Legislative Committee Advances Rep. Evans' Bill to Bolster Job Growth in Maine's Forestry Industry

Tue March 22, 2022
Piscataquis Observer

The Legislature's Taxation Committee voted March 15 to advance a bill sponsored by Rep. Richard Evans, D-Dover-Foxcroft, aimed at strengthening job growth in Maine's forestry industry.

As amended, LD 1919 creates an income tax credit for qualified timber harvesting businesses that employ new qualified employees hired in Maine that are covered by the Employment Security Law and paid an amount equal to or greater than the most recent annual per capita income in the county in which the employee is employed.

Maine's forestry industry was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated 30 to 40 percent decline in available markets and a 19 percent decrease in revenue for paper mills. Additionally, it is estimated that by 2030, more than 26 percent of the current forest products workforce will have reached retirement age.

"The forest products industry is a necessary and critical component of Maine's economy. If employment challenges within the industry go unaddressed now, small woodland owners will be left competing for scarce harvesting and logging resources in the not-too-distant future," said Evans.

"It is imperative that we begin to invest now in small harvesters and especially in sole proprietors, by enacting specific and measurable steps to lessen the impact of future workforce challenges. This stand-alone, forward-looking bill not only minimizes unnecessary obstacles for small woodland businesses, but it also incentivizes the hiring of new and younger workers to enhance job growth and replace the many workers who are retiring."