AUGUSTA – A bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to promote Maine businesses and American manufactured or assembled products, received a public hearing in the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday. LD 1280, “An Act To Establish the Buy American and Build Maine Act” has the support of prominent Maine businesses, and was carried over from the previous legislative session.
“Mainers support Mainers. They buy local and they both recognize and appreciate the quality of Maine-made products. This bill is about putting our values into state law. It’s about keeping our tax dollars in Maine and putting them to use supporting our small businesses and growing our economy,” said President Jackson. “In Augusta, we talk a lot about supporting Maine workers and businesses. Where I come from, talk isn’t enough. It’s time for action. We have a number of businesses in this state that we can be proud of from Hussey Seating in Kittery and American Roots in Westbrook to Auburn Manufacturing in Auburn and Mechanic Falls to Lee Auto in Topsham. Let’s give these companies and so many more the best chance at state contracts.”
LD 1280 gives preference to Maine-based businesses, Maine workers and American manufacturing on state procurement contracts. A number of different states across the country have already adopted legislation that either gives preference to companies based in that state for public contracts or gives preference to American manufactured goods. At least 38 states already give some sort of preference to businesses based in their state according to the National Association of State Procurement Officials. With this legislation, Maine would be giving Maine businesses and workers the same leg up that many other states are giving their businesses and workers.
“Locally owned businesses are the backbone of our state and nation,” said Mary Allen Lindemann, Co-founder of Coffee By Design in Portland. “We are not asking for a handout. We are asking for an opportunity to level the playing field so that those of us in our communities have a chance to continue doing business which enriches and sustains us all today and for generations who follow.”
“We are known as a state filled with incredibly hardworking and innovative people, it’s time that those people are able to compete on a level playing field especially when it comes to the goods and services of the state,” said Ben Waxman, Co-Owner of American Roots. “It’s unfair, and above all, bad economics to not allow Maine businesses the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with multinational corporations. We need to value the workers who make this state run on a daily basis and give them the opportunity to provide their products and skills to all Mainers.”
Buy American, Build Maine legislation can protect manufacturing jobs in Maine. Over the past two decades, the state experienced a loss of 29,000 manufacturing jobs according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing. This legislation is needed to preserve the remaining manufacturing jobs that currently employ 49,000 Mainers in communities all across the state.
“It is our understanding that the Buy American, Build Maine Act will help to build upon the Buy American Act by requiring Maine contractors to supply domestically made products,” said Kathie Leonard, CEO of Auburn Manufacturing. “When re-sellers are not required to supply US made products, they are likely to buy lower-priced imports from countries with heavily subsidized industries. We see this legislation as the State of Maine’s support of the Buy American Act, which has been essential to our business and our employees over the past 40 years.”
LD 1280 will undergo additional work sessions in committee.