AUGUSTA — A bill sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, would require the State of Maine to support American manufacturing and the creation of jobs in Maine when it contracts for public works or services.
The bill — LD 1280, “An Act To Establish the Maine Buy American and Build Maine Act” — received a public hearing before the State and Local Government Committee on Monday.
“This bill puts forward a policy that I believe should have been in place a long time ago. I have always believed that if there is work to be done in Maine, it ought to be done by Maine workers. Where there is economic activity in our state, our businesses, workers and communities should benefit from it,” said President Jackson. “Year after year, Maine spends hundreds of millions of dollars on procurements and contracts. This work is done with the support of Maine taxpayers — it’s only fair to ensure that it provides some benefits back to them.”
Under current law, there’s little to stop the state from sending taxpayer dollars out of state, or from supporting companies that have outsourced jobs. President Jackson’s bill would require that all public works contracts contain a provision requiring that manufactured goods, including iron and steel, must be manufactured in the United states.
It also requires that if two or more substantially similar bids are submitted for a public works contract, preference must be given to a bid submitted by an in-state contractor. If an in-state contractor submits a higher bid than an out-of-state contractor, the bill would require the state to give the Maine contractor an opportunity to match the low bid.
“This issue hits close to home for me. I’ve seen first-hand what happens when business in Maine is done be people from far away, who take their wages with them when they leave our state. It puts our workers at a disadvantage and leaves holes in our communities,” said Jackson. “If Mainers had these jobs, they could have — and would have — invested their wages in their communities.”
The Maine AFL-CIO also spoke in favor of the proposal at the public hearing. The bill faces further work in the State and Local Government Committee.