Intent and Content Prepared by the Office of the Attorney General This Act would authorize the State to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $35,500,000 to raise funds to invest in: the acquisition of land and interests in land for conservation, water access, outdoor recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, farmland protection and working waterfront preservation; capital improvements to state parks and historic sites; municipal public infrastructure projects; riverfront community development projects; and water sources for crop irrigation. The bonds would run for a period not longer than 10 years from the date of issue and would be backed by the full faith and credit of the State. Proceeds of the sale of the bonds would be expended as follows: $20,000,000 would be expended under the direction and supervision of the Land for Maine's Future Board, as follows: $3,000,000 must be made available to protect working waterfront properties that support commercial fisheries businesses, in accordance with the Maine Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program enacted as Chapter 462, Part B, section 6 of the Public Laws of 2005. Grants for working waterfront projects would have to be matched, dollar for dollar, by the local governments or organizations receiving the grants and would be made subject to a condition that the property may not be used, altered or developed in a manner that precludes its use by commercial fisheries businesses. The Land for Maine's Future Board also would be required to retain a right of first refusal on any waterfront property acquisition. The remaining $17,000,000 of these proceeds would be expended for conservation, recreation, farmland and water access, with at least $1,700,000 being used to acquire public access to water in accordance with the statutory provisions of Title 5, section 6203-A, and at least $1,700,000 to protect farmland in accordance with Title 5, section 6207. The bond funds would be matched with at least $8,500,000 in public and private contributions, 70% of which would have to be in the form of cash or other tangible assets, while the remaining 30% could be in the form of in-kind contributions of goods or services. With the exception of working waterfront projects and farmland protection projects, hunting, fishing, trapping and public access may not be prohibited on lands acquired with these bond proceeds, unless required by applicable federal, state or local laws. In acquiring land or interests in land of local or regional significance, the Land for Maine's Future Board would be required to give preference to acquisitions that achieve benefits for multiple towns and address regional conservation needs. $7,500,000 would be expended by the Department of Conservation's Bureau of Parks and Lands to make capital improvements to the State's parks and historic sites. $5,000,000 would be distributed by the Department of Economic and Community Development under the Riverfront Community Development Program authorized by legislation that will take effect if this bond issue is approved by the voters. The purpose of this program is to assist and encourage communities along the State's rivers to revitalize their riverfronts in an environmentally sustainable manner and to promote river-oriented community development and enhancement projects. A review panel made up of the Commissioners of the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Conservation, the Director of the State Planning Office and four members of the public would evaluate all proposals submitted and allocate the funds, using a scoring system outlined in the statute. Expenditure of these bond funds must be matched with at least $10,000,000 in other funds. $1,500,000 would be placed in the existing Municipal Investment Trust Fund, administered by the Department of Economic and Community Developmentand the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, pursuant to Title 30-A M.R.S.A. section 5953-D and section 6006-D. These funds would be used to provide loans and grants to municipalities for public service infrastructure projects, which are defined by statute as facilities essential for public health, safety and welfare. They may include sewage treatment and solid waste facilities, water supply and treatment facilities, public safety equipment and facilities, roads, traffic control devices and other transportation facilities, sidewalks, trees, buried utility lines and other streetscape improvements, parks and other open space or recreational areas, public access to coastal and inland waters, geographic information systems and any other publicly owned facility that benefits the public.
$1,500,000 would be distributed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources in the form of grants to farmers, awarded through a competitive process, to fund up to 75% of the cost of constructing or expanding environmentally sound water sources to irrigate crops and minimize drought damage. These bond funds would be matched by $375,000 in other funds, representing 25% of the cost of these projects. If approved, the bond authorization would take effect 30 days after the Governor's proclamation of the vote. A statement of the Treasurer describing the financial considerations of this bond issue is published together with this statement. A "YES" vote approves the authorization of the $35,500,000 bond issue to finance all of the above activities. A "NO" vote disapproves the bond issue in its entirety. (4212)
Do you favor a $35,500,000 bond issue to invest in land conservation, water access, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, including hunting and fishing, farmland and working waterfront and to invest in state parks, historic sites and riverfront, community and farm infrastructure to be matched by at least $21,875,000 in private and public contributions?