Legislative Update: Pine Tree Zones expanded

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In the last session we actually passed something that can help the Maine economy and bring jobs to our area. The bill, LD 1473, “An Act to Reaffirm Maine’s commitment to business by amending the Pine Tree Development Zone Laws” passed without fanfare or debate.

As you might remember Pine Tree Zones (PTZ) were established in 2003 to attract more businesses throughout the state. The initial legislation was designed to draw companies to areas of high unemployment and low wages, primarily in rural Maine. The legislation is targeted to companies with fewer than 500 employees, and benefits are extended only if a company creates new jobs or makes new investments. The numbers of zones available were limited in these areas.

Businesses locating in these zones received a 100 percent income and corporate tax credit for the first five years and 50 percent for the next five years. Other benefits include an 80 percent refund of employee withholding tax, a sales tax exemption and access to reduced utility rates.

Bills were introduced to modify the PTZ locations to include all Maine municipalities. This expansion creates two tiered PTZ’s: one urban and one rural. In the urban setting the benefits previously described are good for 5 years. In the rural areas the benefits were extended for 10 years. This alone will not stimulate the economy, but it is one step of many necessary to move the state forward.

LD 1473 moved almost silently through the Legislature. While other bills attracted the headlines and the fanfare, the statewide Pine Tree Zone bill moved quietly forward, swept along by its economic logic and common sense. Yes, common sense in Augusta!

I want to thank my friend State Representative Jayne Crosby Giles (R-Belfast) who is a second-term legislator who serves as the Ranking House Member on the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee who help me put this update together.

As always it is my pleasure to represent the people of District 90. If you have any questions about this or anything else please call me at 645-3420 or e-mail me at drtom16@hotmail.com.

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