Over the past year, GrowSmart Maine in partnership with BuildMaine, launched Policy Action 2023 to create a collaborative, transparent process developing public policy around a shared goal: to address barriers to, and create incentives for, equitable, sustainable growth and development that strengthens downtowns and villages of all sizes while pulling development pressure away from productive and open natural areas. The effort involves working with bipartisan sponsors and supporters over the two years of the 131st Legislature.

In 2023, during the First Regular Session of the 131st Legislature, seventeen bills were proposed through eight working groups, each focused on a distinct type of solution, while acknowledging that Maine's urban, rural, and suburban settings call for varying solutions which allow a variety of people to be welcome in communities.

Year 1 results are mixed, with more work ahead.

  • Four bills passed and signed by the Governor. These were incremental improvements to funding levels and policy, as well as Resolves for additional information in the next session.
  • One bill was withdrawn and a revised proposal submitted for next session
  • Four bills were voted down in committee with one piece brought into a bill that passed.
  • Nine bills carried over to the next session.

Outcomes include:

  • $5.7 million in additional funding for transit and broadening representation on the Public Transit Advisory Council,
  • recommendations on planning assistance to Maine communities,
  • adding safety metrics and crash data to MaineDOT’s prioritization and evaluation, and
  • establishing an energy scoring system for residential buildings.

Year 2 of Policy Action 2023 will dive deeper into significant systems changes including:

  • how municipalities develop their comprehensive plans,
  • broadening Maine’s tax credit for historic buildings,
  • developing pre-approved building types for single and multi-family housing,
  • a complete rethinking of sub-division rules, and
  • encouraging coordination between Maine-DOT and community investments to bring fresh strategies to aging commercial corridors.

You can see the detailed Bill Report on the GrowSmart Maine website (link below).

POLICY ACTION 2023 BILL REPORT (Scroll to Policy Action 2023 Legislation)

Contributed by:

Nancy Smith, CEO of GrowSmart Maine

Nancy E. Smith has lived and worked in Maine since 1981 and joined GrowSmart Maine in April 2010. As CEO, she maintains the fiscal health of the organization while overseeing programming at the local level, statewide convenings, and leading advocacy for smart growth outcomes at the state, local, and federal levels. Prior to GrowSmart Maine, Nancy served four terms in the Maine State House of Representatives while farming on her family’s diversified livestock farm in Monmouth.