Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument: On May 12th, the U.S. Department of Interior opened up a 60-day public comment period as a part of its review of Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, to determine if the designation was made with appropriate public outreach and coordination with pertinent stakeholders. Twenty-seven national monuments, including Katahdin Woods and Waters, are being reviewed under a presidential order.

For those wishing to register an opinion with the Interior Department, comments can be submitted online by visiting www.regulations.gov. Written comments may also be mailed to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.

Tip Credit Reinstatement: If Wednesday’s work session is any indication of what the future holds for reinstating the tip credit, things are looking good! The LCRED Committee voted overwhelming in favor of a slightly modified version of LD 673. The bipartisan agreement approved with an 11-2 vote includes requiring restaurant owners to implement certain protections for their tipped workers, many that currently exist under state and federal laws.

The amended language also includes an emergency preamble. If each legislative chamber enacts the bill with more than two-thirds of its membership voting in favor of the measure, the law becomes effective immediately upon the Governor’s approval, just in time for the upcoming summer season.

Minimum Wage: The fate of other minimum wage bills isn’t as promising. The LCRED Committee split their votes along party lines during Wednesday’s work session on a handful of bills that would have repealed the indexing of minimum wage to inflation, established a training wage for minors, and capped Maine’s minimum wage rate to the New England average. Although these bills will receive further deliberation in the House and Senate chambers, it is expected that they will ultimately die between the two bodies.

Three percent surtax: If repealing the three percent surtax on incomes over $200,000 is not addressed in this year’s budget, the Taxation Committee has kept one bill available as a vehicle for next year. The Committee voted Wednesday in favor of carrying over LD 571 to the Second Regular Session.

As a part of the discussion before the vote, Senator Dow presented amended language for the Committee to consider for replacing revenue that would have been generated with the 3 percent surtax. Two recommendations included increasing the tax on the sale of recreational marijuana from 10 percent to 20 percent, and increasing the tax on pack of cigarettes by 25 cents ($2.00 to $2.25).

Legislative Calendar: To see what is happening in other committees this week or to listen to any public hearings or work sessions, the legislative calendar is a great resource. The calendar may be found at the following site: http://legislature.maine.gov/Calendar/#Weekly/2017-04-30

Maine Tourism Association Advocacy Program. If you would like additional information, please contact Diane Johanson at the Maine Tourism Association at 623-0363 Ext. 104; by cell phone at 207-897-8077, or via e-mail at djohanson@mainetourism.com.