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Maine Legislators, Governor Approve Working Waterfront Recovery Assistance

Maine Governor Janet Mills signed the state’s supplemental budget into law on April 22, which includes $30 million to help coastal communities and working waterfront businesses to recover from January’s severe storms and historic flooding.

$30 million will be available later this summer to help some affected by January storms. MCFA photo.

“Importantly, it [the budget] includes critical relief for Maine communities recovering from the severe storms in December and January — relief that I am directing my Administration to begin distributing as soon as is statutorily possible,” said Gov. Mills.

In March, Mills proposed emergency legislation, LD 2225, to add $50 million to the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund to quickly repair infrastructure damaged and destroyed by the extreme weather, including Maine’s working waterfronts. For working waterfront businesses and communities impacted by the January storms, the legislation was described as a lifeline as the lobster industry prepares for the spring and summer season.

The Appropriations Committee supported the emergency bill, adding an additional $10 million. The bill strategically was kept separate from the state’s supplemental budget process to avoid it getting caught up in late session negotiations and get funding to businesses and communities as quickly as possible.

“As Maine’s number one lobster landings port, Stonington and many other coastal fishing towns need this crucial funding to rebuild our working waterfronts,” said Kathleen Billings, Stonington Town Manager. “It is and should be a Maine priority to keep working waterfront for our fishing industry. By not being able to rebuild better and stronger and keeping fishing jobs, we may lose the few miles of valuable waterfront access to gentrification pressures which we will never get back.”

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), the Island Institute, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA), New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association (NEFSA), and several other industry advocacy organizations backed the call to approve LD 2225 and urged its members to contact their legislators.

Though the legislation received bipartisan sup port in the State House, it eventually got caught up in a political debate as legislators moved to wrap up their work before the legislature adjourned. Fishing industry groups responded by rallying their members to keep pressure on legislators to support this critically needed aid. In the end, funding was included in the Governor’s base supplemental budget, which passed both the House and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Mills. According to the Governor’s office, the funding will begin being distributed as soon as possible after 90 days from the Legislature’s adjournment.

Applications for grant funding are expected to be available by May 9. The applications will outline the parameters of the programs and the requirements to receive funding.


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