Both the government and cooperatives exist to help regular people accomplish together what they could not do on their own. So since we know how to make our co-ops meet our needs, why not use those skills to get our government to meet our needs, too? When co-operators use their voices, legislators listen — as they are doing now in Maine with bill LD 1520.
How many measures garner enthusiastic support from Democratic and Republican legislators? We know one that’s got cross-aisle appeal: LD 1520, An Act to Create and Sustain Jobs Through Development of Cooperatives and Employee Owned Businesses. The Maine legislature held hearings on May 2 to listen directly to business owners, farmers, residents, and consumers about the benefits of cooperative ownership. They learned how LD 1520 would:
- incentivize the sale of business assets to cooperative or employee-owned enterprises, and reduce the cost of financing the sale. This legislation would help create many more cooperatives and ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) in Maine by supporting the conversion of businesses, farms, manufactured home parks and apartment buildings.
- Also, it would create a Maine Employee Ownership Center. A Center would expand the education, training and technical assistance resources available to workers and retiring business owners to transition existing businesses to employee ownership.
LD 1520, which is co-sponsored by 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans, drew widespread praise from a diverse group of supporters and advocacy groups.Check out the Public Testimony on LD 1520. The proposal will be worked by the Taxation Committee and reported out to the full legislature. In the last legislature, the committee reported out a similar proposal “Unanimous Ought to Pass as Amended”, and Co-op supporters believe a similar result is possible this year. Advocates will then turn their attention to the Appropriations Committee, and are working to schedule a meeting with Maine Governor Janet Mills. Co-ops make sense, and co-operators can make the case!
Interested in joining the movement? There are plenty of practical tips on advocating for co-ops here.