Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

General Dynamics corporate welfare bill tabled again in Augusta - temporarily

Mary Donnelly (on right) and I standing outside the Taxation Committee Work Session room before things began today in Augusta.  BIW V-P John Fitzgerald is on the far left leaning up against the wall.

The Taxation Committee today voted 8 to 4 to table the $60 million General Dynamics welfare bill again due to outstanding issues not yet clarified after Bath Iron Works V-P John Fitzgerald brought in more amended language to LD 1781.  Committee Chairman Dana Dow (R-Waldoboro) though stated that he wanted to reschedule the bill as soon as possible - likely next Tuesday.

The sponsor of the bill Rep. Jennifer DeChant (D-Bath) did not even show up for the Taxation Work Session which indicated to me that her role is essentially over.  BIW has now taken control of the bill and will be using their economic and political muscle to try to push it through the legislature - sooner rather than later.

BIW's Fitzgerald had the job today of explaining the latest changes to the committee (which is largely favorable to the bill) but most of the 12 committee members were visibly confused so they had to table the bill in order to have more time to sort things out.

Still several members of the committee raised very serious objections and concerns including those by Sen. Justin Chenette (D-Saco) who said, "We are still not being provided the full financial picture [of GD/BIW].... I'd like to request for the 5th time a clear demonstration of financial need...until that level is met I'm gonna be a no vote."

Much of the meeting was spent trying to get a handle on new language that would determine the way the corporate subsidy would be paid, new annual reporting requirements for BIW about how they spent the taxpayer funds, and definitions of things like what is a full-time worker, qualified worker, transferability of the tax subsidy if BIW was sold, and confusing concepts like acceleration and deceleration of the payment formula (depending on the amounts of workers hired at any one time) that virtually no one on the committee understood.

Rep. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) made the remark that the confusing acceleration/deceleration clause "could be used to decrease employment due to automation" which BIW has been doing for years by 'mechanizing and modernizing' the operation.

In the end this further delay gives us more time to alert the public to this corporate give-a-way bill.  We urge everyone to re-contact your state legislative team in Augusta and let them know how you feel about LD 1781.

It is very likely that once it does pass the Taxation Committee (all the Republicans and several of the Democrats on the committee support the bill) it will surely be rushed to the floor of the State House and Senate for a vote without much, if any, public notice.

I will continue my hunger strike until the bill is voted up or down in Augusta.  Twenty folks from around the state showed up to oppose the bill and we had a chance to talk afterwards.

You can contact your legislators here

Photos by Regis Tremblay and Bob Klotz


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