Buy American and Build Maine Act clears the Senate on initial votes

AUGUSTA – Today, the Maine Senate approved legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to establish the Buy American and Build Maine Act in a vote of 22-12. LD 1983, “An Act to Establish the Maine Buy American and Build Maine Act” would give preference to Maine-based businesses, workers and American manufacturing when the state awards procurement contracts. 

“The Buy American and Build Maine Act isn’t about providing photo ops for politicians, it’s about doing something meaningful for Maine businesses and their workers. It’s about investing taxpayer dollars back into our communities, supporting quality, good-paying jobs and keeping our economy running,” said President Jackson. “Maine workers and businesses are critical members of our communities. These are our friends and neighbors who sponsor little league teams, hold fundraisers for the school band and show up at community events. When it comes to spending taxpayer dollars, these workers and businesses deserve preference on state contracts.”

The Buy American and Build Maine Act has three central provisions:

·        To promote Maine and regional businesses, the bill requires public agencies to give preference to in-state contractors on similar submitted bids and give preference to in-state contractors that include a registered apprenticeship program. 

·        To support local workers, the bill requires that any person, firm or corporation hire at least 75 percent of employees for public improvement projects within the local labor market. This includes any labor market outside of Maine if any portion the labor market is within 75 miles of Maine’s border. 

·        To bolster American-manufactured goods, the bill requires any manufactured good over $5,000, including iron and steel, must be manufactured in the U.S. for public works contracts costing over $100,000. 

 The proposal allows for exceptions to the procurement provision through a waiver process. 

“The Maine AFL-CIO supports LD 1983, An Act to Establish the Maine Buy American and Build America Act. We all share a goal of passing legislation that will create manufacturing jobs in the United States,” said Adam Goode, Maine AFL-CIO. “Manufacturing is an important part of a healthy economy. These are jobs that have been a core of our small towns and the middle class in Maine. The long-term trend of transitioning manufacturing jobs overseas is a lose-lose for Maine workers and communities.”

According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, ten states already have similar domestic preferences in statute including Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas. Nineteen others have introduced or passed legislation in one house of their legislature.

“Without these sensible changes enacted into law, Maine will continue a path of sending Maine residents’ hard-earned tax dollars to foreign firms when American workers stand to do the work. Our manufacturers and workers are anxiously watching, hoping that you will support these commonsense and necessary fixes to existing state law,” said Brian J. Lombardozzi, Vice President of State Governmental Affairs Alliance for American Manufacturing. “Vote in favor of supporting LD 1983/SP 812, tell these manufacturers and workers you support their jobs, their businesses, and their communities.”

“Buy American” policies have been in place at the federal level dating back to 1933. Last July, President Biden joined Governor Janet Mills at Auburn Manufacturing, Inc. to sign an Executive Order on Federal Research and Development in Support of Domestic Manufacturing and the United States Jobs to Encourage “Invent it Here, Make it Here” in Industries of the Future. The Executive Order was an attempt to ensure that inventions resulting from federal funding benefit American producers and workers whenever possible. 

In 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order to strengthen “Buy American” policies across the federal government. Later that year, the Biden Administration unveiled the “American Jobs Plan” and proposed new rules that strengthened the Buy American Act, increasing the amount of American-manufactured goods purchased by the federal government and closing existing loopholes in the federal policy. 

LD 1983 will now go to the House for additional votes.

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