AUGUSTA – The Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee approved amended “Buy American, Build Maine” legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, on Wednesday. LD 1280, “An Act To Establish the Buy American and Build Maine Act” would promote the state purchasing of American manufactured or assembled products, and hiring of Maine workers and businesses. The vote was 6-5-1, with one member absent.
“Buy American, Build Maine is a simple proposal. It’s about giving the businesses and workers the first chance to do work funded by the state in our own backyard. It’s about making sure we are spending taxpayer dollars responsibly, keeping them in our local economy and investing in Maine-based businesses,” said President Jackson. “In Augusta, we talk a lot about supporting Maine workers and businesses. But when push comes to shove, talk is meaningless. It’s time for action. I am grateful to the committee for their hard work on this bill and look forward to bringing it before the full Legislature for a vote.”
The legislation would give preference to Maine-based businesses, workers and American manufacturing when the state awards procurement contracts. Similar measures have been adopted in at least 38 states according to the National Association of State Procurement Officials. The intent is to level the playing field for Maine businesses when competing for state contracts in Maine, as other states do for businesses in their states. The Maine Legislature has passed similar legislation in previous sessions only to be vetoed by former Gov. Paul LePage.
“Buy American, Build Maine” could play a critical role in protecting manufacturing jobs in Maine. Over the past two decades, the state experienced a loss of 29,000 manufacturing jobs. This legislation is needed to preserve the remaining manufacturing jobs that currently employ 49,000 Mainers in communities all across the state.
Companies like Auburn Manufacturing have already experienced the direct harm caused by unfair foreign markets and a failure to support American manufacturing across the country. Auburn Manufacturing recently won a landmark lawsuit against China for unfair international trade practices or what’s known as “anti-dumping laws.”
Essentially, Chinese manufacturing companies financially backed by the government rigged the market in an attempt to monopolize an entire industry. By flooding the market with products at prices well below the market rate and the cost to manufacture goods, and operating at a financial loss, these companies tried to push American competitors, like Auburn Manufacturing, out of business.
Despite the win, Auburn Manufacturing is still working to regain 30 percent of its business that was lost when Chinese manufacturing companies initially flooded American markets.
“Buy American, Build Maine” is supported by prominent members of Maine’s business community, including Kathie Leonard, President/co-founder of Auburn Manufacturing, Inc., Ben Waxman, Co-founder of American Roots, Adam Lee, Chairman of Lee Auto Group, and Mary Allen Lindemann, Co-founder of Coffee By Design.
LD 1280 will undergo a language review before moving to the Senate and House for additional votes.