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Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/24/14

LCRED Republicans Support LePage's Open for Business Zone Proposal

Committee holds public hearing on innovative, job-creating proposal

AUGUSTA - The Maine Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee on Monday afternoon held a public hearing on LD 1835, Governor Paul Lepage's proposal to create "Open for Business Zones" that offer tax incentives, reduced energy costs, right-to-work, and training programs to attract large employers to Maine.

"This is a bold and innovative proposal to bring lots of well-paying jobs to Maine, and I think Mainers would agree that it's time to give ambitious ideas a chance," said Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), ranking House Republican on the LCRED Committee. "The testimony offered in support of this proposal was extremely compelling."

The bill has faced opposition from Democrats and labor unions for its workplace freedom provision. One Democratic leader even told a radio host that he would rather see no jobs than new jobs created with right-to-work policies. Liberals on the LCRED Committee echoed that sentiment.

"Liberals on the committee seemed very disturbed by the reality that companies prefer states with workplace freedom, and they tried to find reasons why they shouldn't, but you can't fight reality with theory," said Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst). "I think it's time to give these jobs a chance."

LePage's senior economic policy advisor, John Butera, testified to the committee about his time working as a site selection consultant for major companies, including BMW when it ultimately located its first foreign plant in South Carolina in 1992. "The reality is, I've sat in corporate board rooms and was told point blank by CEOs and presidents that they would not consider expanding into a state that was not Right to Work."

"This bill represents a job-creating experiment," added Rep. Volk. "It does not threaten unions or union jobs anywhere in the state. It simply creates job incubators designed to bring jobs to Maine that, but for the zones, would not have come to Maine. Furthermore, it provides tax incentives only to companies that make serious investments in Maine and its people.""

LD 1835 is scheduled for a work session before the LCRED Committee on Thursday, March 27 at 1:00 PM.

[Attached photo: Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), ranking House Republican on the LCRED Committee.]

Background on Right-to-Work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the past 10 years, private-sector job growth increased 6.4 percent in states with workplace freedom and only 0.4 percent in forced unionism states.

Maine's job growth was -1.4 percent during the same period.

Wages in right-to-work states are 4.1 percent higher than those of their unionized counterparts when adjusted for cost of living.

Wage growth is three times greater over the past decade in RTW states.

Dems have been citing a study from Economic Policy Institute, which receives 26 percent of its funding from labor unions.

Former Assistant House Democratic Leader Terry Hayes: "Everything the Republicans have been saying about union influence is true."

Chris Hall, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, on Governor's plan: "The first thing that came to my mind is this: He is offering us a home-run strategy, a strategy designed to compete at the national level for site location opportunities."

Maine House district surveys show strong support for Right to Work, even in heavily unionized areas (Question: Would you support 'Right to Work' legislation in Maine, which would prevent unions from forcing workers to pay dues if they don't want to be a member?)

- Sidney/Oakland: 80.4% support

- Waterboro/Lyman: 77% support

- Calais: 71% support

- Belgrade/Manchester: 71% support

- Knox/Waldo County: 67% support

- Lincoln County: 72% support

- Chelsea/Somerville/Washington-area: 67% support


David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793