesses, and could end up favoring out-of-state unions in the region, over Maine-based companies and workers – and I do not believe any of us want to see out-of-state workers being bussed up to coastal Maine to build our offshore wind port while Maine workers are sidelined, sitting at home,” Mills said.

She also pointed out that no other New England state requires labor agreements for offshore wind development projects.

“Naturally, I’m disappointed by the governor’s veto of this bill,” the sponsor, Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast, said in a statement. “However, this is a critical issue for Maine’s future. I remain committed to working with all parties, including Gov. Mills, to find a path forward.”

The House voted 73-64 to pass the bill on June 12 and the Senate followed with a 22-11 vote the next day. Neither margin was greater than the two-thirds needed to override a governor’s veto, but Mills said she is committed to working with lawmakers on a solution that might save the legislation.

Mills’ decision drew criticism from the Maine AFL-CIO, the state’s largest union.

“Maine’s climate motto has been ‘Maine Won’t Wait.’ With this veto, Gov. Mills is saying, ‘Maine Will Wait’ – for thousands of good jobs, for clean energy and for the build out of a new industry. We will wait because the Governor is opposed to fair labor standards which are the industry norm,” said Matt Schlobohm, the union’s executive director. “The Governor’s ideological opposition to strong labor standards jeopardizes the build out of this industry and all the climate, economic and community benefits that come with it.”

If passed, the amended bill would have loosened environmental siting standards to allow more offshore wind development. It also would have required port facilities to seek federal funding for zero-emission equipment to help offset any environmental impacts.

Mills, in her letter, said she supports legislation that would have increased development of offshore wind because it “has the potential to reduce Maine’s over-reliance on expensive, harmful fossil fuels, stabilize energy costs, and curb climate-altering emissions to protect our state’s environment for future generations.”

She said her administration worked with businesses, fishermen, scientists and others to come up with a plan to encourage more development responsibly.

But after the bill passed out of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee with a bipartisan vote, it was amended on the Senate floor to add language from a separate bill that included a labor requirement.

Mills also indicated to lawmakers that she has reservations about a second offshore wind bill, L.D. 1895, An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources, that is seen as necessary to entice future projects, because it has the same labor requirements.

She urged lawmakers to recall that bill and amend it or another veto could follow.


Source:https://www.pressherald.com/2…

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